Our Homeschooling Story, part one
There’s a quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln that reads, “The philosophy of the school room in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.”
I don’t pretend to know what Abe meant by that statement but I’ll tell you how I interpret it. To me it means we should be very careful and intentional about what we teach our children. Some day they’ll be making the big decisions. In negative context, it suggests that in order to reach certain ‘for the good of the people’ goals we must indoctrinate early.
Is the cup half full or half empty? Take it as you will but either way that quote is as good a reason as any to homeschool. At age five we typically turn our children over to someone else. That someone influences how they think, how they learn and what they know about the world. Someone will shape the way my children see the past, present and future. My husband and I decided we’d like to be that someone. There were many factors and here are several:
- The intention to raise godly individuals with strong moral characters
- The determination to provide a rich and unique education not bound by a common core
- The hope of extending and protecting their childhood
- The desire to establish, strengthen and maintain a deep family bond
- The cost of the Christian school we loved was just too expensive
We started our homeschooling journey in 2008. It was the year my daughters were to begin second and first grade. And this is the part of the story that I tell you my mom was a teacher. My step-mom is a teacher. My husband’s mom was a teacher. His aunts and cousin are teachers. We were literally raised by brilliant educators and our decision was met with a brilliant firestorm. We did our best to explain but it was, after all, a decision made with our kids in mind. We were excited to spend the days with them. We were thrilled to witness the wonder of their learning milestones for ourselves. It was as complicated — and as simple — as that. Now we have years invested and we wouldn’t change a thing.
Homeschooling became a lifestyle. It was a big transition for all of us, don’t get me wrong. I was determined to fill those little brains to bursting and we reached the breaking point, several times. Over time I eased out of that results-driven mentality and into everyday discovery mode. We have math books and spelling words and vocabulary tests, yes. Sometimes those are interrupted by future farmers of America or a cookie craving. Make ’em and bake ’em I say— it’s the tastiest way to learn fractions! A salamander discovery on a boyhood adventure? Instant science lesson. You’re getting braces? Awesome! I want a one-page report on the history of orthodontics.
Homeschool Trippin’. Field trips and fun days take on new meaning when your lives are all about schooling at home. We were looking for a weekend vacation destination about the time the girls were studying the Civil War. To Gettysburg we went. We walked the battlefields, traced the soldiers’ footsteps and experienced a day in the life as best we could. And we found some fun for the youngest, too. We can’t take trips all the time, but when we do they usually have a purpose. And when the local school district takes a snow day? Too bad for my kids. They’re already at home. No excuses. Sometimes things get tough, though. That’s when I say, “Oh, don’t look so grumpy!”
To move from what’s considered a normal to an atypical education style was a trial by fire. It has evolved into one of the greatest blessings of our life together. It’s a daily love note to my kids. It’s a gift to my husband and me. We have their hearts — for now, at least. And when the time comes for them to move on — and on outta here, I hope their hearts will beat stronger because of it.