I attended a traditional Catholic school as a child, grew up to teach in urban, suburban, and rural public schools for almost 25 years, and now I’m homeschooling my own child. Why?
I could say it’s one of those “I’ve seen it all” stories.
I pretty much have seen it all. Teaching and learning are still very precious to my soul, and that’s why I quit- traditional schooling, that is. Traditional schooling has always stifled me, but I managed to find my way around it for a really long time, had a lot of fun teaching and learning myself, immensely enjoyed “my kids” in the classroom, and wouldn’t trade most of it. I’ve taught children with no home, children in million dollar mansions, and everything in between. I’ve taught children who needed a friend, a mother, a teacher, and a hug. Experiencing bi-polarity, ADHD, food allergies, divorce through a child’s eyes, and several children that I couldn’t help really opens your eyes to education.
But the days I didn’t realize I was missing were the ones I missed with my own children. I got used to working hard creating things for my classroom and my students. Redesigning tests, cutting out paper bears, and researching alternative methods to find that just right way to get concepts across were all part of the job and my passion as a teacher. After all, my own children had me all of the time. Yet, when summer came and I got to really know my own children, I realized how much I was missing. But, then I’d need to get prepared for back to school and so I’d wait for next summer. I was flying high.
In the summer, with my own children, we’d go on walks, collect leaves, read outside in the hammock, play in the pool, make Kool-Aid, buy game guides, and just play. It was heaven.
Then, the itch to get back in the groove for school would hit and I’d put aside the play to work, refine, and work some more on “school stuff”. And I’d send my children away.
As education became more standardized and less free, I realized how much of the reason for my teaching had disappeared. I became more and more miserable. A couple school transfers later, I realized my heart wasn’t in it. I got into teaching to make learning fun and it wasn’t fun anymore. I was miserable. Public education wasn’t for me.
I still love teaching and learning and have always snuck in learning with my own children. Asking times tables in the car, wondering aloud how many cups of flour to use if I was doubling the recipe, asking what the time would be after video games were done, and having my kids measure to see where the new dresser would go were second nature for me. I read with my kids every night and always ask them “why” questions. I have always been a teacher. It comes naturally to me.
Homeschooling was not a conscious choice. It was a gift that was given to me at a time when I needed it. The funny thing is I looked for a variety of educational and other positions even after quitting my last school. They didn’t come. I’m starting my own business to support homeschoolers and traditionally schooled children, but it hasn’t taken off yet. My son was bored at school (and has been for years), had problems with friends, and has always been clingy to mom. Something was telling me it was time.
I’ll keep my business going though. I want to show people that they don’t have to follow a script either just because they’re homeschooling and don’t have an educational degree. I want to help traditionally schooled children by supporting them with unconventional methods that can help them understand after school too. But my son and I are going to be doing a lot of learning together this year too. The fun thing is he’ll be with me all of the time.