Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Our Homeschool. Part I

The Background Story

My first introduction to homeschooling was in early high school, when family friends decided to pull their kids out of the traditional school environment and school them at home. I had attended both private and public schools, but, until then, hadn't given a moment's thought to the idea of homeschooling. It was instantly fascinating and appealing to me. I asked questions. I thought about it quite a bit.

Little did I know then that I would end up homeschooling during my junior year. It was a fabulous experience, and one that I will always remember. I completed all of my 11th grade required classes, as well as most of the 12th grade requirements. I participated in the jazz choir at the local high school (which I had been involved with prior to leaving public school) and worked in a dental office four afternoons a week. That summer, my family traveled across the country (Oregon to Virginia to Maine to South Dakota...) on an amazing adventure. Over six weeks, we saw sights that made my year's studies in U.S. History come alive.

I returned to the public high school for my senior year, only to find that I was wasting an amazing amount of time. I completed a semester of Chemistry and also gained one elective credit which were the two remaining graduation requirements I had not yet met. The most rewarding class I attended was a typing class, and I have been forever grateful for that acquired skill. Seeing school life through new eyes, I determined to homeschool should children be in my future.

A few years later:
After Russ and I had been dating for a whole week (big grin), I informed him that I would like to homeschool any children I might have with whomever I happened to marry. He was a public school teacher at the time, and I thought he should know if he was wasting his time dating me. Amazingly, he said that it sounded like a terrific idea. Three weeks later, we were talking about marriage.

I spent the next few years thinking more about homeschooling, education, and parenting. My cousin was sending her children to a 'classical' school, and what little I heard about classical education sounded exactly like what I was looking for. But I wanted to school my kids at home. A year before Levi was born, I visited my aunt while on vacation in California. She was also schooling her kids at home. She handed me The Well-Trained Mind; A Guide to Classical Education at Home. I devoured what I could of the book, ordered my own copy the day I returned home, and read it cover-to-cover in three days. That was all it took. I was hooked!

The last six years have been spent reading, researching, studying, accumulating books and curriculum, planning, and slowly implementing as Levi has approached the traditional kindergarten age. I have had an absolute blast getting to know him as a person, discovering his strengths, finding out what delights him, dealing with his weaknesses, and being a 'sounding-board' for all that goes through his head and out his mouth. Although he wouldn't have attended public school until this fall, one of my favorite benefits of homeschooling is that we have been able to weave learning into our daily rhythm from the beginning of his life. We move along at his pace: challenging him, moving along when he is ready, falling back when he needs more time. We talk about everything. We learn together. We ask questions and find the answers. We observe life. We read and read and read.

Although we had been doing some formal work over the last year or so, we began education in earnest starting this February after the chaos of our move had died down. Levi is happily reading, writing, and 'doing sums.' Luke is often joining in. (Leif just looks cute.) I'll write about specifics, as well as classical education, and our more detailed reasons for homeschooling in later posts. Stay tuned. Until then, you can read here about the resources we are currently using, and see pictures of our library/school room here.

4 comments:

heather said...

This is a great post! I especially like what you wrote about "one of my favorite benefits of homeschooling is that we have been able to weave learning into our daily rhythm from the beginning of his life."

That is one of my favorite aspects of homeschool as well. I believe learning should be a life-style, not just something one does for a block of time each day.

SmallWorld said...

You are so my soul sister! I forgot to mention on my post that I homeschooled myself my JR year of high school. We lived in Germany for 6 months while my Dad was a Fulbright Research Scientist. After completing my back-home high school work in about 4 weeks, I totally did my own thing: ready voraciously and doing complete research on every single place we visited, from the neighborhood castle to the Louvre to a tucked-away Chinese art museum in Rome. What better education is that? Sure was weird to come back to the state for the last 2 months of my JR year. I'd seen Europe. They'd learned how to get drunk during lunch break.
SmallWorld

joanna said...

I've been reading your blog for quite some time, but this is my first comment. I just have to tell you how much I enjoyed your posts about homeschooling. I actually used these two posts ("why we homeschool") as a source for my senior paper!

Jennefer said...

Heidi,

This is such a well done and thoughtful post. I have started working on my own but just want to reference yours and say, "Ditto!" instead.

I know the time a post like this takes so thank you! It was such a sweet reminder for me to read all the blessings I have been given in the privilege of homeschooling my boys. :)