Our homeschool experience began in 1989 with a cute, wiggly five year old kindergartner. In the late eighties homeschooling was unusual. In 1992, I became a single mother and continued to homeschool. While homeschooling was uncommon at that time, doing it solo was unheard of. There were those who meant well by telling me to put my kids in public school and get a job. The full-time employment would not have covered daycare expenses for five children–much less food, shelter, and everyday expenditures. Some of the church leadership stalwartly believed that I should go on government welfare; however, from my interpretation of Scripture, that responsibility belongs to the church. I wanted to remain a keeper of the home, so I started my own business.
Homeschooling has been a journey of faith for my family. It was not easy to homeschool, run a business, be a momma, and strive to keep the laundry pile manageable. Looking back, it seems like an unfathomable feat.We have had our share of mistakes, grumbling, overdue fines at the library, missed assignments, burnt meals, and lousy days. I have struggled for twenty-one homeschool years over my own inadequacies and failures. The guilt of having to work three to seven jobs to support my family because I had no choice was also a challenge.
I decided that my children would have every educational opportunity that I could possibly administer. We went on all field trips made available in our area and visited factories that prepared bread, tea, and other consumer goods. We participated in trips to aquariums, zoos, museums, plays, concerts, wildlife preserves, nature hikes, mines, the Royal Gorge, and the Pacific Ocean. My family attended a class on Boa Constrictors and I proudly took pictures of my children with Emmy, the snake, wrapped around their shoulders. One of my favorite experiences in our homeschool adventure was when we were able to support a tarantula the size of a baseball in our hands. I enjoyed holding the big spider; she was so sweet and well behaved. We petted sharks, farm animals, learned about hawks, and slid down a three story slide.
We joined a Christian homeschool co-op and attended classes in Spanish, art, music, drama, robotics, writing, sewing, woodworking, computer, cooking, and to many others to mention. The first year we cleaned the church building after classes were dismissed to pay for our tuition. In the ensuing years I taught classes to compensate our family’s bill. Many times the directors would waive fees and other costs to enable my family to participate like everyone else. Our co-op morning was the best day of the week. My kids were in the school plays, choir, and yearbook. In high school, they lettered in academics, music, drama, community service, and visual arts. They helped build homes here in the States and in Mexico for families in need and volunteered for different organizations depending on their interests. In my household, music lessons were required and all five played an instrument. They had training twice a month and had to make the most of the time allotted during their music instruction. Budget wise, weekly lessons were not an option.
At my insistence, my offspring are required to have some type of college or job skills training, post-high school. With the advancement of technology, we have at our disposal many diverse avenues to accomplish that obligation and do it debt free. Even my special needs adult children are not exempt from that rule. Two of my grown children started their own part-time business thus enabling the one with the most brain damage to be employed. They are all licensed drivers, registered voters, car and cell phone owners and pay their own way in life. My career, as a single momma, is to work myself out of a job. All too soon, they will have homes and families of their own and must be independent, hardworking members of society.
I felt very strongly that my children needed to be exposed to every educational opportunity possible to inculcate their minds and mold their characters in a positive manner. They did not always like everything I required them to do but there were life lessons learned along the way. I tried to the best of my ability to see to it that they were satisfactorily prepared for adulthood. It is now their responsibility to follow God’s plan for their lives and run their own races for the Lord. My job was to give my family tools, varied experiences, and wings.
As I handed my daughter her diploma at her high school graduation a few years ago, she whispered in my ear, “Thanks for homeschooling me, Mom.” The hundreds of people in attendance did not hear those precious words that were only meant for me.
A few days ago, the music “Pomp and Circumstance” reverberated in the auditorium as my youngest marched to the stage with his fellow homeschool seniors. The graduates from the speech and debate team gave the customary addresses. The parents of each graduate were allowed one minute to share with the audience special memories or encouragement for their child during the ceremony. I spoke for my thirty seconds and handed my son his diploma, knowing that the formal homeschool journey had culminated. Crossing the finish line became one of the best experiences of my life. It had been an arduous expedition filled with adventures designed by God to make us dependent upon Him and each other. Our futures are as are as exciting as the promises of God with the next great quest ready for the taking. The anticipation is uncontainable!