Some of you who are reading this are probably thinking, "What?! Where in the world did THIS come from?!" I have purposefully not shared this with many people so that I could come to a conclusion on my own about what to do, how to do it, and WHY to do it. But surprising as it may be, our journey to homeschooling has been a long one. As a teacher myself, I have struggled for a long time with our school system. All the testing, standards, and mandates have, in my opinion, tied the hands of even the most excellent teachers. And it is watering down the education our children are receiving while at the same time adding stress to their young lives.
But, lest you forget, we just came through 6 years of intense early childhood that (I will admit) threatened to break me at every turn! So homeschooling was an idea I liked in THEORY, but not one I felt ready to implement. But as with the most important things in life, the Lord tends to lead us where we should go, even when we are too distracted to see where we are going!
My mother has been a proponent of homeschooling for years, as her job has taken her into schools where she has seen first hand the effects of these governmental changes and, even more sadly, some of the homes many children are coming from...and the "lessons" they bring with them and share with their peers. But...I was still not ready.
Little by little, I warmed up to the idea, as I spoke with other mothers who were homeschooling or considering it. Thinking that perhaps I could take on this big project if my kids first learned how to read. Maybe when the twins were going into third grade, they could all come home. Or maybe I would bring them home little by little. Twins first, and then the triplets. All sorts of possibilities floated around my head. After all, I was really looking forward to having my days to myself. I needed a break! (Side note: I was 6 months away from having all 5 kids gone during the day.)
And then some things occurred that changed our trajectory. First, through a series of very strange events, I found an educational philosophy that piqued my interest. A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille (TJed for short.) I did a little research, and then my mother-in-law told me there was a TJed Facebook group. I checked it out right away and what I found there only intrigued me more. So I bought the book and devoured it. There, within its pages, I found my OWN educational philosophy explained in a way that made it even more clear to me what I had really believed all these years. But, it added a few new things that made PERFECT sense. And suddenly, I could see clearly where we are going as a family. And I knew what I wanted for my children.
TJed is definitely not the traditional schooling we are all familiar with. It is child lead, but parent/mentor guided. It relies heavily on reading the classics (or watching them, looking at them, orlistening to them, as classics come in all genres) and then having discussions about them, writing about them, and learning from them. It emphasizes the extreme importance of SELF-education by both child and parent, with the end goal being two-fold...a genuine LOVE of learning (and desire to seek out knowledge),and the creation of critical thinkers who will become LEADERS in various aspects of our communities and country.
This is what I want for my children. I do not want them to hate math the way I did simply because they had to memorize their times tables and couldn't do it fast enough. I want them to hear the stories of mathematicians and scientists and understand first WHY their discoveries were important and what lead them to researching them, and THEN have a desire to learn HOW to apply them. I want their education to include life skills, along with reading, and an education that intertwines our faith with all of the standard subjects. I want my children to be life long learners who can go out into the world and make a difference, however small or large. To care about their country and our freedom in all aspects. And TJed will help us accomplish this.
For now, our homeschooling will consist of "detoxing" for a time, until the children show interest in learning about different things. There is a transition from public school to homeschool, and even today I am being asked if we can implement recess and centers. But this is not how our day will look. Instead, we will focus on daily family scripture study, learning how to complete household chores together, continuing to read and write as Charlie and Liv have already started down that path and are enjoying it, and taking advantage of educational opportunities as they appear in our lives. We will PLAY together, and be together, and go places together. I will spend this time arranging our home environment to both facilitate learning and be a source of inspiration for learning, and I will focus on my OWN education. Both in the ways I have already been learning, and by incorporating some new topics.
I am excited to begin this journey as a family...and I'm a little nervous too. It's a big undertaking. But I am not doing it alone. I have 5 amazing children, and an incredibly loving, supportive, and involved husband to do this with. There will surely be challenges, but I can't wait to see what lies in store for us! Day 1 of homeschooling begins today.
They cut desire into short lengths
And fed it to the hungry fires of courage.
Long after - when the flames had died -
Molten Gold gleamed in the ashes.
They gathered it into bruised palms
And handed it to their children
And their children's children.