24 July 2012

Before We Homeschooled

To give you a little history about me, you should first know that I loved school. Public school. I loved pleasing my teachers by getting good grades. I loved music class and art class. I loved playing in the band. I loved receiving awards for academic achievement (I realize I sorta just created the picture of a geek, but, hey, I'm way over the stereotype. I've embraced it!). I loved wasting time with friends, hanging out on the weekends with those friends, and being completely stupid with those same friends. I looked forward to Friday night football games, trips on hot buses with the band to places like Disney World and Cedar Point, and my senior prom. I certainly had a good time in high school. Academics aside, high school was a blast!

After high school, I continued my quest for information. College was the next obvious step. At my high school, smart girls were expected to go to college. I never considered that there was another option. I picked a major and got started on the next stop toward adulthood. I went to college and graduated with a degree in music education with every intention to teach. I loved being a student, so I expected that I would love being a teacher.

To say that I didn't love being a teacher would be a vast understatement. I despised teaching. My first year wasn't just bad, it was wretched. My second year was better, but I still wasn't enjoying it. God grew me through it, but what he planted in my heart was that I was not supposed to be a career classroom teacher. It wasn't His plan for me.

I share all this with you to show you that my educational background actually  made me more opposed to homeschooling than the average person. I was almost offended by homeschooling families who thought they could do the job I was trained to do better than I could. I would never have said that to them, but I most certainly thought it. And being a trained classroom teacher? In my opinion, I think it sets you up for trouble if you choose to homeschool. So many people that I know who were once classroom teachers end up burning out when they choose to homeschool because they try to replicate a classroom experience. They try to make life fit into their school plans, when it only works if you do it the other way around. There isn't one way to educate a child. This is what I had to learn, and it took me a couple years to really embrace that and to realize that there was a better way to do this thing called school.

I became a stay-at-home mom the very week that I could have been starting my third year of teaching at two elementary schools in our little upstate NY town. I had moderate success in those classrooms the previous school year, but I knew that I wanted to be at home (a calling I later learned to not take for granted). We cut our income in half, and I spent my days loving on my baby boy.

In the years that followed, we had another baby and moved to Pennsylvania. While living there, I really started thinking about this whole homeschooling thing and talking to Eric about it. While everyone in our east coast town was scrambling to get their child into "the" perfect preschool, I was spending my days happily enjoying my little ones without a thought in the world concerning formal schooling. Eventually,  I attended a homeschooling info night that was held at our church with experienced homeschoolers. Eric was already on board with this idea, and that evening got me over my hesitation. We decided to take the plunge.


Oh, we had no idea why at the time. We just knew that it was what God wanted for us, so we did it. I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to teach Lukas to read (even though he had been asking me to teach him for months). I had already tried my hand at table work with him when he was 3 and again when he was 4. Neither attempt went well. He hated to write. People kept telling me why I shouldn't homeschool. Others would say things like, "Well, it's okay for YOU to homeschool because you're a teacher, but not just anyone should be allowed to homeschool." I didn't know how to reply to that for a long time.

We moved to Ohio, and I attended a homeschooling convention. There was curriculum everywhere. Several fabulous representatives spent time telling me why their curriculum was ideal. I finally settled on an all-inclusive curriculum called Heart of Dakota, and it included a very simplistic reading instruction book. Perfect.

And so our journey began. Lukas started kindergarten in our home in August 2006.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, if I could count the number I've been told what you were: that I could homeschool because I had a teaching certificate but others could not...well, I'd finance my girls' college educations and then some! But I totally agree with you: having been in the classroom before my kids were born didn't help me to homeschool and, in fact, it probably hindered me in some ways. I was never against homeschooling when I was in the classroom - we always knew I'd homeschool once we had kids - but I didn't see the real faults of institutional school until I was out of it.