Sometimes when I sit down to blog I have been inspired by a question. Today is one of those days. This morning on Facebook, The Busy Homeschool Mom posted the following:
So once in a while I ask y’all a question that makes for interesting conversation. :)
So here you are: WHY ARE YOU HOMESCHOOLING?
Why am I homeschooling? What on earth compels me to eschew the American custom of sending my offspring to school on the Yellow Bus? What is it that makes me determined to continue even on days that I want to quit? Why do I feel it is my duty as their mother to be responsible for their daily education?
It wasn’t always this way.
I wanted one thing for my children: the best education in the safest place. When I was pregnant with The Boy there was no doubt this was located above the dining hall of our church. I felt secure knowing that I would never have THAT particular worry. My children would grow up in a controlled, loving, Christian environment. It was a school that was the labor of the saints. I graduated from there in 1992. My mother-in-law was the principal; my father-in-law a Bible teacher. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I would have to face the dreaded decision of “Where will the children go to school?”
First day of School. We woke up, took our little boy to school. We sat alongside him in chapel. We walked him to the small classroom where he would learn to read. I would return to pick him up at 12:30. Life hummed along at a good pace. We moved closer to the church so I didn’t have to drive 45 minutes one way. Before I knew it, I had a Boy in 2nd Grade. Then my world slowly began to erode.
It started with a “Dear Mom” note from the teacher. Dear Mom. Your son has not learned to read. We suggest he attend a reading class this summer. In the fall, he needs to attend public school…where they can help him.
I was devastated. My child…was going to go to public school? I went to public school, it was the last place I wanted my child. And he cannot read? What? He’s been in school three years and he cannot read? I felt horrible. I didn’t KNOW that I could or needed to help him learn to read. Wasn’t that why I sent him to school everyday? There had been no feedback. Whenever we asked about his progress we were assured he was doing great. I suddenly found that the one thing I wanted for my child, I’d been unable to give him.
Luckily, we were able to find an amazing person to tutor him the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade. She assured me that my son could read and was very smart. He just wasn’t capable of learning with the A.C.E. program. I called our local school. En rolled him. Then cried. Cried, because I felt I had failed my child…because I failed God. I was to raise him in a Godly environment and I was sending him to Public School.
Mercifully, my son had Ms. M for 3rd Grade. I watched her work her magic on my son. By the end of the year, not only was he reading…but he was thriving! During that single year in public school, I had discovered home schooling. Not having a clue about what I was doing, we bought some curriculum and set up a classroom. Then my father-in-law died of cancer. I began to withdraw from my kids and my family. My husband had already decided that my son would go back to the church school after we returned from the funeral. I would have the opportunity to homeschool my daughters, then in Kindergarten and First Grade. Unfortunately, my husbands theory of homeschooling was that the kids would be doing school work from 9 am to 3 pm. When he discovered it was only an hour…well, he put the girls in school also. He promised that I would never get them back home.
I did what every good suburban momma does: became involved in their school. I was a classroom parent. Volunteered for every possible activity. I signed them up for classes in the afternoon. I took them to birthday parties. I tried to make sure that the time I had with them was high quality. We spent the next three years in the school. It was an amazing school. I felt secure. I thanked God for giving us such a wonderful place to educate our children.
Then my daughter came home and pronounced, “Mom, you can’t prove there is a God. How do you know he is real?” She was 8 years old. I was beyond upset. Great! Another failure. I asked her what prompted the conversation. She said, “My teacher told me that.” WHAT? I THOUGHT that was supposed to be off-limits. So, as best as I could, without making her feel ashamed, we talked about how the schools believe differently from our family. And prayed. And still, homeschooling was not an option.
Then my husband decided we’d sell everything we owned, buy an RV and leave Dodge. My life crashed around me. Amazingly, I was the one who embraced the idea and ran with it. I asked for one thing: my children had to be homeschooled. An agreement was made and in June 2010, my kids spent their last day in a public school.
To make a long story short…we didn’t leave. It was assumed that our children would go back to school; they didn’t. So what happened?
As we spent the summer of 2010 with our children, something happened. We realized the impact of spending the majority of our day with our children. Our family changed. We fought less, played more. We cried less, laughed more. Stress went down, calm went up. We began to see the values of other people in the lives of our children, and it made us wake up. We didn’t know what to do…but we decided we would continue homeschooling for at least the year.
I met other homeschool moms. I learned about homeschool styles. For the first time in my life, I believed education was not just something to be endured. I met Angie from Petra School and slowly my heart was turned back to my children.
June 2011 I was invited to attend an OCEAN Network conference in Portland. Voddie Bachman was the speaker. He shared the story of Jesus when they asked him about taxes. Jesus simply asked, “Who’s image is on this coin. “Caesar”, they replied. Then give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. Give to God what is God’s.” Then he asked the question…the one that changed my heart forever. “What image is on your children?” Tears streamed down my cheeks. Quietly, God spoke to my heart.
They are in my image. I made them in my image. They are mine.
I left the conference knowing that I was doing what I was called to do. I longed to have God “use me”…without realizing he was. Every single moment of the day. He uses me, to show these children the wonder of their Creator. There is no higher calling to teach these children to walk in the Truth.
Why do I homeschool? It’s not because it’s an amazing education opportunity (It is). It’s not because it’s academically the best for my children (It is). It’s not because I am a super-hyped, religious control freak (I’m not). I homeschool because my children’s’ hearts and souls are too precious to entrust in a stranger’s hands.
I may not be a perfectly organized homeschooler. I have weaknesses that I allow to overwhelm me. Yet, I know the Creator who has given me these three amazing individuals who remind me daily of just how blessed I am.
I homeschool because I want them to know Him. I want them to grow into the exact unique individual they were meant to be. Beautifully knit together in my womb by their Creator. Loved beyond belief by their two don’t-quite-know-what-they-are-doing parents. Created in the image of the Almighty God.
And my can’t read second grader? Today he’s in 9th grade. He scored in the 90s on his state test this year. He’s teaching himself to speak and write Japanese. He’s learned to write mods for this crazy game called Minecraft. He’s reading the Iliad, at his request. (Yes, I was FLOORED when he asked if he could read this book!) I resist the urge to want to teleport back to that summer and say, “SEE…he can read. He IS smart. He CAN learn.” He’s become beyond I ever expected or hoped. I am so thankful.
What about you? Why are you homeschooling? If you are not, why would you homeschool…or why would you not homeschool (I know there are some situations where it’s best for the child to be in another learning situation).