I still have vivid memory of my very first day of 1st Grade. My parents had bought a real desk and chair, like they have at “real school,” my mom had taped my name onto the desk like my kindergarten teacher had done, I had freshly sharpened pencils and brand new erasers. We were set up in the office, just me and my mom (probably my sister was in there, too, but she was only 3 years old.) And my mom stood in front of me and clapped her hands and said, “Welcome to your first day of school!”
And I giggled. I was so excited.
And it pretty much stayed that way for 8 years. Well, not in form, of course. Eventually we got rid of the desks. Instead of individual worksheets, we had full textbooks. And my sister joined us. And there were always days where I just didn’t want to “do school.”
But they were days, a few scattered among so many when learning was wonderful. Which means a lot, because when you’re homeschooled, everything becomes a learning experience. Every outing somewhere new becomes a field trip, but that’s okay, because field trips are exciting.
And even before formal schooling started, learning had already begun. I was reading by the time I was in preschool – and by “reading,” I mean I would wait for my dad to finish the newspaper in the morning so I could have a turn. (That didn’t last too long, since newspapers often include subject matter not really appropriate for 3-year-olds.)
Through all of this, Mom was the overseer of our education. It was something of an unlikely scenario for her. She had her degree, but it wasn’t in Education or something related. And she wasn’t someone who really loved school growing up. No one else in my family homeschooled. I don’t think we even had any friends who homeschooled when we started. This was 1990, 1991? So it wasn’t like my mom could just get online and google local homeschool co-ops because…yeah. In fact I’m pretty sure that for the first few years, she ordered our curriculum from a catalog, over the phone.
Whoa, time warp!
Eventually we all wound up in “regular school” for various reasons, and in different circumstances. And that’s an experience to write about another time. Were there transitions? Sure, about like anyone going from Jr. High to High School, I imagine. Perhaps more in some ways than others. I was already used to being self-regulated, so being forced to sit in a chair for 50 minutes for the sake of sitting in a chair for 50 minutes was something to get used to, for example.
My mom taught me how to manage my own time and work load. My mom taught me how to keep track of my own school records. My mom also taught me how to write book reports and write a check and read an analog clock (which might not sound like a big deal, but working with teens last year, I learned they no longer teach that. I had to “interpret” our wall clock for the students. Not even kidding.) My mom even taught me how to make my bed, but that never really took. (Sorry, Mom!)
And she did it all largely on her own, with my dad as her primary means of support. People in our family and our church would love to point out how we weren’t going to “make it” in life because we weren’t in public school (specifically public, yes, because later even our private schooling wasn’t really “good enough”). We were going to be socially dysfunctional, unemployable, unable to cope with “the real world.”
I see your “real world,” and I’ve kicked it’s butt.
And in large part, thanks to my mom.
She'd be the first to say she never planned to be one of "those weird homeschool moms," until she was one. I know there were times she felt overwhelmed, underqualified, and unappreciated. She did it anyway (often while still working outside the home!), because our well-being was her first priority.
Thank you Mom, for putting the time and effort into investing in your children, in a way that probably often felt thankless. Any success in life I have, I credit to you