Are You Going to Homeschool?
As a kid, there didn’t seem to be much deliberation about where my brother and I would attend school. Don’t get me wrong, my parents could have had conversations about education in the late hours of night, sometime when the house was quiet and the babies were asleep. But I was totally oblivious.
In fact, I was totally oblivious these conversations existed until I was 27-years-old. I knew some kids were homeschooled. Others were afforded education at a private institution. Still others, like myself, were bused to whichever schools were in their district.
But, as an adult with children aging into the educational system, one unexpected question keeps popping up in conversation: Are you going to homeschool?
Not long ago, a dear friend named Mary Pat approached me with this very question. I confessed I did not yet have a plan for our children.
The mother of two little ones, Mary Pat Reed, is also an entrepreneur and owner of her very own pediatric speech pathology business. Not only does she offer excellent service to her clients, but she also pours out joy and the love of Christ to everyone she encounters.
This week, she explores her own reflections to the question of becoming Mom and Teacher.
The kids are sleeping and I have a to-do list today (and let’s be real, it needs to get done during nap time), but I’m choosing to write instead. I’ve got something trouncing around my head, and it would only hinder productivity if I ignore these musings.
Are you going to homeschool?
This dreaded question is asked to me more often than I would expect.
Yes, I do have “crunchy” friends who do it (though if you looked at what I consumed in the last 24 hours—let alone the week—I would not be labeled as the same crunchy variety).
Yes, I have several close friends who have been homeschooled and/or have homeschooled their children (and magically, neither the parents nor the children have lacked the pragmatic skills to flourish in the world).
Yes, I reside within a public school district of peril and scandal which causes me to doubt whether my children would benefit from its current state.
No, we did not recently purchase a winning Powerball ticket, so we have limited intentions of pursuing the most prestigious preschool and kindergarten education programs that money can buy in our metroplex.
To be honest, my husband and I have not discerned what will be the exact educational placement for our children in the next 3-5 years. But when I get asked THE QUESTION, my immediate answer is always the same.
I hope not!
In all fairness, each time I am asked this question, my heart softens and the idea of homeschooling appears less repulsive. Especially the early years of elementary school. I’m educated in special education and am a language acquisition specialist. It does not require a stretch of the imagination to agree I would not damage the educational trajectories of my children if I trialed such a thing.
Yet still, the current desire of my heart remains.
I hope not.
Perhaps it is a longing that I just want to be Mom. Sure I don’t mind donning my many hats around the town: pediatric speech-language pathologist, church volunteer, mom’s club member, book study participant, tennis player, former university adjunct faculty, self-proclaimed foodie, quirky-optimistical-facebook-status satirist, and apparently a beginner blogger.
But at the end of the day, I prefer to remove all head gear so I can transparently be Wifey and Mommy. I don’t want to be a capital-T teacher at home. Though, I could write a book entitled, “And God Said No: And She Loved What Came Next”, so do not be surprised should I ever have a change of heart.
Deep down, if I look at my own life, I think my impulsive answer may lie within the fact that I loved school. Rather, I hated school. No, I loved school. Do you follow that? Allow me to translate my sentiments.
I have always loved learning, but I hated the weather patterns of late elementary school, middle school, and high school. It was impossible to forecast what social drama would blow through and when the storm would make landfall. It may be a fog of nasty teenage hormones, a deluge of incomprehensible peer sabotage, or the ominous cloud of bullying.
Worst of all, it was sometimes a beautifully sunny day. The kind of day with the unfortunate side effect of creating a false sense of security that all is well, and only rainbows will follow you all the days of your life. Until the unexpected hail storm rolls through and conversely enlightens you.
I suppose it wouldn’t have been so unbearable if radar technology had been more advanced 15 years ago. Alas, while the weather was calmer on weekends, summers, and seemingly during any other hours than from 7:30am to 4:30pm, I always felt like I had forgotten my safety umbrella at home during those school day hours.
Eventually, I figured out that if I could only hold my ground during those unforeseen idiosyncrasies on the radar, the aftermath of impending storms was never as tragic as I feared. In fact, those storms became ironically endearing moments that allowed me to experience peace, learn more about perseverance, and overcome adverse situations for a richer intake of knowledge.
While I would guess others may have experienced otherwise, friends were not my greatest allies in high school. I can count on one hand the number of true friends (oddly all of the masculine variety) who stuck by my side through all four years of high school. Aside from these five exceptions, it turns out my lifelong friends (comprised of both genders) were not revealed until college and beyond.
Looking back, I know I had always looked forward to college in hopes that this would be the case, but it would have saved a little heartbreak here and there to know that it was okay to have many friendly acquaintances in middle and high school but lack the intimate soul friends that “everyone else” seemed to have (I bet they didn’t have as many soul friends as I has suspected).
How did I survive the enigmatic experience of non-homeschooling? Easy.
I had lighthouses.
Lighthouses in every sense of the word. Beacons to keep me going. Sources of inspiration and light. Pillars that reminded me that the darkness can be overcome and unsettling times of life can be navigated. Structures that forced me to look up at the bright side. Some of them more brilliant than others, but their brightness and location were exactly what and where I needed when I stumbled upon them. And perhaps often overlooked throughout the years as people see them as common place.
But rest assured. I have mapped out the locations of my lighthouses and can vividly remember their luster. And even now, I enjoy when I see them on the internet or stumble across their paths in real life. It’s possible that I may never greet them in this life again, but I will never forget these lighthouses.
Are you going to homeschool?
I hope not?
But regardless of my decision, it is my prayer that my children will be as blessed as I was to encounter such lighthouses along their educational journey. The lessons learned from my lighthouses surpassed mere academic knowledge and shaped my life in ways they will never fully fathom.
A simple thank you does not capture the gratitude I hold in my heart for these lighthouses, but I will nonetheless express it as such.
Thank you to the lighthouses that I encountered from first to twelfth grade…Lee, Debbie, Nancy, Barbara, Ava, Brenda, Terry, Charlotte, Mary, Deborah, Vicky, Suzanne, Sandra, Laurie, Gary, Sara Kay, Brandi, Pat, Maureen, Charlotte, Helen, Dana, Sherry, Jane, Judy, James, Doug, Scott, Kathy, Val, Jennifer, Tommy, Karen, Patty, Kathy, Wendy, Jeffrey, and Paul.
And thank you, Mary Pat, for being a lighthouse to me, a beacon of faith and hope for my family, and a guide to all these readers who have been wrestling with THE QUESTION.