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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Homeschool Questions: How did you get started?

Summertime is here and with it many people considering homeschooling next year, or gearing up for their first year. Lots of questions about "why" and "how" and "where" and "when" and "what" are floating through potential homeschooler's minds (and current homeschoolers, too).

One thing about homeschooling is that each family's school experience is different. So, don't be misled into thinking that just because one homeschooler does it one way you can't do it a different way. With that in mind, I thought I'd offer you some of my thoughts on "why" we homeshool, "how" we got started, and "what" curricula do you use.

Today, I'll start with: "How" we got started. . .

The little yellow school bus was going to be my ticket to freedom. Of that I was certain. My day dreams were filled with all three kiddoes off at school while I enjoyed time at home to cook, run errands, meet friends for coffee, do some household projects and hobbies . . . maybe even take up tennis . . . maybe even a part-time job! I only had 5 more years to go until I'd have them all in school from 7:30-2:30. Seven hours of unencumbered independence!

And then it happened...

We moved in next to some homeschoolers (perhaps you've heard me refer to "Dear Neighbor"). Not just any homeschoolers, really neat homeschoolers. Our kids became friends, we became friends. And as I got to know them better, homeschooling became less and less "out there" and "impossible" seeming, even for an impatient and disorganized mom like me. But, just because something is possible doesn't mean it is preferrable. So, for the next couple years I was quite happy to watch homeschooling from the outside and continue with my day dreams.

Until it became apparent those day dreams were slowly erroding away.

Over my eldest's Kindergarten and first grade years, my husband and I became aware of the high cost to our family of having our children in an institutional school. We realized it was not a cost we were willing to pay.

We quickly became tired of the pointless homework being sent home and the other ways the school monopolized our family time. Wasn't it enough that they had my child for 7 hours? Couldn't they accomplish an adequate education in that time? If not, why not? For heaven's sake - this was only 1st grade after all!

Why did the school not accept as an excused absence an absence that we, as his parents, thought worthwhile? I was faced with accepting "inexcused" absences (and getting notes from the principal warning that too many would require my son to be held back) or lying and giving a fake "sick note".

And involvement in the school? Well that was a bit of a joke. We had an active PTA, but meetings were closed and the only things they did seemed to be fundraisers. It seemed a bit to me like bread and circuses. . . keep the parents mollified.

Someone had performed a switcheroo on me - the little yellow school bus, with its promised freedom, had become a shackle instead.

After first grade, we brought my son home and took my middle son out of his 3-day a week preschool program. And in all honesty, in the six years we've been homeschooling I can't say we have really ever looked back. Oh, there are times when I am wistful for those days that I never had (7 hours of independence), but they aren't worth the trade off for us. I've sacrificed a little personal independence for my children's intellectual independence, and unexpectedly gained freedom for our family schedule!

And all those plans I made for my "free" time while the kids were in school. . . I've found time for quite a few of them, surprisingly!

Today, in the early morning hours as I sit sipping my morning tea with my kiddoes nestled snuggly in bed, I often see the little yellow school bus roll by at 6:30 in the morning, and have no regrets, only gratitude.

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E Majors said...

(i've had that same moment of gratitude when the early a.m. bus rolls through). thanks for posting!

Kerry said...

You bet!

Amy said...

I graduated my oldest from our homeschool this year - absolutely no regrets. She is one of the most well-rounded young ladies I know. I get lots of positive feedback on the job we have done thus far!

Kerry said...

Amy, it is always encouraging to hear about successful homeschoolers!

HomeGrownMommy said...

What a neat story! It reminds me that I haven't posted our "how we started" story on my blog yet! Thanks so much for sharing yours!

Ruth MacC said...

I like your story too. I live in Ireland and home school my 11yo. We love it as a family ad I agree with you when yoiu ask, why they cant geet the work done in 7 hours? School here will be over in a week or so and the children don't have any homework and do little work llin school. I think the teachers could do a better job spreading the work out during the school year so there wouldn't be so much home work.

I can't continue to teach my son after the age of 13. He will have to go to secondary school. He has been accepted into the one that we really wanted him to attend, I am very glad to say. I am thinking of having a party for him just before his 13th birthday in 2011 to mark the end of his learning at home, his journey into being a teenager and the start of his regular school life. Have you any ideas? What do people usually do in the US?

gahome2mom said...

Hi, I found your site from the Heart of the Matter Blogroll. We are homeschoolers from the state of Georgia.

Oh, I am featuring the SpellQuizzer software giveaway on my GAhome2mom blog. Come check it out!

Sebastian said...

Cool post. I always enjoy hearing about what prompted others to homeschool. For us it was teaching Sunday School for kindergarteners. Some kids were clearly different. When we asked the parents, it turned out that each of these kids was homeschooled. Those moms were so gracious in letting me see inside their school days. We are still friends with one of these families and they've stayed a great inspiration.

Kerry said...

Sebastian - That is a great story! Thanks for commenting and sharing your experience. It is always fun to hear what prompted others to consider homeschooling - certainly proves homeschoolers are a diverse group. :)

KarenW said...

I have no regrets either! I have cherished my time with my kids and I can't believe that my homeschooling years are almost over for two of them. Enjoyed reading your post.