Education at Home

I haven't always been a home school mom. In fact, I used to teach at a pubic high school and when my daughter (as a four year old) begged me to home school her, I just laughed. No! I replied. First of all, you are not even old enough to be in school. Second, we have a perfectly good little country school just a few miles away. Home school. Indeed! I was a city girl, for heaven's sake. I didn't even know any home schoolers when I was growing up. Since moving to Montana, however, we had met many families who educated at home. My Ellie just wanted to be like the other kids. How backwards is that?

My son, then a second grade student at the little country school, took pity on his little sister who was heartbroken that I wouldn't home school her. He took it upon himself to set up a little school room in the basement, complete with a desk and a chalk board. After he came home from the second grade each day, the two of them would disappear to the basement for classes. It wasn't long before Ellie was bringing papers upstairs to show me. She had done well on her spelling test and wanted to show me the big smiley face on the paper. She was learning math, too, and impressed us at the dinner table with her addition facts. Her brother, Teacher Tano, was actually teaching school.

By the time the girl started kindergarten the following year, she was reading and doing basic math. Her kindergarten teacher didn't know what to do with her and was constantly scrambling to keep her from getting bored. First grade wasn't much different. She was way ahead. By second grade, it was becoming a problem.

Meanwhile, Tano was having his own interesting school experience. He excelled at reading and writing, but was slowly and steadily falling behind in math. Each year saw him farther ahead of his peers in his reading and writing and farther behind in math. Our little country school (one school, K-8 comprised the entire school district, with students bussed to the next town for high school) just didn't have the resources to handle kids who didn't fit perfectly into their boxes. Students were either at grade level, 'gifted,' or receiving special education services. He didn't fit any of those categories.

It was after Ellie had finished second grade and Tano had finished fifth, that the kids asked again if I would teach them at home. I hesitated. I wasn't an elementary school teacher, but I had been professionally trained. I was afraid that the kids and I would drive each other crazy. I didn't want to put the teacher role into my parenting role, for fear spoiling both of them. I was giving it serious consideration, but I really was hesitant.

After quite a bit of prayer, I began to realize that I wasn't so afraid after all. I realized that all my training could be to prepare me to educate my own kids. I felt like I'd been given a green light. Before the final decision was made, I warned my kids that I am a total education nerd. I love school. I love learning and everything about the process. Their lives were crazy enough just having me as a mother because I could turn anything into a learning opportunity. To unleash me as their teacher as well could get crazy. That only made them more excited.

Please, Mama? they begged.

What could I do?

We agreed to a one year contract, to be re-evaluated in the spring. And here we are, four years later. Tano is a high school freshman. Ellie has started middle school. We're still at home together. Many things have changed since we started, but we are still having a great time at it.

And my fears of us driving each other crazy? Totally unfounded. I honestly get choked up at the thought of sending them off on a school bus at 8:00 in the morning and not seeing them again until 4:00 in the afternoon. I would miss them so much! I love being with my kids.

I was made for this.

For the complete story of our home education experiment including what has worked for us and what hasn't, you can check out the tag "Education at Home", linked here. Happy reading.