When I was in college, classmates would frequently converse with me about my children. Of course, there were the basics: names, ages, levels of cuteness, who looks like whom, etc. Then, depending on how far into the semester we were, the questioning would eventually become a little deeper, such as what sports they played, what my parenting philosophy was, where they went to school, and so forth.
It is that last question that was always my favorite, though, for one simple reason: my (soon-to-be-ex-) husband and I decided before our son was old enough to enter Kindergarten that we would homeschool. For me, it was an easy decision; my sister homeschooled all five of her kids, and it was always my desire to do the same.
For my husband…not so much. He was raised in a family where it was normal to send children to daycare, public school, etc. His mother worked for the government, so she was unable to stay at home with either him or his brother, and that was what he expected to do with our children once I was finished with school and settled into a career. In his words, homeschooled kids were “weird” and unable to adapt to living “in the real world.”
However, we found ourselves living smack in the middle of an urban public school district, which is known for frequent teacher lay-offs, overcrowded and non-air conditioned classrooms, and poor test scores. Suddenly, my husband started to listen to me when I would talk about how well my nephew was doing, and which colleges he had been accepted into.
It was a small but vital victory to me when he finally agreed to consider homeschooling, but he took a little more convincing. I listed out exactly which classes he would teach and which I would take care of, laid out a basic daily schedule, and showed him how I could work and homeschool, so long as he did his part, and he agreed. Victory was mine!
Then, just before the start of the school year, we decided to separate. I was worried that this meant the end of all of our homeschooling plans, but in one of our more calm discussions prior to me moving out, we agreed that, no matter what, our children’s education was of paramount importance to us. We reaffirmed our commitment to homeschooling our son, and plunged blindly into that first year.
All I can say is thank heavens we started with Kindergarten. Had we started deeper into our son’s education, I doubt that we would have been able to succeed as well as we did…but succeed we did. Although that first year was by far one of the hardest of my life (11 classes for me, full-time employment, and living on my own for the first time in years), our son learned shape, color, letter, and number recognition, along with how to read and basic math skills. We even had a few science workbooks that we were able to work through.
My son is now preparing to enter into the second grade, and we are far more confident about things. We still divvy up the responsibilities of his education (I teach language arts, history and social studies, art, health; and my husband teaches math and science) , we have settled into a groove that served us well throughout this past year. Our daughter, who is three, watches her brother work through his assignments, and is already talking about when she will get to start school. I have a feeling that we will start a little earlier with her than we did with our son.
And, perhaps the biggest surprise of all is that this whole experience has brought me and my husband closer together. Oh sure, we’re still heading to divorce court one of these days, but we have had to work as a team for the last two years while living in separate residences. This has forced us to communicate clearly, and make plans together. We have learned to contribute to lessons, even if they aren’t our “subject,” and we have learned to give and receive constructive criticism in order to guarantee that our son’s education is the best that it can be.
This has also brought me and my children very close together. When I first became a single parent, I was very overwhelmed and stressed out with everything. However, sitting with my son every day and listening to his sweet little voice reading through his reader has taught me more patience than anything else I have experienced, which in turn has shown me new ways to interact with him. When you educate your children, you learn how their little minds work, which shows you more about their true selves than all of the snuggling and game-playing ever could.