Share your personal history…before you were a home educator. What was life like? Think about things you miss and things you and your family have gained.
Before I was a home educator, I was a young mom just trying to get a handle on being a mom, period. I was not especially qualified or capable, so the thought of being called to do this job for more than the requisite five years, sounded crazy. Why would I want my children around for longer than they had to be? School meant a break in the noise and craziness, right? That sounded good to me!
And yet, there was something about homeschooling that intrigued me.
I first learned about the concept of homeschooling when my son was an infant and we moved to Wisconsin (in January, I will add-- not a good place to put a southerner at that time!). I only met a handful of people during that time, and one was a woman named Sue. Sue was a Creative Memories rep I read about in the paper and called to learn about scrapbooking, which was to become a passion of mine as well. When I went to her house to see her supplies, I was greeted at the door by the most polite 8yo boy I had ever met. He was unreal. I marveled at this kid and his sisters. To say they impressed me is an understatement. I went home and told Curt all about this crazy woman who had four kids and was pregnant with the fifth and homeschooled! Who has that many kids and then doesn't get rid of them when she can?? I questioned aloud.
I imagine God had a good laugh that day.
The more time I spent around Sue, the more I learned about this crazy idea of homeschooling. It was an election year and she and her children were busy volunteering for candidates and taking part in some pretty amazing life lessons. She and I would scrapbook and she would share with me why she thought that homeschooling was the best thing since sliced bread. She gave me some books and magazines. (They have magazines for these crazy people? I marveled.) And I dutifully read them. Curt would see me reading them and he would say, "You can read all that crazy propaganda you want to read, but we are not doing that. You are not making my son weird." I would tell him that I was just fascinated by the whole thing-- I certainly would never do it. I reasoned that it was like a sociology project. (I was just out of college and apparently still in that mindset.)
One thing I decided in all of this was that homeschooling, while it was interesting and I had observed the differences in Sue's children, was a uniquely northern thing. Surely people down south didn't do this. We returned home and Sue promised to keep in touch. (To this day she does-- we still exchange Christmas cards. That 8 yo is now 23, married and working in the sports industry. Yikes!) Imagine my surprise when I was driving down the road and saw a sign by THE CHURCH I GOT MARRIED IN that said, "Homeschool Book Fair." I made a U-turn and went in. I am not kidding. I pushed my son around in his stroller and talked to people at the booths. I was discovering how big and growing this homeschool thing really was, and that there was a network of folks in my hometown who were also, apparently, as crazy as Sue.
Though I didn't know it at the time, that string of events was part of the story of our family as it was to become. That crazy concept of having lots of kids like Sue? We did it. That crazy concept of not sending them off on the yellow school bus when they turned five? Yep, did that too. Curt and I both say that God used homeschooling to shape and mold us in so many ways-- on a personal level as well as on a parenting level. The conferences where we were challenged by great speakers helped us dare to be different in a society based almost entirely around conformity. The community of likeminded folks empowered us to keep on keeping on, even when being different felt too challenging and exhausting. We learned to seek God's will for us, first and foremost-- even when people called us crazy and even said ugly things. For someone that had lived her whole life seeking approval, this was especially hard for me to do. I know without a doubt that I am the person I am and our family is the family we are due to homeschooling entering our lives. In hindsight it is clear that it had very little to do with choosing an educational method and everything to do with choosing a lifestyle.
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