Thanks for joining me! If you are new here, I’m Darcy and I started the journey of homeschooling my two youngest kids with just a smattering of experience…or so I thought! My homeschooling experiences date back to the birth of our first child, twenty-four years ago. While I didn’t consider it homeschooling, we read aloud, explored nature, did art projects, watched educational television shows, memorized poetry, read from our Bible, sang songs, and learned so much prior to her enrollment in public school. When our second child came along, we were able to replicate some of that, even after I returned to work when they were three and one. These early “homeschooling” experiences replicated and expanded throughout childhood. I was always setting up reading corners, theme based activities, enrichment work to supplement their public school load, anchoring meaningful routine to our busy days, and just trying to create a rich environment for them to grow.
While raising our older kids in the earlier 2000’s, my husband and I both worked full time, out of necessity. Three months after we purchased our first home, the terrorist attacks of 9/11 occurred and we felt especially driven to work hard so at some point, I could stay at home or at least work part time. We climbed out of debt as quickly as we could, some time passed and a new job for my husband with pay that equaled our combined salaries presented itself. With all the faith we could muster, we took the plunge into a one-income family. It was the first time in several years that I didn’t work outside of our home. We still didn’t choose the path to homeschool. Instead, I worked very part time at a local daycare, providing after school care to children 5-12. I’d help plan their snacks, after school craft and activities, chaperone playground time, and help kids with their homework. It wasn’t my dream job, but I was bringing in a little bit of “fun money.” Most important, I was with my own kids, a lot of their friends, and I was making an impact on their day. During that time, we had even more time to follow their interests and lead them toward personalized educational goals.
Homeschooling would then enter our lives from two very different directions. First, I had made friends with a few moms who planned to homeschool their toddlers, when the time came. This intrigued me. At that time, we had just adopted twice. Our youngest were just toddlers and I had recently left another part time job, where I also took my kids to work with me. For a while, this small group of moms would gather our babies and toddlers at a local church’s Sunday School annex twice a week for a homeschool co-op. I really felt like this would be our path in life, in that small, rural town, with some of the most awesome, crafty, intelligent moms I had met. I was also terrified at the thought of being with my kids 24/7. As much as I loved having this crash course into parenting the second time around, my husband was working fourteen hour days, I had one in high school and one in her first year of college. I felt like I needed a break. We will get back to that in a moment.
The second direction that homeschool would make a surprise hit, came at the request of my then eleventh grader. He was a great student with a firm friend base, a good handle on the social and educational aspects of public school. We lived in a small-minded, small town, in a very football oriented school. Our son came to us one October evening and declared that he didn’t want to go to his high school anymore. He felt like his time was being wasted. I can still recall his reasoning. “They pulled us from Trig class to learn the freakin’ fight song for the homecoming assembly.” He presented us with a schedule, showing the breakdown of educational time, transition time, and administrative time. He felt like a lot of his time was being wasted. I was in shock. He was adamant. My husband and I rallied and tried to come up with a plan. Our son didn’t ask for much. He had a great point. I didn’t know how to get help. I had zero knowledge of our state’s homeschool law. Thankfully, a wonderful lady from our church “just so happened to be” the director of a home education program through a local Christian school. It was just the thing to give us the confidence and get us through homeschooling that first year. We got through eleventh grade and then moved to another state, because of a job promotion. This time, we had a cyber charter school at our fingertips…literally. The state sent us a free laptop, all sorts of resources, and my son completed his senior year online…and five months earlier than his peers.
By this time we were the newbies in a new place, 260 miles from any friends or family, my husband was traveling a lot with his new job, and I was at home with a 3,4, and 17 year old. Our oldest was in her second year of college and for the first time, she was four and a half hours away. It was tough on all of us! I enrolled our four year old in a local pre-k program “to work out the kinks,” I told myself. He thrived! It was just enough of all the right things for him. His teacher was just fantastic! Kindergarten went well, too. Again, we were blessed with a fantastic teacher. It was as if this new state was a magical place with a well structured, well funded school system. There was the right mix of nostalgia from our elementary school days with all of the modern conveniences. Both of our young kids thrived. By the time our youngest started school, I was in denial of ever needing to homeschool them in elementary school. At that time we had made a firm decision to homeschool middle and high school, allowing time for a pleasant elementary school experience, complete with the memories of playground time, classroom parties, and those awesome forever friends we all make. Then, we moved again!
This time, the move took us 720 miles into the Midwest, where we currently thrive. This time, we are on a different path. Our decision to homeschool came out of necessity, with an urgency that I can only credit to a direct message from God. We did enroll our kids in the beautiful, brand new building just .4 miles from the front door of our charming, historic neighborhood. Six months into the year, a series of incidents ranging from benign to urgent, prompted our decision to finish the school year, withdraw our kids from public school, and bring them home. Every day from March to late May last year was stomach tightening, panic inducing, and stressful. In retrospect, we would have just pulled them instantly. We are in a great place now, mentally, physically, spiritually, and otherwise. The shift in our daily family dynamic is palpable. This has been the very best decision we have made as parents in the last twenty-four years.
If this is a journey you are considering, I’d love to help you along the way. I have been surprised and honored by the influx of questions, the positive comments, the curiosity, and the fact-finding missions that some of you all are on. Sometimes it just feels daunting to explore the option of homeschooling. While I’m not here to sell you a lifestyle, I hope you will consider me a resource, when making these decisions for your own family.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
So…you might be considering homeschooling for your family. Maybe you have started homeschooling and need some inspiration? Across the board, these are the ladies you need to glean from. While I didn’t read all of these books in one sitting, I will continue to read, re-read, and apply what these homeschool mom gurus have been teaching this teacher! The homeschooling community-at-large is a blessing and a joy in my life. From these nationally known authors to moms I share, pray, and laugh with on a weekly basis, this is the sweet life, full of sweet, sweet knowledge, camaraderie, and the pioneering spirits that can only come from mamas on a mission.