“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost
For some of us there comes a time when we are faced with a diversion in our path. That time came for our family in the year 1989. I had a dear friend who had been sharing with me a new movement that was starting to take hold in the United States. This movement was homeschooling your children. Although I had never heard of this schooling option, my friend had been investigating it and had been contemplating pulling her children out of school. Eventually, my friend decided it was not for her family, but the seed had taken root in me.
For two years I had been dealing with my second daughter who was having migraines. These migraines had started when she was eight and in the third grade. Since they were persistent and happened more often than I was comfortable with, I took her to the doctor. The doctor could not find any reason for this malady. My daughter ended her third grade year and the headaches disappeared. I had truly put them out of my mind. A month into her fourth grade school year, the headaches returned. By February of this school year things started to unfold as to the cause of her migraines. After returned trips to the doctor, it was determined the cause of the migraines was stress. The thought occurred to me that my daughter was only having these headaches from October – May. It was time for a talk. Even though I thought I knew how things were going with her, this was a game changer and I needed to know more in depth what was going on. I asked my daughter about school. I wanted to know if she enjoyed school. I wanted to know if she felt safe. I wanted to know if anything had occurred that made her uncomfortable. I wanted to know about her whole school experience in a way and with more insight than I had ever delved before. She was doing well with all her subjects. She learned fast and picked up what she needed to learn easily. Other than the headaches there was no sign of a problem.
Only one concern popped up during my conversation with my daughter. The teacher randomly called upon the students to answer questions or to work out problems in front of the class. This was a great stress for her. She did not want to be called upon—and this was the source of her migraines.
At the same time my oldest daughter was also going through her own problems with school. She was in the fifth grade. Every morning she would cry and fight me when getting ready for school. She would tell me how much she hated school and didn’t care if she failed every subject. My oldest went so far as to say she would not try anymore. I had been concerned for some time with this daughter because she had three hours of homework every night. This was in 5th grade. I had issues with this. I started showing up at the end of school to help her write down her homework for the night. I thought maybe she was behind and all we needed to do was catch up so she wouldn’t have three hours of work every night. To my great astonishment she was not behind. This was the amount of homework she was being given every night. It was not only unbelievable, but it was unacceptable to me.
My oldest son was in first grade at this time. He was doing a great job. The only problem we had with him was he worked through his assignments too fast. What?? Yes, the teacher actually told us he gets his work done too fast and we needed to tell him to slow down. My husband asked if she could just give him an extra page to do. She replied that this was not an option because of the amount of work it would be for her.
Please understand, I very much empathize with the amount of work and effort that teachers put in each year to teach young children and youth. However, three of my children were experiencing difficulties with school and my kindergartener was being recommended for speech therapy. This very much surprised me because her words were very clear. I even asked the teacher if she had the right child. It was becoming clear to me that decisions needed to be made. I wanted my children to enjoy learning. We were looking down two diverged roads. After much thought and prayer we started on our journey down the road less traveled by.
It has now been 28 years and 14 (including the above mentioned) children later. I still have three youth under the age of 18 that are being homeschooled. I still believe that learning should be enjoyable. By no means do I think “enjoyable” needs to be only Pinterest perfect. Enjoyable encompasses curiosity to keep coming back and learning more, it involves hands on activities to see real life applications, it also involves hard work to overcome obstacles that help us grow and progress.
For me homeschooling is…and has been a great joy.