Homeschooling and our family…

homeschool

When we first decided to homeschool, I have to admit I was scared to death. It was the winter of 2007 (pre cancer) when I first began to pray about taking Easton and Elijah out of school. Although they went to an A+ school, it just wasnt meeting their individual needs.

Elijah was in the first grade and so very shy. He had a speech problem that just wasn’t getting any better with the 2 hours of speech therapy the county allotted him per week. He was afraid to read, because of his speech problem and he couldnt spell. His teacher, on spelling tests, would tell the children to “sound out the word”… when he did that, he got it wrong because of his speech, even though he had studied them all week with me at home. I could never figure out why he would get the majority of them right with me, and flunk the test. When he told me what his teacher was telling the class, it clicked. He is a rule follower to the T. Even when I tell him to write the word the way it was memorized, as soon as he heard the teacher say “Sound it out” he would follow her directions. He was in the lowest reading group, and that still wasn’t where he needed to be.

With Easton, it was different. She was in the third grade and the FCATs terrified her. We started seeing a major change two weeks before the tests and noticed that she was becoming withdrawn from things that she normally took so much pleasure in. When we asked her what was up, she broke down and started crying saying that she didn’t want to fail third grade. That is when I began to really question why. Why was the school system putting this much emphasis on a weeks test when they should be grading the students on the accumulation of the years work and effort. Why was this test such a HUGE deal? When I researched the FCAT scores a little bit deeper, I realized that the schools were given a grade based on the FCAT scores, and thus given money (my money) to possible fail my children according to the week of test scores from the FCAT, not their performance for the year… but a week.

Needless to say, my kids never went back after that Thursday. I went and withdrew them on Friday and that was that. We took a month off to let them recoup, and as soon as we started up again, I found out about the brain tumor. I was determined to still homeschool them, but knew that the next year was going to be full of Chemo and sickness so I enrolled them in Morning Star (a homeschooling friendly school)

It was rough, I homeschooled from the living room couch most days, and the others when I felt well enough to leave the house, we did. The school made all of my lesson plans, and gave me goal sheets for each child, so as long as the goal sheets were completed that week, we were good. It got to be too much for me to do the further into chemo, so we decided to send them 4 days a week and I would homeschool them on Fridays.

As sick as I was, I would not trade that experience with my children for anything in the world. We learned so much together, so much that school could not teach any of us. We learned outside of books and tests. My children learned compassion. When I was sick as a dog with chemo, they learned to think about someone other than themselves. When I was unable to get out of bed, they brought all of their books into my bedroom and we had school on mom’s bed. I often get asked the question of why. Why would you put your children through seeing you like that? My answer was and still is: Because we, as a family, are not going to be defeated by this disease. Mark and I talked for many hours on this very subject, and we do not look at cancer as a death sentence for me or for our family. We are not going to let it steal our calling to homeschool our children.

It was and is a personal decision, and one that we didn’t take lightly.

This past year, I have been homeschooling them with the help of a tutor (which they go to on Tuesdays and Thursdays). She was their teacher at Morning star. (The school closed down when the Owner found out she had colon cancer but is still our covering for homeschooling) She makes all of my lesson plans and handles their portfolios for the end of the year. She is really a true godsend!

I have seen my children learn and grow leaps and bounds since we made the decision to pull them. Elijah has skipped 1-2 grades in the last year and is reading like a champ! His confidence has vastly improved and so has his personality! Easton is so thankful that I made the decision to homeschool her. She is going into Middle School next year, and that will be challenging but she is up for the challenge. Me, on the other hand….I am scared to death! She is involved in dance, guitar and her youth group so there is no lack of socializing, which is very important for homeschoolers. It is a challenge to find things that she enjoys and that meet our schedule and standards as a family, but overall she is a great christian girl so we don’t have much to complain about (other than the occasional attitude!)

We chose to not homeschool Emma Grace because she was doing so very well in her Autistic classroom. We have a great relationship with her teacher. We meet regularly with everyone that interacts with her on a daily basis. Sometimes I feel guilty because I feel like I am putting my oldest educational needs above hers, but then I see her interact with everyone at her school and how much she loves going there.. I know we are doing the right thing for her right now.

Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, and there are many vastly different types of homeschooling. This is what works best for our family, given our circumstances. I have to have things planned out, organized and scheduled. I could never “not” have a portfolio, a school record, or lesson plans, but that is just me. I know many people who are not as strict on the lesson plans/daily work as we are, and that works for them.

