In our family, homeschooling runs deep. Both Micah and I were homeschooled; him from the very beginning, and me starting at fifth grade. Both of us had wonderful educational experiences and numerous opportunities that would have been difficult in a public school setting.
I volunteered throughout my teen years, starting with the local library’s children’s department at age 14 and later the Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga, TN, along with many individual events. In addition to volunteering, I also took my high school biology class through the Tennessee Aquarium and went on a different field trip nearly every week, read voraciously, was active in my church’s children and youth ministry, and with the exception of math, loved everything about school and learning.
Micah had a similar experience (although he was the opposite of me and loved math and hated writing essays) and was active in his church, athletics, and the community. Homeschooling allowed him to enroll in collage early and he graduated with his Associate Degree just a year after graduating from high school (and has since added on a second degree).
For us, homeschooling was the best decision our parents could have made and allowed us to learn at our own pace, accelerating in some areas and taking as much time as needed in others. It was this personalized education that enabled us to fall in love with learning and thrive outside of a traditional school setting, taking advantage of opportunities and experiences that we otherwise would have missed out on.
Now, we are facing a similar decision with our own little family. Until now, I never quite realized the sacrifice that my parents made in order to homeschool their children. Oh, I knew the curriculum cost a bit and Mom often had to set aside an important task in order to help with an especially difficult equation, but that was it, right? Entirely wrong. By the time I gained an awareness and appreciation, I was working independently for the majority of my subjects and was using the current workload to gauge the overall level of sacrifice, somehow overlooking the fact that high school independent study is a long way from the necessary hand-holding of the first few years. With Caleb moving from preschool to kindergarten, I’m realizing the massive amount of time, energy, mental capacity, finances, and even household space that homeschool requires. And I’m faced with the inevitable question, “Am I prepared to make these sacrifices for the next 15 years?”
With a deep sigh, I answer, “Yes…. I think.”
This spring I determined to make a conscious effort to take the kids to as many story times at the library as possible. It’s not an easy task since story time just happens to be on Tuesdays & Thursdays which are the very days that I go to the studio for sessions. But there are occasional days where I don’t have to go until afternoon or I have evening appointments scheduled, and those are the days we’re able to go to the library. It was there that I ran across the entire audiobook series for the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and since somehow I had never actually read the books, I instantly checked out The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and popped it into the CD player once we got back to the car. It has proved to be the perfect companion to my hour-long commute to the Studio twice a week. To date, I’ve made it through three books and am just beginning The Silver Chair. But in this very first book, the character Lucy says something that perfectly sums up my “answer” to beginning this homeschooling journey: “I think – I don’t know – but I think I could be brave enough.”— C. S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.
I’m scared out of my mind to start homeschool, afraid that I’m going to mess up somehow and ruin my children’s education. That Caleb will have gaps in his education, all because his mom couldn’t cut it as a teacher. Yes, my brain tells me it is just senseless fear and that I’m a good teacher and even if I wasn’t, there are tons of resources to guide through every step of every grade until he gets his diploma. My head tells me this, but my heart still trembles.
So with a quaking voice, I state that maybe, just maybe, I am brave enough to do this. Micah and I can do this. We know what a gift this education and experience will be to our children and perhaps even more importantly, we know how troubled the public school system is right now and want to protect our children for as long as possible. When the choices left are private Christian schools or homeschooling, for us, homeschooling is the right choice.
The thing is, once I made the commitment with both my head and my heart, the fear began to subside and in its place was left excitement and anticipation for all the adventures that lie ahead. I can and will do this. I am brave enough.
How did you decide which educational experience was best for your children? If homeschooling, were you as scared as I am when you first started?