Our decision to home school was driven by my experience working as a veterinarian. I volunteered at a nature preserve providing veterinary care to on site educational animals, primarily birds of prey. During those volunteer periods, students would often visit the facility for tours and educational seminars and workshops. I typically dreaded the days when the giant yellow buses would pull into the lot in a flurry of activity and noise that would have most of the resident animals heading for shelter. I often wished that I too could bury my head under a rock and wait for the commotion to pass. There were simply too many students, too few teachers, and no where near enough time to allow every child to interact in a hands on manner with the animals. Teachers, students, animals, volunteers, and this veterinarian were stressed!
On a particularly trying morning, I was doing my best to calm a red-tailed hawk who was scheduled for radiographs to investigate a wing droop. Capture and restraint is stressful for large birds under ordinary conditions, and I knew that any moment we were going to be descended on by a large group of curious, young on-lookers. When they arrived, this group took me surprise. There were far fewer children watching my physical examination and the ratio of adult to child was almost 2:1. The children spanned multiple age groups, but most notably the entire group was respectful and quiet. My physical examination completed, I returned the hawk to her carrier to await transport for radiographs at the local medical center. A child asked, “May we now, ask questions?”
The following half hour was one of the most enjoyable teaching experiences of my entire career as a veterinary instructor. I fielded multiple questions, many of which were clearly built upon past reading and study of the species we had just examined. I was so impressed with the group, I offered to complete a second physical exam of an education bird, a saw-whet owl. Since, there were so few children and they were prepared with some basic understanding of bird anatomy and physiology, I was able to not only give each and every child a front row view, but I was able to let them actually participate. Hands on learning! Impossible and dangerous in the larger group settings, but completely doable with this home school group. Several of the children assisted with the physical exam by palpating pelvic and thoracic limbs, feeling for fractures. An older student (I think she was actually ten), gave the hawk subcutaenous fluids and an intramuscular injection of an anti-inflammatory medication. None of this would have been possible with the traditional public school groups I typically hosted.
When I returned home, I described the experience to my husband, whom I’m blessed to report was equally interested in home schooling. I was a public school survivor, but my husband attended a private school with a strong Christian curriculum. He was supportive of a customizable schooling option that reduced family cost (private school attendance would be astronomically expensive) and encouraged family togetherness and unity. He also knew how much I enjoyed teaching and watched my face brighten every time I discussed the idea of teaching and learning alongside our own children. My heart truly opened with joy at the idea of using my education and unique skill set to instruct my future family. I was pregnant with my eldest at the time.
After a large amount of reading and several additional positive interactions with home schoolers and their parents, our decision was solidified. We are currently the parents of two rambunctious and curious toddlers and admittedly, not “officially” home schooling, but we are confident in our decision to do so. We will home school. We will be responsible for meeting the educational needs of our children at home. We are delighted with our decision and love learning more about this wonderful adventure we are just starting by pouring over the books, blogs, and testimonies of those who have been there before us.
Sonlight is a fabulous “curriculum” choice for our family. We currently use the Preschool Package. The format is very informal and almost exclusively literature or book based. My eldest, Ladybug at two and a half years of age is a huge fan of cuddling up with Mama, Daddy, or Gram with a huge stack of books and kid’s magazines. She will sit and be read to for hours. My youngest, Doodle Bug is more active, but already has a fondness for sitting and looking at picture books and being read to as he toddles around the room.
We have been absolutely delighted by the stories included in the Sonlight Preschool Package. Ladybug has found so many new favorites and will frequently ask for stories included in the large anthology collections. We have also loved watching her reach for stories that without encouragement from Sonlight we would not have thought to introduce to her so soon. She is an extremely enthusiastic “Curious George” fan and we have read “A Chair For My Mother” more times than I can count. Doodle Bug loves “Go Do Go”! In our house, if you sit down with a Sonlight book in your hands, be prepared to be enveloped by two loving and excited toddlers! It’s wonderful 🙂
How did you decide to become (or not become) a home school family?
This post was created for use with Sonlight’s 25th anniversary annual blog party.