Our homeschooling journey began in 1995 when we met the two daughters of our Bible study hosts. We were new to a large church, and wanted to meet people, so we took our 6 month old son with us. This family offered babysitting during Bible study. The host’s 2 daughters took all the kids downstairs and played with them while all the parents prayed, worshiped and studied upstairs. Perfect arrangement.
These 2 babysitters were very impressive. They both actually talked to grown ups! Both girls had no problem chatting and conversing with a room full of adults. I remember thinking that these girls were different. There was a lovely confidence in them.
They knew they were loved and a welcome part of that home. They were different somehow.
Our precious blessings
Both my husband and I grew up in public schools, and we’d never even heard of homeschooling.
We attended that Bible study for several years. It grew too large for one home, so we split into two groups at different homes. We became leaders of a new group, and met at the home of another family who homeschooled their two children. Their children were energetic, yet peaceful, respectful and confident. Homeschoolers everywhere!
These impressive kids made us begin thinking about the possibility of homeschooling our own.
Our beautiful daughter was born 2 years later. I stayed home on leave, and when my 6 weeks at home was up, and I had to go back to work, I was heartbroken. I would pull out of our long driveway, and these 2 tiny little faces would be staring at me. I’d drive to work in tears.
I just couldn’t understand how the Lord would entrust these 2 beautiful children to us, and then ask us to hand them over to someone else to raise while we worked. Neither did it make sense to send them off all day to a school with people we didn’t know, and influences we didn’t know about. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. We felt the Lord leading us to explore the idea of moving to a place where we could afford to live on one salary instead of two, with me staying home with them. The Lord was generously gracious, and we moved away to another state, to a small rural town.
When we decided to actually give homeschooling a try, I was petrified.
I had 2 kids at the time, 4 and 2, and I wanted to be ready to start school when my oldest turned 5. I had just quit my full time job, let the nanny go, moved out of state and was a stay at home mom for the very first time AND we wanted to start homeschooling!
I met with a friend who was homeschooling her 5 kids. She had been doing it for years, and had been the Curriculum Specialist for a large co-op. SHE KNEW IT ALL!! I knew she could tell me what to do! We sat in a coffee shop, and I cried and cried some more. She graciously listened to me as I tried to explain that I had NO IDEA what to do. I had a college degree, had managed offices and a research unit at a major university, but teaching my own kids in my own home SCARED ME TO DEATH. What if I failed them? What if I messed them up and they had to go into therapy to undo all the damage their mother had done. I was a mess.
I truly felt called to it, but had no idea HOW to do it.
My sweet friend was very kind and listened to me blubber on and on. She handed me a few tissues, and started giving me some ideas while we drank our lattes and split a pastry. She gave me a few ideas on early learning for reading and math, and everything else was play. I remember thinking that I really didn’t believe her. School just COULDN’T incorporate all that PLAY, could it? School means sitting at a desk, not slouching, following directions and being quiet. Didn’t I need workbooks, a school room and pencils and paper and a whiteboard and a pointer and desks in rows?
My friend helped me realize that I needed to let go of my preconceived ideas of education.
There was no need to replicate the public school system in my home.
Once we started, our school day began on the couch with prayer and devotions.
Read alouds happened there as well. Take a break and play. Come back and do some math and numbers at the table, while our toddler played on the floor nearby. Take another break and go play outside. Come in and do a reading lesson from “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 easy Lessons”. My son loved this curriculum, and it was very easy to teach as a new teacher. My friend had been right – there was a lot of play involved in teaching these little ones! We took lots of walks and hikes, trips to the beach, exploring our new home. I called all our adventures in nature “Science” and “Research”.
Our third child was born in 2001 with Down Syndrome. Life became one filled with long road trips to doctor appointments with homeschool work packed in backpacks and done in the car. Our own “Road” Scholars. Andrew grew amazingly strong and healthy. Speech Therapists, OTs and PTs would come for home visits with him. Our older 2 children would join in on the therapy, so we could all learn how to play with Andrew.
