To the Editor,
Editor’s note: This letter is dated September 4, 2001.
This September my eldest child enters her final year of college! Seventeen years ago we decided to home school. As you can imagine, with four children and a total of 15 years as homeschoolers, I have many stories to tell. Today, I would like to express three ideas to all of you who have decided, or are considering, homeschooling:
First off, it works. This spring I listened to a college valedictorian’s address, and realized her first day of school was her first day of college! Nobody knew for sure what would happen when the homeschooling movement began to grow.
Neighbours and grandparents asked in worried voices, “What will happen when your kids want to go to college?” And the only answer I could give them was, “I don’t know.”
So now, I am able to tell you, I have seen the fruits of homeschooling. Many of my friends decided to homeschool about the same time I did. Their college-aged children simply sparkle. Homeschooling works!
Secondly, it’s work. I know the soul searching involved in the decision. I know the weight of the huge responsibility, the reading and asking and late night struggles with doubt. I know the hours spent on preparation, the clutter of papers and projects and experiments.
I know the embarrassment when you visit your friends and their living rooms and kitchen tables are so very tidy and you come home to the mess generated by so much activity multiplied by so many busy hands. I know the inspired plans and the corners that get cut. I know the hurry and the multiple layers of each day and the courage to do it all again tomorrow. I know the isolation, the once-in-a-lifetime joys and the endless, thankless, unseen tasks.
So now, I want to tell you, it’s worth it! It’s not all easy and it’s not all pleasant, but it is worth the effort. All the doubts fade when you realize that your children can handle time, resources and money wisely. They can do research, travel, work, live away from home and plan for long-range goals.
Most importantly, they know who they are. On the inside.
They are oriented inside and can hear that inner voice when a personal decision must be made. Not dependent on you, not relying on peers, not crippled with self-doubt.
These home schooled children/young adults are very familiar with making decisions. Homeschooling is a lot of work, and it’s work that makes each person strong.
Finally, it ends. This is a very rare and precious time in your family, I know. While you are doing it, it seems endless. Alphabets, maps, times tables, charts, trips to the library, vocabulary and tests. There is never enough time.
You juggle and balance all the multiple facets of the home, family, lessons and community activities. The calendar pages flip by so quickly. “What about me?” I wonder as other people talk about TV shows, book clubs, careers and hobbies!
So now, I am here, to tell you someday you will have your very last day of homeschooling. Your child will move on and you will retire! It feels very strange to have uninterrupted time. It feels very strange to decide what book I want to read!
Today, on my first day of not homeschooling, I am aware of three very strong, very different feelings simultaneously: I am so happy I want to shoot off fireworks and celebrate!; I am so sad I want to have a good cry and grieve! All those precious moments are now all memories, never to return; and I feel like a cornucopia, wealthy and abundant, with treasures pouring out endlessly.
I am determined to share what I have learned and experienced. I want to read and write, to listen and speak. I want to encourage others and educate parents and point to resources. I want to champion for home schooling.
I want to announce: The results are in. Homeschooling, it’s work. But, it works!