What Led Up To Homeschooling My Children
Why Do It?
Why would anyone do it? Why would you want to pull your children out of public school and take on the burden and responsibility to your children’s education? It’s really a lot of trouble and you have to convince yourself about the good reasons to do it if you are to tackle the job seriously. You will have people question your motives so you should have an answer that satisfies them and yourself. You may even have well-meaning members of your own family who challenge you that this isn’t in the best interest of the children. In my case, there were several reasons for our choice to homeschool our children.
I didn’t want to at first. I really didn’t think I liked my children enough to have them underfoot 24/7. I used to LOVE when September came and I had 5 or 6 uninterrupted hours of alone time per day. I could THINK for while, clean at my leisure, have ice cream in the middle of the day without 4 voices asking for some too. However the children and their problems came first.
The youngest with ADHD
My youngest was having some attention problems that just weren’t going away. We found later that she had ADHD but during her first few years in school, we weren’t sure what the problem was. She was constantly getting time-out and detentions for being out of her chair and disrupting the class. Finally we pulled her out of public school and paid the exorbitant fees to have her in a private school. That turned out to be no better. There were a couple of boys that had been expelled from public school and had no other recourse but to go to this same private school. They picked on my daughter daily. They were two years older and a full foot taller but when she finally had enough in the hall one day, she turned around, curled up her thin little fist and punched them right in the throat. That’s when she was expelled. The problem here is that no matter how many times I went down to the school, I could not get anyone to stop these boys from harassing my daughter. What is going on in the schools?
If this had been the only problem, we could have dealt with it. But this wasn’t isolated. The eldest daughter was having some problems also. She was really having no problems academically (that I knew of at the time), but socially, there were several problems. She had been talking to one of her friends about her faith. Eventually her friend wanted to come to church with us and we were very happy to have her. However later her older cousins found out and threatened my daughter. There were 5 of them who wanted to “jump” my daughter outside the school. She only told me about the incident when I couldn’t get her to go to school for several days. When your 11-year-old child is afraid to go to school, something is wrong.
Then there were the problems facing my son. He has always been a little small for his age. He is 15 months older than the youngest girl but everyone thought he was the youngest because of his size. It was an embarrassment for him. Wouldn’t you know that is the one child that other bigger bullyboys want to beat up on? In the public school he attended, the PE class was grouped with 60 boys in one class. It was no wonder that one teacher was just not able to monitor the 3 bullies hitting my son. We finally went down to the principle’s office about it. The Principal gave us the suggestion that my son should try to punch the boys back. He probably wouldn’t win, 3 against one, and the Principal would have to suspend him for 3 days for trying, but he felt the bullies wouldn’t bully him anymore. This was unacceptable for us. We didn’t want to go home and tell our sweet gentle son he was going to have to try to punch boys they admittedly couldn’t control.
If this wasn’t enough, we had one more problem. The middle girl, who was seemingly doing fine in public school was having a problem with her teacher. It wasn’t a big problem or anything that wouldn’t have worked itself out eventually, but it was one more straw on this camel’s back.
My middle girl has lovely, long dark hair. When she was born, she had so much dark silky hair, the nursery nurses combed it up into a ponytail on top of her head, tied with a bow. She looked like Pebbles Flintstone. On top of that, she had black silky hair on her ears that swept up to a point like some sort of fairy princess, and so much hair on her eyebrows that it looked like one continuous brow across her forehead. I explain all this because even though her eyebrows finally separated into two and she lost the hair on her ears, she did have a tendency to put her brows together when she was mad. She could give you the scariest look from under that brow, which we came to call the Nuke. If she gave you that mean look you felt like you had been reduced to a pile of ash.
The day inevitably had to come when she Nuked her teacher. The poor woman wasn’t a novice teacher, but she had never been Nuked before and she was overcome by my daughter’s anger. The teacher called me in tears over this mean look. I know I seem heartless, but I nearly laughed, probably because it was a mercy to know I wasn’t the only recipient of the Nuke. But this teacher was distraught over it. She had told my daughter that she couldn’t do something in class and had been Nuked for a week. I confronted my girl and she didn’t deny doing it but wasn’t going to easily stop, now that she knew it affected the teacher. Now that’s a problem. She is a little passive-aggressive to be Nuking people with a look but not openly defiant or violent. That look got her what she wanted way too often and I was going to have to put an end to that.
