Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why Homeschooling?

I began my homeschooling journey 12 1/2 years ago with a 6th grader, a 2nd grader and a 5 month old baby. My 6th grader was in public school for 6 years and was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. These were both pretty evident, but still hard for this Mom accept. I love to read and struggled and cried with this child who found it so challenging. His last 2 years in school were in a small, private Christian school. The smaller classroom size and less distractions were great for him. We were able to discontinue the medication for hyperactivity and he became much more confident. After Amy was born, I wanted to stay home from work and be a mommy. So, losing my income meant that we couldn't afford the private school tuition anymore. Putting him back in public school was not really an option for us. We had been told that he would be put in a "self-contained" classroom with other special ed kids and not mainstreamed into a regular classroom. That made up my mind quickly...homeschooling it was. Both boys quickly adapted to being at home and doing school at the kitchen table. We joined a support group and got to participate in lots of activities with other families.

Both boys played tennis and bowled on homeschool teams/leagues. We participated in Christmas craft fairs, field days, and they both went all the way through Boy Scouts (tiger cub to Eagle Scout). We went to homeschool day at 6 Flags in GA, made numerous trips to Disney World, and went to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala. James was able to "catch up" his learning and graduate a year earlier than if he had been in a public school classroom.

Homeschooling is a 24 hour a day, way of life, not just an educational choice. This is something I didn't fully understand when we started this journey. You learn to get along with your family through thick and thin, good and bad, richer or poorer, etc. (kinda sounds like marriage vows). We have had the thin, bad (horrible) and poor times and sometimes they happened simultaneously. But we have also had many joyous, happy, fun, encouraging and family strengthening times. Praise the Lord, the good times are much more plentiful than the bad times. This togetherness is what Greg saw with me and my 3 when we made the move to Miss. He didn't understand homeschooling or what it involved but he watched and kept an open mind.
I would continue to homeschool and his would continue in public school.

Our first full summer, the younger 3 kids (Katie, Will and Amy) and I did a unit study on the 4th of July. It was very interesting and we found lots of resources on the internet to use. Do you know when or for what reason the Liberty Bell was rung at 2AM? (Hint: it has nothing to do with the beginning of the war.)

By the 2nd summer, Will had also joined our homeschool classroom. and by the end of the 2nd summer, Katie joined us too. We have had a great time learning and growing together. The 3 of them have formed a close bond and are friends as well as brother and sisters. Now, life is not all rosy and full of laughter...they still bicker and argue, complain about lessons or chores, etc. But on the plus side, they are learning accountability, staying on task, and loads and loads of history. Katie brought up her ACT score by 6 points the last time she took it and she will get to graduate a full year early. We can go at our own pace and her pace is faster than most. She is in her 2nd year at home and has completed 3 math books.

In our travels we have visited George Washington's Mount Vernon, John Adams home in Quincy, Mass, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, James Polk's home and Abraham Lincoln's home in Springfield, MO. We have walked the battlegrounds of Antietem, Gettysburg, Shiloh, Brices Crossroads, Vicksburg, Chickamauga, and many others whose names have escaped me right now. We have seen coins being minted in Philadelphia and paper money printed in Washington DC. We have spent hours doing the Junior Ranger programs at the above mentioned places and many more. We spent 3 hours in FordsTheatre and honestly, just walking into that place can give you the chills. When we see anything about Lincolns assination on tv, we remember walking all over that theatre. We loved the Smithsonian Museums in Washington. The National Archives was very exciting....seeing one of the original copies of the Declaration of Independence. The National Art Gallery was unforgetable! I had a class in high school about different artists and one of them was Degas. Now I didn't remember the details of his paintings before hand, but they quickly flooded back to my mind, lets just put it this way, he doesn't paint clothes on people. We didn't linger long there. We toured the capital and the Library of Congress. And really cool, was our visit to the Supreme Court. Court was in session and we got to sit in on about 5 minutes of it. We have seen Niagara Falls, toured Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. We have seen Plymouth Rock, Lexington and Concord. We have toured the Gateway to the West Museum in St. Louis, eaten fresh cheese curds and cherries in Wisconsin (yummy to both) and enjoyed almost every minute of our journeys. I say almost because we did do way too much on our first Wash. DC trip and ended up exhausted and with bad leg cramps. You can and cram too much into a trip.

The kids are now trying to convince Greg that when we study WWII that we should go to the Pearl Harbour Memorial. Hummmmmmmm, sounds good to me, but we can't float the RV across the Pacific Ocean. We would like to do Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.

This year, the 5 of us are going to an Indian Reservation in Oklahoma on a Mission Trip and we are going to Disney in the fall. Most of our other trips are bonuses with traveling for Gregs work and I don't know what is in the plans for this year with that.

The biggest compliment I could get came 2 weeks ago when Katie and Amy both told me, they wanted to homeschool their own children. That made it all worth while!

I love being with my children, I love experiencing new things with them, I love working with them through problems and finding solutions, I love playing games with them, I love to hear what they learn and research (just because they wondered about something), I love their help on projects. We are a family designed and brought together by God.

I am very thankful for the freedom to homeschool my children!

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