I was talking to a friend in church today who is just beginning to think about homeschooling her preschool-aged daughter. She was sharing some of her trepidation about teaching her to read. I could totally relate!
I remember how terrified I was thinking that our kids would be illiterate with me in charge. Looking back, I realize I was maybe being a little melodramatic. After all, I don't want to raise illiterate children, so one way or another, our children would eventually learn to read. I don't give up easily.
And four out of five have learned to read. Our fifth is so close! When he keeps his focus long enough, he can actually sound out (and recognize) small words individually. By summer, he'll be reading Dr. Suess and other easy readers, no problem. I'm certain of it.
But this post isn't about teaching our children how to read. Or write. Or spell, so that they know that writing and math/arithmetic don't begin with the letter R (who ever thought "the three R's" was a good description for reading, writing and arithmetic? My guess is that it was someone who never really learned to spell). Besides, I read somewhere recently that public schools' main focus is now supposed to be reading and science. Anything else they happen to learn is just lucky, I guess.
I mean, who needs writing when everyone just texts nowadays? LOL.
No, this post is actually to tell you that S is graduating from her 12th grade year this April. I know! I cannot believe it either!
I've written this before, but she moved in with us when she was eight. We adopted her when she was 11. Shortly after that, we began homeschooling her because through all of her early neglect and transitions through the foster care system, she had missed a whole bunch of learning necessary to continue moving forward in public school.
The "plan" was to teach her ourselves for a year and then re-insert her into the public school system. My husband and I were both educated through the public school system and we both (mostly) turned out alright. But something happened in that first year of homeschooling her.
1) I got to know S.
Not having had infancy, toddler years or even young childhood with her, homeschooling was a terrific way to bond with her and find out so much about what she likes, how she thinks and where she was headed. In the time before we started homeschooling the other kids, these days were priceless. As tough as some of those days were (especially because I had no idea what I was doing), I wouldn't trade them for anything. Even for our kids that have been with us since younger ages, I'm amazed to know them so well because five days a week, it's mostly just them with me. They are my buddies and my social group most of the time.
2) I knew what she was learning.
I'd done public school with her for three years before we got to homeschool her. While she was a foster child, the rules were that she had to be enrolled in the public system. So we followed the rules. When she was in public school, every day homework time was a giant battle because she either didn't take notes, didn't write down what the assignment was or I just simply couldn't figure out what she needed to do exactly to perform up to the classroom standard. It was frustrating. Her grades were suffering. Even parent-teacher conferences were useless to improve the homework situation. But the thing I noticed is that when we began homeschooling, I was better able to help her through
studies and assignments because I knew exactly what the lessons were and
the direction they were going.
3) Home School doesn't always have to be at home.
Leaving my full-time office job to be home with the kids when they were first placed with us was both a relief and a challenge. I have never been the best homemaker or cleaner or cooker. If you know me, you know I'm not fond of just hanging out at home all that much (it's too messy, because of me, after all). The coolest thing we've found about homeschooling is our flexibility to take school on the road when I've just had too much of being at home.
I love announcing an impromptu field trip and seeing the kids' eyes light up (except H, who usually opts out to stay home, for some reason). I enjoy visiting pretty much anywhere during public school hours and finding that the crowds aren't there and we get "the whole place" to ourselves. I think it's awesome that if we decide to go to Disneyland in the middle of the school year, nobody is complaining that our kids are out of school too much or too often.
Our flexibility is part of the reason our house gets cleaned at all. Ironically, getting to go somewhere is a great incentive for us getting things done around the house before we go. We don't always. I can be a poor example when I am just desperate to go and put off that sink full of dishes for when we return. I keep working on that.
Another great thing about the flexibility is that out-of-town guests can visit us whenever and we'll work school around that. Our homeschool room often doubles as the guest room. So it gets tricky to do "regular" school work when there's an air bed in the middle of the room. But guests often like to come to the area and see stuff around here, so why not educate everyone? "Grandparents, do you want to visit these ruins today with us?" Super cool. Plus, with extra adults around, it's actually a bit of a break for me because there are more adult hands and eyes to keep track of everyone.
Anyway, you can read more about why we homeschool our children in a post I did back in the beginning of this blog's existence by taking this link.
The point is, it has been an exciting six years homeschooling S, full of ups and downs. There was some yelling and frustration (on both our parts), yes, but we have all grown so much since those early days when I hadn't a clue. Now I have a clue, but I'm still not mastering anything.
She'll be graduating on April 20th through our local homeschooling group called CAPE-NM at a ceremony with cap and gown and the whole works. We think this will be a great culmination of six years of hard work (and a lot of fun doing it, too).
I don't know what the future holds for S and how God plans to use her education as she moves forward, but I am excited that I've been able to be a critical element in the process that has brought her to this point.
One down, four to go.