When my kids were young, the thought of homeschooling never occurred to me. I was public schooled through 12th grade, except for 3 years of elementary in a private Presbyterian school.
When Mike was in medical school, I started having grand dreams of traveling the world doing service. We both wanted to expose our children to other cultures and the rich differences that existed in the world.
During Mike’s residency, I was thinking about signing up my son for an inexpensive preschool program offered at the nearby community center. I had heard that it was really just glorified babysitting for moms who needed a break from their kids. It sounded tempting.
I asked one friend if her son would participate. She responded that she wanted to enjoy her babies being with her as long as possible. She was busy with several children, and I hadn’t expected her to feel that way.
It caused me to ponder on the topic. I started asking myself some tough questions. How much did I really enjoy being around my children? Did I unconsciously consider them an inconvenience instead of the blessing I knew they were to me? Was I truly interested in what was best for them? Were my needs more important than theirs?
I had a paradigm shift. I knew I enjoyed being with my children and could relish it even more with the right frame of mind. I decided to be more careful about situations that weren’t necessarily in the best interest of my children, with people I didn’t necessarily trust. I committed myself to making whatever was best for them a higher priority in my life.
I became more purposeful in finding fun activities to do together. We lived in Tucson, AZ at the time. Once I started looking, I found there was no shortage of entertaining, educational things to do there. I even got together with some other moms I knew to do a preschool co-op group called Joyschool. I was having a fantastic time being more involved in the welfare of my children.
I started pondering again one day, after talking with my sister, Ami. She had a masters in social work and was working for a school district running some programs. She had a good friend, at the time, who had been homeschooled. She told me that when she had a family, she would probably homeschool.
This was a totally new thought to me. After I chewed on it for a while, I reflected on it in the context of my grand dreams. If we were going to travel the world, perhaps I should be prepared to educate my children at different seasons of time.
On one of our weekly library trips, I was browsing books and noticed one called The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook. It looked interesting, so I checked it out.
I read some of it to Mike. He was resistant initially. Both his parents were in public education. His father was a teacher in high school, his mother a counselor. He had had good friends and an enjoyable school experience.
But the more we read the book, the more ideas we found that rang true to us. It talked about how America has pushed its children, especially little boys, into academics before they’re ready. Europe on the other hand, waited until boys were age 7 or 8 to teach reading.
The book also talked about the negative socialization that takes place in public school settings. It talked about this in detail and was very persuasive. We decided that homeschool was a possibility we needed to investigate further.
We learned of a homeschool convention taking place in Utah. I knew the decision was so big we needed to make it together, so I begged Mike to go with me. Thankfully, he agreed.
The only thing I remember about the day’s lectures was being awestruck by Oliver DeMille. His speech greatly impressed us. We were thirsty for more. We bought his book, A Thomas Jefferson Education, and whatever other articles they had for sale. We couldn’t devour them fast enough.
Oliver’s educational philosophies rang strongly true to us. We both had university bachelor’s degrees, and by that time, Mike had also obtained a masters degree in molecular biology and his MD. We had some experience in the systems of education Oliver describes in his book.
As we read, we understood his descriptions and could relate them to our own experiences. We realized that after all our years of “quality” education, we had not yet obtained what he termed a “leadership” education. With freedom for all being the end goal, this method of education nurtures creativity in problem solving, morality in living, and freedom of thought. This is what we wanted above all else, for our children . . . and ourselves.
We didn’t know exactly how we were going to go about it. We only felt that it was completely right for our family, and that most of it would take place off the conveyor belt of the public education system. We determined to keep learning.
Thus, we made our decision to homeschool.
This comment came out of my husband’s mouth, the day I wrote this post:
“An oppression model of education will never end in freedom.”
What experiences have shaped the learning environment you’ve chosen for your children?