Most Americans with school-aged children face uncertainty about what school will look like in the fall. Will kids be able to be at school full-time? Will they have to wear masks all day? Is e-learning a new reality? Many are facing trying to decide whether their children will return to school in the fall. I took the time to interview families who chose to pull their kids from public school in the past. In this series of posts, they will discuss the good and the bad of what that meant for their families.
What makes some families decide not to have their children return to the usual school situation? How does this affect children and parents? How did it work for them? I had many questions about this, so I asked the same questions to a few families who have gone through this process. You might be surprised to read their answers. How have they adapted over the last few years……and would they do it again if they had to?
I would like to introduce you to the Hawley family. Below is my interview with Nicky (mom). The conversation with her oldest son, Jarryd, who is now in college, will be part 2 of the series, and you can read it here!. You are in for such a treat in reading these families' stories in this interview from 2012.
THE INTERVIEW YOU HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR:
Sacha: What were the ages of your kid(s) when you pulled them? What year was that/or how long ago?
Nicky: Jarryd was 8th grade (13 years), Jaydyn was 5th grade (10 years), and Taliya was 3rd grade (8 years)., plus three under the age of 4! This all happened early in fall 2006.
Sacha: What was your biggest fear before you pulled your kids out of public school?
Nicky: My biggest fear of pulling the kids out of school was MY ability to educate them. I had a lot of access to homeschool families, but they always seemed to have it together with confidence in their ability to homeschool, and I didn’t.
Through world influence, I was worried about them not having enough social interaction with others, other than their siblings and myself.
The other aspect was…How am I going to manage my home when I have no time now?
Sacha: Why did you pull them out?
Nicky: It was on our heart for some time to consider homeschooling. God presented many situations involving our children and public school. We found that they were being exposed to situations and circumstances that we didn’t think appropriate or necessary. These situations were what we were trying to protect our children from, and it made us feel as though we didn’t have full control over our children the way God intended.
So the confirmation came when Jaydyn got a concussion at school and was sent home without notifying us and was rushed to the hospital immediately. I knew that was the last time I would leave my child at school.
Something very awesome also happened to confirm to us this was the path God wanted us to take. I need $550 to finish getting the books I needed in order for me to begin homeschooling. They had begun back at a new school year, and I was waiting and praying for finances also. That same week $550 was left at our home. No one knows who this was and how they knew about it…..God is good!!
Sacha: What was the hardest part?
Nicky: The hardest part was changing my routine and taking on a foreign role as a teacher. Not really knowing what they were learning prior to this and how they had adapted in the change from when we moved from Australia to the USA.
It may seem odd, but there are very big differences in the schedule of what and how things are learned from Australia to here. We had only been in the USA for 14 months, so I was concerned about the transition in different learning systems, not to mention my own. I didn’t know too much about American History. I was still learning the currency myself and so many other things. All of this with three children under 4 who previously had all my attention….Oh, and just pregnant with Rian….
Sacha: What surprised you the most?
Nicky: The biggest surprise, in the beginning, was how plain and simple a good homeschool curriculum really is. How everything was laid out and how much support is available if needed.
I was also surprised at how different my kids' learning styles were and how amazingly clever they all were. I actually felt when I started my first child in homeschool from the beginning and heard her read for the first time how much I had missed out on. I thought about being there for all her firsts yet not having this with my three older kids that I gave up this incredible moment unknowingly. It was one of the most amazing moments ever when I heard my children read for the first time under my instruction.
Sacha: What was the biggest change you saw in your kids after you started homeschooling them?
Nicky: The biggest change, in the beginning, was their willingness to adapt to the changes we had put before them….it wasn’t all smooth sailing believe me, but in the early stages, I loved how eager they were.
I noticed that my kids started to spend more time together, and we all developed deeper relationships. I had all day with my kids, not just the busiest times of the day when we really didn’t get time to hang out.
Sacha: How did it affect your family? (Yes, I want the good and bad!)
Nicky: Hope you are ready….Well, the good… I watched my kids focus change to specifically what we wanted them to set their hearts and minds on, and that was God. We had many, many daily life experiences to work with and refer them back to how God expects us to be. We got to see the true hearts of our kids, and God gave us many opportunities to work and pray for them. I have never seen such great growth in our family; we truly had our own revival.
I watched my kids develop a love for learning and develop interests that we could pursue. I had one child that needed extra attention and all this time at school he was branded as disruptive, when in fact he was distracting the teacher from catching on he wasn’t getting it. So, I got to see him learn to enjoy school for the first time. The younger kids LOVED having their older siblings home and it created greater unity. I saw my kids for the first time build deep relationships with each other rather than before just being in each other's way.
