Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Home Education: Why We Do It

It with a great feeling of surrealism that I write this post.


Well, cuz three years ago I never thought I'd be teaching my kids at home.

Several people have asked me recently why we chose to home educate our children.

The short answer is that we found ourselves moving around the country. A lot.

The military has been good to us, but we have had to learn flexibility.

Two years ago we were facing our 5th military move in less than 9 years. We realized that by the time our oldest got to 6th grade, he would have been in 6 different schools.

That's overwhelming for anyone, but add that to the already not-so-fun adolescent time in a boys life, and we figured it was downright unfair.

We looked into schools -  public, private, and charter -  but after multiple applications to the school boards (which were denied) and issues with zoning and charter lotteries, nothing panned out.

And here we are...

I guess my main reason for this post is that I've noticed that many people assume we homeschool based on a lot of reasons that have a negative vibe to them. Although it is probably bad form to list them, I'm gonna do it anyway. Here is what the La Vida Homeschool is not about:

1. Not about religion.

When The Mister and I were very young parents, we had a man, whom we had never met (or ever saw again), approach us at church. He told us (in not a few words) that it was vital that we should be thinking (and planning) about how we would educate our children. Since I was holding a newborn and trying my best not to lactate through my blouse, I was having trouble not having bitter feelings as he kept us hostage in the church hallway. He let The Mister and I know that all good Christians home-schooled.

What it looked like to me is homeschooling itself had become this man's religion as he proselytized to us in the hall. In that one encounter I decided that all homeschool parents were strange, strange, people. I would never be one of them.

Of course my view now is a little a friend of mine says, "you're drinking the Kool-aide now, aren't you?"

As an evangelical Christian, my faith in Christ is the center of my life, and by extension, my homeschool. Homeschooling lends to our faith in a holistic sense. It gives freedom to learn who we are in Christ, how we relate to the world through Him, and how to serve Him in all areas of our life.

I love that the kids and I can study about history and see the hand of God. I enjoy studying Science and seeing God's creativeness at work. I love that we an incorporate study of the Bible as a daily class.

Our faith is not why we chose to homeschool, but it is the foundation.

And for the record, homeschooling doesn't make me (or my family) any better at being a Christian.

2. Not about our public schools.

In the course of our parenting tenure we have pretty much done it all: private, public and homeschool.

Of all these choices, I am most grateful for our time in public school.

My son attended wonderful private schools for kindergarten and first grade, but he had a real problem: he couldn't read.

He tried very hard to learn, and his dad and I tried very hard to help him. To say it was a struggle would be an understatement. The teachers at the private schools wanted to hold him back a year and label him with disorders and disabilities I was certain he didn't have. I watched my bright, happy, loving boy pull into himself and become anxious as he coped in a world full of words he couldn't figure out.

To be fair to the private schools, there was little funding for Reading Specialists, and I couldn't afford the  special learning groups that were offered (although ten years ago they weren't readily available in the private schools we chose.) Through circumstances of military moves and money, (not to mention the Providence of God) our kids ended up in public school.

I would be lying if I told you I wasn't afraid the morning we walked our babies into the halls of that school. I wondered if we were throwing our lambs to the lions.

It wasn't long before The Boy's teacher called me in and told me that my son couldn't read and that she was going to send him to the in-house Reading Specialist, Mrs P.

If I saw Mrs. P on the street right now, I would throw my arms around her and tell her what a difference she made in my sons' life. We will never forget her.

The Boy didn't have ADD, nor did he have dyslexia. He just needed someone with specialized knowledge, talent, and the passion to give children (who don't "get it" easily) the gift of the love for reading.

As a result, today my seventh grade boy is reading far above his grade level. We will always be grateful.

I would never be so boastful to say that we would never use public school again. In our experience, public school was a good and positive choice, both here and in Arizona.

I think this post is getting long, so I'm gonna stop. But i did want to answer some of the questions I have received over the past several months about our choice for education. If you have any questions (maybe some that weren't answered here) you want to ask about our homeschooling I'd love to hear them and will answer to the best of my ability!

Happy Wednesday!


mer@lifeat7000feet said...

Our public school system here is EXCELLENT. I pray about homeschooling every summer (because I think I would love it) but unless something radical happens with our school system, I think we're on a good track. My kids are learning and they're happy. I think sometimes I knee-jerk and want to educate them at home to shield them from certain social things, but overall, we're very pleased.

I think you're doing a GREAT job, Kellie!

Lisa said...

We made the decision last year (7th grade) to homeschool our daughter for the middle school years. I've been happy with the decision, but we have certainly taken a lot of criticism for it!

Our children had been in a wonderful private school, but we could no longer afford it. Our son went to public high school where he is very happy - in AP and Honors classes...but our daughter's middle school experience was a dismal failure. After 9 weeks, we pulled her out and began homeschooling her.

I love hearing about why and how other parents came to the decision to homeschool. I think each parent has unique reasons, and all of them are valid!

Anonymous said...

My husband grew up in the Air Force. He attended 11 different schools before graduating high school. Then he went on to attend three different colleges. :) I admire you for what you're doing. You're looking at your kids, your family, and choosing what is best for them. Well done.

Anonymous said...

Great and informative post! Having had EVERY possible form of educating our two children (private, public, boarding and home school) the one that was best was the one needed by that particular child at that particular time. God holds us responsible for the education of our children regardless of the form. I taught in a private Christian school for 12+ years and saw SO MANY uninvolved parents it was sad. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

great post! I am so glad your sharing some of your reasons! I love that its not about religion or the public schools.. but because its the right thing for your family and because of that all the rest falls into place :-)

Such The Spot said...

I remember standing outside of Buddy's Grill discussing this very issue, right as you were about to embark on this journey. At that time, you were both apprehensive and excited. You've certainly come a long way.

I'm so happy for you that it has worked out and that you've found peace in your solution. Homeschooling moms leave me in awe, you included!

Rachel said...

Your kids are blessed to have such a great mommy AND teacher. I think you're doing an amazing job! :)

O Mom said...

Your testimony of your boy's reading just fills me with so much hope. One of the main reasons I was excited about the posibilities of this new public schooling experience was getting some help for my middle daughter. She has struggled to read and even though she is improving, somethings just not clicking and I know it's beyond my abilities right now. Her teacher is pushing her way beyond what I would have ever done, and she's rising to the challenge!
Blessings! :)

Gretchen said...

Thank you for sharing this. Our stories are so similar (except for the moving part).
I had to learn "never say never." Following the Lord's calling can be so humbling yet rewarding.
Your kids are so blessed to have such a wonderful mom!

Sandy M. said...

I loved the way you put a positive spin to this! There's not a "one-size-fits-all" for schooling, & it's obvious that you have chosen the path that God has led you down for your family. You are an awesome mom & teacher!