In the Beginning
My journey as a secular homeschooling Dad started ten years ago. I was a teenager sitting in my wife’s, then girlfriend’s, room outside a conservative town in southwest Missouri. She was showing me what was to become my future. From young childhood onward she had been collecting books, games, toys, and activities for children. Not for her of course, but for her future children. She told me that she always dreamed of homeschooling her kids one day. Maybe she was trying to warn me so that if I decided to stick around, I knew for certain what I was going to be dealing with. (I suppose she also warned me that she’d drag me out of Missouri and to Seattle after graduation if we made it until then. I’m writing this from Seattle, just so you’re aware.)
It was a dream that has never wavered. It was a dream that I accepted without second thought or hesitation.
A year ago our eldest daughter was entering “first grade” after deschooling for the second half of her kindergarten year. (The first half was, surprisingly, spent in a private school classroom where my wife had been working at the time.) We decided well in advance that we’d be utilizing a homeschool resource center. I believe they are oftentimes referred to as an umbrella school or cover school. We’re still in charge of her education, but we get a lot of help when needed as well as a yearly budget to buy workshops or supplies with. We also have access to all the co-ops we could ever need, school functions, theatre productions, and even counselors. Best of all, because they are run through the public school system, they’re all secular.
I still had no doubt in my mind that it was the right thing to do. She had spent her kindergarten-drop-out deschooling time reading the entire Harry Potter series and Little Women. I’d be nuts to send her back into a classroom where she would have to sit twiddling her thumbs in boredom. (Although her teachers had been incredible, the resources just weren’t there.) Obviously homeschooling is a privilege and I know that this is not a possibility for many people, even if their child could benefit greatly from it. I’m thankful every day that we figured out how to pull this off.
It’s been so easy for me to be on board with this for my family as I myself never enjoyed school. I hated sitting for hours at a time hearing about things that couldn’t capture my attention. I suppose I had some authority issues as well. Who doesn’t, though?
Seeing my child blossom in her interests and enthusiasm after starting to homeschool was no surprise to me. She loves to learn and read about her interests until there are more no more books on the subject. She can sit for hours pouring over study guides and workbooks. All we have to do is provide.
I was never much that type. That must be from my wife.
But They’re All Completely Different
Another great thing about this journey is that my second-born, an exact carbon-copy of me at her age, will have the freedom not to sit and study. She’s far too antsy and energetic for any classroom to contain her, school or home. Our learning styles are very similar so I know that she needs the freedom to move, explore, and chase her extraordinary imagination. Some of you reading this follow the unschooling model. We follow a lot of this philosophy as well, but that little spunk is leveling-up our game.
Homeschooling does not work for all families. It does not work for all children. I spend all day every day with my kids – the perks of working night shift. I know it works for them. They need the freedom to tinker and explore their way into the world.
That is why my teenaged self never once doubted that I was going to join the adventure of homeschooling my kids one day.