Monday, March 16, 2015

Our Homeschool Journey....

Right from the time RileyAnn was in my womb, I knew I didn't want to send her to public school.  I felt fortunate to have a parochial school education through 8th grade in our rural farming community.  I felt strongly about small class sizes and one on one instruction.  I also felt strongly about parental involvement and less government control.   We weren't sure we would send our kids to a parochial school, but I hoped for some other option aside from public school.

When our older girls, Jennifer and Angel, came to us as foster kids, they attended public school because that's the nature of the beast here in WI.  You cannot homeschool foster kids.  Theirs was not initially an adoptive placement so I had not thought a lot about other educational options for them.  However, once the adoption was finalized, as time went on, I started to wonder if public school was the best place for them.  Jennifer was in special education and Angel struggled socially right from day one.  So much so, that by the time she reached 6th grade, it was unbearable.  A month into the school year, I decided to pull Angel from public school.  It felt like a rash decision at the time because I had no plan B.   I was also a member of our public school board, which was more than a little awkward.

That week, I met with teachers at the parochial school and even borrowed their books to take home and study.  I made some phone calls to teaching friends and homeschool acquaintances.  Angel was beside herself and thought I'd ruined her life.   However, after a week's worth of prayer, study, and networking, it was decided I would homeschool her for the rest of that year.  Jennifer was just starting high school.  She was a gifted athlete who did OK academically and wasn't struggling socially so she stayed and eventually graduated from public school.

At this same time, RileyAnn was attending a Christian preschool two mornings per week.  It felt like I had a foot in every door.  Because Riley has a September birthday, she was almost a whole year older than most kids at preschool giving her an edge in every area.  At the semester change, with mixed feelings, it was decided to move her up to the 4K room, which was two full days per week.  I will never forget the end of the first week, when I picked her up and asked the teacher how it went.  She stated Riley did better than most of the kids that had been there all year.  Part of me was flattered and part of me saw a huge red flag going up.

Many days I remember dropping her off and seeing wild chaos.  Little boys running and wrestling.  Kids crying in the corner.  After a short time, Riley also began crying every morning that I dropped her off.  She just wanted to stay home with me.  Though it broke my heart, I've always been of the mind that you should finish what you start.  I struggled greatly with this in my mind because I already had Angel home and technically Riley didn't belong in school yet anyway.  The only thing she learned that year was bad behavior.  We were both miserable and I have since come to realize that 4K programs are nothing but government babysitters.  Long story short, by the end of the school year, we decided it was in Angel and Riley's best interest to proceed with homeschooling. 

That was eight years ago,  Angel has since graduated from high school through homeschool.  She and Jennifer are both grown and gone from home.  RileyAnn is currently in 5th grade, Ruben is in 4th, and of course, Levi is preschool :)  I have learned a great deal in that span of time and continue to learn daily.  At this point, I LOVE homeschooling and can't imagine it any other way!  I enjoy being with our kids daily.  It's a gift to watch them grow and learn!

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  1. Thank you for sharing this, Melissa.
    When our oldest 2 children were in a local Christian school, but daughter (the younger of the the 2) cried every morning that I took her and her brother to school. She was in K-5 then. She begged me almost every day to home school her. But I just didn't have the confidence to do it. This went on for 2 years. She begged; I made excuses. We finally took the plunge when she was to begin grade 2 and our son was to begin grade 6. We have never looked back. Our oldest 2 graduated from home school and we are now home schooling our younger 5 children. As you said, I can't imagine it any other way. :)
    Have a wonderful Monday!

  2. You're welcome Lisa :)

    ...God is good!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing your story! I reopened the LinkUps on the Sonlight blog for January and February so that you (and anyone else who wants to join in late) can add your link to the party. Stay tuned for the March edition this week!