Our journey into homeschooling started in when Hannah was around four years old. Noel and I had been discussing whether or not we would put Hannah in school or homeschool. I had never thought about it until a friend in our church told us about their homeschooling journey. We prayed about it and had discussions about it. We wanted to do what was best for our girls and their education. I just could not imagine putting Hannah on a school bus to go off for the day. Both girls had been going to Mother’s Day Out, so they were used to going out at least a few days a week. But I was not sure if that was the best decision for her. After many more discussions with our friends, we dove into the world of homeschooling.
Homeschooling allowed us to tailor their education to their needs and at their pace. God put other homeschool families into our lives that helped us. We have had to deal with some opposition, but we stayed the course. Hannah flourished in the homeschool environment. She loved reading and English from an early age. Reading was a big part of our focus. We felt that it would lead to learning whatever you needed to know in life. We never denied the girls books whether it was from the library or bookstore. Emily was still a toddler during the early years, but we did include her.
Through the years we have used various curriculums, methods, and co-ops. We have used Abeka, Math-U-See, Bob Jones, Apologia, and many others. There was a lot of trial and error to see what we liked and what worked. I do think one of the girls favorite things we did in the elementary years was the American Girl Co-op. The girls made friends that they still have today. We have taken many field trips to fun locations and some probably not so much.
After we moved to Ohio, we got involved with a homeschool support group called Christian Family Educators. The families in this group have been so instrumental in the lives our Dear family. We made lifelong friends that helped shape who our girls are today. Many asked what about socialization. Sometimes I would think we were over-socialized. Homeschooling gave us freedom from a rigorous school schedule, even though there were days we were school on the road. The girls have been in various extra-curricular activities from dance, drama, tennis, swimming lessons, piano lessons, band, church activities, trumpet lessons, and art classes. Homeschooling also allowed us to involve the girls in our ministry at church and to do service projects in the area. Life and school when hand-in-hand.
One of the biggest field trips we took was to China to get our youngest daughter, Rae. We thought this was an experience we should do as a family. We could not leave the girls at home. It was the ultimate field trip. Fun experiences like this and many others became part of schooling. Trips and experiences have given us some of our greatest memories as a family.
As the girls got older and the classes got harder, we turned more to co-ops and college classes. Having Rae, provided a new challenge with her health needs and school needs. We struggled a great deal in the last few years of getting work done and just helping Rae learn I am thankful for the help we were able to get for Rae from the state of Ohio. We will be ever grateful for Acacia Center and Mary Ellen Locke. For a few years, I had an elementary student, middle school, and high school. It was pretty crazy, but we navigated it good or bad.
In the nearly 14 years we homeschooled, we have more memories you can imagine. It was an excellent opportunity to watch the flourish in many different areas. I am so happy God guided us in this decision and led our family on this journey. Were we the perfect homeschool family? NO! We had struggles. There were days we didn’t want to do school. Was every class easy? NO! Would we do it again – YES!
Now that the homeschool chapter closed in our lives, I am looking forward to the next with bittersweet tears. I am thankful for the years I had at home with my girls.