Our Homeschool Story

How I Became a Homeschool Zealot

This is a long one. So if you are inclined to read it, grab a cup of tea & settle in!

As a homeschool mom I sometimes forget how unusual the idea of homeschooling can be to people who do not homeschool.  I get a lot of questions & assumptions regarding homeschooling. My 2 most frequent questions I get are; 1. Why do you homeschool? or more accurately - Why would you want to that?, 2. How did you get started? - this usually phrased as something like - I wouldn’t know wear to start? or How do you do that?  I have found over the years the best way to answer these questions is by telling the story of how I discovered homeschooling, got started & settled into the Leadership Education.

My interest in homeschooling started when I was attending Arizona State University for my Undergrad Degree. In a class on family development I did a research project with a friend of mine on homeschooling. She planned on homeschooling her kids. At the time I thought she was nuts, but the topic intrigued me and not in a good way. It fascinated me   in the same way you find it hard to look away from wreck on the freeway.  To my surprise, I could find no research that had any negative findings about homeschooling. By the end of our research I was actually thinking homeschooling was a great idea & that I might want to homeschool our future children.  My husband thought homeschooling was for socially maladjusted weirdos until I shared my research with him. He even used my research for a speech in his public speaking class that semester. After that he was enthusiastic about the idea.

Fast forward a few years later ....
It is the fall of 2001 & I am in my last semester of my graduate program at Arizona State University. La is about 6 months old so I am taking my last 2 night classes in order to graduate in December. During this time I took a class that that gave me my first taste of Leadership Education, although I did not know it. 

It was a class on the work of Jean Piaget. The entire class was reading Piaget’s original works, discussing them in a small group of about 8, doing a completely open ended project applying principles we learned. That was the entire class. I learned more in this one class than I did in my entire college career! I could not understand why the rest of my classes had not been structured this. All my other classes had used textbooks instead of original works.  As a result, I learned about someone else's opinion about Piaget, Vygotsky, Erikson & Dewey instead of learning directly from them. Then I was required to regurgitate what I read on a test or in a paper. The information never became my own. This never made any sense to me.

I graduated in Dec. 2001. April 1st, 2002 I went to work for Tutor Time Childcare & Preschools as a Curriculum Specialist. This was a defining experience for me. I understood best practices & developmental appropriateness for young children. During this time, I was constantly fighting against  a system that molded itself after the public school system and treated the preschool children as tiny adults. Each week was themed based. Goals were designed by age. There was really no consideration for individual interest, talents, or developmental timetables. Here I saw first hand the detriments of one-size-fits-all, conveyor belt education. This is when I decided that I could never send my daughter to public school.

Fast-Forward to 2005...
Chris gets a job in Reno, NV & we move there. I had been gradually cutting my hours back at Tutor Time until I was working about 10 hours a week. When we moved to Reno I stopped working outside the home and got serious about homeschooling. La would be entering her Kindergarten year that Fall and I was excited about getting on with real school. 

I loved children’s literature & quickly discovered the Five in a Row curriculum, Ruth Beechick’s The Three R’s & Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy of Education.  I tried various schedules, activities & lessons. I could go into great detail here, but I will spare you the drudgery.  Instead I will share what I learned during this time. My daughter loved books & hands-on activities, but resisted anything that resembled lessons or when I got too “teachery” in what I was saying. By teachery I mean things like pointing out connections & information to her, asking too many questions, requiring her to finish something once the interest was gone. I think you get the picture. What I did not realize was that she was trying to tell me what she needed. She needed to play (read-alouds & activities were play to her) & she needed lots of free time. She also had a way of taking my idea for an activity and changing it with her own ideas. This was frustrating to me because I had a goal in mind I wanted her to accomplish. She was showing me that she had her own ideas about what she thought was important. She was showing me her learning style, but I did not know that then. I was a little frustrated. I would go back and forth with allowing her this freedom & then trying to reign her in to what I thought she “should” be doing.  I was pulled between two apposing forces.  One one side there was allowing La to do what fit her learning style & personality. When we did these things, we were both happy & it felt right. On the other side was what I thought a Kindergartner should be doing. When we did these things we were not happy, but a part of me felt satisfied because we were getting some tangible things done like lessons & projects.  This I later learned is the struggle between Conveyor Belt & Leadership Education.

Later that year I attended a small home meeting about Leadership Education given by Jody Jarvis. This meeting was an introduction to Leadership Education as described in A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century by Oliver Van DeMille.  As I sat through this meeting I was enthralled. Here was the answer to why I had been frustrated with the conflict between my thinking & my daughter’s nature. I had been working against her nature & her God given developmental timeline. I had been “shoulding” myself as I tried to get us to comply with the Conveyor Belt System of education.  Now that we are using the Leadership Education model, everything is flowing. Here are some of the great results we are seeing.

Once I stopped my inconsistent efforts to teach La how to read when she was not asking to learn how to read, she went from saying she hated reading to reading to now saying it’s one of her favorite things.

La knows how to work! She can do laundry, clean a bathroom & is learning many other skills she will need as a adult.

I know longer worry about what she is & is not learning. I am trusting her & trusting the process of her development. We are peaceful in our home education.

This is where we are now & I like it. It is right.

* I used a few terms that in this post that you may not be familiar with. To learn these terms please go to the Leadership Education page.

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