Friday, January 8, 2010

Highlights of 21 Years of Homeschooling

My family has been homeschooling for the last 21 years.  This May will mark 22 years that I have been at home with my children.  Where did the time go?  It seems like just yesterday that we embarked with trepidation on our homeschool journey equipped with a small box of preschool material.  I was a very young mom of a four year old and a newborn and wife to a seminary student.  I had so very much to learn....and still do!

Some of the memories that stand out for me are teaching 5 of my children to read.  There were some bad moments in the early years especially, when I would push the older girls to do more than I should have, but I learned to slow down and watch for readiness cues from the children and not from "the experts".  I am very thankful that, in spite of my many mistakes, all 5 of those children love to read.  I look forward to teaching the two little boys to read as well.  Caedmon will already sit down and "read" a book to himself and Jackson has loved books for years.

Another highlight has been the times that my children and I (and sometimes Jeff) have spent reading great books together.  We have sat outside on a swingset reading about American history from The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall.  We listened to Up from Slavery by Booker T. Washington when we studied the War Between the States.  We have read many biographies of missionaries and historical figures.  We have snuggled together while reading about The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder (and all her other books).  When we finished all of Wilder's books we traveled to her final home in Missouri and saw the little desk where she actually penned her books.  Jeff took the children along with him for a fun trip through The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Graham and to the cold Antarctic on an adventure with Shackleton on the Endurance.  So many adventures we have had through reading together.

We have traveled to many Civil War sites across the south and to Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown when we completed our studies of early American history.  We went to Washington and stood in awe of the Washington Monument and walked our feet off trying to see as much as possible in one day.  We explored Mount Vernon the beloved home of George Washington and spent several nights in a planter's house built in 1850 on the James River.  We have explored caves in Tennessee and Arkansas and driven through the endless miles of corn fields in Iowa.  We have enjoyed several museums, aquariums and historical sites in many states.

We have enjoyed cooking the foods of other cultures and time periods and have discovered some tasty dishes that became regulars at our dining table.  I have taught my children many cooking skills as we experienced the flavors of other worlds and times.

We have shared our lives with other families as I coordinated KONOS co-ops for nine years.  We dressed in period costumes, reenacted battle scenes. practiced public speaking, did oodles of interesting crafts and made lots of friends.

Just this past fall, Jackson and I were reading a book while sitting on the swing in our yard.  It was a quiet day and we were reading Paul Showers' book The Listening Walk.  The author wrote on the last page for us to close the book, close our eyes and just listen.  So we did.  We began to hear a rustling in the leaves behind us and we opened our eyes just in time to see two deer running out of the woods just behind us.  I know I will always remember that moment.  I hope Jackson will too!!

I know all of you have some moments of your homeschool journey that will always stand out to you.  Some of you have only been on this journey for a short while and others have been traveling steadily on for several years.  I would love to hear about one or two of your favorite moments.  It's good to look back and set these memories in stone so that on the days when things don't go well we can look back and see the benefits of keeping on.  These special highlights encourage me to continue our journey.  We have many more years to go and I want to finish the race well.


Laura at By the Bushel said...

Just today I told my local homeschooling friend and 'co-op' partner(we co-op for playtime at the park) today about you and your encouragment in the blogosphere. I am so thankful for your efforts to post and share & teach your own children. We benefit from your sharing and the world community at large will benefit from the children you are raising. God is glorified in it all.
Thanks- ... even just today I saw the 'doorposts' badge on your site & I've been looking for that for 2 YEARS! So glad I 'met' you- one day we will need to literally cross paths...

Tania @ Larger Family Life said...

I've just visited your blog for the first time. It's such an inspiration!

Laura said...

As a single homeschooling mother my first couple years were pure resolve and determination. I just "knew" that WITH was possible! But I very much focussed on getting things done. Now that we're on our 7th year I can say that we are now enjoying the journey and creating moments like those you described. We love homeschooling. Thank you for your words of encouragement!!

Connie said...

Thanks for sharing this, Anita! I really enjoyed reading it! I guess that I have to say that my most favorite memories are the same as many of yours - reading aloud together, swinging in the backyard, and family field trips/vacations.
As Logan's senior year is quickly approaching, I too wonder where all the years have gone! It seems like only yesterday we opened that first box of books from A Beka!
Thanks again for sharing!

Hen Jen said...

it's so nice to hear an account from someone who has made the homeschool journey and has seen the other side! My oldest is in 9th grade, so I haven't experience graduating one yet.

thanks for sharing!

Martianne said...

Thank you. I love hearing success stories to combat the naysayers in my life. Homeschooling can and does work!

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