One Year at a Time

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It’s seems like so many years ago when I decided to start homeschooling my children.  It was still unconventional back in 1993 and a bit intimidating.  My son, Brian, was having challenges in 5th grade.  He was more of the hand-on right-brain learner, whereas the schools teaching methods favored read-the-book, answer-the-questions, left-brain learners.  A friend of mine homeschooled her boys, all four of them; so after asking her at least one-hundred and one questions and observing her teaching styles Brian started 6th grade at home – our school with one student.
His older sister, Michelle always did well in school.  An avid reader, she never seemed to struggle with assignments or homework.  She started 8th grade that same year at the local middle-school.  Soon after the year started, she began to have stomachaches and feel ill each morning.  It turned out she was under so much pressure from teachers to keep up her good grades the stress was getting to her.  When she started Christmas vacation at the end of December, I withdrew her from school and now our little school had two students.
It was still a bit unnerving.  Family would question my teaching skills, the debate over socialization always came up, and then people would tell me there was no way they could ever learn anything at home compared to a “real” classroom.  My homeschooling friends always told me to just take it one year at a time.  “Don’t commit to forever homeschooling,” they said, “Just see how it goes.”
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It actually went pretty well.  Socialization was never an issue because we belonged to groups with sometimes over eighty children in them.  My kids supplemented California history by setting up a mock mining town and running a restaurant.  We went on field trips to supplement our studies.  The best part was that I spent time will my kids and we learned together.
Michelle wanted to take choir classes, so she attended those at the local high school but every other subject was at home.  In 1998 she graduated and received her diploma.  And we were still just taking it one year at a time.
A few years later in 2000, Brian graduated high school in a class of one.  A friend played Pomp and Circumstance Jimmy-Hendrix style for our backyard guests.   He also received his diploma.
I had a one-year break because Matt was only four at the time, although we still read and he learned his letters.  He started kindergarten at home and we figured we just take it one year at a time.  But once he and I started, we really never looked back.  He’s been homeschooled each year and we just finished 11th grade.  Yes, I say we, because we studied WWI for an entire year.  We also studied WWII for year also.  We’vedissected squid, frogs, perch, grasshoppers and worms.  We’verevisited Algebra and diagraming sentences.  And we’ve had fun.  We’ve chatted over fractions and laughed while trying to find the frog’s heart.  We’ve spent quality time together, and yes we’ve struggled too.  It’s not always easy to teach one’s kids, but it’s always been rewarding.
So now I’m looking at the last year coming up starting in the fall.  Matt will be a senior.  And then once he graduates, my homeschooling days will come to an end.  Yes, I’m sad but I’m also happy.  The last twenty-plus years have been amazing and exhausting.  But until next June, I’ll just take it one (more) year at a time.

10 thoughts on “One Year at a Time

  1. It sounds like homeschooling helped to foster a really close relationship between you and your kids. And it's really cool you were able to experience the learning experience with them rather than merely through them. I'm glad it was such a positive experience for you and yours.

  2. I also chose to teach my kids at home at different times through the years and it was a challenge but I felt the positive far outweighed the extra work and stress that it took for me to teach at home. Good job Joan, I am sure you are glad you stuck it out despite the naysayers.

  3. My first instinct toward homeschooling was to question it's capacity to educate. Then I had the good fortune to do some editing for Susan Stewart (SuKay on the WOK site) and learned a great deal. For the dedicated parent it can do wonders. I've had some students in my high school classes from home schools and they did well. Thanks for sharing. TR

  4. I'm glad that the system worked well for you and your kids. We toyed with the idea, but ultimately chose not to go that route. The point is that we have choices and the freedom to make them. One size doesn't fit all, nor should we expect or want it to.

    I'm curious–tell me more about the restaurant project as it relates to California history.

  5. Me, well I want to know more about the “mock mining town”. Maybe I need one. Sounds like you all learned a lot and a wide variety. Though it sounds like the most important thing was how to learn.

  6. As a 34-year career public school teacher, I was intrigued by your account, Joan. I was pleased to see how close the homeschooling brought you and your children. And, I loved how you used the modalities that creative teachers used to be able to implement back in the “good old days.” Whatever works for a kid to reach his or her maximum is terrific. Congratulations to you for sticking with it and doing what worked best for your youngsters. xoA

  7. You wrote; “My homeschooling friends always told me to just take it one year at a time.” I began homeschooling my three kiddos in 1981. During the 20 years I had kids at home, there were times it was take it one day at a time. My older son and I were talking last night and he asked for some of the books we used so he can use them with his daughters this summer.

  8. Amazing story.You are a great mom! Since moving to California my kids and I have discussed homeschooling. We have met so many people who are homesvhooling their children. We don't hear about it hardly ever in Indiana. However, my 12 yr old and 5 yr old don't find the idea appealing. They much rather go to public school everyday. Maybe the youngest one will when she is ready.

  9. I started homeschooling my daughter in 1993. We had a school of one also. She had some social issues and she asked to be homeschooled. Since she was already in high school when we began I pooh poohed all the 'socialization' concerns that were brought up. She continued to attend football games that her friends were at. She even became the announcer, calling all the plays! Home schooling is often a case by case situation. When we dive into unknown waters for our children's benefit, I think we learn (albiet different things) as much as our children. Kudoos to you for diving in.

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