I love my children more than the next breath in my body. I love teaching them and watching their faces light up when they learn something new for the first time. I love seeing their eyes when something they have been working on for a long time just “clicks” and they get it! I even love the days (once they are over) that they get on my last nerve and I have to walk out of the room and slowly say “moosefaba” ten times to calm down!

I love that they love spending time with me, learning from me.

I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.


Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.
-Proverbs 22:6

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Comments

  1. Karla T. says:

    What a wonderful, dedicated mommy you are! It’s so encouraging to read about what God has done and orchestrated in your life and your family. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Such a great post~it would be a really good reference for those in the midst of burnout!!!! I surely haven’t been through what you have, but I can attest that the times we’ve done school around the bed have been THE BEST for some reason…. (((((HUGS))))) sandi

    (((((HUGS))))) sandis last blog post..About Preston…

  3. Fantastic explanation! You do the best you can for each child. Each of your three children is exactly where she (or he!) needs to be. Good for you!

    Taras last blog post..Works for me Wednesday complete with a *GIVEAWAY!*

  4. Loretta McElmurry says:

    Wonderful post! I agree that homeschooling isn’t for everyone, though I homeschooled my daughter from pre-K all the way through high school. She was so shy when she was little, she couldn’t even look people in the eye when they spoke to her. Interacting with others was downright painful for her. Through homeschooling, and keeping her involved in church activities and neighborhood friendships, tumbling classes, etc., plus the experience of being with her daddy and me out and about in the community, she has grown into a secure, self-sufficient, confident young woman who now works as an administrative assistant for our primary care doctor. Among her best attributes are her wonderful people skills and her ability to use diplomacy to work with difficult patients. These are things we couldn’t have imagined for her when she was a small child, because of her severe shyness.

    I was diagnosed with breast cancer halfway through my daughter’s freshman year, and we still struggled on, though there were days that were very difficult, and we never did finish geometry. My “chemo brain” just couldn’t remember enough of it to teach it to her and we couldn’t afford tutors. But she got a lot of hands-on experience in science & health that year, taking care of me following my mastectomy, and in math, as she did all the meal planning and grocery shopping. She also did just about everything else around the house, so home ec was well covered, too, lol. I am now battling a recurrence of the cancer–in Jan., four years to the day after my first diagnosis, we learned the cancer is in my spine, sternum, liver, and the pleural cavities of my lungs. Because of my illness, even when it made homeschooling more difficult, I wouldn’t have missed one day of this experience. I treasure every day I’ve been able to spend with my daughter, and all the time we’ve been able to spend together as a family, because of the freedom we’ve had with homeschooling.

  5. I can read, Heather, that you went into the homeschooling with the right thoughts – those of the children. My grandchildren are homeschooled and have done so well. They are beautiful, self assured Christian individuals whom I hope will grow to share Christian values with all they will meet along life’s way.

    God bless you and your family.

  6. I admire you so much for putting so much into your children especially when you yourself have been going through hardship health wise. I don’t think you nor your children will ever look back and regret the time you spent together growing and learning. I honestly can’t think of a better teacher for them. I don’t think any of us look back and wish we’d done less…

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Blessings on you =O)

    Chriss last blog post..Wireless?

  7. My kids have been homeschooled off and on since the oldest (15) was in kindergarten. He’s been homeschooled more than the other two, because his needs and reality are different. It’s such an awesome tool to have on so many different levels.

    And really for those who complain about you doing this with cancer… well… my kids would rather be home with me seeing what was going on than at school, worried. (if we were in the similiar situation). You make the choices best for your family and only *YOU* know what those are!

    Kims last blog post.."V" is for Victory part 4

  8. Homeschooling is a great experience (although it doesn’t always work for every family). It was nice to read about your experiences and determination, I’m glad homeschooling is working out for you. Best luck to you and your family… :-)

    Keith Wilcoxs last blog post..Friday’s Story #5

  9. We took our children out of school for very similar reasons. I am a teacher with some 17 years experience, but I never realised until our daughter came along that school isn’t for everyone. Homeschooling is not a good fit for every family; formal schooling is not a good fit for every child.
    The discovery I have made is that learning is nothing to do with the location, the syllabus, the day or the time. When our daughter writes me a love note, that’s literacy in action. When our son calculates the cost of grocery items and figures out the change at the supermarket, that’s maths in action. We had a geography lesson in front of Google earth looking at all the places our friend has gone to on a mission trip to Africa. We weren’t doing geography, but it became a lesson. I wouldn’t swap what we’re doing for the world. It’s worth more than all the money in the world.