Homeschooling looked different, but we worked it out, and did the best we could.
A Big part of my community
Participating in therapy together
Co-Op Field Trips Homeschool Choir
I discovered that the reading program I’d used successfully with our older son wasn’t working well with our daughter. I found a gentle reading program from Mennonite Press and she loved it. The books had beautiful sketches of farm animals and horse drawn buggies, which was perfect for my animal-loving daughter. So much for re-using the same curriculum for each child!
We participated in several Co-ops that enhanced our learning quite a bit. We attended one day per week, and took mostly elective type courses. Our kids loved Co-op! It was the highlight of our week. They got to play with other kids, learn from a teacher that wasn’t also mom, and mom had a chance to spend time with some adults.
As Andrew grew we started thinking about homeschooling a special needs child.
The thought was completely overwhelming for me.
I didn’t see how I could meet all his needs, and those of my older children as well. We started praying about what the Lord would have us do for Andrew. After much prayer, we decided to start Andrew in the 3-yr old preschool available at the public school. The little Special Ed bus came right to our house, and I put my 3yr old in a car seat on the bus. He thought it was amazing, and was all smiles. Mom wasn’t. My heart was breaking as I watched that little bus pull away.
Being the faithful God that he is, He arranged for a fabulous teacher and talented team of therapists at the public school. Andrew thrived! We were thrilled with his growth! Being around all those speaking children provided the perfect environment for his speech to grow. Andrew had previously been non-verbal and only used sign language to communicate. Once in school, in a classroom filled with voices, his language grew incredibly quickly from just sign language to verbal speech. That was confirmation that Andrew was where he was supposed to be.
Elementary School continued to be a wonderful growing experience for Andrew. Middle School was very challenging, and by the time he was ready for High School we knew he needed a change. Andrew began High School in a different district at the school where his father was a teacher. This was one of the best parenting decisions we’ve ever made. The Special Education department was phenomenal, and Andrew once again thrived.
Around this time, it became apparent that we needed a second income, so Mom went back to work.
I’d always thought I’d reenter the job market sometime, but this was earlier than anticipated. I took a night time job, and continued homeschooling through the day, and when dad got home, mom left for work. Not an ideal situation, but it worked for a season. A working homeschooling mom comes with lots of challenges and heartaches, but it’s not impossible. God is still good even through changes like this.
Andrew’s First Bus Ride
Scenes from our Homeschool Days
Our oldest son continued homeschooling and playing sports at the public high school through 9th grade. He began telling us how much he wanted to stop homeschooling and start attending public high school. We said no, continually. Eventually we listened and had a heart to heart discussion about it. We made a contract with him. If he wanted to attend high school away from home, he could try it BUT church and worship team commitments would continue, family commitments continued and all his community and sports commitments wouldn’t waiver either. We agreed that he would keep up with ALL of it. If not, he’d come back home. We thought we were setting the bar too high, but, and no surprise, he met all his commitments and graduated towards the top of his class. He was one of the top winners on local scholarship night. He went away to a private Christian college and graduated with a degree in business.
Our daughter homeschooled through 7th grade, and then attended a Homeschool/Public School Partnership Program for 8-10th grades. This was such a great option for her! There were several families she knew and had grown up with that attended the same program. She had many options for different classes, and she worked toward completing her college entrance requirements. 11th-12th grades were completed at the local Jr. College and she received her High School diploma and AA degree at age 17! After graduation she attended a bible ministry school for 3 years, then returned home and finished her bachelor’s degree at a private Christian university.
Homeschooling looks different in each home.
It also looks different on each child.
It may not be a perfect fit for a child.
Truly, that's another beautiful part of it.
Homeschooling provides the opportunity to tailor your child’s education to fit their unique giftings, and creates a place to discover and to become who God designed them to be.
We hope our story will be a source of encouragement to you.
May the Lord bless your family and guide each of you through every step of your homeschooling journey.