Like most homeschooling parents, my husband and I chose homeschooling because we thought it would be good for our kids. We had no idea what an impact it would have on us.
We grew up in the public schools. We were both good students and obedient kids who didn’t really question why we were there until we got older. I can’t speak for my husband*, but my thought was that school was deadly boring but utterly unavoidable. If there was anyone homeschooling in the 1960s, we sure didn’t know about it.
But in 1983, when I read about the concept of homeschooling in a wonderful book called Home Grown Kids by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore, that hackneyed light bulb went off over my head, and it’s been burning brightly ever since. Not send your kids to school? Trust them to learn at home in a much more efficient and interesting manner than school? My main thought was “Tell me more!”
I learned more, mostly through the Moores’ newsletter, and we eventually decided that homeschooling was for us, at least for a year. We figured at the end of a year we would know more about how homeschooling would work for us; if it was a dud, we could send our daughter into first grade with no harm done.
That first year went very well, and so did the next, and the next, and eventually I quit saying that we’d take it a year at a time. We became die-hards, and now, more than 25 years after I first learned about homeschooling, we’re still at it with the youngest of our four children.
But all those years of homeschooling had an effect on my husband and me far beyond just homeschooling. Once you realize that you don’t have to follow the crowd when it comes to educating your children, you start thinking about other ways to take the path less followed. In our case, it meant me staying home while my friends went back to work after several years off for baby-raising. After a while, it meant my husband starting a business in our home so he could help me with the daily work of raising four kids (one with developmental disabilities) and educating them.
Now, we’re almost done homeschooling (our youngest is 17) and we want to continue the lifestyle homeschooling first brought us. My husband had to close his business after the exodus of U.S. manufacturing to China, but he now works in our publishing business, Cardamom Publishers, which lets both of us work from home. After nearly 30 years of home ownership, we sold our house in suburbia three years ago and enjoyed two years in a rental house in our favorite vacation spot before moving to our current rented home in southern Wisconsin, far from the crowds of suburbia. Who knows where we’ll go next? It’s fun being free to make changes.
Would any of this have happened if we hadn’t chosen to homeschool? I doubt it. We’d probably be like most people our age, like the people we went to school with when we were kids: both commuting to full-time jobs away from home, our children and each other. Our youngest would be in school, and our time together would be caught in bits and pieces here and there, along with an annual vacation (if everyone’s schedules could be coordinated).
Instead, we have time together as a family, and we love it. Nobody told me that homeschooling would change my husband and me.
* Although the fact that he slept through much of high school might give you some idea of the level of his enthusiasm!