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Monday, March 11, 2013

Our Road to Homeschooling

I had never heard of homeschooling until watching a television show. This particular show portrayed it in a negative light, and the person was there to "rescue" the poor children.
Not long after that, I began watching a show on TLC about the Duggar family. The show is now called 19 Kids and Counting, but then, they were only around 14 or so. It portrayed homeschooling in a new light. The kids WERE socialized, got along, and loved the Lord. They had a heart to serve others.

Fast forward MANY years. I began to ponder homeschooling as an option for our family. I wasn't ready to admit it out loud yet. One day, in my shower, I asked the Lord if this was His will for our family. If so, please let me know in a way that I would totally understand. Please soften my husband's heart about it too. Please provide an opportunity to do so.

Not long after that, maybe 4 or 5 months, my son got ill. This was fall of 2009. See the series, not quite completed yet, of Our Story for details. My son was in and out of hospitals. He did 'school' with tutors at the hospital-the meds made him grouchy and a difficult student. Then, he came home and did 'school' with a homebound teacher. Still grouchy, still hard to get him to do work. Doing physical therapy, occupational therapy, surgery concerns, tweaking medicines and lots of follow-up appointments/looming hospital stays became overwhelming.

Early summer of 2010, my husband was asked by his company to temporarily relocate to Mississippi for a new factory they were opening. We knew that we would have to leave mid school year and return mid school year. That is when we began to discuss homeschooling. Suddenly, people came out of the woodwork at his job who also homeschooled and talked to him about it and suggested curriculum.We were also concerned about our oldest-school seemed to be difficult for him due to medicine peak times and sleep deprivation- and his seizures got worse with lack of sleep. As so, we decided that it would still be best for the kids to attend the first semester of the 2010 school year at their public schools, then we could homeschool when we got to Mississippi. However, circumstances would change. Again.

The first day of school, the oldest got sick. Did I mention that sickness also caused his seizures to get worse? He was on a really high dose of medicines too which made him groggy. That first day was not a good one. I had a meeting due at the school that day to discuss his care. This kiddo of mine was a straight A student most of the time, always on the honor roll, was in gifted classes and the academic team. During his elementary years, he had been bumped up a grade in certain subjects. Even during his hospital stays and seizures, he maintained excellent work when we could motivate him to do it. The meds made him either grouchy, sleepy or depressed. So--they were constantly tweaking.

 A meeting was called with the principal, the school nurse (whom was also my school nurse when I was in school), and the guidance counselor. That meeting was a nightmare. The principal wanted to put him in "special" classes and on a "special" bus to travel to the elementary school I would be picking his brother up. Or, he could sit in the office with them until I got there. It was like they were afraid of him and judging him. The school nurse tried to explain that he was an excellent student and kid, and that she had been my school nurse. The principal didn't want to listen. I was then given a "form" by the guidance counselor, who actually suggested bumping him up a grade in a class, to keep them from "discriminating" against him, is what I was told. It was a nightmare and I was enraged! His elementary school teachers and principals had even called us when we were far off, to check on him. He visited the school. We went from a lot of support (which they give to this day), to aggravation over a diagnosis. Not test scores--illness.

Right then and there, we pulled him out of school. Talked to the school board, talked to a fellow homeschooler from my husband's company, ordered curriculum and off we went. It was hard, but he was ok with it. He knew come January he would be homeschooling anyway, this was just a few months earlier. He actually liked being able to sleep in a little. He liked that his curriculum included Bible and that his Science testified about GOD's creation and not man trying to explain it away (evolution). Yes, evolution was brought up, but as a theory, not fact. I began to see holes in my own education about God and about Science (which I have a degree in). It was a learning process for me too. He still had his History text from public school and I leafed through it. That whole year was to be spent on other cultures and religion. Christianity was relegated to maybe two or three pages. What?!? The 'religion' this country was founded on gets a couple pages, but other religions fill the book and get more pages? In the years since, we have spent much time on Church History, as well as studying other cultures and religions, but in light of what his faith is. A more balanced view of them all.

His brother joined us in January of that year. We also had a 10 month old and nearly three year old in the home. I began to 'get to know' my boys better. We spent a lot of time talking and, me, just watching them. Seeing their excitement upon learning new things. Seeing their excitement learning about God as creator and that He is here, and that Science has everything to do with Him.

Here we stand, our third year of homeschool, and we have learned many lessons. Perhaps the most precious is time. Having time together. Learning and playing together. Getting to know each other. Working on having a servant's heart for ALL of God's people, not just a few. Our field trips are different beaches and museums! We get to go when not many people are there! We can tailor their education to how they learn best. Microscopes, science experiments, arts and crafts, and many other things!

This isn't an easy job. Coming from being an RN in an ER, I dare to say this is the hardest job I have ever had. But with God's grace, we get through everyday. We see lots of blessings along the way. My then four year old reading-she was writing at three, my three year old writing, and now...doing fractions-both of them! They are pretty good at Geography and Science. They love to learn with their older siblings. Sometimes, the boys even teach them parts of their school. Most important is the strong bond between the siblings and us. They don't fight or fuss as often as one would suspect. The boys will get down on the floor and play board games with their little sisters. When we go places, our kids aren't ashamed to walk with us. When they go somewhere, they have to hug their siblings goodbye (eek! even in front of their friends!). God blessed us here in Mississippi with a church that takes seriously their call to be the hands and feet of Jesus. A church that no matter how big, they still know you by name. A church that has a lot of homeschoolers in it and many activities to keep us all busy (the dreaded homeschoolers are unsocialized issue, is, in fact, a HUGE MYTH!). The kids are enjoying their time as homeschoolers and want to continue. Above all, whatever is God's plan will happen but I am so grateful for this life He has me living. RIGHT NOW.

I cannot answer if homeschooling is right for you. All I can say is what an enormous blessing it has been to my family. Especially when illness, family and otherwise, loom on the horizon. When we need to be somewhere to take care of someone. The freedom to serve, to laugh, to learn and to love as a family. The freedom to "train up" our children, as Proverbs admonishes us to. Proverbs 22:6~ Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (NKJV)

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  1. I know how hard it has been for you, but there were more ups and blessings than downs and trials. You have done a awesome job, have wonderful, smart children (who are socially adapted), wonderful mother and wife and daughter. Love you to the moon and back

  2. Jenn,

    Thanks for blessing me with some insight. I'm considering homeschooling but not sure if that's where the Lord is leading yet. Nice to meet you via blogging!


  3. Praying the Lord makes your path clear and guides you into His plan. I love your blog and am so glad to meet you too! I am blessed beyond measure with my kiddos. Many days, like today, are rough but so worth if in the end.