I’m thrilled that this online community is developing and that many are finding it helpful to discover others who are seeking to teach good science within a homeschool setting. One additional request I’d make is if people can tell generally where they have lived. Partly that’s because I’m a total geo-nerd and I always like learning that about people, but I’m also curious to see if there are geographic patterns in the locations of people who participate in this forum.
I gave a good amount of personal background previously on another thread, so I won’t repeat that here, but I will address the question of “What brought you to homeschooling?”
I have a degree in Secondary Education, and I spent nine years teaching high school Computer Science in the DC area. Despite my decision to leave professional teaching, I remain a teacher at heart. So from the beginning of my interactions with my son, I was continually seeking out teachable moments in the everyday course of life. Living around DC gave us access to many wonderful (and often free) cultural attractions—museums, embassies, gardens, etc.—and we spent many Saturday mornings at Borders perusing books for a few hours. I’ve remarked before that I was homeschooling well before my son was of “school age”, so the early elementary years seemed in many ways just an extension of what we had been doing all along.
Still, my wife and I weren’t a couple that always knew we’d be homeschooling parents, and if you had asked me when our son was a toddler, I don’t know if I would have predicted this is the road we’d be on. There wasn’t a single moment when we knew this is the choice for us. Rather, a series of observations coalesced into a compelling picture as we considered the homeschooling option—and particularly as we observed and conversed with homeschooling families—over a year or two.
A few of those observations stand out:
Almost without fail, the kids in homeschooling families seemed well-adjusted and socially adept. We particularly recall discussing how they seemed much more comfortable talking to adults or kids of different ages than other kids we knew were. We started asking questions like, “Does it really prepare kids well for life to have them spend seven hours a day interacting almost exclusively with kids their own age?” We were aware of the old stereotype of the sheltered and socially inept homeschooled kid, but we came to conclude that things had come full circle; we wanted our son to develop the relational and conversational maturity that we were observing in our homeschooling friends’ kids.
Several of the parents in our neighborhood who had kids in the public school would tell us how much homework their kids were coming home with—even in kindergarten and first grade. Some of this may have been a product of living in hyper-competitive Montgomery County, MD, but I don’t remember my early-elementary years (also in MoCo) being like that. Though I was very eager to remain involved in my son’s education, trying to help him complete worksheets after dinner when we’re all exhausted wasn’t what I had in mind. We were resolved that our son have ample time for rest and play and slow meals and impromptu adventures and unhurried discussions, and we were convinced that we could provide him an excellent education in far fewer hours per day than would be required if he were in the public school.
We also are quite “out the mainstream” in a lot areas, particularly in regards to matters of health and wellness. So, for example, when we’d think about our commitment to acquiring, preparing, and consuming natural foods and how that commitment would work for our son in the school cafeteria, well… it was hard to even imagine.
The early years were often difficult for my wife. She’s had persistent health challenges since I’ve known her, and sometimes my son’s “boy energy” was almost more than she could bear. That’s one reason CC has been so great for us; in addition to the overall excellent educational program, the community of parents and students has been a godsend. Of course, this also makes the decision about possibly leaving CC more stressful. I really don’t want to abandon such a wonderful community of friends; I hope we can find a way to remain part of the program without the specter of constant YEC indoctrination. But I’ll continue the conversation on that topic on the other thread.