I seriously feel like I should preface this and let you know that I was NEVER one of those moms that dreamed of homeschooling her children. It just wasn’t something that crossed my mind. EVER. In fact, if you would have told the me of five years ago that I would be homeschooling, I wouldn’t have believed you. But when you feel backed against the wall, you have two choices…to either give up or go down swinging. I choose to swing every.single.time.
So, here I am, 6 months into the hardest AND most beautiful season yet. Homeschooling not one but two out of my 3 kids. And since I get asked ALL the time WHY I decided to homeschool, here is our story. The story that brought us to where we are now.
My oldest has always struggled in school. Absolutely brilliant in art and anything physical, she could have cared less about the major subjects. And although she tried very hard, her grades unfortunately rarely showed her tremendous effort. We switched to a private school for a year and forked out over 4k for a smaller class size but that really didn’t help either. We put her in Sylvan and forked over another couple thousand to attempt to get her “caught up”. And then we invested in a private tutor (an angel of a woman), Mrs.Theresa, who has been with us since Sophia’s 3rd grade year tutoring mostly in Math every day of the school week and then 4 hours each week during the summer. Because of her constant love and encouragement, Sophia has a genuine love for math now and she is literally a part of our family. We love her. Private tutoring has been THE only investment worth the time and money. And because we were SO at a loss as to what in the world was going on (and to rule out everything), I insisted that she be tested for any developmental learning disabilities (to which she had none). There was no social problems or bullying going on either. I was literally dumbfounded.
So what was the pivotal moment, you ask? It was when my 6th grader pulled a move that ANY 6th grader in her position with a bad progress report would pull. Progress reports were sent out on a Friday and instead of giving it to me, she went and had a fabulous weekend at her friends house (full and well knowing that she would have NEVER gotten to do that with grades like that). So when Monday rolled around and an email was sent out, I asked for her progress reports. Livid and showing my true CRAZY mom colors, I told her that since she decided not to give me her progress report that I was going to go to school with her the next day and SIT in every one of her classes. Hoping that it would be a lesson she would never forget. So, I called the school and let them know that I would be sitting in on the classes. And off I went.
I quietly sat, observing and desperately trying not to let my eyeballs pop out of my head and trying to keep my jaw from remaining open with the “OMG look”. (Side note: One teacher asked me to get back in line because she thought I was a kid..that was about the only funny moment of the day). And while I don’t consider myself a confrontational person (I tend to shy away from that sort of thing), it took every ounce of strength I had not to get up, yank my kid out of her seat, throw up the peace sign and walk out. What I witnessed was a terrible learning environment, serious lack of control, children being escorted out of the classroom, the principal coming in to speak the to class, one teacher who wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence in the classroom (no hello, nothing at all), one teacher who reprimanded a student (in a way that made my face turn red) when the child simply asked for help with a question, and a hundred other reasons. All of which made me call my husband in tears and tell him that she wasn’t going back there.
What I thought was me trying to teach my daughter a lesson, turned into God teaching me a lesson. That very same day, I was running into the local organic store and I ran into one of my bride’s moms. I don’t have a poker face so she knew that something was SO wrong and after quickly explaining the events of the day, she gave me the number of a homeschooling mom. Yet another God thing, setting me up to be exactly where we are today.
My amazing husband, God Bless this man, told me to do the research and truly take an internal look at myself to see if it was something I could undertake. With a full time photography business, two other little children, nursing shifts a few times a month and then just life in general, he wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to go off the deep end. SO, I set up a meeting with this mom, Aimee, (a Classical Conversations Director) and was truly intrigued but still wholeheartedly scared to death over the thought of homeschool. On the recommendation of this sweet woman, I decided to attend a 3 day practicum (which is basically an introduction, training and supportive environment put on by CC). My mom, Sophia and I went all the way to the mountains of NC to attend this practicum (STILL not knowing what in the world we were going to do) and within 20 minutes of the first day, BOTH Mom and I just looked at each other and nodded our head in agreement. THIS was what Sophia needed. So with the blessing and support of my husband and the support of my mom as a backup homeschool teacher, we decided to go for it. My mom is literally AMAZING ya’ll! She follows along with us (even learning Latin too) and attends to community day to keep up with what is going on. Having her do this allows me to pick up an occasional weekday nursing shift or go away for a week to photograph a wedding in New Hampshire. I couldn’t do half of what I do without her and her love!
