When my oldest was born in 1997 homeschooling was not on my radar. I did not even know it existed. Public school was all I knew growing up. When my oldest son was still just a toddler, at a family funeral I found out my cousin and his wife homeschooled, and I asked all the questions everyone asks: How do you socialize them? How do you keep up with the household if the kids are home all day every day? How do you know what to teach? After the funeral I forgot all about the conversation. A couple years later while scanning titles of library books I came upon a book about unschooling. I had never heard that word! I devoured the book, and a spark was lit in my soul. However, even though my soul was lit, my husband’s soul also needed to be lit, so we went to a homeschool convention in Orlando, FL. After a day of listening to various speakers my husband was convinced when one speaker said, “Your kids will either bond with their parents, or bond with their friends.”
We homeschooled the oldest through kindergarten which just amounts to loads of fun sprinkled with learning how to read and learning basic math facts. And then we stopped. Our younger son had some health issues that were occupying our minds and calendar and I was about to give birth to a third child. Our oldest headed to parochial school for First Grade and our younger son went to pre-school there.
Let me just say that no sooner had we started First Grade then the teacher wanted to move my son to “remedial reading” right after the principal told me he would be taught to read in First Grade. And let me also say that my son was doing very well with reading at home because we had been working through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons by Siegfried Engelmann. So, at the parent/teacher/principal meeting I showed them what he was reading at home, and they were astonished because it was much further along than the students were! They chalked his hesitancy to speak up in the classroom as shyness. Argh!
Second grade comes along and my oldest is still there and my younger son is in the next level pre-school. My oldest would come home angry and irritated from being at school all day and feeling like a “math-dummy” because he would be one of the last kids to turn in math worksheets. He is no dummy, but that belief has stayed with him to this day! He also got introduced to Victoria Secrets catalogs through another second grader! Geesh! My younger son, when not at pre-school, was home learning how to read, do math, and play chess!
Summer comes along and we are in serious conversation about pulling the kids out of school and educating them at home. There were many reasons, and I will name them here.
1) I loved being with my kids and being a part of their experiences.
2) Kindergarten was changing to “All day” and I did not think a 5-year-old boy should be in a classroom all day.
3) My 5-year-old boy already knew how to read and do everything that was going to be taught in kindergarten and I knew this was going to frustrate him.
4) Bullying was starting to become an issue for my oldest son; the kids in the class were becoming bullies or getting bullied; there was no neutral position.
5) Transportation issues loomed large for our family, and I didn’t want to keep waking up my toddler daughter from her nap every day just to haul kids back and forth to school.
6) I had decided to stay at home with my children and homeschooling them would be something challenging to do.
7) I love a challenge! Although homeschooling does not require a bachelor’s degree, I had one from the United States Military Academy and I knew teaching my children was something I could sink my teeth into.
Fast forward 16 years…I am now a retired homeschool mom. All three are finished. The oldest got into college with a 3 ½ year full scholarship and is now a Lieutenant in the United States Army (obviously not a dummy). The younger son is a senior in college with a 4-year, full-ride. My daughter will be entering college with 3 years fully paid for through scholarships. Not too shabby.
Would I choose to do it again? Absolutely! It is a thrilling ride! It provides everything a mom could want including mental stimulation, grown-up conversations, and job satisfaction. For the family, it is organic. The bonds with the parents are strong; the love is tangible; the values are intact. But you may say, “I can’t do it!” and I would ask you, “How bad do you want it?”
If you need further help or encouragement, please look at the resources on www.EagleMomSquad.com We have plenty of videos, blogs, podcasts and lists full of recommended resources. And of course, the internet is chock-full of homeschool sites with unlimited ideas.