Last week I mentioned I was heading to the Denim Jumper Convention (Also known to some as the Homeschool Convention). I must admit--the ladies in denim jumpers did not disappoint. There were jumpers in a whole rainbow of colors and plaids. There were also lots and lots of long denim skirts, and so many pregnant women and babies in wraps that I was a little afraid. Not to worry, though. I did NOT drink the water.
You do understand that I am saying all of this a little tongue in cheek, right? Because, although there WERE ladies dressed in denim jumpers, of course, there were also plenty of ladies dressed just like me--rolled up jeans, a 3/4 cardigan, and my Chacos. (My Spring uniform).
Just like there were differently dressed ladies at the convention, so are there lots of different reasons families choose to homeschool. Since I get asked all the time about our family's experience and reasons behind our school choices, I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain it a little.
If I had to sum up our family's experience in homeschooling in one sentence, this is what it would be:
I LOVE the RESULT of having homeschooled our daughters, but many times during the homeschool day, I want to yell, scream, nag, hug, cry, run away, drink a Coke, smoke a cigarette, drink whiskey, grin, giggle, jump up and down, or curl into a fetal position.
In other words, homeschooling has been good for our family, but most days, in the process, I want to toss it out the window and put my daughters on the school bus driving past our house. Sure, there are wonderful moments I would have otherwise missed out--when one of the girls "gets" a concept. Those moments I want to jump up and down and squeal for joy. Or, when I notice pretty handwriting on something and I think, "I DID THAT!! I taught her how to write!!!"
I know I've mentioned this before, but I pretty much came into homeschooling kicking and screaming. I went to college to become a high school English teacher--a public school teacher. My husband went to college to become an elementary math and science teacher. Both of our families had teachers before us--public school teachers. My husband and I were both mostly public school taught. So, why would we want to homeschool--with all of our public school background?
Well, my husband and I are both trained teachers. Between the two of us, we have all major subjects covered. Even though I LOVE the act of teaching, it was my husband who first felt strongly that we should homeschool for our daughters' beginning school years. He felt like our giving them one-on-one instruction at home would give them a solid foundation--educationally and spiritually--for their later years.
Even though I agreed with Dave's outlook, I had never pictured myself teaching my kids at home. It took me a while (okay, a WHOLE LOT of ARGUMENTS), to begin exploring what homeschooling could look like for me.
At the end of our discussions (fights), I decided to compromise (give in), and homeschool our girls K-2nd grade. I would give them 3 years of a solid foundation at home, and then send them off to school in town.
Emotionally, that was all I could handle thinking about. I knew I could handle 3 years. After that, we both agreed that if I wanted to continue homeschooling, it would be my decision. Or, if I wanted to put them into school, it would also be my decision. At that point, I could NOT have handled thinking that I would homeschool the girls all the way through school. Dave would have had to put me in the loony bin if that had been the case. I couldn't even have handled thinking I would homeschool for 7 years--which is what I've done for our oldest.
Dave giving me the reins to decide whether to continue homeschooling after 2nd grade was the best thing he could have done. Knowing the decision was mine gave me complete freedom to explore what was best educationally and emotionally for the girls each school year--and also to make sure I was really up to the challenge. If the decision had been partly Dave's at that point, I'm sure I would have felt defensive about any of the decisions, instead of realistic.
As Rebecca finished 2nd grade, I decided to keep her home for another year or two mainly because of one thing: Her little sister.
Because our daughters ended up being much farther apart in years that we'd planned, I felt like keeping Rebecca home another year or two would help them become closer, despite their 4 1/2-year age difference. When Rebecca was 8, and going into the 3rd grade, Sara Beth, at 3 1/2, was just beginning to play the same things as her big sister.
In retrospect, having both girls home together has been one of the BEST things we've done in homeschooling. Now, to be completely honest, having both girls home together has also nearly driven me to CRAZY TOWN. Those girls fight, and bicker, and tattle, and get on each others' nerves on purpose, and on a daily basis. However. I have also gotten to watch Rebecca's nurturing side as she's helped Sara Beth with schoolwork. I've watched Sara Beth encourage her big sister. And through the years, I've watched a friendship and dependence on each other blossom, even in spite of all the daily bickering.
Okay, I've probably lost most of you by now with all my homeschool chatting. For those that ARE still reading, I'll continue these riveting thoughts another day. I'd love to tell you some of the best things I've learned along the way, and maybe save you some trouble (or a Zoloft prescription) if ever you decide to embark on the homeschool journey.
Also, if you have any burning homeschool questions, I'd LOVE to answer them in the continuation!