My History with Homeschooling
This is my homeschooling experience. I have tried over the last few months to write this in many times. Then I read this article called Dear Homeschool Kids and it put what I wanted to say, so much better than what I could ever write. So read that first and come back to hear my story. I'll wait :)
“I get why they wanted this life for you guys, they meant well. But it turned out to be the Little House on the Prairie fan convention from hell.” - found here.
I don't know my parents reasons for choosing to homeschool my siblings and I. I just know the end result of that education. Allowing myself to read and talk about homeschooling has been difficult. The topic makes me angry. There are so many reasons why homeschooling can be a good thing for a child. And then there is the rest of the world. Where homeschooling is irresponsible and harmful to the child. This is that story. I have four different homeschooling experiences. Seems weird that you can have more than one. But here it goes.
Experience one, begins with kindergarten and my Mom. We spent days, months, years creating a community of Moms that shared their resources and educated their children together. Our mornings were spent doing math drills and phonetics sentences, we practiced writing, reading. A lot of our education surrounded the bible and each teachings. Afternoons were spent on life skills; sewing, cooking, baking or we were out and about meeting with other homeschoolers. My favorite memories from that time include making a Proverbs 31 Stick Women, baking cookies, a creative writing class.
I believe that if life had stayed that way, I would have grown up happy and secure, with little to no questions. But two major life events happened. Someone died and someone was created. The death of one tore my extended family apart. The other brought Hypermesis Gravidarumk, though undiagnosed, into our lives. And my sister and I were sent to another mother for schooling.
Experience two, brings us to a women who used to be an English teacher. She has educated and had high expectations in her students/children. In teaching us she discovered two little girls who barely knew the difference between a verb and an adverb. The definition of verb didn't come to my sister in time and she was beaten with a wooden rod for her "sass". The grudge that burns in my heart after that day is still with me as an adult. But as a child, I took on a protective role and did my best to ensure little my siblings would never be in that situation again. A few months later, with a new family member, our education transferred back to my mother.
The third experience is when things really went downhill. With a baby I don't remember much for education beyond arguments over math. I had progressed far enough into my education that Algebra became the topic to learn. As someone who previously enjoyed math, everyone thought Algebra would be a breeze. Except it wasn't. The concepts twisted and turned in my brain and no matter how it was explained I could not grasp it. One parent couldn't teach me having no understanding of it herself. So it turned to the man of the house. That resulted in thrown textbooks and angry tears.
Virtual School became the next option as it was apparent that I had grown beyond the education abilities of my parents. It was close enough to homeschooling that my parents didn't feel guilty and it was allowed within the community we lived. I loved virtual school. My favorite memory is when my social teacher sent out an email and forgot to type the "o" on his HELLO greeting! This is also the first time I learned the words "Sex Education". It was part of the program and caused a lot of grief for my parents, who managed to get me exempted. I probably would have been pulled from virtual school, if another pregnancy hadn't happened.
The original plan was for my parents to send us back to the same lady who taught us the first time. But I refused to go or participate or talk to her. My attitude pushed my parents into action and we were signed up for Public School (I am sure there was a lot more too it than just my refusal, but that's my memory of it). So Mid-way through November, I walked into my first real class with 34 other students. Grade 8 was an interesting year. You would have found me to be a super shy, innocent child. I have so many interesting memories from that year.
I didn't know a thing about hallway politics. I met Mary and Jenna. I learned I was good at foraging signatures and signed their teacher class sheets to they could skip class and not get in trouble with their group homes. Mary had a child the same age as my brother, she had knife burn scars up her left arm. She wore black eyeliner and had the craziest hair. Jenna was a fun loving girl, who just wanted a place to be found and loved. They tried and tried to get me to skip class and one day resorted to dragging me down the hallway. Not wanting to go, I forego my sweater in an effort to stay. Only to loss my entire shirt and sweater to their pullings, in front of the boys bathroom as my crush and his friends exited.
Grade 8 was a wonderful year. I tasted freedom. I tasted life. I tasted how powerful I could be and that there was so much more to life than staying at home and cooking for a man. It didn't last though. April 2000 my parents finalized the sale of the Farm. We sold our house and we moved in with friends. And this brings me to fourth homeschool experience. Stuck out in the middle of no-where. My parents obsessed with their new found farmyard. They tossed me into Virtual School again and left me with the children.
I was left to wander grades 9, 10 and 11 education by myself with the occasional help of distance teachers. I had no desire to learn. I was stressed, starving and angry. Education was not my priority. I didn't do any sciences, minimal math. I wrote until that was taken too. So I read and I read. I read the bible, I read Historical Fiction. I read to escape my world and be in another.
Grade 12 I went again to public school. I begged, I cried and I threatened until they caved. I met my best friend. And I found teachers who saw me for what I was, an uneducated scared kid who desperately needed guidance. My English teacher taught me how to write. Not everything but the basics. A lot of how I write today is due to her showing me it was possible. My math teacher explained algebra and showed me how to memorize just enough so I would pass my exams. My social teacher showed me history, he had me questioning everything. He answered everything with a question. He embarrassed me daily in class. He was cruel and I hated him but he made me think!
I have a fair bit of exposure to other resources and for that I am thankful. But homeschooling is flawed.
I want to end with this
“I tell you this so you will see some of the reasons for our actions. Forgive us for our silly lies, Ivy, they were not meant to harm.”
No, it was not meant to harm. But it did.