Monday, May 3, 2010

Why We Homeschool

Our First Classroom_edited-1
(Our Very 1st Classroom: 2009-2010)

I first started thinking about homeschooling when my daughter Chelsea, (who is now 9), was 1. She wasn't developing at a normal rate and had some significant developmental delays, primarily in speech. She also had severe acid reflux-induced respiratory problems (and in retrospect--both were probably caused by the mastocytosis that we now know she has). Due to these breathing troubles, she had to be isolated from people, because every little cold turned our life upside down.

I graduated from college back in 1999 with a bachelors in Liberal Studies, a multiple subject teaching credential, and a minor in early childhood education. I planned to teach at public schools for the rest of my working days and was quite excited about it. I taught public school for several years before becoming pregnant with Chelsea but had a somewhat negative experience.

Without rehashing all the details, I'll tell you the bottom line--I was dissatisfied with the quest to remove creativity and replace with test prep. I felt forced to turn my class of rectangles, diamonds, squares, circles, and triangles into a bunch of circles.

Some children fit that mold, but what about those who didn't?

And what about the teacher who still had triangles at the end of the year?

I was not satisfied and I was disappointed. It wasn't an environment that I wanted to teach in and it most certainly wasn't an environment that I wanted my differently-abled child to be a part of. For a short time, we attended a public school funded therapy--and even there, they attempted to turn my diamond into a circle.

Well, I loved my diamond just the way she was!

We quickly pulled her out, and I did my own therapy at home. She wasn't well enough to attend preschool, so I did pre-school with her at home. I didn't plan or prep, it wasn't formal, it was natural, good old fashioned fun. We watched Leap Frog videos, we drew and colored, we read lots and lots of books--some educational, some just pure fun.

And guess what?

She started talking and she started doing everything we had waited for her to do all along. She is now several grade levels in ahead in couple subjects, at grade level in every other subject, and totally caught up in all those areas she was formerly delayed--

but she was, and is still a beautiful sparkly diamond.

{If you're not getting this shape thing--it's a metaphor : )}

Meanwhile, Tim and I grew more mature in our faith in Jesus and began to desire a Christian education for our now 3 year old daughter and newborn son. If we were going to send our children to a private school, I would have to get hired on as a teacher in order to afford it.

I was somewhat apprehensive that the experience would be similar to the one that I had when I taught public school (other than the fact that I could teach Christian content),

but I was excited about it anyway....

until I realized that the Lord had other plans.

Shortly after Gavin was born, he became ill. He got progressively worse when he was 9 months old, and after he turned one, things snowballed from bad to worse.

Our world was turned upside down as he was so sick and his prognosis was unknown. He wasn't able to go to any kind of childcare as a toddler, or any kind of school as a preschooler, and we knew we were in this new normal for the long haul.

As if that weren't enough, my health spiraled out of control and I was diagnosed with Mastocytosis.

So no teaching for me--no school for my son--not satisfied with public school for my daughter who won't fit the mold--I want to teach and have a creative nitch that I have to get out on a regular basis--my kids want to stay home with me--I have to stay home--

So homeschool it was (is) for us!

First we started with a private Christian co-op that had Chelsea attending school two days a week and us homeschooling the other 3. She attended there for preschool, Kindergarden, and 1st grade. I tried to teach there on Mondays and Wednesdays but even that was too much for my health.

We learned that Gavin wasn't well enough to do his preschool year there, and I couldn't teach anyway if he couldn't come. Further, Chelsea's condition temporarily worsened with the stress of going even the two days a week during her 1st grade year. We couldn't afford the co-ops tuition and I couldn't work to earn it--

everything was telling us to pull-out, so we did.

We started homeschooling full-time this past September and it was the best decision we ever made for my family.
(Chelsea in 2nd grade: 2010-2011)

My daughter is now healthier than she has ever been; Gavin is too--and I know it's because we're home everyday. We're not overdoing it and we're not overexposed to germs that our sensitive bodies can't fight off as well as a healthy one could.
(Gavin in Pre-K: 2009-2010)

And the most important part--we love it.

Our kids are learning and thriving--and they're having fun being the person {shape} that God made them to be all at the same time.  They're learning at their own pace and mastering concepts with subjects that they are passionate about.

Teaching my own children is a pleaure, a reward, and the most meaningful experience I have ever had......

(Chelsea was in 2nd grade and Gavin was in Pre-K: 2009-2010)

And I wouldn't change a thing!

6 comments:

Sarah said...

That's a neat story!

Foursons said...

I love your reasons for homeschooling. Well, not the part about everyone's health, but the diamond part. You're children are richly blessed to have you as their mom.

Skye is the limit said...

I think this is wonderful and will be homeschooling Skye to try and minimize her health failure! GO you!!

Jessica said...

Even when your family has good health it is a wonderful gift to not get all the sickness that are passed around through the public schools every season.

I'm glad that you all are having a lovely time with school! What a blessing!

Krista said...

I loved reading this. I'm not a parent, but I will hopefully be some day, and I've been thinking more and more as I get older that homeschooling could very well be the right choice for us. I really love what you have to say about turning diamonds and rectangles into circles... that is my biggest concern with formalized education, whether public or private. Of course, it has its place, and for a lot of kids it does work. But for a lot of kids, it's a hindrance to their learning. I had an okay experience in regular schools, K - 12, but when I was in graduate school, we spent some time in my human development course going over modes of educating children, and I wished that I had been able to do something different, like an open classroom or even at home on my own. My sister is in first grade right now, and I'm constantly amazed at the things she gets marked "wrong" for in school: for coming up with complex sentences. For her creative writing. For choosing to color things different colors (her teacher is always telling the kids to make things "realistic," which just breaks my heart for their creative minds). I love how homeschooling gives kids the freedom to learn the way they learn best, not the way the state says they learn best.

Anyhow, this is a totally long comment, but I loved reading this! And your children look lovely.

carissa @ lowercase letters said...

Thanks for giving me this link! : )

Such great perspective! It is so evident and clear that God wanted/wants you to be a home schooling family!