I am often asked why we chose to homeschool Nathan and Nolan instead of sending them to school. The opinions of those who ask are probably as varied as the people themselves, but I won't go into that.
Our journey to homeschooling began long ago when we discovered our son, Nathan, had a form of autism. He had just turned three. Needless to say, this rocked our world. Nolan was then one. Life took on a whole new meaning. I'll save that for another post. Nathan has made incredible progress in his understanding of language and social skills. Both children went to a little neighborhood school through first grade (Nolan) and second grade (Nathan). The school, it's teachers and support staff are wonderful. The kids loved their school. The parents loved their school. The problem was that Nathan and Nolan did not learn best in a school environment.
Mike and I discussed the educational options for the children over and over during the years the boys were in school. Over the summer of 2005, I discovered a book called The Well-Trained Mind. As I read through this book (which I immediately bought), so many things began to make sense to me. Children can often read better than they can write (or vice versa), using real books instead of readers is a real option, history is best learned in order, and that science can be incorporated into the elementary curriculum (Nolan loves science). This book outlined the HOW to do it all. I was hooked.
Although Nathan loved school, school was also very stressful for him. He is a perfectionist but it often takes him more time to learn. The constant social interactions of every day were also difficult for him. We determined that he used up all of his "people time" at school and had little left for his family. By the end of each school year, Nathan had so much anxiety that he would do things like pull all the skin off his finger tips or obsessively rub his face to the point of rubbing off all of the skin.
For Nolan (who didn't love school so much), we found that if he didn't like doing something (writing for example), he would goof off until it was time to do somthing else. Thus, he could get away with doing little actual work. With 25-30 students in a classroom, this was easy for him to do. We wanted more for him. We wanted him to continue to love learning.
Probably the turning factor for us was the idea that we wanted to get to know our children. Instead of Nathan spending all day talking to the teachers and coming home and isolating himself, we wanted him to talk with US! We decided to try it for a year. That first year was trying. I was working 30 hours a week at a stressful social work job and Mike was starting up a business as a private music teacher. The kids were adjusting to being taught at home. By spring time, I asked the kids if they wanted to go back to school the next year. They suprised me by saying no.
Mike's teaching schedule was filling up as was my stress level. After a lot of prayer and conversation, we decided I would quit my job and stay home to teach the kids full time. This was a huge leap of faith. God was clearly leading us on this path and we have had to trust Him completely.
A few benefits of homeschooling: We have been able to share our faith with our children on a level that was difficult when they were in school. We know what they are learning and are able to have many teachable moments throughout the day beacuse of that. The children are learning things that have been taken out of their curriculum; cursive, science, history and grammar. We are reading lots and lots of real books. And Nathan's anxiety? Gone. He now enjoys being social because he isn't immersed in it all day every day. He is out playing with the neighbors, loves going to cub scouts and homeschool group. And Nolan? He still doesn't always want to get his work done, but now he has no choice.
We were at cubscouts one day and the kids were all talking about where they go to school. One cub said he would like to see what it's like to be homeschooled. Nolan's response? "It's so great!" His reason? "You get to lay on the couch and read lots of books!" This from the child who always said he wished everyone was born knowing everything so no one had to go to school.