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 We started seeing a major change two weeks before the tests and noticed that she was becoming withdrawn from things that she normally took so much pleasure in.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.
Train up a child in the way he should go,
and when he is old he will not depart from it.