I’m often asked why we decided to homeschool.  My first answer is usually…

“Well, with this many kids, there was no way I could get everyone dressed, fed, and out the door with a lunch to catch a bus on time!”

I have my degree in Speech Education.  I went to public school until 9th grade and then 2 different christian schools for the rest of high school.  There were 9 in my graduating class!  Hey – I was in the top 10% of my school!!

Dave was in public school all the way through.

I did some student teaching during my senior year of college at a public school.  Before Dave and I were married, I did substitute teaching in the public schools in NH.  These 2 experiences began to put real doubts in my mind about our public school system.

We lived in CA when Catherine, our eldest, was born.  Dave and I were visiting with some of our college professors and one of them asked if we’d given any thought to her future education.  I said sure.  Since I was a highschool teacher and had worked with Junior highers, I definitely wanted to homeschool during the Jr. High years because they were just nasty!

Our Prof challenged me – “You realize that the Elementary years are the most impressionable and those are the years they spend all day with the same teacher.  So whatever his or her values are, that’s what your child will be hearing and embracing for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week for 8 months out of the year.”

Wow!  I’d never thought of it like that!  It scared me just a little because I remembered some of the teachers I’d had in Elementary school.  I started to re-think when I would homeschool.

Poor Catherine.  She was the first to enter our homeschool.  I’d been to the homeschool seminars, I’d looked through tons of material, I talked with other homeschool moms, I was trained in the public school format for teaching and I was ready.  I bought Catherine a desk and chair.  I had the alphabet taped to the wall. I had my lesson plans all written out and she was going to be reading and  finished with Kindergarten in no time if we kept on schedule!

Our first day: the special “school outfit”, the nutritious breakfast, the thorough, minute by minute lesson plan, the new pencil box complete with sharpened pencils and unbroken  crayons.  I was ready….now teach!  And I did, in perfect public school style, and Catherine was in tears and hated school by the end of the first hour!!!

Great – now what.  This was my first lesson of many, many, many, in flexibility and adjustments.  And thus began my journey of homeschooling.  It’s been 16 years (ahhg! I’m not old enough to have been teaching that long!) and I will start my 17th in two weeks.  I’m still adjusting!

Each child is so different and their learning styles and interests are quite varied.  My teaching style has not changed much – I’m not a good elementary teacher.  I consider it a huge accomplishment  when my kids learn to read and do long division.  I’ve learned to expect the tears – we’ll get through with perseverance!

When people asked us if we were going to school through high school, our answer was always the same.  One year at a time and then re-evaluation.   There was only one time that I seriously considered sending one of my kids to public school.  I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to teach this child!  My mother-in-law has been a huge resource for me.  She’s a child psychologist and was a counselor in the Portland school system for 30 years.  Even she was in agreement to send this child to school.  But there was something in me to keep trying.  Through many tears and frustrations (these were mine! ) we made it!  Had this child been in a public or private school, she most assuredly would have been labeled and that would have only added to the issues we were working through.

I wanted the freedom to go on field trips, to stay longer on a subject that caught their fancy and I didn’t want a system to dictate when my child had to be in school.  Dave and I are fairly entrepreneurial and I wanted my kids to have the opportunity to have their own businesses and pursue interests that might not fit into a typical school schedule.

It’s funny.  As I start to list the reasons why we homeschool, my head is flooded with memories that substantiate our decisions.  Each year we did re-evaluate and each year we were more convinced that we needed to keep them home.  One of our philosophies is to give a lot of opportunities and experiences to our children, especially in an area where they’ve shown some interest or aptitude.  They are all so individual in their talents and giftedness.  This has worked well for us and our three eldest knew what they wanted to pursue early in high school or before. This fall, Catherine will be entering her senior year as a Nursing Major and Lauren is in her second year of Education.

I realize this is a cursory overview of why we have homeschooled for so many years.  I’ve been a part of co-ops, I’ve taught in co-ops; I’ve been a part of support groups, I’ve organized and led support groups.  I’ve done a strict curriculum and I’ve done the salad bar approach – a little of this and a little of that!  I’ve had great seasons and some that were not so great. I’ve homeschooled in 3 different states, each with their own regulations.  I have auditory learners, visual learners, tactile learners; I have some kids who are self-motivated and others who are “mom-motivated”.  But mostly through it all, I know I have learned so much more  than I ever taught!

Will we continue to homeschool?  I will this year and then we’ll re-evaluate.  Remember, one year at a time!