Now…the not so pretty…In the beginning, my kids were good then reality set in, and there were crying outbursts of….I hate being stuck at home, I want to see my friends, why did you make us move to America and now homeschool us? We never get out, we always do school …….oh the list went on. I did pray through this and comforted them through these major changes in our life. If you speak to any one of my kids six years later they will tell you being homeschooled was the best decision ever…in fact, Taliya has nightmares that we send her back to public school…..haha!
The other aspect that I did not love was the disorganization within my home. I felt so torn between my two worlds…the old one of caring for young kids and keeping my house and the new one of the teacher. Of course, teaching took more time, and the house got less. I am a creature of habit and love a tidy and organized home. Well, it was slipping until I realized we need an organized system of ready helpers…..the chore chart. They still don’t love that either, but it is what can make this house function at a level where we don’t get house poisoning and still get an education.
Sacha: How did your life change once you were homeschooling?
Nicky: Pretty much the above answer. I felt exhausted from trying to do both the old and the new role perfectly in my own strength. I have never been one for my own time kind of thing, and I love every minute of having my kids with me. I think the greatest change was learning to juggle without thinking I had to be perfect at all of it. Something has to give whether you are willing or not…
Sacha: Is there anything you miss now that you are homeschooling?
Nicky: NO…..nothing. My life is richer for becoming a homeschool family. I highly recommend it.
Sacha: How long was the learning curve, and when did you finally feel comfortable homeschooling?
Nicky: Oh, I would say 2 – 3 years of getting comfortable and asking everyone who does homeschool questions, testing out different curriculums, reading homeschool forums etc…….the learning curve NEVER ends. I think I have learned more through schooling my kids than I did when I was at school. I had a lot to learn coming to a new country also. There are still days when I feel under attack thinking, am I doing the very best for my kids? Then I am reminded of how faithful God has been to us throughout this journey.
Sacha: What curriculum do you use? Did you change things after your first year?
Nicky: I now use Abeka and have for four years. I am a bit of a taskmaster, and I love how everything is spelled out, and there is definite progress that I can monitor. They have teachers on call, and with this program, I have seen the greatest advances in my kids…love it and if I change it anyways my husband is going to make me eat the books LOL….
After the first year, I got to see for myself what areas the kids need help and what areas we needed to improve upon depending on ability but most of all personality. I think that personality is an area that needs to be discovered more with each child in order to establish their learning style and capabilities.
Oh, and I also had to stop being the taskmaster and remember we aren’t doing public school at home but we homeschool…..I wasn’t taking them out of a system I didn’t agree with to transfer it to my home….part of that world conditioning that God had to work on within me.
Sacha: What would you tell someone considering pulling their kids out of school to homeschool them?
Nicky: There is so much. First of all, give every fear and concern to God. He will faithfully answer you according to His plan. Remember they are His children, and we are stewards of them, He will always guide your path according to His will.
Don’t give in to the fears that the world put into us. I still have family that assumes my children are social rejects that never get out of the basement except for Sundays when we go to church. My children will stand up and tell anyone that this is not true, and they have more social interaction with like-minded people than ever before. Remember going to school with a bunch of kids your own age is the ONLY time in your life that you will ever be in a group like that again. It isn’t necessary for social development, it is necessary for the public school to maximize its resources. My kids now have so much more time and common interests with each other than they did when they had limited exposure to each other.
Another fear that many families contemplating homeschooling have…..I am not that smart. Well, pleased to meet you, neither am I. I always tell people. “Do you do homework with your child when they come home from school?’ “Do you love your child and have a vested interest in their education?” Of course, the answer to both of those is yes, then YES you are ready to homeschool. If you can follow the teacher’s instructions on how to help your child with homework from public school, you can follow a teacher’s instruction on how to homeschool your child on a daily basis. I am sure many parents, myself included at the time, don’t know what their kids are learning at school on a day to day basis. Now I know we can use daily life to refer back to what we learn, this brings joy into learning, and they develop a natural love of learning.
STOP finding excuses...I have the proof in a college student with a perfect grade average and two associate degrees under his belt in 18 months to prove that homeschooling makes your child stand out from the rest. I also have six other homeschooled kids that are a testimony to the fact that this is one of the best decisions ever made for our family.
You too will develop a new relationship and love for your children beyond explanation. I say take the journey with your child, you’ll get to step back into your own childhood and share it with your kids while at the same time you are filling their hearts with loving memories of how we are called to parent our kids…..
There you have it…the first of the parent interviews. I also have kid interviews to come! I know I was so inspired by all that Nicky shared with me. I hope that you were too!
If you are considering homeschooling but don’t know where to begin, please click here to connect with us, and we will be happy to help you figure out the next step.