Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why We Homeschool

Why do we homeschool, you ask?

For many reasons.

We homeschool so that we are able to...

Preserve a strong family unit.
Maintain continuity with schooling.
School when it is most convenient for us.
Provide the kids a one-on-one learning environment.
Tailor the kids’ studies to their individual learning styles.
Encourage the kids in a secular and philosophical environment.
Allow the kids to pursue their academic and personal interests thoroughly.

The background information...

When Jake was three, we enrolled him in preschool at the church we were attending at the time. Being nervous about my then only child being left alone, I spent many a morning watching him from the Director’s office window. While all of the kids would be sitting quietly in a circle for circle time, Jake would be off in the corner playing with blocks. He was well ahead of many of the kids in the class, knowing all of his letters, numbers, colors, etc. He enjoyed spending time with the other kids, but just didn’t want to sit still long enough to do many of the class activities. The Director’s son called Jake “Tigger” because he always seemed to be bouncing. I was concerned that Jake's "boy energy" would be perceived at ADHD, giving him a label that could last a lifetime.

When Jake was about four, he was diagnosed with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. Just before his second birthday he was hospitalized for dehydration associated with violent vomiting, approximately 10-15 times per hour. Following the hospitalization, he would have episodes approximately every six week or so, with the same violent vomiting and extreme lethargy. After seeing several different doctors who all said that he just had stomach viruses (although no one else in the family was ever sick) an older Army doctor suggested CVS. I immediately went home to find out more about CVS and was shocked with the accuracy of the textbook symptoms and Jake’s episodes. My research on CVS showed that the increased stress of a military lifestyle, and the associated moves and frequent school changes, might aggravate this stress related condition.

While Justin was deployed for his “record breaking” deployment, we became very close with some friends we had met at the church we were attending. These friends took care of me while Justin was gone, opening up their home to Jakob, Jolie and me on a weekly basis, having us over for dinner every Friday night and inviting Jake over at least once a week to give me some down time with Jolie right after she was born. This family has four daughters, who have been homeschooled from the beginning. These girls gave me my first glimpse into homeschooling, and I liked what I saw. We went with the girls on several occasions to their “enrichment” classes, held at a local school that had been turned over to homeschooling families to hold classes throughout the week. One of the classes asked Justin to speak about his experiences in the military after he got back from his deployment. He was impressed by the maturity of the kids he spoke with. We were both then shown some of the activities that the youngest daughter (about 8 yrs old at the time) was engaged in. She spent her time building Lego structures and creating claymation. We were amazed by her elaborate designs and knowledge of advanced computer skills. I asked my friend what her motivators were to homeschool her girls and read many of the books she suggested, fueling my homeschooling fire.

During one of my final psychology courses, I did some research into homeschooling, and learned all I could about curricula, homeschooling methods, and learning styles. At the conclusion of the class, I decided that I would like to homeschool the kids. Justin was a bit reluctant, and asked that we have a “trial” period during what would have been Jake’s second year of preschool, after we made our next military move. Jake did exceptionally well, working well above grade level and impressed both Justin and me.

We decided that homeschooling was the best educational plan for our family, and haven’t looked back.

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