Saturday, July 14, 2012

Me? Homeschool ?!! (updated)

I didn't officially homeschool when my kids and step-sons were little. I didn't have a teaching degree, even though I'd worked toward it at one time. I wish someone had told me I was totally capable, since I was homeschooling from the beginning, I just wasn't aware that's what I was doing. I did real teaching of letters and sounds, not just teaching them to sing the ABC song when they were preschoolers. We did crafts that tied in with learning. Later we reworked public schoolwork through late hours. I taught budgeting and cooking. We took educational field trips. I wish I could say I taught them Bible verses early on, but you can't teach what you know nothing about yourself. That was for church Sunday school teachers to do, so I thought.

My daughter liked and excelled in ps. For the most part she had no serious problems, unless you count the awful change in schools her kindergarten year where she had been reading the first semester, to the next teacher who took away her pencil and gave her a crayon. The new teacher was mean and impatient. She had very good and a couple of bad teachers along the journey, and she made her way through. In her junior year of high school she attended OSSUM. She graduated a year early. That's a story for another day.

On the other hand, I had to wring my son off my arm and push him through the kindergarten gate almost every day. I felt it was a good day if I could poke him in, jump in my car, back away from the building before he could start out the gate again, and get home without crying all morning myself. Those kindergarten days should've clued me in that this was not going to be easy for either of us. He loved books and loved learning and playing. Then came the day the school informed me that he was at the borderline for needing to be in reading lab. I thought that it would only be a good thing if they thought it necessary, so I signed the papers and in he went. That was the beginning of the end of public schooling for this child. I wish it hadn't taken me so long to realize the need to get him out. He began bringing reams of schoolwork home, and we worked through the evening hours in tears trying to get it all done. I asked why he wasn't getting the work accomplished at school. He explained that by the time he was through with reading lab and got back to class they were done with those subjects and were going to gym, art, music and lunch. Up to this point he had been an average reader and loved reading. He had excellent comprehension, but he did not like to write down the answers to the comprehension questions. He'd write, "because" or "I don't know", but if you asked him about what he'd read he could go on forever excitedly telling you the details. Then he began to dislike reading.

In frustration one evening I told my husband that I might as well homeschool him because I was doing it already! Before this I had found homeschoolers downright unusual and probably incompetent. I only knew one person who seemed to have it all together. I had doubts, but we began to pray about it and when I complained to a friend that I didn't think I could make him mind all day she replied, "That's the main reason you should be homeschooling!"

When I dove in I had no support system except The Swap. The Swap is an online homeschooling community where you can buy & sell used curriculum, learn about homeschooling, and get support from others. This is the site where Ree Drummond a.k.a. Pioneer Woman and I where members during the time that her blog was really gaining momentum. I needed a support system when I didn't think I could be in a local group because I had a little girl that I babysat and taught preschool work to. Then I acquired two more children. All belonged to public school teachers. So for four years I taught my son, two little people, took care of a baby and carted the kids around. When people would make snide remarks at school about homeschooling one of these moms would answer, "Oh, you mean like the lady who babysits my child? The one who has taught her to read at three years old, does Bible crafts and verses with her AND teaches her own son?"

Some days I remember from our journey: He and his best friend dissecting frogs in my kitchen. Memorizing multiplication tables while marching around the island counter. Helping him teach a co-op history class when he was around 16, where the kids made cardboard armor, and after they'd memorized Ephesians 6:10-18 he brought in a real sword and knighted them. 

I'm so thankful that I had a support group in recent years. What a wonderful group of like-minded people, devoted to teaching their own children!

Now I can teach Bible. I should NEVER have depended on Sunday school teachers and other people to teach what I should've been teaching, what the Lord commands that I teach. That was not our reason for starting homeschooling, but it was certainly an advantage.

"Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
-Deuteronomy 6:5-9


Lora said...

I just started reading your blog. Encouraging! I have that same verse in Deuteronomy across the top of my blog. I love that verse!! God gave me that verse as my mission when I became a stay at home mom. What a mission that is.

God bless.

 Cha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer said...

Charlene...I really enjoyed reading this today. Even though our journeys to homeschooling were completely different, your post reminded me of the reasons we homeschool and the heart behind it. It brought back memories of why we are where we are. I needed that today after one of those "Why on EARTH am I doing this??" days! Thanks for sharing this!