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How we came to it

2010 August 8
by Pamela

I started homeschooling Mary Claire two weeks ago.  The previous sentence is one I never thought would cross my lips or my keyboard, let alone my brain.  My views about home education have changed quite a bit over the years, starting somewhere along the lines of “that’s something weird people do” to “holy moly, we are about to become the Weirdos”. 

I’ll be honest about my stereotypical view from year’s past:  I thought homeschool moms never cut their hair or wore makeup and had a strange affinity for long denim skirts.  They were very religious and their kids were afraid of the world, all 15 of them.  These families baked their own bread, raised chickens, and only cleaned with vinegar. 

But then I got to college, a private Christian school with several homeschool graduates in my classes.  I was impressed with how self-motivated they were to learn.  They were all capable, smart, articulate and normal.  There was definitely something different about them – I could almost always peg a student as a former homeschooler and be correct – but the difference was a unique, not creepy, thing.

Fast forward five years to the birth of Mary Claire.  Since I operate from the unfortunate premise that there is no time to worry like the present, I started worrying/researching/worrying/praying/talking to others about education options in our area.  Around the same time I also came upon some lovely things on the internet called blogs.  I had never heard of them before, but quickly became hooked on being able to glimpse into people’s lives so different from our own.  I began reading homeschool blogs and was impressed with both the character of the writers as well as the fascinating learning environments they were creating for their children. 

At that point I embraced homeschooling as a viable option for some people.  But not us.

As we moved to the point of needing to make a decision about Mary Claire’s education, our reality became more apparent:  We don’t live in a great school district.  We couldn’t afford to move.  I didn’t want to send our daughter to another school district.  We really wanted to provide an excellent Christian education, not just an education.  We didn’t see a truly excellent Christian school around us.**  We didn’t want to drive our children 35 minutes one way to attend an excellent Christian school.  Even if we did, we couldn’t afford it unless I went back to work.  No one wanted me to go back to work.

**If you live close to us and adamantly disagree with any of the above statements regarding schools available to us, it’s not my intention to offend you or your choices.  These were our conclusions.

So we looked at our personal goals, financial situation, and education options around us and concluded that our only choice was to homeschool.

We have friends around us who believed it was the best education option period, but for us it was the only option.

Two weeks into home educating our daughter, I am already seeing some benefits to teaching her at home.  We are able to move at her own pace, which means we are flying through certain lessons (Math, which shocks me- further proof she didn’t inherit many of my genes) and linger when we need to (we spent three days on the same Phonics lesson and then POOF! she got it and we moved on).  When she is fascinated with a subject, we can stop to discuss it or learn more about it.  We are reading her very first chapter book and the Chinese practice of foot binding came up.  She wanted to hear about it over and over again (then she wanted to try it out on her little sister, but we won’t talk about that). 

Finally I like that we can talk about what we are learning all day long.  I am able to connect her lessons to real life in a way that I might not be able to if I wasn’t intimately familiar with her coursework.

So that long diatribe can basically be summed up in this:  I can’t believe we are doing this either.  But we kind of like it. 

Next up is the curriculum we are using for kindergarten.

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