By: Sue Anganes
I’ve hesitated to write about something that I’ve been doing for almost twenty- five years. I guess it’s probably because I don’t want other moms to think that I feel my way is better or that my kids are smarter. It isn’t, they aren’t. I never wanted to make anyone else feel that I’m in competition with them. I’ve never been. It’s always been quite the opposite- I’ve always only wanted to do my own thing with my kids; I’ve wanted them to learn at their own pace and to enjoy learning. I didn’t want the pressure or the stress to take the fun away from learning. That’s why I decided to homeschool.
In September 1990, I started to formally homeschool my oldest daughter. She had just turned five, and I couldn’t imagine putting her on a school bus and parting with her each day. I bought a curriculum and worked daily on phonics, reading, writing, math, health, and science. The book work went quickly which left us a lot of time to play and do other fun things. Child’s play is the best form of early learning. Dress up clothes, puzzles, Legos, dolls, toys, games, books, not to mention digging holes in the yard and making mud pies all contributed to her early education. As the other kids came along, we spent sunny days hiking through the woods, visiting museums, practicing instruments, and picking out books at the library. I always made sure that their core subjects were completed, but after that, it was free time for the kids to explore, read, build, play, and think on their own. I truly believe that the time they spent on their own was as beneficial to them as our formal schooling hours we spent around the dining room table.
As the years went on, each child seemed to gravitate to their own individual interests. A couple learned on their own how to program computers, one took flight lessons and became a pilot, some took music lessons, two were writers, a couple were involved competitively in the shooting sports, one played in an orchestra, two shot archery, one cared for an elderly woman, one delved into photography- all this as part of their homeschooling.
Now, I only have my youngest son left to finish homeschooling. Before I know it, he will be finished with high school. I homeschooled them all until they left for college. My oldest has a degree in nursing, the second in engineering ,the third in accounting, the fourth is still an undergrad studying to be a special ed teacher, the fifth is taking college courses online for a computer science degree, and my youngest is, as I said, still homeschooled.
Almost everyone I have come across who finds out that I have homeschooled for so many years has said to me, “I could never do that!”, but they are wrong. I didn’t need to be super smart, my kids did not need to be super smart; I just took it day by day. It was simply self discipline, sitting down each morning and getting through the books. I learned along with my kids, and what I couldn’t teach them, I found a community college or continuing education class to enroll them in.
In the end, it has worked out well for us. As I have mentioned in some of my previous posts, my youngest two sons have a very rare neurometabolic disease. There would have been no easy way for them to attend school in a conventional way. By homeschooling them, I’ve been able to work around the bad days, and they’ve been working at grade level or above at home.
One of the greatest blessings of homeschooling my kids was when my eldest daughter and her husband decided to homeschool their own children. I guess, I felt that even though I always put my best effort towards teaching my kids, there were always failures on my part. There are “gaps” in homeschooling. You can’t have the best of both worlds- conventional schooling and homeschooling. Each has its own benefits. Having my daughter decide to homeschool my grandchildren was a personal validation to me. At least, the good aspects of homeschooling outweighed the bad; and she valued the effort that I had put into educating her, and in turn, she decided to homeschool her own children.