Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Our Home School is Closing after 29 Years

Well, I did it. We did it. By the generous grace of God, alone, we did it. Just this week, my youngest child finished high school here at home.  Home schooling wasn't always easy, but when I look back on it, I have to search my memory for the rough times. The good times, the joy, the fun and the excitement of learning are what I remember the most.

I love being with my kids. Even when they were little and making messes and screaming and crying, I didn't want to send them off to spend all their days with someone else. I wanted to see them learn. I wanted to be the one to see that
"light bulb moment" in their lives when they "got it" as we learned together. That was my #1 reason for home schooling.

When I started home schooling back in 1987, it was not a very popular thing to do. We only had 4 kids at the time, but were already receiving criticism from Christians for having "so many" kids. Clearly they had no effect on us since we went on to have 4 more. Some said I had "real nerve" home schooling "all those kids." Their arguments against home schooling ranged from me never getting a break to fearing my kids were going to be isolated.

Isolation was the furthest thing from my mind. I could not wrap my mind around why they would think that. My kids were out in the neighborhood playing with other kids, riding their bikes all over, involved at church, involved at an assisted living home and involved in an active home school support group that I started. They played sports, performed in plays, participated in science fairs, sang in concerts and spent time together.

They learned to bake from scratch, cook dinner for 10, set a table right, freeze vegetables, plant and keep a garden and a host of other life skills that serve them well today.

My #2 reason for home schooling might be summed up in one word: laziness. I saw friends whose kids were in school and they were frazzled by getting up early, getting things together to make it on time, signing this paper or that paper and writing check after check for constant things that came up. I didn't want that chaos in our home. I didn't want the rush to make the bus or hop into the car on time to be somewhere early in the morning every single day. That's not to say our lives were never chaotic. One summer, we had 3 different kids on 3 different sports teams, so our evenings were made up of packing sandwiches and the potty chair (for the little ones) and being in different places to see our kids play and practice. Other summers were similar.  I could go on....with 8 kids, you can just imagine.

Part of our parenting style was minimizing chaos so that our kids didn't have to feel constant pressure. We spent most evenings at home where the kids would perform dance or gymnastic routines, magic trick shows and piano concerts for us. Some evenings were spent viewing everything they could find under the microscope and the time flew. Some evenings were spent outside looking through the telescope to see Jupiter's moons or a lunar eclipse up close. We wanted our kids to have time to build big Lego bridges and villages, to throw a Frisbee in the back yard till the lightening bugs came out and lie on the grass watching the clouds. Home schooling allowed us to keep chaos at a minimum even with a family our size.

One of my goals from the start of our home school was to make sure learning wasn't in a school box, but was, instead, part of life all year long. This goal was accomplished.

And now these kids....oh, my word, these kids. They have gone to college. They are starting businesses. One is home schooling. Another reached a career milestone much younger than most could. Two of them served in the USMC and another is thinking about it. But, mostly, these kids are kind. They are generous. They are sensitive. They are polite. They are mine. I am blessed beyond comprehension.

Home schooling was one of the best decisions I ever made.
If you're a young mom or dad and on the fence about home schooling, I say go for it.
You will not regret home schooling.

Now, I have to go find something else to do.
I have a few ideas!

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