I have been a homeschooling mom for just about six years, now. I haven’t always been able to formulate why we homeschool. You’d think the decision to homeschool our son would be one that we discussed at length; weighing pros and cons. Nope.
We moved to Iowa from California the Summer of 2013. I had no intention of homeschooling. I had a dear friend in California who homeschooled her three children. I was always impressed by their knowledge and education. But my friend, well, she was a teacher before becoming a mom. She had the education, the experience and the ability to homeschool. I on the other hand was leaving a career in land use planning to be a stay at home mom. What did I know about educating a child?
Interestingly, without intention I had been home schooling my son since the day he was born. To be honest, I had no idea what homeschooling looked like in real life. Looking back I can tell you, I had all the knowledge and ability and experience I needed to educate my child at home, I just didn’t know it yet.
My little one began reading at the early age of 2 ½. Can you believe that? He was working on art projects every Saturday morning since he turned 2. He could use scissors, scribble, and READ! Early on in his life I began ordering all types of material through Amazon to teach him. But it never crossed my mind that this was homeschooling, after all we were just using our time to learn things. We were having fun. I thought of that as parenting not homeschooling. Turns out when you decide to educate your children at home it becomes part of your parenting and your lifestyle.
When my guy was about a year and a half I began teaching him to read. In the bathtub we used foam letters stuck to the shower wall to illustrate the sounds we were making. You can read more about how I taught him to read here.
When he had learned all the short sounds of the alphabet he began reading bob books at 2 ½ years old. The first time he read, my oldest son (who was 17 at the time) and I stood there with our mouths open in shock. He understood what he read. It wasn’t long before he was reading the short sentences fluidly. It was exciting.
Next we started writing. He began writing and spelling (badly) when he was about three years old.
In the meantime, we moved to Iowa to simplify our life and I planned to stay home and take care of our family. Our family at this time consisted (and still does, we are just all a bit older now) My husband, myself, my oldest son (a fifteen year difference) and my youngest son.
Our intention when moving to a simpler life here in Iowa was to keep my little one home one additional year before sending him off to Kindergarten. He had an early fall birthday and this would give him and I a year to figure out this whole stay- at- home- mom thing before sending him back out into the world.
In that year we built a solar system, listen to audio books, painted, colored, explored, played Legos and blocks, planted flowers and a garden, built tents in the back yard, went for many walks and played and played and played.
It came time to take my little guy to the Kindergarten assessments. At this point he was going to be 6 in a few months and was reading and writing, grasped math concepts and had a wonderful understanding of complex ideas. He had been building, crafting and playing at home for the past year. The issue wasn’t if he was ready for Kindergarten, the question was if he was ready for 1st grade? But nobody knew to ask that.
Anyhow, I took him down for the assessments. We were herded in and I was herded out. I had just left my sweet little sensitive boy with three adults I had never met. They didn’t know my name and no one introduced themselves. I was quickly dismissed from the class. They had a schedule to keep and many potential kindergarteners to evaluate.
I went out to the parking lot and cried. I sat in my car and waited and cried. Although, I left him with total strangers I could not bear to leave the parking lot. After it was all done, I went back in to scoop up my sweet little guy. At this time I was able to speak to the wonderful caring kindergarten teacher. She was everything we know about kindergarten teachers, bright and cheery.
But it was too late. When I was told I could leave after walking my precious boy in to the classroom and left without ever having met any of the teachers my fate was sealed. I would be homeschooling.
A few months prior to the Kindergarten assessment I had volunteered at our church to help with the vacation bible school. I was realitivly new and hadn’t met too many people since moving there the year earlier. Well I had met lots of people, I just had not connected with anyone. More on that in a future post.
I brought my little one with me for the leadership meeting. I brought him something to work on and sat him at an adjacent table. Little did I know I would meet two kind, soft spoken brilliant women who would change the coarse of my coming years.
A Mother and her daughter, we will call them M and D. M was a homeschool mom whose youngest son had just graduated high school and was starting college in the fall. D was her oldest daughter, a very well regarded student at her University. M and I were on the opposite ends of the wonderful journey of homeschooling. M came to me and introduced both herself and her daughter. They were and are lovely. You know those women. Just lovely. Sadly, I am not lovely, so I do appreciate lovely.
Anyhow, after our first meeting we met again during the week of VBS. Once the week was over, the exhausting week, M pulled me aside and asked if I had considered homeschooling. She told me that she had watched John and I interact and thought it would be a good fit for us. She invited me over to see her son’s recent graduation accomplishments. They had just had their celebration and she thought these accomplishments might be encouraging to me. THEY WERE! The seed had been planted and the Kindergarten assessment gave it a good watering. Isn’t it great how the Lord puts the right people in our paths at just the right time.
I decided right off to join our area Home School Assistance Program. I was assigned a wonderful supervising teacher. She had homeschooled her two adult children (both college educated), had taught in the public school classroom and had been working with the HSAP for many years. She supervised parents and taught enrichment courses for the kids.
One of the first questions she asked me was, So, why have you decided to homeschool? I didn’t have an answer. I stumbled around the answer and came up with an honest answer. But it wasn’t well thought out. I said, I didn’t want to send him to Public School. I wanted him home. The teacher was so kind and patient. But I think I was lacking the self awareness, the understanding and the forethought to understand why I was homeschooling. I was following my instinct and the Holy Spirit. I didn’t know it yet, but homeschooling was to be my calling.
Six years later, I can tell you exactly why we homeschool. We homeschool because we were called to homeschool. The Lord put the right people in our path to guide us to do what we believe he has called us to do. We want to raise our son with our value system. We want him to grow into a man of integrity. We are at the front line shaping his heart. We have standards, weaknesses, strengths and lots of learning curves. But we want our son to be INFLUENCED first by God then by us; EDUCATED first by God then by us; LOVED first by God then by us. We homeschool because this is how we want to parent, educate and raise our son. Educating my son at home gives me the ability to instill in him our faith and family values on a daily bases. We homeschool because it is what works for our family.
If your child isn’t homeschooled that does not mean that you are not influencing educating and loving him and it doesn’t mean you aren’t shaping his heart. This is just what works for our family.
If you do feel called to homeschool, trust in the Lord to give you what you need, pray that he puts the right people in your path and that he blesses your calling.
Happy Homeschooling ~ Bridget Anne