    Annes last blog post..Hitting DEL in the family room

  10. Hello,
    I found your blog off of one of my friends “Favorites” lists. It was like a breath of fresh air for me to read, since your homeschooling situation sounds very similar to ours. We began homeschooling last year, and like you, I was SCARED TO DEATH!!! It was a calling. I knew God was taking me in that direction. And although it is not always easy, it has been a wonderful experience thus far. Thank you for sharing your story. It literally put me in tears, and it is good to know I’m not the only one out there.
    Blessings,
    Mary

  11. I loved that you homeschooled even through your sickness and what a beautiful answer to the question of why. My three boys will be at three different schools next year. I’ll only be homeschooling one and part of me already feels guilt because I know the other two will want to be home. But, for next year, the best thing for the other two is to go. Once child, one year {day?} at a time.

    I’ll meet you in a few weeks!

    The Nesters last blog post..Price My Space Party

  12. I couldn’t argree more with what a wonderful experience homeschooling is. I don’t think I could ever go back to the public school. We have been so blessed.

    Julie

  13. Can I just say “wow”? This is amazing. And inspiring.

    We have been homeschooling from the beginning. This year my daughter will be in 4th grade, and my sons will be in 2nd grade, preschool, and then the toddler. As challenging (and rewarding) as homeschooling is, I cannot even imagine having cancer. YOU are proof that it can be done. That love does conquer all. That a person CAN do what they set their mind to. Keep believing, trusting, persevering, and inspiring.
    Thank you!

  14. Beautiful post, Heather! Homeschooling can be such a blessing and joy when we remember that our families and situations are unique. It’s so important to find what works best for each child. When that happens, we can really see them blossom. Thanks for sharing this! It’s a terrific reminder for me as I begin making plans for this year, while questioning the past four. 😀

  15. Kristen Clippard Zamber says:

    Hey, Heather. ‘Been a really long time.
    That’s so cool that you’re homeschooling. I’ve just spent about an hour and a half reading your story & Emma’s. Awesome stuff. Really goes down deep.
    Love,
    Kristen

  16. Tabitha Say says:

    I have so enjoyed reading your blog. We, too are a christian homeshooling family. We have 6 boys ages 1-11. We just found out that our youngest son probably has mitochondrial myopathy. We are scared but at the same time the
    Lord has given us an unexplainable peace about it all. Your words have given me such encouragement. Thank you so much for sharing!
    Tabitha

  17. Hi there. I stumbled upon your blog today and have read many of the entries. Let me first say that I am so so so sorry about your loss. I do not have children, but cannot imagine what you and your family are going though.

    Our families actually have a few big things in common – homeschooling, brain tumors and autism.

    I am one of 6 and my youngest brother and sister (they are 9 almost 10) have forms of autism. Our family adopted them from Guatemala and they were babies at the time – so at that point we had no clue that they would end up with that diagnosis. They are fabulous kids and I love going home or when they come to visit me – when I was 16 when we adopted them they were merely “babies” but now at 25, its so much fun having siblings who still get excited for christmas and birthdays and love to have fun.

    One of my other brother’s was in a car accident two years ago and wasnt wearing a seat belt – he thankfully was okay but hit his head on the roof of the car so he was forced to get a cat scan to make sure there was no trauma. In what must have been God looking out for him – a lesion was found. It ended up being a low grade malignant tumor and he had surgery two weeks later to have it removed. He has since pretty much fully recovered but it was so scary for our family – but we are so thankful that everything turned out.

    Lastly, my mom and dad pulled me and my brother (my two younger siblings at the time were in nursery school) out of public school because they were unhappy with the education we were receiving. They decided to do it on a year by year basis and I ended up being homeschooled from 5th grade right through 12th. I used a correspondence school for high school where I sent in my work to be graded and it was also an accredited school so I graduated with my high school diploma. I ultimately went on to Villanova University, graduated the top in my major and have been working in Jax, FL for the past three years as a paralegal. I start law school this fall and ALWAYS try to talk to people about homeschooling. Its not for everyone in every situation, but it can work and it can be a great thing. I fully value the decision my parents made all those years ago because it helped turn me into a well rounded, determined, efficient adult once I hit college.

    I just wanted to let you know that I have been touched reading your blog – and hope that your family is healing and doing as well as they can considering the circumstances.