WARNING: Rebecca D. shows flagrant disregard for the rules of punctuation... She uses ellipsis with wild abandon... Punctuation interventions have been done to no avail... If you are offended by such irreverence to the rules of grammar... The very glue that holds our society together... STOP READING NOW... Move on... There is a little button at the top that says "next blog"... You would be well advised to use it... You were warned...

Why I homeschool... plus final name changes...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I have had a few people contact me with homeschooling questions, so I decided to answer these today... First though I wanted to point out that the Girlies have modified their names. They want to be know as "Curly Cate" (or from time to time just Cate) and "Sparky"...these are minor adjustments to the names we selected and hopefully the final change. If I didn't have so many people who they actually know as readers, their blog names wouldn't matter, but the fact is these names come up in the "real" world... not just the bloggy one, so they have opinions about what I and consequently others will call them.

I have been asked a few times recently why I homeschool and why did I continue to homeschool during the high school years... (At this point you may want to grab a cup of coffee.. we may be here awhile.) The fact is, I didn't set out to homeschool, in fact I wasn't even a fan of the concept. I went to public school and overall had a good experience with it.

When our older girlie was 5 we started looking at kindergarten options for her. She was really, really shy around strangers and groups so we looked at all the options available in the small Montana city where we lived at the time. I was afraid she would get lost in the mix of a large public school classroom. We eventually picked a small private church based school for her. There would only be four other kiddos in her class, and we felt this would be a perfect setting for her. We were wrong... she wasn't ready. She would come home and cry each day... don't get me wrong, she loved school, but was overwhelmed everyday and came home needing to decompress...

By October it became obvious that she wasn't ready for Kindergarten and we talked to the staff there and decided to take her home and try again next year when she had another year of maturity. We enrolled her in some small group classes like tumbling and took every chance available to expose her to situations where she couldn't hang back, but in small doses... and it seemed to really be working. Did I consider homeschooling her at this point... absolutely not... not even a little.

Unfortunately during the Spring of that next year I got really, really sick. (Almost died sick, but that is a story for another day...) When I finally came home from the hospital, I was in bed for months. When it became time to look at school for Cate. I didn't have strength for any option other then public school since I wasn't consistently strong enough for driving... (and the Axeman's work schedule didn't allow for  pick-ups and drop-offs else where) it was those handy yellow buses that made our final decision. She started Kindergarten in the fall and had a really great teacher and a good experience over all. As I recovered and regained my strength, she was enjoying the setting at public school. Going for a half day was a good fit. (The previous school was a full-day program.) She was slow to start reading but had a huge working vocabulary and her comprehension was off the charts, so they told me not to worry, "kids take to reading at different speeds."

That was all well and good until about three months into her first grade year... she still was struggling reading, and her teacher called us in. It was one of those horrible settings where we met with her teacher, principal, the special ed director and school psychologist... we went in blind thinking it was just a "parent teacher conference"... it felt like an intervention... Cate wasn't "progressing" in her reading and apparently our "kids will read in their own time" time was up... It was time for "title one"...we were blindsided and agreed to whatever they thought would work. We earnestly tried everything they suggested, but she was coming home exhausted and crying again... This was in the days before "no child left behind" (not that I think that is a perfect program, by any means...) but we had no idea what her exact problem with reading was and they were not able to do any testing until third grade! It seemed like the only solution was to just keep trying the same thing again and again in increasingly smaller groups until it was Cate in the library with an aid twice a day "working on her reading"... and missing all the "fun" (gym, art, etc...) class stuff...

She was miserable... It broke my heart, so we took her down to Salt Lake City over Christmas break to have her tested... on our dime. We came home with answers... borderline severe dyslexia... and a huge binder filled with test results and teaching suggestions... we had hope... silly us.

We would quickly learn that public school doesn't work this way... they were well meaning and wanted to help, but didn't have the ability to work outside the box on any level... They offered to "look it over" but things pretty much proceeded as it had before the testing. By March their solution was to have her meet with the school psychologist three times a week... why?... your guess was as good as ours. I scheduled another meeting with the principal... armed with my binder I went in prepared... I had read all 4" of it, cover to cover and was ready. During another seemingly fruitless meeting, I told the principal I just couldn't understand why they couldn't just teach her in the ways the experts suggested, they spelled it all out. At that point she asked me if I had ever considered homeschooling... "no" I blurted... but the seed was planted...

