Then, one day, my friend approached me and said, “Ann, I really feel you should homeschool your daughter. She is not getting her needs met. Do it with me. My son needs the companionship and I can help you do it.” I told her I would think about it, but didn’t think I would. It lay heavy on my mind, though. She promised to show me everything she was using, and since we think a lot alike in our approaches to teaching, I felt I could trust her decisions. In addition, she was finishing up her masters in gifted education, so she had researched the needs of gifted children extensively. She even extended the offer to do it all, if I would cover art (she is not crafty) and help. She just wiped out my excuse for not homeschooling, not to mention that I love doing arts and crafts!
But I still wasn’t sure. I prayed. I talked to my husband. I talked to my life-time best friend, who proceeded to tell me that I needed to homeschool. There were a lot of advantages. I have elderly parents. Homeschooling would allow me to visit anytime I wanted or needed. I also still could not see my daughter getting on a school bus at 7am and not returning till 4. I kept thinking, “What would she really learn in that time period? And what kind of family life would that leave us?” I recalled the day I called her off “healthy” from kindergarten just to have her home with me and her sister. We painted that day using about six different techniques. At the end of the day, I realized she learned way more with me that day than she ever would in a day of kindergarten.
Then, I thought about socialization. I remembered things about my first grade. Dear Sr. Melinda, so kind and understanding. The excitement of class party days. Field days at the end of the year. Running around on the playground. Class programs. Gym class. Could I take those memories away from my daughter?
Then I also remembered being bored in school. I remember finishing up the readings in class eons before the other kids and feeling maybe I didn’t read everything right and would reread it and reread it and reread it till finally, the other kids were done. And still, I feared I didn’t read the right page, etc. And I was no where near as advanced as my daughter.
I prayed some more. Talked to my husband some more. Then we agreed to homeschool. We could always change our minds, we said, “What do we have to lose?” I notified the private school we had her registered at that she would not be attending, and added, “But, if we change our minds about homeschooling, we will definitely send her to your school.” The secretary mentioned that depending upon how many students enrolled, there might only be two classes and they would be full and I would be put on a wait list. I hung up, feeling like I was just thrown overboard without a life jacket. Should I call them right back and say, “Wait, I am on my way to bring the check?” I didn’t. That night, I had a few sleepless hours. Was I doing the wrong thing? What about all those fun school memories I had? She was going to miss out on all those.
But, we had chosen our course. There was no going back. Well, technically, we could send her to the public school or another private school if we changed our minds, but that wasn’t in the plan.
Then, a kind friend said to me something that her husband told her once. “The memories she will have will be different from yours, but they will be good memories, too.” I started thinking about it. What if my mother had homeschooled me? How would I have liked that? I reflected back on days that my mother and sisters baked cookies or made holiday crafts together. Of course, the activities were fun activities, but the most important thing that I remember about it was the feeling of togetherness. I decided that homeschool would have been nice, had my mother the inclination to do so. I know my daughter will be taught with love.
After making this monumental decision, my thinking about homeschooling has even evolved more. When I heard the school bus roll down the street at 7am the first day of school and we got up, had a leisurely, healthy breakfast without the stress of rushing around, I knew we made the right decision. My daughter has the rest of her life to rush around to be somewhere. We get to sleep in and spend time enjoying each other before our school day begins. She doesn’t come home at 4pm, completely exhausted (and hence, irritable) only to have an early bedtime and only get to spend a short time with her father. She gets playtime with her sister, strengthening their bond. I think her younger sister would be totally heartbroken if her older sister was at school all day. School, I decided, would have pulled our family apart. Family, I have always believed, is the most important thing in this world.
Watch for the next installment.