In Her Shoes ~ Anything but Ordinary

In Her Shoes is a series written by readers to give us a glimpse into their lives – what it is like to walk in their shoes. My bubbly friend Andrea has been there for me through the best and worst times in my life, and I am honored to introduce you to her. She is a wife, mom to three boys, teacher, gardener, and she has the most contagious laugh! Let’s join our friend as she tells us what it is like to walk in her shoes. ~ Love, G

In Her Shoes ~ Homeschooling- Anything but Boring and Ordinary

I’m proud of our educational path, however, sometimes it’s just easier if it doesn’t come up in conversation with new people.  After 4 years on this journey, I’ve grown weary of defending our decision.

“We homeschool.”

“Oh, I could never do that.”

This is the response I so often hear and it truly saddens me, but never surprises me.  I’ll admit, as a former public school teacher, I was led to believe all the myths and lies about homeschooling that most people assume, including the one about how you the ‘simple parent’ couldn’t possibly teach your own child.

When this seemingly ‘crazy’ notion of homeschooling started creeping its way into my consciousness, I resisted because I didn’t really understand what it involved.  I knew nothing about the reality of homeschooling.  Once I let the idea roll around in my mind, I realized I needed to learn all I could about what it’s really like.  So, I started talking to real people who homeschool.  Yes, I knew several people who were homeschooling, and yet, I had never bothered to ask them about it.  Feeling a bit embarrassed that I hadn’t shown more interest sooner, I started reading books and talking to people, and I felt such encouragement and empowerment.  Slowly, my thinking shifted from,  “Why should I homeschool?”  to “Why wouldn’t I homeschool?” Of course, I still needed a few more pushes, before I would commit to the idea.

At first, it felt like I was hearing slight whispers telling me that I could, indeed, do this.  Then, it seemed that I was being tapped on the shoulder, and directed onto this path.  I started running into people, who I knew were homeschooling.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so. I believe everything happens for a reason.  Then there was a profound moment at the local library.  I ran into an acquaintance.  (I explain that because it’s surprising how forthright she spoke to me.)  I told her about my son’s rough start to kindergarten (another story for another time) and I expressed my concerns about his next year of schooling.  Without hesitation, she bolted through my personal space, and looked me straight in the eyes.  “Why aren’t you homeschooling?” Whoa! Ok, this sounded like a message from above, but for some reason, I was still a little unconvinced.  Then finally, the decision was really made for us.  Just out of the blue, my son asked me, “Mom, couldn’t you be my teacher?”  YES!  Of course, I could.  Of course, I would.

In my former professional life, I was also a Parent Educator for the Parents as Teachers (PAT) organization.  (It was through a local school district, working with children & their parents ages birth-5.)  The purpose of this organization is to strengthen parental involvement & improve children’s school readiness.  Their motto is, “You are your child’s first and most important teacher.”  This is so true and I kept hearing this motto in my head when I was doubting myself.

I am a teacher; we are all teachers, and we are capable of teaching our own children.

I know from being on the public school side that many professional educators assume that parents are unqualified, but I would strongly encourage those skeptics to visit our annual homeschool convention.  Families from all over the state spend 2 days attending workshops, listening to speakers, researching, and reviewing curriculum choices.  They immerse themselves in “teacher training” voluntarily.  And why?  Is it required?  No, they simply do it for their families.  The enthusiasm is contagious and inspiring!

Now, back to the comment, “Oh, I could never do that.”  Are there days that I, too, feel this way?  Absolutely!  I’m hoping that I’ll feel brave enough to share this with people when this conversation happens in real life.  I want to empower others so that they know it doesn’t take a superhero to homeschool, just someone willing to work at it.  Homeschooling is HARD work, but so is parenting & life in general, and if it were easy, it would be boring & ordinary.  And, who wants to be boring & ordinary?  Not me!

 …

To read more stories, or if you would are interested in sharing your story, please go to the In Her Shoes tab near the top of the page. I love learning about the people in this series. Connecting with others seems to make the world feel not quite as big and scary. We’re all in this together. I can’t wait to hear from you, to read your stories, and learn more of what it is like to walk in your shoes. ~ Love, Ginger

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4 Comments
  • I wonder if working parents can also homeschool their children…..what do you think? Instead of private school, I “hire” a homeschool network to educate my children?

  • Andrea says:

    Hi there!
    I have heard of working parents, who make homeschooling work for them. There are so many resources available and it’s really about making it work for your family. I don’t have experience in this area, but a few thoughts come to mind. You could sign up for a local co-op, but most usually meet weekly. You could enroll in an online program, however, sometimes these are time consuming. You might be able to enlist the help of friends/family, who can share teaching responsibilities. Think about family dynamics from just a couple of decades ago, children learned from aunts, uncle, grandmas, grandpas, etc. (This approach can really strengthen family bonds.)

    I found a wonderful discussion thread on this topic on the Pioneer Woman’s website:
    http://thepioneerwoman.com/homeschooling/2011/02/community-question-homeschooling-when-both-parents-work/#comments

    One of the comments suggested the book Homeschooling the Early Years by Linda Dobson.
    I haven’t read it, but I have gained much insight from reading other titles by Linda Dobson. I peeked at the preview pages and it looks like another good, informative read.

    I have also read about parents who have down-sided their lifestyles in order to homeschool. I know this isn’t a realistic option for all. But, you can always consider if you can live without this or that in order to shift from full-time to part-time. Also, many workplaces are allowing people more flexibility in their work schedules. Don’t be afraid to ask. Maybe you could work longer shifts for a few days a week or perhaps work a few days from home.

    Remember, homeschooling is a way of life; it’s much more than finishing a certain textbook . It’s about teaching your children how to think for themselves, problem solve, and work well with others. How you do it, is up to you? I recommend that you look up your local homeschooling regulations, but most require a certain number of days or hours of instruction, it does not specify the hours when your children must be taught.

    I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes:
    “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
    Henry Ford

    Good luck on your journey…
    Andrea

  • Adrienne says:

    I was homeschooled in the 90’s and now I have a three year old. We were thinking of homeschooling her, too. My dad was my teacher and he was in the military, so very strict all the time and I easily did what he told me to do, and quickly. Our house is very different. One of my biggest obstacles would be how do you (or do you) separate your parent identity with a teacher identity? My daughter sees me as the one who gives love, hugs, cooks, reads stories, shops with, etc. She’s in a preschool now and does wonderfully with her writing letters and lessons at the preschool, but when she’s at home it’s fun and love time. How do you separate the two, or how do you combine?

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I’m Ginger ~
I'm a wife to my Beloved, mom of three boys, bookworm, survivor of a broken heart, and Kansas Girl. It is my desire to encourage you. No matter what storm you're going through right now, you are not alone. I promise.
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