Friday, September 7, 2007

School Daze

I used to think that I could spot a home schooled kid a mile away. In my mind, they all seemed to be very quiet, plain, well-behaved children. Usually they were dressed in second-hand clothing and, even in their high school years didn't wear a stitch of make-up. That was the stereo-type, unfair as it was, that I had in my mind.

Until the summer of 2000.

I made my annual trek to Camp Cherith for a week of summer camp. I had ten high school girls in my cabin that year, half of which turned out to be home schooled. Two of them fit my aforementioned stereo-type, but the other three smashed the mold. One was adorably out-going and bubbly, one was a fashion queen, and one was a pure thespian. They were all so different from one another and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each and every one of them.

Driving the five hours home from camp provided ample time for me to reflect on what I had learned and experienced that past week. Realizing that my oldest daughter was preparing to start kindergarten that fall, I began to ponder the possibility of home schooling, which was something that had never entered my mind before. In fact, up until that point, I honestly thought that it did a disservice to your children, and was so thankful my mom hadn't home schooled me.

As I thought about those five home schooled girls in my cabin, I marveled at how different they were from one another, which I learned was a direct result of the different personality types of their parents. Yet, they all shared something in common. This was what had captured my attention. Despite their differences in personality and appearance, all five of them loved the Lord, had a great relationship with their parents, and had an awesome friendship with their siblings. That was what I wanted for my kids!

I understood that there are exceptions to those rules, meaning not every home schooled child possesses those traits, while there are, in fact, many public schooled kids that do. But, remembering back on many of my school years, of the three traits, the only one that remained consistent was my great relationship with my brother.

So, to help avoid the pitfalls that I fell into as a youth, I had made my decision to buck the system and teach my kids at home.

Very quickly did I find out that this was not a very popular nor applauded decision by many, including my husband! I had nonchalantly told him over the phone that I'd made this decision and he just about dropped the receiver. Apparently this was to be a joint decision, and he needed some time to get to the point I was at!

After a month of researching on both our parts, and even registering at the local public school, it finally came down to the kindergarten open house that finally sealed the deal. We both walked away from that experience feeling like we'd both been handed a letter of confirmation directly from God Himself, affirming that the home school option was the one for us.

Thus began one of the biggest blessings in my life! It fits our family so well! The flexibility and freedom is wonderful, and so far, I am so thankful that both of my girls do, in fact, love the Lord, love Ben & me, and love each other. That is all I ever wanted, but the benefits have proven to be even greater than I could have imagined.

We have just completed the third day of my eighth year of teaching my girls. So far so good! Gabby started taking some electives last year in sixth grade at our local middle school, and we continued that this year for seventh grade. She takes PE sports, drama, jazz choir and concert choir there. I do everything else at home. Greta still stays home 100% of the time. She is in fourth grade this year, and just loves to learn!

I am blessed by my children and so thankful that God led me down the path of home schooling. He knew what would be best for my family, as always. Thank you, God!

Here we are in August of 2005 for the girls' baptisms. God is good. All the time.


Julie said...

You do such an awesome job with the girls, Share. Anyone who knows you, knows what a great teacher you must be ...and anyone who knows Gabby and Greta knows how much they love you. It takes a special person to do what you do! Can I send Lily over to you when she goes to Kindergarten?

Leslie said...

I can't believe how young the girls look in that picture, and that wasn't all that long ago.

You've been such a gift to me as a friend and a fellow homeschooler. I always know you are there in the trenches right along with me.

You do an outstanding job with Gabby and Greta. They love you so much, and they will remember their growing up years fondly because of all the hours you spend together working on school and just being together. Not to mention, the fact that you are a super cool mom to have!

LizzyG said...

Hey there dear friend! Just kidding. Isn't it funny how we've never met, yet we feel like we know each other so well! I absolutely loved reading this post. Every word resonnated so deeply with me. It truly is a blessing to be able to homeschool your kids! The time spent together is irreplacable. And yes, they can still wear hip clothes and "act normal" around other kids!

Team Johnston said...

Way to go Sharon! We looked into the option of homeschooling, but I was afraid Allyson & Thomas would miss the social interaction with other kids. Keep up the good work!
~Danielle :)

Joshua & Valerie said...

I didn't realize that your desision to homeschool was a virtual last minute one!

I love how Gabby is taking advantage of going to public school part time. How awesome to "load up" on electives!!

In four years Makayla will be in kindergarten. We don't know yet what we'll do. I'm not so keen on public school (hey- I attended it AND saw the other side as I taught) and although private Christian schools may be a great alternative, money tree died last year. And I don't forsee getting a new one anytime soon!

I see the freedom that you're talking about. How awesome to go on field trips and family trips any time of the year and not feel constrained to the school year. How great to be able to be studying just about what you want just about when you want. "Oh! Butterflies amaze you? Let's study them more indepthly!"

And with all the craziness in the public school system, do you really want your little ones mixed up with that?

And once your kids are old enough (high school), they can start taking college classes at the JC. They can get college credit or just be there to take classes that intrest them just for that sake! (I started at my local JC on my 17th birthday...before my senior year in high school. I'd it it all over again, too. Only maybe start even sooner!!)

I don't know for sure what we're going to do. But I know we have at least a couple of options!

Joshua & Valerie said...

"Indepthly"?? I'm such a dork! I just got a glance of what I wrote. I wrote it quickly and didn't proof read (I usually don't). I don't always write with correct grammer or punctuation (with purpose), but that was NOT on purpose and just stuck out.

"Hi! My name is Valerie. I went to college where I studied really 'indepthly'!!"

Sometimes ya just gotta laugh at yourself!

Angela said...

That is so awesome Sharon. What a great mother you are and what a beautiful family you have!

priscilla tilgner said...

Oh the tredful stereo type not cool. We are all guilty of it. I can admit to the one about home schooled kids. Its scary when I think Aidan will start Kindergarden next year...i'm kinda freaked out.

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