By Contributing Writer, Chelsey Hall
It’s around this time of year that, when we go out and about, folks will often ask the children what grade they are in this year, if they are having a good start to their new school year, and if they like their new teachers. Of course, my perfect children respond, “We LOVE our teacher!”. They have been trained well! Ha!
By the end of the conversation, they find out that we homeschool. Sometimes the response is positive, sometimes negative. More often then not, they’ll look at my 6 children, and then my bulging pregnant belly, and exclaim, “Wow, I don’t know how you do it!”. I just have to laugh at this comment. Honestly, it isn’t that difficult and most of the time, it’s a lot of fun!
How we began
My homeschooling venture began several years back when my now 11 ½ year old was ready to begin kindergarten. My best friend, who has now gone home to be with the Jesus, was homeschooling her own (then eight) children. I thought she was completely crazy and just couldn’t understand why in the world she would want to be in a house with 8 children all day long! Oh, how the Lord slowly, but surely, change my heart ,and then, not to long after that, the heart of my husband.
I looked into homeschooling off and on, but ultimately decided it just wasn’t for us. My husband, Dan, and I had both gone to public school, and I thought we turned out just fine. Plus, there was no way that I was “smart” enough with just a couple of years of college and no degree to teach my children at home.
Then, of course, there was the whole topic of socialization. How in the world could I homeschool and not allow my children the benefit of socializing with other children their own age? Then, came the day that I was to go down and register my son for kindergarten.
We went down to the school – about a block away – and began the registration process. From the moment I walked on to the campus, I had this strange feeling that “something just isn’t right”. I blew it off and proceeded with the registration.
We were almost done before someone told me that I could not complete the registration process, because we were missing the chicken pox vaccination that was required if he were to enroll in school. We were told to get that done and then come back. By then, that feeling that initially came over me was so heightened, that I walked away and just began to cry. All the way home I prayed to the Lord about why I was feeling this way.
As soon as I walked in the door, the phone rang, and my best friend was on the line asking if I had completed Ryan’s enrollment. I told her what happened, and she encouraged me that maybe this was the Lord’s way of getting us to take another look at homeschooling. So, I called up my mother-in-law and asked her to come over that evening to watch the kids, while I took my husband to dinner to talk with him about this whole “mess”.
Now, keep in mind, at this point Dan was even more against homeschooling than I was. So, I knew that this was going to be an interesting conversation. I had already purposed in my heart that whatever he ultimately wanted and decided on, I would do with a glad heart.
On the way to dinner I explained to him our venture over to the school to register, my hesitations, and what I thought might be a good route to pursue. By the time we had arrived at the restaurant, I had already laid it all out. When we sat down to eat, we prayed for our meal, and during that prayer Dan laid the situation before the Lord.
By the end of the meal it was decided that we would “try out” this homeschoooling thing for one year and then reevaluate and bring it before the Lord again at the end of the year. One year is all it took, and we were hooked and convinced that this is what the Lord wanted for our family, at least for the elementary years.
Now, my husband, Dan is a youth minister turned public school teacher. He teaches 6th – 8th graders. The first year we began homeschooling was his first year in the public school system. And, needless to say, the past 11 years of teaching in the public schools has solidified our decision to homeschool. Now, no longer are we convinced that we need to homeschool our children just through elementary, but all the way through high school.
Through the last several years of homeschooling, the Lord has opened our eyes to many new and wonderful revelations, thoughts and convictions.
Like I mentioned above, I didn’t think I was “smart” enough and well educated enough, at first, to teach my child at home. Even if I could make it through the elementary stage, there was no way I could possibly handle teaching Jr. High or High School Curriculum. Oh how much I have learned over the last several years.
I have come to realize that I am indeed smart enough and educated enough (yes, even without a college diploma) to teach my child. And what about those subjects like chemistry and geometry that I myself struggled through in high school? There are a vast number of resources available to parents to help provide an excellent education.
Most cities have homeschooling co-ops that provide educational and extracurricular activities as well as field trips. In North Texas alone there are over 120 support groups (Bunday, 1995). That does not count all the online homeschool associations, boards and forums that parents and students can take advantage of to aid in their homeschooling efforts.
If that is not enough, many Jr. Colleges offer high school level classes for homeschoolers that might need supplemental classes. This wide range of resources that parents have at their fingertips aid in giving their homeschooled children the advantage of a well-rounded and excellent education.
After realizing all of the support that was available, my mind was put to rest, and I realized with confidence that I COULD do this!
Homeschooling has given us the ability to be very aware of how each of our children is doing in a particular area. I can correct mistakes right on the spot and tell exactly what they do or do not comprehend. We can truly individualize each of our children’s learning needs/wants.
If one of my kids moves faster or slower in a particular area, it’s OK, and there are no frustrations with being ahead or behind of a fellow peer. All of this has allowed for better focus and unwasted time that aids in educational growth. One-on-one attention is given for a tutoring type style of learning; therefore mistakes can be corrected right on the spot, making it is easy to tell exactly what my child does or does not comprehend.
However, there was still a lingering question – how would my kids stack up to those being taught by “trained” professionals?
Do you know what I found out? This learning environment has encouraged academic success in homeschoolers and often has them ranked ahead of their public schooled peers (Jacoby, 2002). In fact, recent studies have shown that, “…homeschoolers, on the average, out-performed their counterparts in the public schools by 30 to 37 percentile points in all subjects” (Klicka, 2004, Independent Evolutions of Homeschooling, 1).
In a public school situation, by the time a parent or teacher is aware that a child is doing poorly, the child has already fallen behind. The focused learning style available in homeschooling fosters academic growth of the individual, providing a distinct learning advantage.
And, you may ask, what about college? Colleges actually WANT homeschooled kids on their campuses. They say that homeschoolers actually tend to make better students because of their learning styles and because they are usually more motivated.
Wow! After learning all of this information and doing my research, academics was no longer an issue for us. In fact, I was convinced more than ever that, for our family, this was indeed the right decision!
More to come tomorrow…
Bunday, K. M. (1995). Homeschooling is growing worldwide. Retrieved March 1, 2007, from Learning Freedom Web
Jacoby, S. (2002, March). Learning curve. Emmis Communications, 35(6), 44. Retrieved February 10, 2007, from
Klicka, C. (2004). Academic statistics on homeschooling. Retrieved March 1, 2007, from Home School Legal Defense
Association Web site: http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp