Yes, we’re homeschoolers!
A lot has happened in the past year or so of my life and while I was actively finishing up Forged Reality (and getting it ready to release on June 27, 2016) I was also dealing with a new way of life!
Most of my frequent readers know that we are homeschoolers and have been since the beginning. We started out of the desire to allow our daughter to excel and not be held back by the system that told me they would hold her back so the others could catch up. That just didn’t work for us. We are very happy with our decision to homeschool and while the world scream “WHAT ABOUT SOCIALIZATION” the rest of us homeschoolers just laugh. We have plenty of socialization, and while that might be hard to believe, you will just have to trust me. Or better yet, have a conversation with one of my kids and then you will understand that they lacked nothing in their homeschool experience.
But this phrase “they lacked nothing…” is actually what I’m updating on. You see, we were lacking something. Not in education. Not in socialization. Not even in fun. But we were lacking something I didn’t even know about. It wasn’t homeschoolings fault per say, but it was something.
In February of 2015 my oldest (then 15) went to a choir production for our local high school choir department. She came home from that performance and absolutely gushed about everything! She had light in her eyes I recognized as admiration.
See, my oldest is a music lover. She was taking piano, voice, and she taught herself guitar. She led worship at church and youth group and she was all around a musical intellect. So seeing this organized group of choir students stirred something in her. Something our personal homeschool lacked.
Immediately I emailed the school and asked if they allowed homeschoolers in their program and unfortunately the answer was no. Which was a huge bummer, because that meant we had some hard choices to make.
We waffled on what to do for weeks. When I sat her down and asked her what she was thinking she was very honest with me. She said, “Mom, I have never ever regretted homeschooling… until I saw that choir. I really want to be part of that and think if I don’t at least try I am going to regret it.”
That was it. There was only one choice to make. You see, in our house, we don’t live with regrets. You live life to the fullest and you reach for your dreams. My daughter’s desire (dare I say, dream) was to sing in this highly acclaimed high school choir (and they really are all that and a bag of chips) and while that meant she had to enter the public lifestyle, she was up for the challenge.
Now, you’d think the story stopped there, but some of you might remember a post back five or so years ago about my Visual Spatial Learner. My son struggled for a long time with school in general. He wasn’t your normal type of learner so we adjusted the way we taught him and he seemed to thrive.
Fast forward to my daughters revelation that she wants to go to public school for choir, and my son said, “Well if she is going to try it, can I try too?”
Let me just tell you, my mind screeched to a complete halt. My thoughts immediately were, “No you can’t go! You will be eaten alive! You will struggle! They aren’t teaching your learning style! You are… ahhhh!!!” But then another part of my thought process was, “He has learned so much in the past five years and learned different techniques for learning, I think he can do it. In fact, it might be amazing!”
So again, I waffled back and forth on his desire to try it out, but we had always maintained that if they ever wanted to enter public school at the high school level, they certainly could. So, maybe the decision was his?
In June 2015, I registered my 11th and 9th graders for their first year in a brick and mortar public school setting. Set to start very beginning of August. The 11th grader (my daughter) registered for AP Lit, AP US History, Advanced Alg 2, Choir, ICT, and Chemistry. The 9th grader registered for choir, PE, Ag Science, English 1, Alg 1, Phys/Earth Science, and ICT. (ICT is a required class for graduation in the state of California. It’s computer/technology)
The deal was, they had to make it to the mid-year point and then they could choose to come home again if it was too much for them. But I would not allow them to come home until that point. However, I told them that we reserved the right to PULL THEM at any point and bring them back to homeschooling. For grades. For attitude. For misconduct. For ANYTHING.
Summer was different as they prepared mentally for a new experience. Both of them were nervous but excited all in the same breath. Their youngest brother called them crazy at every chance he could. He maintains he will homeschool forever… still!
Freshman orientation came (and the 11th grader could go as well because she was new to the school) and immediately I knew we’d made the right decision. Both kids wondered off with old and new friends and I didn’t see them again until it was time to leave.
The first few weeks of school was nerve-wracking… for me. Were they doing okay? How were they adjusting? Were they being made fun of for homeschooling? How was the experience? But each and every day they would come home with smiles on their faces and stories to share.
When the first quarter grades came out, I was super nervous. Had I done okay with their learning experiences? Were they at least getting decent grades? Those envelopes arrived in the mail and I won’t lie, I felt sick. It was the moment of truth. But when I pulled them open, I really wanted to do a happy dance.
Straight A(s) for both of them! And this trend kept up until the very end of school where they finished strong. As a homeschooler it was hard to see 100+ percent in a core class. Because had this happened at home, we would have accelerated the learning and moved ahead faster. But, this is public school. That is not how it works. Oh well.
So needless to say, this year was a year of a lot of firsts for our family. First dance. First cross country meet. First choir performance. First dates. First prom. And the list goes on. And it was a good year. A tiring one, but very good. As it stands right now, both kids are excited to go back to school for their 12th and 10th grade years, which is odd, I know. But my kids love to learn and it shows. I’m so proud of them for what they’ve accomplished and feel so grateful that homeschooling did exactly what we desired. It gave them a love for life-long learning and a desire to excel.
I mentioned that the youngest of the kids says he will stay at home forever and I tend to believe him. He gets all of his educational needs met here at home and he is able to spend time in learning experiences with friends every other day. He struggles with sensory and auditory processing disorder, and he knows that entering into a public school setting would be a bigger challenge then with his siblings. He also loves the fact that while he does have to learn the boring stuff, when something interests him, he can explore it in depth and learn everything there is to know about it. And he is all about knowledge.
In the end, we’ve really tried to do what is best for each of our children individually and are thrilled to see where they have come from and where they’re going. As each of them embarks upon their own paths, it’s fun to watch them wade through the waters of life. Sometimes they swim fine across the calm blue waters. And sometimes it’s everything they can do to stay afloat in the rough rapids. While other times, my husband and I are there to help them to the waters edge because while we know experiences make them stronger, we want to reach in and help when they need it.