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.”
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.