My oldest son, and first totally homeschooled child, is graduating from the University of Virginia law school this weekend.
My house is a jumble of suitcases thrown all over my bedroom, piles of clothes as I try to mend and decide what to take and what not to take in a car that's already going to be over crowded with people as we drive clear across the world (or at least, what it seems like to me - that my child is on the other side of the world).
So these last few days I'm pondering on how this child, the ghostbuster wanna be:
...grew up to become this young man, the lawyer gonna be
Twenty years ago, God got ahold of this lost, going to hell mama, and He saved her soul. From that point on, my ministry became to save my children. Homeschooling was one of the things I became convicted I needed to do. I started with a sixth grader and a kindergartner (see first picture!). I soon added my oldest daughter, who had just finished the eleventh grade, and homeschooled her for her last year when we moved away from the public high school she was attending.
To say I was scared and unsure of myself is quite an understatement. How was I going to do this? I HATED school as a young girl. I never did well in it, in spite of the assurances from my parents that I was, in fact, quite intelligent. And maybe they were right, but sitting this fairly hyper young girl in a chair facing a blackboard for hours...and hours...and hours, five days a week, nine months a year, just wasn't a good way to teach her.
And add to my lack of confidence about teaching my children were many people who laughed at me, scorned me, who were quite sure I was ruining my children and were not afraid to tell me or them that fact. But - according to my parents - I am not just a very intelligent person, but also a person who has a very stubborn streak. I was NOT going to ruin my children. I had a vision. I had a goal. I believed God was with me. "Be strong and of good courage" God tells His people over and over again in the Bible. That was all I needed to hear.
So I went to work. My first few years found me buying everything I could lay my hands on. If one book didn't work, there were plenty more. As the years went on, I became more confident, found my teaching stride, and one by one, I shed the textbooks. These days, the only ones I really use are my old standby:
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. I've taught all my children to read with this book from Gage on down to Luke, who is now on about lesson 40. Tommy will start it soon after Luke is finished.
I use Rod and Staff readers when we finish this one, which also teach the new readers the Bible from the beginning to the end.
Saxon Math is my favorite math curriculum. We've used it long enough that I have them all...
Along with these I pick up books anywhere I find something good. Library sales, garage sales. I want the books they read to have a good work ethic and good character building. We don't waste time or our minds reading Harry Potter or the babysitters club. Early in my homeschooling years, I was advised that anything written before 1960 would probably be safe, and I've found that to be true for the most part. All those old classics I didn't read as a child because I thought they would be boring? We devour those now.
We love to read:
We get zoo membership, museum memberships, and join good homeschooling groups and go on field trips (today we visited the Cleburne airport). The half price book store, the library, and Amazon are often visited by us.
I decided long ago that in our house, school would never last more than two hours. After all, I was not just a homeschool mommy, but the mommy of a large family, and I had a house to clean, clothes to wash, meals to cook. I wanted my children to have a fun, carefree childhood. I wanted them out in the sunshine, not indoors pouring over books.
So we used text books no more than two hours a day. But because my children were not burned out on school, they spent a large amount of time in the afternoons reading. I kept quality books around, which they read, but I would often actually find them reading a history textbook, a science textbook, and amazingly, I found a couple of them reading economics textbooks! I never had to force them to learn. They did it naturally and willingly.
So here we are, at the end of two decades of homeschooling. The end is not in site. I have a three year old who hasn't even begun yet...
And I will say, adamantly, law school was never my goal. I just wanted Christian children. Gage took the foundation we raised him with and followed in his father's footsteps. Other of my children have chosen other paths. Some are still not old enough to have a path laid out yet. But this weekend, it's going to be all about Gage and his path.
I have learned a lot along the way. And I want to encourage you moms who are thinking about taking this HUGE step: YOU CAN DO IT!! If this mom who hated school as a child can do it, anyone can. It takes dedication. Never, never, NEVER go into it thinking you will try it one year and see how it goes. Make a commitment before God, and He will see you though it. You will not be sorry.
So, now this mama is going to get off the computer and get back to packing. My son is graduating from law school on Sunday, did I mention that?
We are off to Virginia, new camera in hand.
Watch for a post graduation blog next week!!
PS: If it weren't for homeschooling sons moving far away from me, I would never get out of Texas...