Thursday, April 4, 2013

How We Decided to Homeschool

Our educational journey has been a bit of a mixed bag. We started out at a very small private school. D.D. went into an all day K-4 program and loved it. The next year I began teaching at the school and was blessed enough to be her Kindergarten teacher. We stayed in that school through third grade.

The educational standards in this little private school world of ours were exceptional. Kids left Kindergarten knowing how to read, write, add and subtract. By third grade, D.D. was memorizing poetry, effortlessly flying through long division and writing her cursive letters with a perfect slant.

In the middle of her third grade year I felt God prompting me to make some changes to our lives. It was time to leave the little school we had called our home and continue the educational journey elsewhere. At the time, I knew I was leaving teaching to pursue writing full-time. I had no idea what to do with D.D. We prayed for direction and open doors… and God delivered.

I had absolutely refused to send D.D. to the school we were assigned to by our district boundaries. Poj and I were horrified by some of the stories we heard coming out of that place. I figured public school wouldn’t be an option for us. Then, a few days after we had begun praying, we got a call from Poj’s dad. He worked for the school district and had just been recruited to join what I started calling The Dream Team.

The district had just acquired some new schools and had staffed the most promising one with the best of the best that elementary ed. had to offer. Poj’s dad felt very strongly that D.D. should attend this school and had already secured the paperwork necessary to get her enrolled. It turned out to be just that easy. Suddenly, D.D. had a personal recommendation and an exceptional academic foundation that allowed her to attend this out of district school on a probationary basis. (Which means that the school could kick her out really quick if she turned out to be a behavioral nightmare.)

Thus started our public school jaunt. I have to be honest, I almost pulled her right back out when I
saw the curriculum plans for the year. They were so wimpy and disappointing! But I trusted that God had a plan for her and we stuck it out.

The staff at the school was fantastic! The principal started every day by walking through the halls, shaking hands and addressing each child by name. D.D.’s teachers were wonderful women who tried really hard to educate their charges against very great odds -- all while keeping the smiles on their faces. For example, D.D.’s fourth grade class had twenty-seven kids in it. Out of those students, four were developmentally disabled, one didn’t speak english, three were “gifted” and the remaining nineteen students were “normal”. You tell me what a teacher is supposed to do in this situation besides just cope…

In public school, D.D. learned patience, tolerance and respect for diverse cultures. Unfortunately, she also learned that if she behaved and was respectful to the staff she could be labelled a good kid and get away with anything. She learned that she could do the bare minimum and still skate by at the top of the class.

This is also when she learned that she had no desire to be one of the “Drama Girls”. (We’re talking attitude here, not theatre… she’s totally into theatre.) She decided that she didn’t want to sacrifice her morals and her education to achieve social standing. So, three months into her fifth grade year, D.D. came to me and said, “Mom, I don’t want to have to deal with all this drama just to get a weak education. I want you to consider homeschooling me since you work from home anyway.” Before I could say anything she continued, “I know I need to finish what I start so I want to finish fifth grade here, but I don’t want to go to middle school with the other kids next year.”

At first I was hesitant… and that lasted about a day. As soon as I opened my mouth to pray about it I felt an overwhelming and resounding YES! Once again, the pieces just fell into place and it was time to prepare for a change.

Thought for the day: Life's journey's are so much more fun in retrospect.

This post is part 1 of the Why We Homeschool Series. Watch for new posts in this series every week on Searching for Serenity.

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