So if you’ve stuck around reading my wordy story above, you’re probably wondering how the whole homeschooling thing is working. We picked the curriculum Classical Conversations, which is a classical way of educating (Christian based) with the motto being “To know God and make him known”. For Sophia, she is in Challenge A (7th grade) and the only thing we needed to supplement was Math (we use Abeka Math for that). CC (Classical Conversations) meets up every Thursday for “Community Day”. That basically means that we work super hard Fri, Mon, Tues and Wed and then we come together to learn with others on Thursday. This Thursday CC day holds us accountable. The papers, presentations and reading that she’s done on the previous days is talked about, presented and the tutor gives an introduction to what we’ll be working on over the next week. We are blessed with an absolutely gifted and loving tutor, Christi, who is also a parent of one of the other Challenge A students. What I LOVE about CC is that it is a community and I truly needed that. I am still “feeling my way around” this whole homeschooling thing but with the support and guidance from the other moms, I don’t feel alone.
Homeschooling is no walk in the park. It is challenging. But OH MY GOODNESS, IT IS SO WORTH IT. I have seen Sophia’s attitude of strongly disliking school and having very little confidence transform into a LOVE for learning and a newfound confidence in ALL the subjects (not just art and pe). Before homeschooling, she never brought home books. Now our living room is covered with them and she actually ASKED for a book for Christmas (ya’ll, I just about fell out on the floor of the mexican restaurant when she asked for one…not even kidding!). We are having to relearn things that should have been taught (and I am seeing holes in my own education) but we are learning together and it’s a beautiful thing.
She does Cartography/History/Debate where she has learned to draw Canada, North America, South America, Central America, Caribbean Islands and now Europe. She can draw most from memory (which is pretty amazing).
She does Rhetoric and Catechisms where we are learning the glory of God and his design in a sweet book called “It just couldn’t happen”.
She does Exposition and Composition (English) where she she is learning how to brainstorm, generate ideas, create ANI charts, create outlines for the essay and generate a beautiful and persuasive essay. (This has been amazing to see this process and it’s one that I wish I would have known about when I was learning the writing of papers). In this subject, we’ve read 5 novels and they have been absolutely incredible books. Books that stir up emotions, make you ask tough questions and elicit great conversations.
She is learning Latin as well. And believe it or not, we’ve learned MORE about the english language that I could have ever dreamed just by learning Latin. I was pretty overwhelmed with the thought of learning a language but it turns out it’s not too bad. She’s whispered a translation with me in church before and we’ve been able to pick out Latin in a famous Christmas song (totally awesome!!).
She does her 7th grade Math that is taught by her fabulous tutor. (Math and I, we do not get along…so outsourcing has been the greatest gift for both Sophia and me.)
She does Research (Science) where they research, compare sources, fuse sources and write beautiful research papers on different subjects each week. They then support each paper with art (whether it be a drawing, painting, etc) and also have to present it on CC day. I’ve watched Sophia (on the first day) sway side to side, not make any eye contact and literally rush through her paper TO now standing confidently still, make eye contact, pause at appropriate spots and take pride in her work. THAT transformation has been so amazing!
We also do Devotion each day which is absolutely beautiful. It is drawing us nearer to God and changing the dynamic in our family daily.
With homeschooling, we have flexibility but that does not mean we have laziness. We may be in our PJs for the entire day but it doesn’t mean we are taking naps. We are working our butts off, embracing this new adventure and delighting in the fruits of our labor.
There is no doubt in my mind that this was ALL in God’s beautiful plan. It was clearly not my plan but when you hear the whisper “homeschool” and you know it’s Him speaking to you, do you really have a choice? So here we are.
Are there days when I’m weary and questioning “Am I REALLY qualified to do this?”? HECK YES….but I’m quickly reminded that NOBODY is going to work harder and pour into these kids like I am. This homeschooling thing…. Has changed our lives for the better and I couldn’t be more grateful.