Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why We Choose to Homeschool

This post was originally posted on a former blog that Tikatia had. It has been updated to reflect our journey since then.

When our family was just beginning our family we never questioned that our children would go to school.  We sent Cali to public preschool, and then public kindergarten.  Her first year in Kindergarten, we place Shiloh in the same public preschool.  This is when we started noticing problems.  Cali had been diagnosed in preK with a Sensory Processing Disorder.  The school thought she had ADHD.  She was actually diagnosed with ADHD due to the school's form (though less "symptoms" on the parent form).  She was placed on meds.  The first meds did nothing, so they tried another, Adderall.  She lost 5 pounds within two weeks, she was talking about hating herself and wanting to die.  Remember, she was also only 6.  This led us to bring her to an ADHD specialist, who evaluated her, and talked to us more in depth.  The result, she does not have ADHD, instead she is a very bright and gifted child who is bored.  We brought the results to the school asking if they could challenge her more and were told that there were several children just as bright as her in the class and that she just needed to learn to listen better.

Our pediatrician suggested homeschooling.  We'd never considered homeschooling before.  Neither of us had been homeschooled.  Would it be a lot of work?  I didn't think I would be organized to do it.  We had 3 children at the time, so we also wondered, should we just homeschool Cali or both her and Shiloh?  Was it okay to send Shiloh to preschool and homeschool Cali? 
Well, I researched, and I prayed, and I researched.  I knew of a few families within our church who also homeschooled, so I asked them questions and spent months observing them and their children.  I got excited. It thought that this would be a great choice for Cali.  DH wasn't as completely on board as I was, but I convinced him to let me try.

For my first year homeschooling, I just homeschooled Cali.  Shiloh continued at his public preschool, Juby was a baby.  By the second year homeschooling Cali, I loved it.  But I knew that Shiloh had special needs and that in a public school he should be able to get services.  So, I homeschooled Cali, who was in 2nd grade but doing 3rd and 4th grade work, and sent Shiloh to the same public Kindergarten.  I fought with the school for months.  They insisted that there was nothing wrong with him and that he was fine, his speech was fine and he didn't need services.  He was missing school all the time and was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.  Finally, I got tired of fighting with the school.  Cali was excelling in homeschooling and she loved our homeschool co-op.  I withdrew Shiloh from school in February.  I continued to homeschool Cali, Shiloh and eventually Jubilee for a total of 3 years and I loved it.  

Circumstances changed for us after Number 5 (Isaiah) was born. After 11 weeks of bedrest and then dealing with a colicky newborn, I felt like a failure as a mother, let alone a homeschooler. Isaiah was born in April of 2008 and by that September we were ready to enroll them into school. Cali started fourth grade and Shiloh started second. We weren't quite ready to try a preschool, so we kept Jubilee home with us for that year still "homeschooling" just her. 

The kids were enrolled in public school for three years. In that time we saw Cali go from a precocious, curious and engaging little girl to a sullen and apathetic preteen. She left for the bus before sunrise, arrived home just in time for dinner and to lock herself back up in her room to do homework. We missed our kids. We missed seeing them learn new things, and being involved in their lives. And mostly, we missed the godly character that we'd been cultivating since their birth. When you don't see your kids more than a few hours per week, it is impossible to fully reinforce faith at home. So, after the end of the school year 2011, we took the kids back home. Cali had completed 4th-6th grade, Shiloh 2nd through 4th and Jubilee K-1st grade in public school. For two of those years, Lily also attended free public preschool. 

After our experience with public school, we started doing a lot of research into government schooling and our role as parents. Continuously, God brought me to Deuteronomy 6, particularly verse 7.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
In this verse, we saw that God's best plan for our children was that we educate them at home and so we made the decision to homeschool all seven of our children through high school.

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