Hard to believe I've been homeschooling for eight years now. My oldest is now a teenager. Am I old enough to have a teenager? I don't feel that old. But I confess, when I look in the mirror....it shows! After Hazel died, I decided I didn't care how old I look anymore. Getting older means that I am getting closer to her. And besides, I am PROUD of my nearly 40 years on this earth. I've done a lot! And I'm happy with the way most of it has turned out. I would never want to go back and redo any of it, even if it meant looking and feeling younger. I am glad to have succeeded at 40 years of this thing called life and I believe the best is yet to come!
Anyway, I'm feeling nostalgic today. Last night a friend of mine hosted a home school information night for people who may be interested in learning more about this strange thing we do: You know....being parents and educating our kids at home. I was on the panel and had the honor of answering questions and sharing my experiences thus far. I was asked how I came to be a homeschooler.
So here's the story. There isn't much to it.
I had never anticipated or planned on homeschooling. I went to public school (aka Government schools) from k-12. And not only did I survive, I think I actually thrived. Don't count 5th grade when I was the cruel target of some pretty heinous bullying from people that I thought were my friends. Yeah. Aside from that, I think I did pretty well with my government school experience. So I figured I would just put my kids in school when the time came.
So the time came! My oldest turned five in the spring of '08. I did what parents do and I went to the local elementary school to get her registered for kindergarten. I got her all signed up. I had my 2 and 1 year old kids in tow. The school person (?) gave me and the kids a tour of the school. Cool. I wanted to see where my precious baby would be spending her days. So we're walking along, up and down hallways plastered with cookie cutter artwork and neatly printed paragraphs. We walk past hoards of children standing on red tape to form straight lines. We pass the library, which was dark and empty at the time. (Really? When should a school library EVER be dark and empty!!) I wondered. It all looked familiar enough.
That's why I couldn't quite decipher the feeling of uneasiness that settled in the pit of my stomach. This is the place? These are the people? And what will she do? What will she learn? Who will she be with? And why does this all feel SO wrong? The more time we spent there, the less sure I was that I wanted to be shipping my little 5-yo off to this place day after day for hour upon hour of....of what? What could they give her that I could not? Really? Do I need government "professionals" to parent or teach my 5 yo for me? Am I really incapable of doing it myself? I wasn't sure.
Later, I learned to name that strong feeling: It was the Holy Spirit, witnessing to me that this was not the right choice for my daughter. Public school would not be the right thing for our family. At least not then. Not there. And I was afraid. Because I didn't know anything else. I had never been exposed to alternatives to public school. Generally, we humans fear the unknown. And I was entering the unknown.
Well, we couldn't afford private school. So guess what. I made a swift and final decision to homeschool, which I suppose means that I had at least heard of it somewhere in time. But I didn't know anybody who homeschooled. I soon discovered my neighbor was homeschooling her two granddaughters. She offered to let me visit her home and take a look at the way she ran things for them. I was grateful for any bit of guidance.
At the time, I didn't know there were 1,000,000 ways to homeschool. So I took her word as the gospel truth and did everything she told me to do. I went home and signed up for WAVA (Washington Virtual Academy) and waited for the school supplies to arrive. I remember I was so excited when they came. It was better than Christmas!
Long story short....I became a homeschooler. I jumped in cold turkey. Head first. Not knowing a thing. This is typical Kelly fashion . I generally do things in this dramatic way. I eventually figured out that I had to un enroll at the elementary school, signs some papers, declare my intent to homeschool....etc. It was a very bumpy start and it was often filled with tears as I did my best to do "school-at-home" rather than do home education.
But I learned. I did! I learned to reach out, to listen, to watch, to research, to experiment, to try and try again. I'm still learning. But isn't that what home schoolers do? We self teach, and then teach others to self teach. :) Let the journey continue!