My Deep Gratitude for the Gift of Homeschooling

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In 1989-90 a close friend began to think deeply about the implications of what was happening in the public schools in our local school district. She began to share her thoughts with me and she shared resources from Christian radio and old-fashioned cassette tapes, too. In turn, I shared them with Ray. What she and the speakers on the radio programs and tapes shared with us rang true as we thought back on our own experiences in public school for the previous two years.

There was the day a boy spit glue in our kindergarten-age daughter’s face. There was the day the same boy kissed her on the lips and the ensuing conversation at home:

“Mommy, ______ kissed me today!”

“Honey, why didn’t you move?” I asked.

“I would have had to get out of line,” our compliant daughter replied.

I went to school to talk to the teacher. Both the teacher and I gave her permission to get out of line if she was in danger. I kid you not: our little girl and I later stood in our kitchen while she practiced getting out of line!

There was the Buddhist thinking our son was introduced to by his fourth grade teacher and the sex education class we pulled him out of in fifth.

There was the kindergarten teacher who didn’t seem to know our daughter’s special gift for math. There were the teachers who used curse words in teacher conferences — not because they were criticizing our kids — they were praising them. That was just how those women talked!

After months of listening and wondering and talking and praying, in August of 1990, Ray and I made the decision that I would homeschool our children. It was 1994 before we joined together in the adventure of actually becoming a homeschooling family instead of homeschooling parents who carried around the burden of trying to do school with our children at home.

In August of 1990, we thought about an 8 to 2 schedule and a school room with desks and a bulletin board. In August of 1994, we thought about freedom and opportunities and goals that were eternal.

Craters of the Moon National Monument, Arco, Idaho
Ray snapped this picture of John, me, Mary Evelyn, and Bethany on our first day of school in August 1994, which included a visit to Craters of the Moon National Monument in Arco, Idaho. We were dressed alike after having just completed a mission trip at a small Idaho church.

In August of 1990, we were figuring out ways to teach our children traditional school subjects at home. In August of 1994, we were ready to explore.

What our friend shared back in 1989-90 continues to bless our children and our grandchildren today. First we began to think outside the box about school. That led to thinking outside the box about many, many things. When we decided to homeschool in the late summer of 1990, we thought we were simply starting to homeschool, but what we were really doing was starting to learn how to live.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I came that they may have life,
and have it abundantly.
John 10:10

 

 

 

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  1. I was wondering if you can give details how you transitioned from the structured homeschoolers to the freer homeschool mom 4 years later? I am a teacher by profession and am in our 3rd year of full time homeschooling. We pulled our son out of Kdg after many experiences as you described, only to homeschool the rest of Kdg, then try another public school for 1st grade. Once again disappointed with the public system, we have kept him home since…but I find myself running our homeschool too much like a public system, (except with bible study and the mention of God in our history and language arts) I’m afraid he’ll be missing out on something if I don’t cover all the subjects daily. The guilt I have if he sleeps in until 6:30-7:00 when most his age are up and beginning their day! Will this make him am irresponsible adult? How does one become freer with homeschool And just appreciate the time we have together? I know lots of prayer but how do you transition the curriculum and still feel you have prepared your child for the next grade level? I have also looked at the classical education and with this curriculum I feel like I’m already behind…

    • You are right that the first thing to do is to pray that God will lead you. Then trust the way He arranges your days. Don’t fight against them. Be open to “interruptions” — they may actually be His calling you to do something important. And, please, ask questions any time. I don’t think of myself at all as knowing it all. I’m just someone who has made many mistakes and tried to learn from them.

      Here are a couple of links that illustrate our transition from more structure to less structure. It’s not that we threw out all structure by any means. We still had regular hours for academics, but what really changed was our attitudes and our focus. We began to look beyond the traditional subjects to the opportunities God gave to us. We went on mission trips as a family. We found places for the children to volunteer. We made vacations school instead of something tacked on to school. We found ways for their writing to be useful and not just an exercise. We counted a documentary we watched as a family in the evening as “school” instead of something tacked on to an already busy schedule. Here are some links to a couple of past posts that might help and also a link to a record keeping system I developed. I am not including that link so that I can sell you something. Using it has helped many people feel good about breaking away from the typical way of doing school. I hope these help.

      Here’s a link about what happened in our lives in 1994:

      https://charlenenotgrass.com/my-homeschool-to-do-list/#more-12682

      Here’s an example of using writing for a purpose and not just an exercise:

      https://charlenenotgrass.com/in-their-own-words/#more-5192

      Here’s my record keeping system. I encourage you to read the introduction. It will help you get the feel for the heart and philosophy behind it.

      http://www.notgrass.com/notgrass/homeschool-record-keeping.html

      I hope this helps. Thank you so much for the conversation!