I worked for a family-owned natural food store when my eldest was about two years old. I was there a little over a year working mostly part time, but I ended up doing a lot of work from home after I became manager.
They were an Adventist family who homeschooled their four children. I had never really heard of homeschooling before then and honestly, hadn’t even thought about it even though I had a child of my own!
Yeah, I’m not really the plan-ahead or worry-about-the-future type of gal, I guess.
So anyhow, while I worked there, other homeschooling families who knew the owners would come in, so I got to talk with them and the owner-family’s mom would bring books in about homeschooling and I’d look through those.
It piqued my interest in the prospect of homeschooling even though I really still didn’t feel like “school” was a real “threat” in my future. I was still relishing my little toddler and spending all the time I could with him. I really loved being a mom!
We arranged with the local private school that was just starting up to work out part of the tuition so we could just barely afford to send Corey to preschool. It was okay. I grew stronger during that year and by the next year, tuition had gone up, of course, and we had to decide what we were going to do.
I had made friends with another young mom and her son had become friends with Corey, so I was able to send him to the city school where her son was going to attend first grade.
That’s when we started seeing all the benefits of educating him at home. First there was the shortage of reading books. Part of the time, he was sent home with one, part of the time he wasn’t. When I asked his teacher about it, she told me they didn’t have enough books for all the kids.
I know. I was like, “SERIOUSLY?!” I then began to see the pattern of sending a ton of “homework” home with him to do. I’d ask him, “What did you do at school today?”
“We watched The Lion King!” he’d answer while unloading his little backpack of all the papers he was supposed to have done for tomorrow. They had started to implement whole language at that time, and it was the most idiotic thing I’d ever seen. He would bring home pages of scribble and when asked what it was, he’d tell me it was some story he had been told to write. There wouldn’t even been one letter on the page that was recognizable, let alone any words.
They put up work papers on the walls at school with smiley faces on them and tons of misspelled words. Written on the top in mostly-legible handwriting was the word “Spelling”.
By the time that school year was over, I was just sick of the whole thing. It was just ludicrous to me that I was sending my child to spend 7 hours a day, being nickel-and-dimed to death every time I turned around (and they STILL didn’t have enough books?!) and he seemed to be getting nothing for that time investment. We were spending several hours each evening doing the work he could and should have done at school instead of watching Disney movies. And that’s not even counting the fact that I was the one teaching him to read at home.
Tommy and I talked it over, prayed about it and decided to bite the bullet and homeschool the next year…“Just to see if it will work and if we like it.”
We ordered A Beka‘s second grade set of curriculum and then stood mouth a-gape looking at the two stacks of books that came. I guess I felt relieved that we got something tangible for the money we’d spent, but I mean, the stack of books just for Corey was almost as tall as he was!
And yet, we plunged in. To clarify, I ordered A Beka because that was the only thing I knew! That’s the curriculum the private school had used. I figured it was good enough for them, we could certainly do just as well with it.
I didn’t know any other homeschoolers at that time, other than the people I’d worked for at the food store and I didn’t really know them well enough to call up & ask questions. So ignorant me, didn’t know enough to realize that actual classroom textbooks are full of “busy work”. I thought we were supposed to do every single thing on every single page.
Needless to say, we cried a lot that first year.
We evaluated things after that and I had started chatting online with several veteran homeschoolers who helped me realize that I was overburdening us both with trying to do EVERYthing in the textbooks.
I ordered from Alpha-Omega the next year.
Things went much smoother that year. Even though we now had a toddler getting involved in things, it was still a lot less stressful using AO for school. The only thing I found was that some of the subjects were a little shallow for our liking.
The thing that stands out most to me is when Corey got to a section about Loius Pasteur and the booklet just sort of skimmed over his contribution to science but Corey had more questions about him and what he did.
I ended up finding some library books he could read to satisfy that curiosity, but it showed me that we still hadn’t found “THE” curriculum for us.
By then, I had finally met some other real-life homeschoolers in the area and began getting more tips and insight into ways of homeschooling. And by the end of that second year, we had decided that we were comfortable enough with it and Corey enjoyed it enough that we would continue.
And so began our journey of learning at home…stay tuned. More memories of those years to come!