That night when the Axeman got home I laughingly told him the suggestion. You see he had always purported to think homeschooling was a bit of a joke... and homeschooled kids were "just a little off..." You can imagine my surprise then when he suggested "we give it a try"... What's this "we".. I knew full well it was "me" doing all the heavy lifting but agreed to pray about it. By the end of the next week it was pretty clear this was what we needed to be doing and we signed her out of school.

I wish I could tell you it was smooth sailing from that point on, but that wasn't the case at all... Those first few years were a lot of trial and error. When Sparky reached school age, it seemed natural to homeschool her too. We've had (have) good years and not so good years...(good hours and not so good hours...) We did a year at a small private school and then a year in public school (Sparky did a year and a half)... any learning environment works well for Sparky, she takes to the process of education like a duck to water.... Cate does better homeschooling. She is a senior this year, and she is working at grade level in all classes. She didn't truly read independently until sometime in her junior high years.. and she still doesn't read fast, but she does read well and accurately. (Not that she enjoys it much...or do any "pleasure" reading.) But if you had asked me during the early years if she would be reading Shakespeare or Chaucer without assistance one day I would have laughed out loud...

We truly feel homeschooling was the right choice of our family. I know it isn't the right choice for every family and with Cate graduating this year, Sparky has shown some interest in going back to public school. We are praying about this right now... and will make that decision soon.

Well, that is the why... I know a lot of you have asked me specific "how" questions and I will continue to try to answer those as they come up. I have been doing this a long time but I don't by any means feel I am an expert on homeschooling. I will continue to happily share my experiences, opinions on curriculum, and try my best to answer your questions. If I don't know the answers I will try my best to find them for you or at least point you in a direction. I have set up an email address where you can reach me. If your profile isn't set up to receive return emails when you comment, but want me to reply feel free to email me. (If you want to set your profile so you can receive emails, Mandi at Finding Home has a how-to if you click here.)

PS. I included a couple unrelated scrapbook pages of the girlies when they were younger... I didn't want to post another photo-less post... I don't know if they add anything, but it was fun looking through the my scrapbooks, picking out ones that would translate well on film... and didn't have a lot of personal info on them...

Thanks for listening,


  1. I enjoyed your reading your story. I wish we had started earlier. I feel like I missed out on so much but we start where we start. I really enjoy it most days. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I was that way when my mom started homeschooling my two younger brothers. I was starting 10th grade, and I was like "NO WAY", when my mom asked if I wanted to. Then my English class took 8 weeks to learn the 8 parts of speech for the 11th time in my life, and I was home by the next winter (school was on semesters). Never looked back. :)

  3. The pictures of the girls are great!

  4. Thank you for sharing that wonderful story! It sounds like you definitely did the right thing for Cate.

  5. loved the pix!

    my kids are starting to ask about the school buses...ack...they don't think our cool minivan is better (it's WAAAAY better, man!) i've heard of parents who take their kids on the city bus to satisfy (and turn) the desire for school buses...but i'm not sure *i* want to get on our city buses...


    and thanks for setting up a way for hs'ing folk to tap into your experiences and resources!

  6. Xa was the same way. Looking into home schooling him came of out of fear that he was not developing and learning (he wasn't even 2 when I started having this anxiety). And at the time I didn't want to permanently hs him. I just wanted him to be ready for school. By the time he was of age to go to school, I had done so much research, talked to so many people, that David had finally asked, "So you need to decide whether or not you're going to do this home schooling thing?" I was like... ummm.. o.k.

    I think we've having one of those tough years but I know it'll get better!

    Thank you for sharing your home school wisdom! Look forward to reading more!

  7. Homeschooling has been the best solution for meeting our son's special needs. No matter how hard they try, even with an IEP, they can't give your child everything they need to succeed both socially and academically with the added stress of a disability.


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