Feb 15, 2009

We Were "Accidental Homeschoolers"

I had never heard the term "Accidental Homeschoolers" until I was researching the Internet for custom created curriculum for my website. The term caught my eye and I wondered what it meant. As I started reading some of the stories of different families and their reasons to homeschool, I realized that my family fitted under that term.

I started homeschooling my twin sons after my oldest son graduated from high school and the twins had completed the third grade. I watched our children struggle with various issues on a day to day basis in their school. I saw frustration in their faces as they tried to cope with unacceptable behavior and the teachers' inability to control their classrooms. These obstacles resulted in becoming behind or unable to perform or understand concepts for their grade level. These reasons ultimately gave me reason to think about homeschooling.

Having never considered homeschooling, I just always took for granted that I would send my children to traditional public school. One day a friend and I started talking about homeschooling. She too was becoming more dissatisfied with public school and their lack of being able to give the quality of education she wanted for her child. Although she never pursued homeschooling, I decided that after my children finished the school year they were not going to return. There were too many unresolved issues concerning various incidents with my children and they kept repeatedly occurring.

So, for our family, I guess we "accidentally" fell into homeschooling. It was an alternative to pricey private schools. The idea was certainly a scary one, even though I was quite sure I could do it since my husband and myself were both trained teachers. All I knew was that the children were not being given what we considered a quality education and after struggling with our first child, there had to be something better than what they were receiving. Public school had become a "war zone" where the kids were just trying to survive the battles of each day.

Being "accidental homeschoolers" seemed to put us in a different place than other homeschoolers in the area. Many of the families in the homeschooling association we were members of, had made the decision to homeschool from the start, never having their children set foot in a public school. It seemed awkward for a while since their reasons for homeschooling were different than mine. Neighbors thought we had taken a drastic measure by pulling our children out of the neighborhood school and seemed to question our motive. It was their watchful eyes on us and the approach we took to educating our children that was the talk of the neighborhood. The twins, too, had to transition to this new lifestyle, but after a while they seemed to adjust to the idea.

Eventually, the time came when I knew that I needed to transition the twins back into a traditional public school. But by the time the decision was made, three years had passed and the school was in a smaller district and another state. I had come to a place where I knew my limits with my sons' education. What I had come to realize, was those three years were probably the most valuable years of my twins' education. Even though we were "accidental homeschoolers," homeschooling had created a firm foundation for the rest of their education. Their homeschooling gave them the ability to challenge themselves, a challenge that one twin conquered twice with high distinguish awards in a regional science competition after he was re-enrolled in public school. I always credit the fact that homeschooling gave him the ability, courage, and knowledge to achieve this distinction.