Guest Post: A heart advocate of home education mamas, Teresa is writing a book on Self-Care for the Homeschool Mama. She can be found on-line Capturing the Charmed Life and on Instagram and Twitter. She cannot be found on Snap Chat, because she is too old for that.
Teresa Wiedrick is always eager to share the freedoms of the homeschool lifestyle with the skeptical, the intrigued, or the interested. Ten years ago, she was searching for arguments against homeschooling, and that search informed her next decade.
Her family began home educating when they moved provinces, and her eldest daughter completed grade two. The schedule-free lifestyle enabled their family to travel across Canada, to the Arctic, into Africa twice, and other interesting places.
Teresa’s oldest daughter recently graduated from a local high school. Her 16, 13, and 10 year old children continue to learn from home and community. (But obviously they’re not always at home, because they’re also at dance, choir, soccer, curling, chess, theatre, the senior center, part time jobs and social events.)
I was asked the other day why I homeschool. Sigh. How not to answer in essay format.
After ten years, I have so many reasons now. How do I be succinct?
Why do I homeschool? Because living in this wide world, discovering all that it has to offer is intriguing, interesting, and energizes me. And I wouldn’t want to do it without those that have been placed in my care for an abbreviated time. I want to learn to live and learn about life with my family for the days we are given together.
I picked up a book on our spring vacation to a resort mountain town years ago. I had a spare afternoon, an opportunity to leave my three girls with my husband and go out for an afternoon, to do nothing.
No unfinished phone calls, no bookkeeping, no housekeeping, no childcare, no cares. This was a free afternoon, and there weren’t many of them as I had three kids under six.
I’d finished my most recently borrowed library books. No extra books sitting on my nightstand. An exciting crossroads—carefree and bookless.
I ventured to the chic bookstore on main street, perused bookshelves-–reading was something I was born to do, if passion counts for anything.
Thumbing my way through the parenting section, I came upon a book entitled: The Homeschooling Option: How to Decide When It’s Right for Your Family.
No, it is not! I thought.
So many acquaintances were going that direction. I’m not looking for a mission to step outside the crowd, be different, not be mainstream.
I’m a mainstream kinda gal.
I don’t have kids with behavioural troubles in school–just a little sassiness and arguing at home. No one is complaining of bullying. If anything, my oldest is the social butterfly with clever ideas that keep her friends engaged.
I’ll read the book to figure out why I wouldn’t homeschool…then I’ll be able to defend myself and get on with other things.
Was it the first chapter or the second where I began to identify?
Does public education inspire a desire for learning? Or do my children generally spend most of their time wrestling with their identity, responding to labels and uncertain interactions with peers when they’re at school? And was this my experience?
Am I learning what I need to learn to become the unique person that I was born into the world to be by attending school?
Hmm, I had to admit that some of the arguments presented seemed aligned with my experience.
But isn’t avoiding the school social issues just a way to attempt creating an unreachable utopia? Don’t all the troubling interactions prepare children to grow up happier, more content with themselves, more aware of who they are and able to deal with conflict?
Wouldn’t the lack of constant companionship with similar aged peers make my children lonely? Does it make me feel lonely? Hmmm, do I even choose my friends based on age?
Nonetheless, who am I to decide their education? Isn’t the government the most capable to decide what my children should be taught, what they should think is valuable? Won’t the school system make sure that no knowledge bits will be missed in my child’s education? I certainly don’t know everything.
Though I am a strong and regular reader and I have a post-secondary education, I’m not a trained teacher. I haven’t been taught how to teach a classroom. Even though I have taught my girls how to sound out letters, count numbers, explain why the sky is blue and why seeds grow into plants and why, if you drop that book and it falls on someone over the stairwell at seventeen feet high, it might kill them.
But above all, could I really live with my children all the time? No six hour break to clean the house, organize my world, or zip off to the gym? If I was around all the time, maybe they’d want a break from me! Maybe the way we did family life would have to change to accommodate my solitude and interests too.
Hmm, maybe I could actually start writing.
As I read on, what enticed me most were the repeated testimonies of increasingly healthy relationships between family members. They kinda sounded like they enjoyed being together. Even that they enjoyed learning. They took it for granted that they actually enjoyed spending life together.
They chose to learn to live with their family and share life and learning.
One week of reading, and I had a new vision for my family life.
Me, a white long flowing sundress, with three little girls, white flowing dresses rushing about our quaint homestead on Prince Edward Island (we lived in the Alberta prairies, but you know you can only homeschool in PEI, ha)…zipping outside to enjoy the summer sunshine, weeding the garden together, reading when we felt like it, afternoon quiet times reading together on our white sofa.
White, the colour of purity. I wanted to enjoy my children for as long as we had each other.
After one week of reading and re-reading this unexpected selection, I surprised myself. I was sold.
We’re going to the other side, step out of mainstream, learn to live and learn about life and the world together.
Four years later, the three little girls had those flowing white dresses in their closets. We added a spritely little boy to our family. We moved to beautiful British Columbia instead of PEI.
Our choice to home educate, now almost ten years later, definitely the right choice.
The only uncertainties I have had about homeschooling was why I bought a white sofa.
Utopia it is not. The girls have outgrown their penchant for white frilly dresses. I’m more me, and my children continue to peel back the onion of who they are, while growing into the fullness of who they were meant to be.
We are, many days (not every day) happily learning to live and learn about life together.
Read more from Teresa at Capturingthecharmedlife.com