Why did we start this homeschooling journey?
There are 100 answers to that question, depending on who is asking and how much information they want to hear. The answer I had when Son was five is much different from how I answer that today with him at the age of 17 and Daughter being 11 years old. We have friends that knew before birth they would homeschool, some that decided after their child was in school for few years.
My dear husband was traditional-schooled in a wonderful school district eight hours from where we live and in a different state. I was “travel-tutored” through eighth grade in addition to traditional school, as our family followed my dad’s work schedule rotating seasonally between three states to follow a major and minor league baseball team. Husband and I knew we wanted a second language, music, a strong English/math/science program, and we were shopping for a school that would meet our high expectations. Before we even found that perfect school community, our lives were blown apart with some kind of mysterious childhood illness with our first born son.
Son was very sick, I left teaching at a residential school for the Deaf, a much loved position, to stay home full time with him. I had the most wonderful set up while I taught; sister-n-law and we swapped our kids so that we could both keep one toe in our separate professional fields. I just didn’t see how I could leave teaching my very special classroom of kids (severely neglected and abused Deaf children), but I couldn’t leave a very sick toddler at someone else’s home every other morning.
I left teaching and started doing respite care for these special Deaf children, giving families a break, and looked forward to teaching again. I was home full-time to care for our Son as he lost more weight and became more and more sick. Little did I know that Son’s illness was going to be a life long trek with Celiac, nor did I foresee that a decade later, gluten-free was going to be available everywhere, easing our lives.
As we struggled with Son’s extreme sensitivity to gluten and a very limited resources, each school we considered was not very prepared for accommodating medical needs for this new “disease”. Keeping Son home until he was capable of expressing his needs seemed like the best option, but how would we do that. The longer we homeschooled, the more we loved it, and the less likely we would leave.
Wonderful dear Husband gave me a stack of homeschooling books for my birthday and my heart was at peace. I had answers. No live persons that were actually homeschooling, but a stack of books about real families. We did not even know another family that had a child with Celiac. It felt like a curse and a blessing to be at home. Internet was still limited to emailing and a few Yahoo groups, yet slowly the world opened up and we found friends, resources, and a community.
Fast forward a decade and we live in a world of abundance, a feast for all the most wonderful resources and support that I could ever have imagined. Our community has grown and we even know Celiac Homeschooling families.
With all this abundance, balance needs to happen. Just like I would never allow our kids to eat snacks, candy, and desserts everyday; we cannot live on field trips, coop groups, and playdates every week. Minimizing our homeschooling became a necessity, just like I clean out the cupboards after the holidays and purge the sugar that crept into our kitchen.
Homeschooling for us ends up being a life choice that must have started at birth, as we were searching for the right match even when Son was a toddler. Through homeschooling I have actually found my skills and abilities used with several families needing to homeschool their Deaf child for medical or academic issues.
We have become foster and respite parents to Deaf at-risk children. And most important, all those high expectations we had for what learning would look like have been met through the incredible teachers, programs, and home curriculum that we brought to our family.
Why do we homeschool? Ask me again tomorrow and I will have a different answer.