One mother's journey of education from the dining room. I've been sitting here at the computer off and on for at least 4 hours. I've surfed the internet, read up on the news, downloaded pictures from my phone onto the computer....everything but what I was supposed to be doing. Writing this first blog post.
It's not that I'm afraid of writing. I've worked on my Master's Degree in English Literature, written features for newspapers, written briefs to appellate courts. I know how to write. But this time, I'm not sure what to say about why I've been homeschooling for the last 22 years.
If this opportunity had come to me 21 years ago, I could have filled page after page with information that I knew with absolute certainty. I would have told you why homeschooling was the only route for anyone to take. When I first started homeschooling, armed with a 4 year old, a 1 year old and the conviction that I knew what was right beyond question, I began a journey that would ultimately change me completely. Now, I know very little beyond the fact that homeschooling has been good for me and my children, and continues to be good. The methods I've used have changed drastically, sometimes from year to year, and the confidence that I used to place in the workbook or the teacher's manual is now something that I place in my child and myself. I know that we will find our way, even if there are times when all we can do is cry.
I got started on this road a little older than most. I graduated from college and entered the Master's program in English at (what was then) USL. I eventually decided against finishing that, and spent the next several years as a bartender, retail salesperson, copywriter for an advertising agency, juvenile probation officer and feature writer for a newspaper. It was a busy time. I ended up at Tulane's law school, and finished in the top 11% of my class. I got married, practiced law for just less than a year and started my family.
I think that it's important that I say that I was VERY successful in school--from high school through law school, I was pretty much at the top of my class. I enjoyed the process of learning in school, but not the schooling itself. I didn't homeschool my children because I was bad in school or had had terrible teachers. I can name with so much affection teachers who changed my life: Miss Jeanne Castille, Mr. Thomas Peltier, Drs. Pat and Milton Rickels...all amazing people who made huge impacts on my life. I wouldn't be the person I am now them. And, oddly, the woman that they helped me to become is the one who chose homeschooling.
When my oldest daughter was 4, we began the process of selecting a school for her. I remember sitting in the Law Review offices at Tulane, listening to the other students who were already married with children and trying to get their children into the "right" schools in New Orleans--the schools that would feed them into the right high schools and colleges. I remember thinking how amazing that was--both good and terrible at the same time. Why should a preschool have any effect on where a child eventually went to college? But that was the truth then, and it remains the truth now.
We visited several schools. All of them were excellent private schools; all of them provide excellent educations. But we were told that our 4 year old would be in school from (approximately) 7 until 2:30, with lunch in the middle of the morning and not very much educational activity in the afternoon (but a lot of "napping"). The curricula were very rigid and didn't offer a lot of variety for learning style or personality. I knew that it felt wrong to me, but I just didn't see an choice.
Homeschooling provided me that choice. My family (and my husband's) were opposed. That's all I'm going to say about that, but if you are considering homeschooling, please be prepared for opposition. It doesn't come from people who don't love you or want the best for your child. It comes from those who do, and don't understand how you can provide your child with what they want or need to succeed in the world.
Let me say that you can. You can provide your child with a great education. My oldest child was a Jefferson Caffery Scholarship winner at UL (the highest academic scholarship that the university offers) and my son was awarded one of the academic scholarships. My third is attending a very respected acting conservatory in New York City. My youngest is still at home and, after 21 years, we are still homeschooling.