Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Stay Tuned for The Jean Jumper Chronicles

I want to do a series of posts on the subject of home schooling. I’m planning on addressing topics such as: the great things about home schooling, the pitfalls of home schooling and home school burn-out, why we gave school a chance this year (doesn’t that sound better than saying “why we quit”?), preparing children to be home school parents, home schooling and your relationship with your kids, etc. I know that I am no authority on home schooling as we only did it for four years. But I started thinking about writing on this topic because people have asked me why we tried a charter school this year and I wanted to give a thorough answer. I quickly realized I was going to have too much to say for one post. So I am hoping to divide it into topics that are easy to follow and somewhat brief (if possible).

I think for today I’ll just give a brief overview of how we got started home schooling in the first place.

The spring before Karis would enter kindergarten, we were living in Wheaton where the only Christian school was first of all unaffordable and second of all had a waiting list that most people entered their kids onto at birth. The Christian school was not a possibility. I decided to attend the information night at our local public school for parents with incoming kindergartners. The principal boldly declared to us that we needed to realize that our children’s teachers were now going to replace us as the primary influence in our children’s lives. This should have been enough to scare any parent, Christian or not, that a school wanted to replace the role of the family, whether or not what he said was actually true. Karis was also reading fluently already and so another factor was that we felt like she wouldn’t miss much by missing kindergarten. Home schooling would be easy for me because she already knew a lot of kindergarten stuff. So we went into it thinking: let’s try it for a year and see how it goes.

From this point on I started reading books on home schooling, attended the state conference, and started networking with other home schoolers in the are for co-op. Our family started to become assimilated into the home school culture (okay, I never actually wore a jean jumper, although I do own one that a cousin bought me for a joke when she found out that I was thinking of grinding my own wheat. However, my girls loved to wear their Little House on the Prairie dresses everywhere, and I was once asked in Wal-Mart if we were Amish.)

Each year home schooling became a little more difficult and time-consuming but I was also becoming more convinced of its merits from reading books and spending time with other home schoolers. It also helped that as the work became more difficult each year Gloria was also getting older and acting like less of a toddler so I had more time to invest.

I often encountered the idea, both in books and in conversations with home schoolers, that home schooling was the only option that any Christian should ever consider no matter what. However, I never bought into that philosophy. For us, we took it year by year, weighing the options available to determine what the best option was for our family for that year. So, for four years, I home schooled and all went well most of the time until I had a baby. Stay tuned...


C Timm said...

Looking forward to reading. In our situation home schooling would seem to be a great option considering we live in a urban setting (the Minneapolis schools have a reputation for being bad though this is relative to other MN schools which have a rep for being great), liberal city, etc. but we've never felt a calling to home school. Also, I'm not sure I agree that public school teachers replace parents as the primary influences of our children. If I'm proven wrong at any point I'll be quick to pull my kids from the public school system though. Time will tell...

Anonymous said...

I'm mentioned in a post! ;) I still think that jumper was cute. What, are you NOT grinding your own wheat now?! I'm appalled. Looking forward to reading these posts immensely as we're really about to embark on this road for real next year in B-ton. Jonathan would be entering Kindergarten in the fall according to his birthday as one of the oldest kids in the class. I'm starting to look into the Charlotte Mason philosophy.