Monday, February 13, 2012

Homeschooling: A Saul to Paul Conversion Part II

For Part 1, click HERE.

The Saga Continues:

...Out of the blue one day, my husband approached me.

He said, "I know this is going to sound totally crazy, but I think we should consider homeschooling the kids."

Then I cried.

The tears flowed freely because I knew at that moment, without a shadow of a doubt, that God was speaking to us both very clearly.

I said, "I know. I've been feeling the same way, but was afraid to tell you."

Being the whole-hearted person that I am, I decided to submerge myself in a monumental quest for knowledge. And I DO mean monumental. I wanted to know the good, bad, and ugly of homeschooling.  I was still concerned that I would uncover the "smoking gun" that would convince us that this was a bad idea.

Within days, I had 16 books on my kitchen table about homeschooling and public education.  I had websites bookmarked about homeschooling laws in our state. I had printed copies of the first long term studies on homeschooling that followed  hundreds of children from elementary school to their 30's. I also had data from public school studies.

I poured over those resources as if my very life depended on knowing every detail.

Then it happened! Just as Saul had a life changing conversion on the road to Damascus and went from boldly persecuting Christians to following Christ and  passionately proclaiming the Gospel, my eyes were opened to truth of homeschooling, and for the first time, I was a believer!

At first, I was angry because everything I had believed about home education was a total lie, and the myths had been perpetuated throughout all my years in public school. I never thought to question them, or think outside the box.

Then I felt like a fool for never having researched it myself before forming an opinion on it. I'm usually a skeptic by nature, and I felt ashamed for blindly believing what I was told without checking the source.

My studies continued with interviews of 6 public school teachers. We even had high ranking school officials from our district over to our house for dessert. We peppered them with questions. Surprisingly, more than a few of them were quite frustrated in the classroom and wouldn't fault me for homeschooling. More surprising, were the additional 5 teachers I met from our district who quit teaching and are now homeschooling their own children because of what they witnessed happening in the classroom.

Every night when my husband got home, I would share with him what I learned about that day during my research. Then we would sit side by side bantering back and forth about passages from the books we were reading.  We devoured every piece of published literature about education that we could get our hands on. We had so much to learn about the truths of homeschooling and so little time to do it.

We were about to drop an educational bombshell of epic proportions on to our families , and we knew without a doubt that we better have our facts straight during the interrogation period, or we'd be viewed as lunatics for homeschooling our kids.  We wanted to be prepared for the fall-out.

In June, my mom came up for a week to help me paint my house.  It took me two days, but I finally worked up the courage to talk to her about it. I knew that out of everyone, she'd be the most open to the idea. We were both on ladders painting the eaves of the house when I approached the subject:

"So...we've been sort of  thinking a little bit about maybe, possibly...*cough* *cough* homeschooling the kids." *cough*

"What?"

"I said,  we're sort of feeling that God might be calling us to teach the kids at home. How do you feel about that?"

There was a pause.  Then she said, "Homeschooling was almost un-heard of when we sent you to public school, but it seems like more and more people these days are doing it. If that's what God is calling you to do, then who am I to stand in your way?"

Then I began to tell her about all that I had learned over the following days.

After the first stage of our research, we were convinced that homeschooling was beneficial, but we had to shift our focus.  The second phase of research involved interrogating every veteran homeschooling parent that we knew so that we could work out the nuts and bolts of what to do. We specifically sought out the ones who had completed their homeschooling journey and had kids who were grown and gone.  They had so much wisdom and insight to offer us.  We also talked to several homeschool graduates to hear about their experiences: what they liked, what they would do different, and what their over-all opinions were of their education.

As if that weren't enough, we went to our state's homeschool conference and convention and took every class we could to educate ourselves.  Then we poured over tons of different curriculum choices, and read their reviews on-line.  We carefully selected our kindergarten materials and ordered our books.

All that was left to do was drop the homeschooling bomb on our friends and family.

Their reactions were all over the map.  Some were supportive, some thought we were stupid, some thought we would wreck our kids' lives. Others chose to reserve judgement and take a "wait and see" attitude.  My church friends went slack jawed when I told them of our decision because they knew the old me, and I had to convince them that God had changed my heart and I that I had finally done my homework about homeschooling.  I also had to eat a LOT of humble pie. Thankfully, they all still loved me despite my bad judgement in this area.

I'm convinced that God allowed me to be a homeschool hater for a time to keep me humble and help me have compassion when the worst of the fall-out hit.  We had a few people who shot us some real daggers. One asked us if we were associated with some bizarre family who claimed to homeschool and were arrested for making their kid live in a tent.  Then on another occasion someone told us our kids would be in high school and not know how to read if we chose to homeschool.  It cut us to the core because after all of the years of knowing us and our character, they still said those things.  Yet God quickly reminded me that not so long ago, I too had a horribly flippant mouth about things in which I really knew nothing about.  But for the grace of God, I might be going around with the same ignorant views today.

Throughout the summer, God kept confirming to us that we had made the right decision over and over again in a myriad of different ways. My mother and I attended an all-day craft class with 30 other ladies, and across the table sat all of the kindergarten teachers at the school my son was enrolled in.  Throughout the day, they complained about their whiny little students, the terrible parents, and how they had too many kids in their class.  My mom just looked at me wide-eyed when we left that evening and said, "Nell, I think you made the right decision."

My husband went to the school and withdrew my son's enrollment in kindergarten.  The week before public school started, I was outside watering the flowers along my driveway when a big yellow school bus stopped in front of my house.  The bus driver opened the door and introduced herself. She told me that she would be driving my son to school each day.  I told her that we withdrew him from the school and that she could scratch him off of her bus route list.   I watched the bus disappear down the road and the smell of the exhaust lingered in my nose.  At that moment, it became real to me.   My family was about to embark upon the biggest and most challenging adventure of our lives; filled with all sorts of unknowns and nay-sayers.  We were breaking new ground and blazing our own trail with many people watching and waiting for us to fail.

My stomach was suddenly filled with butterflies as the weightiness of our choice and its implications began to sink in.

Could I really do this homeschooling thing?

To Be Continued......









5 comments:

  1. You know, there are many people who feel like we (as Christians) should "stick it out" with the public education system and "make it better" - but I applaud, and respect a mother who is not willing to sacrifice the intergrity of her children's education (scholastic AND spiritual!). When we're following the plan God has for our families, it's such a peaceful and rewarding, though not always the easiest, thing!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Such a fun story to read! Looking forward to the next part!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow, what a journey. God has some truly amazing plans at times, and it's hard to take them when you have been running the other way for so long.

    I often wonder if we are doing the right thing by wanting to home school. I just pray that God keeps leading us each step of the way. I was asked the other day, when someone mention school and I told her we were going to homeschool, why we wanted to do that. And, we did have a good answer, that she could attest to, so therefore, I do believe God is leading us.

    I love that you are sharing this, girl, can't wait for the rest!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am a product of public schools as you are and my parents were both educators. When we opted for private school education for our very quiet son, we too got a number of comments such as he would be snobby, and do we think we are above everyone else etc. I do know that homeschooling is not what it was when I was in school. As a college professor, I know we have recruiters just for homeschooled children. The days of them not being in sports, no interaction with other children, not learning music, no field trips are gone. I look forward to following your journey.
    Carol Lee

    ReplyDelete