How we Became Homeschoolers

I never saw myself as one to homeschool, truth be told. I loved my public school experience (K-12), and my public university experience (B.A.). Both of my parents worked for the public school system. For us, it was a great experience.

homeschoolingGrowing up, I had quite a few friends who went to private Christian schools, and a couple of friends who were homeschooled, and they all did well, so it’s not like either of those options were ever off the table for me.

My husband was homeschooled most of his schooldays though, so when we had our oldest, homeschooling was definitely on the table. In fact, for us public school, private school (Christian or secular), and homeschool were all on equal footing.

But if I’m being honest, when I pictured it, I saw us sending our kids to public school, just like I did. I envisioned them having the same great experience I did.

Things don’t always work out like we hope.

The school district where we lived was a large one, by my standards anyway (over 4000 students in just the four high schools alone – not counting elementary or middle schools). We had friends with older kids who went there, who praised all the resources available, but lamented being “just a number”, complained that most of the staff didn’t have a clue who they were, and said if you weren’t the best of the best or the worst of the worst… you were nobody.

Having gone to a small rural school (roughly 500 in the one high school when I graduated), this wasn’t exactly what I saw for my kids. But… we recognized that there are good things and bad things to everything, and so I still planned on sending my kids there, albeit with a little reservation.

Fast forward a few years. Since I was working full time out of the home at the time, my oldest daughter attended a private Montessori preschool while I was at work, where she thrived. Her preschool went thru Kindergarten, and after discussing with her teachers (whom she had been with for two years already), the director, and her pediatrician, we decided to start her in Kindergarten a year early. All parties involved were in agreement: she was more than ready, not just academically, but socially & emotionally as well.

She finished kindergarten with flying colors, top student in her class, and by her teachers’ words one of the most mature as well, despite being the youngest in her class.

In February of her kindergarten year, I contacted the local school to start planning her enrollment there (I can be an anxious planner like that). They told me she would have to repeat kindergarten.

{{ blink, blink, blink }}

I explained that she was enrolled in a certified kindergarten program in the same state and was doing well. If she finished that satisfactorily, why couldn’t she continue on to first grade?

They said she was too young.

{{ blink, blink, blink }}

I offered to have her tested. They refused. I offered to bring her in for an assessment / interview. They refused.

Keep in mind I verified that our state mandates that schools have a provision for allowing students to skip a grade, although it doesn’t say how hard or easy a district has to make it on parents.

They insisted she was too young to handle first grade, and refused to budge. I fought with the administration (school secretary, principal, superintendent, and eventually involved the entire school board) for four months before giving up, after they told me they would allow her to enroll in first grade, but only half a day (because a child so young surely couldn’t handle a full day of school). I asked what happened when she fell behind because all the other students were going a full day. Well, then she’d have to drop down to kindergarten or repeat first grade. What they’d actually done was found a way to agree to let her advance to first grade now, while all but ensuring she would fall back and still end up in their age-based little box.

Essentially the district insists that all students fit into a narrow box of what a child can do at what age. My husband and I decided we didn’t want  our kids to attend a school that had such a narrow definition of what a child could do, nor did we feel comfortable sending our kids to a school whose administration was so unwilling to work with parents.

Praise the Lord everything else fell into place to make this possible. I had been miserable at my job for months, our family business was taking off, I was due with our second child at the end of the school year, and then two weeks before I gave birth my company announced my job was being transferred two states away. All of those big things, combined with a thousand little things, told us God was leading us toward me being a stay-at-home-mom and homeschooling our children.

That was nearly two years ago, and while the journey hasn’t always been easy, I am repeatedly reminded that this was absolutely the best choice for our daughter.

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