My Journey Into the Homeschooling World
I vividly remember the day I first encountered a homeschooler in the wild. She was dressed in a denim jumper with her hair in a long braid down her back. She had a little one on her hip, and one or two trailing behind. In her other arm was a HUGE book – something like an old Sears Roebuck Catalog, but bigger. She was smiling, and warm, and gave me a hug and said, “I know you’ve just had this little one and probably aren’t thinking about the future, but here’s something for you to read.” Then she handed me the book. I don’t remember any other exchange, but I’m sure there was more. She was an acquaintance of my mother’s who had heard I was there for a visit to give me some help with this new little life I had produced. I was already feeling a bit overwhelmed by the looming responsibility of shepherding this little one into the world. Questions came at me right and left as I held her in my arms rocking her to sleep at night: What would she be like as she grew up? Would she be well adjusted? Would she ever sleep through the night? Would she be good at sports, music, math? Would she be a Christian the way I prayed? Would she marry a good man? Would she eat her vegetables? Would her teeth be damaged by this thumb sucking?
I was already full of questions, so you can imagine my surprise when I discovered yet another one: How should she be educated?
Educating a child is a huge responsibility. It isn’t as simple as, “just ship them off to school and never think about it again.” Even if you choose a brick-and-mortar school, there’s the question of public or private school, and then the question of what track you want your child to follow – will it be college prep or some kind of trade focus? It had never occurred to me that I could educate my child at home. After all, my mother and mother-in-law were both teachers. Both excellent at what they did and very dedicated to it… but still, after meeting that homeschool mom, I was intrigued by the idea that there could be another way.
I’ve always been an independent thinker, and a little bit of one to buck the system, so I guess it appealed to that part of me. As I cracked open that Big Book, – which turned out to be the “bible” of homeschooling – Mary Pride’s Big Book of Home Learning” – I was transported into a new world that appealed to all the different parts of my personality – the independence, the organization, the self-reliance, the freedom – it’s all there. That’s what home education really is. It’s you and your child(ren) exploring the world together on your own terms and on your own timetable. It’s a way of life…and once I embraced it, I fell in love with all it had to offer. No, it’s not perfect, and it isn’t for everyone, but it worked for us, and I’ll always be grateful to that sweet homeschooling mother who shared this world with me all those years ago.