As home schooling became more popular, many people still didn’t understand why we did it.
|Why Did You Start Home Schooling?
by Marilyn Mackenzie
"Why did you start home schooling your son?" That's a question I've been asked over and over and over again. Even as the number of home-educated children grew and grew, there were still so many people who just didn’t understand why we did it.
For many years, I worked as a party plan sales manager and earned a pretty good income. I worked my way up to Regional Director, and in addition to the good income, I earned trips almost every year. My son was able to go on those trips. At four, he had the best Disney World vacation any child (or adult!) could ever imagine. At age eight, he even traveled to Hawaii!
Unfortunately, the career I had chosen when Derek was just a baby so that I could stay at home with him and still earn money became my life. I had to have an office away from home, because our "bedroom community" did not allow any home businesses. When I was at home, I was on the phone all evening long. And many evenings, I was off holding parties or sales meetings or training events. I justified all of this by saying that Derek was fortunate to be able to travel with me. I also justified it by saying that because of the income I earned, he was able to go to great (or so we thought!) private Christian schools.
One night, when Derek was almost nine, he cried and cried and wouldn't stop. I thought he was sick, but I soon discovered that he was just really upset about my work. He thought I was neglecting him. He wanted a mom who was available to be a room mother and able to help with parties and field trips at school. He innocently said, "Mom, I'd gladly give up all those wonderful trips you get for us, just to have you home with me." What a wake-up call that was!
I did just what he asked. Almost immediately, I resigned my position. (I did try a full time job as a Sales Director for a restaurant and entertainment center chain that would allow me to be home in the evenings, but that only lasted a few months.)
As my spouse and I became more involved parents, we soon learned that Derek's wonderful private school couldn't handle him. Derek was getting into trouble because he finished his work sooner than everyone else did. This was an expensive school that promised that each child could learn and advance at his or her own pace.
Derek had already had two other private school experiences. The first was a Christian school that caused him to have nightmares almost every night for two years. That school, which had promised that we could attend our own church every Sunday without penalty, had the children pray for our son every morning because he was of the wrong denomination. After two years, we finally discovered the cause of his nightmares. My son truly thought that he was destined to Hell because he was the wrong denomination. Not only that, he believed that his pastor, his parents, and his entire church were going with him!
His next school experience was at a private school run by a wonderful Christian woman, but whose curriculum was geared towards patriotism and learning to be a responsible citizen. It was a great school, but it closed after his first year there. Derek was in the midst of his third private school adventure in just four years, and we had not moved!
I started doing some research into other private schools, and soon discovered that some were dumping grounds for kids who had been thrown out of the public school system. Others were just too expensive, if I wasn't going to be working. My spouse (now ex) was earning Social Security income, but if I wasn't working we'd have to be frugal. Many Christian schools were reasonable, but had waiting lists.
It was at this point that we started researching the idea of home schooling. Fortunately for us, our pastor and his wife home educated four children, and we were able to observe their hectic lives and how the education fit into everything else they had to do.
We began home educating our son in the fourth grade. We really thought that once he hit middle school or junior high age, that we would send him to a "real" school. But, Derek wanted to continue home schooling through high school. Even as the junior and senior high school years loomed in the distance, we started researching what was available. We soon discovered that many home schoolers begin their college experience at the junior college level while still in high school. How wonderful to learn that junior college courses could count as both high school and college credits!
Home schooling was just what Derek needed. He loved being able to rush through some subjects and being able to take time for others, without having to wait for the rest of the class to learn. He enjoyed doing extra reading on subjects that interested him. He loved all the field trips we took. (As a home educator, you soon learn that every trip is an educational one!) He looked forward to one day taking college classes that counted towards both college and high school. But most of all, he really enjoyed having his mother so involved in his education and in his life.
Note: Derek is now 18. He graduated high school last year, a year earlier than he would have had he been in public or even private school. He was so excited at being able to advance at his own pace, that he completed three years in his first two years of home schooling – 1 ½ years each year for two years. We gave him the choice of continuing home schooling or entering private or public school once he hit middle school and junior high age. Although he opted to continue home schooling, he did start to regret that in the midst of middle school and said he’d never home school his own kids. Once he hit high school, though, his attitude changed once more. Now that he’s graduated, he confirms that if he ever has children, he wants them to be home schooled or "unschooled."
Click here for the story of why Derek never entered public schools.