Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Hearing the Homeschooling Call

A while back the kids and I were taking an organized hike with some other homeschoolers.  We had a big group of probably 50 people or so.  Many of us were tried and true seasoned homeschoolers, but a few were brand new and we even had a few "still thinking about it" moms. 
 
I'm always surprised to run into the "thinking about it" parents.  To me now, at this point in my life and after many years of homeschooling, it seems like the obvious choice. Yet I have watched many moms struggle with whether or not they should start their pre-schoolers in homeschooling, or pull kids out of regular school to homeschool (and of course there is the struggle in 8th grade about whether to continue homeschooling!) 
 
When I really think back on it though, I too had a bit of a struggle. 
 
When Calvin was a baby, I had never even heard of homeschooling.  I had plans to put him into our local Catholic School and then pursue college and career for myself!  The closer we got to the magic age of 5 though, the more unsure I became of my plans.  Calvin was fidgety, strong willed and very active.  I couldn't imagine having him sit in a little seat for many hours during the day.  I couldn't imagine him following directions and standing in line, or doing any of the little required activities little people have to do in a school to create order.  (I remember doing those things myself as a kid, and not even minding it very much! but, I was a complacent little girl and my son was all boy!) 
 
One day I heard a discussion about homeschooling on the radio and I was fascinated by it.  I couldn't imagine that a kid could get a good education at home with his mom at the kitchen table.  I thought about all of my happier school memories of kick ball, and sleepovers and marching through the school during band. I turned the radio off and said to myself, that homeschooling was silly.  "Who would ever want to do that?"
 
But it didn't end there. I went to the doctor's office and picked up a magazine that just happened to have an article on homeschooling.  I clicked on the t.v. and there was a program about, homeschooling.  A quick trip to the library and I encountered an entire display of books and magazines out about homeschooling.  Was this just becoming very popular? or was someone trying to send me a message?
 
Putting all of that aside, in the spring I took little Calvin to the local Catholic school to be "tested for kindergarten."  When I went to pick him up, a somber looking woman took me aside and told me that he had failed the test.  He couldn't count to 100, and he didn't know all of his ABCs.  Silly me - I thought that was why I would be sending him to school!  But there was more.  He also couldn't reason properly according to their tests. 
 
Apparently, they gave him an open ended sentence that he was supposed to complete.  They said, "To dance you need _________"  Now, the ballroom dance competitions had been on PBS that week and we had been watching them.  So Calvin completed the sentence by answering "a girl."  The correct answer was music, and even when I pointed out to the examiner that Calvin's answer made complete sense in the context of his recent experiences, she didn't budge.
 
The second sentence they gave him before they gave up apparently was, "To take a bath you need_______."  He said "privacy."  The correct answer was soap and water.
 
Epic Fail. 
 
I remember at that moment I didn't want him going to that school anyway when clearly my kid was so good at thinking outside of the box! But I still wasn't convinced about homeschooling. 
 
Late that summer, I took him in to see his pediatrician for a check up and to see what he thought about me keeping him home for another year since he was a "young 5."  Our kind pediatrician (whom I had worked with for a number of years even before I had kids) looked at me and said, "Well, I'm a homeschooler, so I'd keep him at home, but that's just me." 
 
I never knew he was a homeschooler and the surprise must have shown.  He went back to his office and brought me a stack of articles and brochures on homeschooling.
 
When I look back on it now, it seems that this really was the path that I was being nudged on, and it has really worked well for us. Maybe most moms don't have to be nudged as hard as I did to get on the homeschool path.
 
Now all these years later, I listen to the concerns of these younger moms and they struggle with whether or not to homeschool their kids.  I answer questions as best I can, but I think the best advertisement for homeschooling is my family and our children.  That speaks for itself.
 
 
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