By the way, today she is a police officer and still Nukes people, but mostly those who need it. It is still surprisingly effective.
I'll Try it for ONE year
All of these incidents together made me very worried about what to do. I didn’t want to keep them home for homeschool but I didn’t want anymore of these crazy problems. I knew we didn’t have enough funds to send them all to private school, and it wasn’t even helping for the youngest anyway. I prayed all summer, hoping God would miraculously reveal door number 4; something I hadn’t thought of yet. When September came I finally relented and decided to commit to just one year of homeschool. But I made it known to my husband and kids that if I didn’t like it, there wouldn’t be another year of it.
Time for video
They Played Together Nicely
Right away, the kids did something I didn’t expect. They got along famously. They used to bicker and quarrel. They used to needle and tease one another. Now they were challenging each other to a game of chess during our break times. I began to wonder when the mother ship was returning and where the pod people had put my REAL children. They were actually a joy to be around. Who could have imagined THAT happening?
Cute when they are studious
Then something else happened that I didn’t expect. We were discussing some history lesson or another and the lights came on in their eyes. You know what I mean? It’s that moment when a child “gets it” and understands something they didn’t know before. It was positively illuminating. And they are adorable when they are studious. I had no idea.
Things that need work
If that wasn’t enough to encourage me, another perk came up. Deficiencies in their education became apparent. I learned things about my children that hadn’t been aware of before. I found out that my oldest was 2 years behind her grade level in math. Her biggest struggle was with fractions. I began concentrating on helping her recover lost time with fractions. We did fraction helps, fraction tutorials, and even fraction cooking. I announced one day that we had only enough ingredients to make one batch of chocolate chip cookies. Each of the four of them could have one fourth of a batch to bake or eat raw, as they wished. All they had to do was go into the kitchen and make one-fourth a batch of the dough each. They had to figure things like ¼ of 2 ½ cups of flour, etc. With the hands on methods, my daughter gained 2 years of math in that first year. That alone made it worth it.
Homeschool allows for other things too.
Would you be willing to homeschool if your children were having serious problems in public school?
Next door to illiterate
My youngest was the biggest surprise. She was going into the 5th grade when we started homeschooling. When we took a trip to the library, she concentrated on the picture book isle. I told her that she needed to get a book closer to her reading level. And that’s when I found out that she had little more than a 1st grade reading level. She was excellent at memorizing and found a way of fooling the public school teachers into thinking she was reading when she wasn’t. But she didn’t fool me. In that first year I got her interested in chapter books and the rest, as they say, is history. Today you can’t keep a book out of her hands. If her deficiency had gone unnoticed much longer she may have wound up illiterate.
Colleges prefer homeschoolers
These are just a few of the reasons I decided to continue homeschooling even after that first year. My children excelled and even went to college. One college councilor told me that colleges preferred homeschooled students because they knew how to study best. This was news to me. I had actually been concerned that they may have problems getting into good colleges.
There are some down sides to homeschooling. I had to make sure they met with other families regularly to have team sports and group science lessons. I had to study with them to be sure that they performed the necessary lessons correctly (mostly foreign languages like French and Latin). Once my middle daughter berated me for not giving her enough education. When I question what she felt deficient in she said that the boys teased her for not knowing the meanings of some dirty words. If that is the worst thing the kids can say about my educating them, I can accept that gladly.
Where to find the answers
Honestly, they didn’t learn everything at home. What I wanted more than anything was for them to know where to find the information to any question they may encounter. We visited the library often and even had scavenger hunts for information. At one point I even had the children look up the phone numbers of experts in their fields (like the Biology Department of the local college) with questions to ask a professor. There are just some things you can’t find easily at the library. I can safely say they all know how to find information on any subject they may need.
I read about a time in his latter years when Henry Ford was on trial for competency. He was elderly and was trying to keep his rights. The lawyer asked him some difficult math questions and when he couldn’t figure the problem, he said he didn’t know but if he could have 5 minutes and a telephone he could give them the answer. The judge wanted to know what he wanted with a telephone. To which he answered that he may not have all the answers but he felt sure he employed someone who did. The judge found that a very sound answer. So do I. If my kids knew how to find the answers they would be able to succeed anywhere.