Home schooling seems to be a hot topic lately, at least in my circles of association. Personally, I have decided that the question is not whether to home school, but whether to home school full time or part time. Where ever our children go, whoever they encounter, their relationship with us, as their parents, and what we teach will influence their lives and decisions more than any other relationship or experience until adulthood.

With that in mind, we recently made the decision to home school our children full time. This was not a decision made lightly or without great consideration about every option. My mom taught me and my brother for my 6th grade school year and my brother’s kindergarten year. She was a pioneer of sorts, and felt a great deal more pressure than I will ever feel as a home schooling mom. It was a rough transition from traditional schooling to full time home schooling for both me and my mom.

Looking back, I’m grateful for what my mom endured. My dad says I learned self discipline and the art of writing a term paper that school year. Both of which have served me well. My brother finished the year with a brilliance that motivated him to love learning all through school and beyond.

Despite those successes, my parents decided to drive the 45 minutes into town to send us to a Christian private school the next school year. They came to this decision most probably because of the isolation I felt during 6th grade and the ways I took out my difficult transition on my mom. (I could tell a few stories about cheating and cutting corners, but we’ll save that for another memoir.) Although I was involved in sports and scouts and church groups, the kids in those groups did not relate to me, and I felt awkward. At the private school, I felt normal, again. This experience colored the idea of home schooling for me. I resolved to never torture my own children by trying to home school them.

I grew up to be a teacher, and after countless education courses, a one year internship in an inner-city school, a masters degree, seven years of teaching in the public schools, starting a tutoring business, and teaching part time in a private school, my opinion on what was good for kids began to change. I made a careful study of the kids who were honest, respectful, and kind, as well as good students. Then I watched their parents: how the parents interacted with their kids and with me. I could see that the parents who actively poured themselves into their kids in positive ways through care and loving discipline were most likely to have kids with good attitudes and happy hearts. To me, it was clear which students came from happy homes where parents were often present and took interest in the lives of their kids.

This all led to my home schooling realization. All along I was re-evaluating my youthful resolve against home schooling. And when Caleb was born, after a significant encounter with God, Thomas and I decided that being home for my kids and my family was an essential element in raising a happy family. I knew that whether I sent my kids to public or private school or kept them home, I would be there to teach them, to learn with them, to help them process what they were learning.

Caleb asked me to teach him how to read just before he turned five. It was right around that time we decided to home school full time. Previously, I felt that as a secondary teacher I would be bored teaching elementary school. I was afraid boredom would color my attitude and in turn color my children’s thoughts on learning. I prayed that the Lord would change my attitude in this area as it became clearer we would home school full time.

My mom gave me the phonics program she used with my brother, and I started teaching Caleb to read. The first change in my heart came when I noticed that if I spent 20 minutes to an hour with Caleb in the morning working on “school” the rest of the day went more smoothly. He was more willing to follow my plan for the day when I spent a bit of time devoted completely to him teaching him to read. Alina showed a good deal of enthusiasm for school, as well.

During those first few months, I came across a Homeschool Company called Sonlight through some friends who also home schooled full time. This group and the curriculum plans they provide intrigued me, so we invested in the kindergarten core plan. All I can say is that through this program, the Lord continued to answer my prayers! The Sonlight Curriculum motivates me. I love it. I love it so much, I don’t want to send my kids to regular school because they will miss out on an AMAZING learning experience through the books and layout I know they won't receive in traditional school. My heart continues to change as I watch my kids engage learning with excitement.

I have completely shifted from my “anti-home schooling” declarations as a young girl to wondering how I could ever send my kids to traditional school! I don’t want to miss out on them. Teaching Caleb to read is more rewarding than I once realized it could be. Watching my children enjoy the projects we plan and spending special time together reading and talking about stories or cultures or history is so precious. Of course, it helps that we are also part of a larger community of families who home school full and part time! My kids don’t feel strange, like I did in the mid nineteen-eighties.

We are committed this year to homeschooling, to actively pursuing friendships and outside the home learning opportunities for the whole family, and to making learning a constant process that flows with everyday life. Caleb is in soccer with a local church. We’ve set up field trips and get togethers with other home schooling families. We’ve scheduled specific blocks of time for direct teaching and reading and practice of our studies. We have a never ending list of projects. And we are having fun.

Within this progression, I am open to change in the schooling plan for our kids’ futures. I feel certain that the Holy Spirit will direct us in the best course for our kids and our family. Thomas and I realize that we alone stand before God as stewards of the children He has put in our care. We are seeking Him on the ways He wants us to instruct our children. One thing I am convinced of is that we will be home schooling whether or not our kids step foot into a traditional school. Parents are the single most influential adults in a young person’s life. I want my kids to know that I’m there. I can only do that by being there.

Sonlight Curriculum

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    Meg said...

    It sounds like you have a good handle on it, Beth. And I'm glad you're having fun.

    One of my favorite blogs is www.thatmom.com, written by a veteran homeschooler who wants to encourage other homeschool moms. Besides posting about education, she posts recipes, book reviews, music, and just plain fun stuff, and it's all seasoned with grace. Check it out sometime if you haven't yet.

  1. ... on October 20, 2009 at 10:23 PM  
  2. Beth said...

    Thanks, Meg, for the recommendation! I signed up with thatmom.com and have enjoyed reading her posts!

    For anyone else looking for great homeschooling sites, I also recently found http://happytobeathome.net.

    I especially like the post titled "13 Fabulous Online Homeschool Resources"

  3. ... on November 6, 2009 at 3:36 PM