Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How Our Homeschool Journey Began

“Dinner time!”  Momma’s voice echoed down the hallway.  I sighed.  I didn’t want to leave.  I was having too much fun.   I was a teacher, giving my first reading lesson.  My students were amazingly perfect.  They shared incredibly well.  The one piece of paper and pencil was passed with my help from student to student.  They waited patiently, too.  Listening skills were optimal.  Silently they looked on, fully attentive as I outlined their tasks.  Amazingly, my students never made a mistake, or at least one that I caught.  They did everything exactly as I asked. 

“Dorie, dinner is ready!”  I heard her call again.  Time to go.  Climbing over the circle of stuffed animals, I descended the ladder from my top bunk and made my way to the kitchen.

“What were you doing?” she asked.

“Playing school,” I answered, and quickly added, “Maybe I’ll be a teacher when I grow up.”

Years would pass and I would dabble in teaching as a reading tutor in high school and a calculus tutor in college.  However, by then the dream to teach was replaced several times by various aspirations.  Eventually, I would graduate college and work as a therapist for elderly who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.  I worked in this field for several years before the birth of our first child.  Then, when he was four months old, I took a part time office job.  A year later, our daughter was born.  With two children under 16 months of age, I stopped working outside of the home. 

It was then, two months into my new role as a full time, stay at home mom that I first heard about homeschooling.  “Is that really legal?” “Why would anyone want to do that?” and “Aren’t schools better equipped to educate a child?” were among my first thoughts.  I was speaking to a friend from high school who had just told me she was currently homeschooling her two oldest children.  At the time, her children were in second and first grade.  I remember bombarding her with questions that bordered on accusations.  She was exceedingly patient, answering all me with truth and kindness.  Still, I was unconvinced.

We moved, and began a new phase of our life in a new state.  When our oldest was two, it occurred to us that we needed to start looking into preschools.  We searched the area for a ‘good Christian preschool’ that we could afford.  We found several possibilities, but did not commit.  We started to ask if the benefits outweighed the costs for us.  Was it really necessary to do two years of preschool?  Could we replicate schooling at home for less money and time?  We decided to try it for one year, the first year of preschool.  Mind you, we had no intention of homeschooling.  We were no longer opposed to the idea for others, but had still deemed it ‘not for us.’  We had every intention of sending our children to a school starting in Kindergarten. 

The year progressed and our son was an ideal student.  It was during this time period that the Lord began to change our objections and opposition to personally homeschooling our children.  He placed more families in our lives who homeschooled.  We asked them questions and did research.  Finally, after much prayer and time, we made the decision to homeschool our children.  It is a decision that we have made each spring ever since.  Every year, we reevaluate our educational choices, and each time, so far, we have found ourselves making the same decision to homeschool for another year.

Monday began another ‘official’ year of school for our family.  This year, I’m guiding our four children ranging from preschool to seventh grade through their lessons.  The days aren't at all like my childhood teaching dreams.  It isn’t always exciting or fun.  My students don’t always share incredibly well, wait patiently, listen attentively, or do everything exactly as I ask.  As their teacher, I’m OK with that.  For I know, from experience, my students aren’t perfect, but they are amazing!

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