Both of my parents were public-school teachers. I never intended to become one, but the bug passed on to me, when in college, I wanted to help kids discover the joy of writing that I had discovered.
That was short-lived, when my first year, I needed a major focus adjustment in the form of the book Boundaries with Kids which really changed my understanding of leading kids, and interpreting my upbringing.
I went on to teach in several states, several schools, including four years here at Franklin High School, for ten years total. After having my son, and a daughter the next year, I took the leap of faith to raise my two babies at home. Now, this was revolutionary enough--challenging and changing everything I believed about God (trusting God) and money. Homeschooling came later.
I discovered the stay-at-home mom crowd, and began friendships with families who were doing what I was doing. Many of them were also homeschoolers--each of them had completely different reasons for their choice to homeschool. This baffled me, but also gave me permission to continue down the road on which I had found myself. I began to hear and see the benefits, but certainly, with my background in education, all of my questions were not answered in a day. Now with three children, I was quite overwhelmed with the stay-at-home mom transition alone.
When my son was four I began to experience those waves of emotions imagining him leaving every day, being gone all day long. I had transformed my life drastically to raise him only to hand him back over to the hands of experts? Was it really that different to spend my days teaching my own children rather than "your children."
After struggling back and forth and concluding I could trust God's promises either way, I still needed to make a choice. In a desperate moment of prayer, I asked to know which path was best for my family. I received more than that, seeing precisely that the comfort of shape, form, and structure in public school was the strong draw away from the path I wanted to go. I would have to trust that form and shape would come, unique to my family, in time.
As far as academics and curricula, as a high school math and English teacher, I had seen firsthand students struggle with very simple terms and concepts--because of the pace and volume of the material that rushes through a highschooler's life. I thought, "Why can't I just teach my kindergartner 'isosceles' and 'right triangles' in kindergarten. He won't know the difference and he won't be afraid of them, so when he is older, he will be much more prepared." After spending one day of creating a few materials (completely overwhelmed with 3 kids 5 and under!), I gave up in a terrified stupor. That very day, I discovered the classical model, and saw that it was precisely the vision that I had seen for my children's education.
I am now part of our local Classical Conversations communities and highly recommend this program (even trying it in your own home as a starting place). Yes, it provides the K–12 backbone for peace and stability; yes, it provides parents alongside sharing the same materials and burdens; yes, it gives our kids a social environment, and yes, it is a curriculum that integrates scriptural events into world history and prepares kids to walk in their God-given callings after graduation. But personally, the opportunity to go farther, faster, with tools built which deliver success, and work well with multiple ages inside a HOME: this was the treasure this former high-school teacher found which has given me what I need to be a homeschooler through high school.
If you are even thinking about homeschooling, I urge you to simply allow yourself the learning curve, make it a matter of prayer, expect answers, and take bold steps of faith when they come!
A former Franklin High School teacher, Joni Nichols is now a Spring Hill homeschool mom and blogger. Check out her blog here.