Sunday, May 23, 2010

sixteen years of home schooling

Wow, this month my son graduated! And he will also have his eighteenth birthday the 31st. It is all quite amazing to me really. So much in one month for this mother to grasp. The last baby in our home. All I seem to see is, "What is next for him?" When I think about what is next for him I can't help but think about what is past, beyond us all so quickly.
We chose to home school our children when my oldest daughter ended the second grade. My youngest daughter was then beginning kindergarten. As a friend suggested home schooling I thought, "Are you kidding me, I could never!!!" But before long we were soon jumping in head first. Can I just say, "It has been a ride." I can look back and remember the fear as I opened up those school books for the first time, but in my fear, my children were full of smiles. What an amazing blessing beyond comprehension to teach your children. My oldest daughter was reading when she was two. Then as my second child followed in her footsteps, there was my son is the waiting. He did not learn to read at such a young age. I quickly learned that all three needed different teaching, and all three learned on different levels. Just because one got something so easily, I couldn't expect the others to follow. As one subject caught the eye of one child, another gleamed at a totally different subject.

It was like I was in school all over again, and boy have I learned a lot. When you home school you learn each subject just like your children. You forget all you learned before, and how you learned and you now teach how each child needs attention. There were days where we did school at seven in the morning and days where we started at night. I can say, home schooled children have very active imaginations and never get bored. I can honestly say I never heard my children in all the years at home say, "Mom, I am bored." There was just always something to do, and they seemed to find them.

When you teach at home, you get to set your schedule, and your children learn so much more. They watched how I took care of the house, and they saw the struggles of their daddy working and coming home to do more. They learned a work ethic, and they learned respect at a young age. Now, did I have perfect children? Ha! But you know, they are the greatest to me and I am so very proud of each one today. That is something every mother wants to say, right?

My daughters did go to high school, and they succeeded very well there. I must say although home schooling was a great blessing, there are things you choose to miss out on. Our kids were always very active in sports, so that was never a problem for us, and our children were active in church and other activities kept them busy. They were friendly and could have a conversation with anyone at any age. But there is give and take. Just as when your children go to public school they go through things my children never did and have experiences home schooling children do not have. Each has their own blessings and struggles. As a parent you must choose what is right for your family, and for us, home schooling was great.

I have had people ask me, "So, does your son have to take the GED test?" Let me share my feelings about that if I may. No, he does not. He didn't quit school, nor did he get an education of lesser value. He received an excellent education and he went to school for twelve years, learning much. He receives a diploma just as if he were in public school. You have those who are totally against home schooling and I understand that. I think I would have been to if not for learning about and seeing the blessings with my own eyes. Until you completely learn all the benefits to home schooling you can't really say it is bad. You have those who teach as they should, and those who do not. But in public school you have that same problem with teachers who are more concerned with their pay check than the child in the back. I know many teachers and have such respect for them. Do you have to have a college education to home school your child? No, you do not. But what could be better than a mother who wants the very best for her children? She will go at any means to learn all she can and make sure her child has succeeded. A mother with a heart, who has passion, and a great spirit can do much when she sets her mind and focuses on what is at hand. I can say just as my children learned I learned, and there were times I was learning from them. I loved watching their eyes light up when they figured something out. I loved it when they really got something they had struggled with. For me, home schooling was just an added blessing to being a mom.

As I will forever be a mom, my teaching has come to an end, but I know as this has ended God has something else in store for me. I cannot wait to see what He has. I know the past sixteen years has been a time where God was teaching me, growing me through my children, and was preparing me for something even greater, which is hard to fathom.

So I want to say thank you to my children. Thank you for being patient. Thank you for being loving. Thank you for allowing your mother to teach you, and to learn with you. The laughs, the tears and all the lessons were blessings to this mother's heart. The breakfasts in bed, the lessons at the park, the marker stains, and all those books read has forever changed me. Because of you I am a better person and a blessed mom. The time we have shared together learning has only captured memories to last a lifetime.

To those who helped me, I say thank you. For Dawn, thank you for helping me overcome algebra and learn that its not math its problem solving! Thank you for the time you gave helping my children succeed. To Tami and Julie, thank you for always being there and keeping me together on those days where I thought I would fall apart. Thank you for the shared books and all the information that only made me a better teacher and mom. To my husband, thank you for your prayers and leadership. Thank you for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself. It really does take a village to raise your children and even more to teach them at home.

What a ride, what a blessing we have had. Now, its on to much more. As the page of this book comes to an end I can't wait to see the first chapter in the next. Now its time for me to design that diploma, plan that party and get the gifts, but I think this mom has had the best gift ever, three children who believed in me as I pushed them to believe in themselves!
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