… And We Thought We Were Through …

One might say that our family is somewhat unique. After raising two daughters who are grown and married, my husband, Don, and I inherited a one-year-old grandson to raise. That was eleven years ago!! Then the FUN began!

In 1990 I began following with interest a home school chat site on the Internet. Quite a few interesting discussions ensued over the years as I was faithfully reading the posts there. My curiosity was peaked. Might this home schooling thing be for us? After all, I was a young grandmother, and I had a teaching background and full support from my husband and my daughter (Joshua’s mom). So, why not? But why?

I admitted that I began the venture rather selfishly. After years of parent/teacher conferences, making sack lunches, rushing out to buy poster board the night before a project was due, I was simply tired. Even being the young grandmother that I am (Have I already mentioned that?), I just did not feel that I wanted to go through that whole experience again. Much easier, I thought, would be to keep Joshua home and just go about our lives adding some extra learning opportunities along the way.

The turning point for me came when I read the book, Homeschooling for Excellence by the Colfaxes. It was so impressive and sounded just perfect. The idea of unschooling appealed to me; it just seemed so natural. After a few months of trial and error with that philosophy, Joshua let me know that it was not going to work. I tried what all the books suggested but just kept hitting brick walls. I was having a ball doing the projects that I was supposed to leave lying around for him to discover, and he was having a ball watching me do them, but never once did he actually touch one.

Back to square one? Well, maybe not. The many things we tried were, in a way, an education in themselves. After all, discovering what the learning style is not is a start on the path to learning what it is.

Now, seven years later, do we have the perfect formula? Of course not. However, I feel it would be far from perfect if he were in school. What we do have is time, a wonderful relationship, communication, memories, and experiences that we hope are setting a foundation for Joshua to grow to be a godly young man. No one can ask or hope for more than that.

As far as our day goes, Joshua rises at 6:45 am (his choice) to work out daily at the local YMCA with a neighborhood home schooled friend. Our studies begin around 9:00. This year seventh grade brings a schedule of algebra ½, Bible study, spelling, English, science, Spanish, geography, and medieval history. Our course of study decision is made jointly, even as to what books will be used. We loosely follow The Well Trained Mind philosophy. We usually finish lessons by noon or soon after. In the afternoon, we might play Scrabble or chess, work on a puzzle, watch an historical movie, or go on a bike ride around the subdivision. Living in the country definitely has its plusses as far as quiet and wooded areas to explore.

A little later, the neighborhood home schooled friends begin to show up. Our phone is constantly ringing, as is our doorbell. The house is full of boys (no girls yet), and they stay busy all afternoon. If Joshua were socializing any more, we would not be able to handle it. We all look at each other rather sadly when we see the school bus drop the neighbor kids off in the late afternoon. They have had such a long, hard day, and we have been relaxing for a few hours by now. I jokingly look at the boys and tell them, “School’s officially out; you can start having fun now.”

Boy Scout merit badge work from adds new activities of all sorts as Joshua works toward earning the badges. He is a Star Scout and is working hard to attain Eagle rank next year. Don and I are both active in the troop and go on most of the monthly campouts, which have taken us as a family to Tennessee, Colorado, and all over Texas. There have been canoe trips, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, and in a couple of weeks, my first backpack trip (Wish me luck!). It is at Joshua’s request that we are active in his scout group, and home schooling allows us the extra time to do so. When the time comes that he no longer wants us this involved, we will quietly step aside.

Home schooling has allowed us the flexibility to take trips during the school year and to spend time together as a family. We were able to spend a week hiking and climbing mountains in Colorado with our younger daughter and her husband. Joshua has lots of time to spend with family members even though some live two states away. A couple of winters ago, Joshua, his mom, his brothers, and I went skiing in New Mexico during a time when everyone else was in school. We do not do any schoolwork during the month of December, so we have time to spend traveling, making gifts, going to holiday movies, baking cookies, reading Christmas stories, and not stressing.

Joshua and I have body-surfed waves together in Florida, learned some Japanese with our exchange student this summer, gone ice skating and scuba diving, and experienced multitudes of other exciting ventures. There is more time and money now than when we raised our girls, so we take full advantage of the opportunities that affords.

Are there downsides to home schooling a grandchild? Goodness, yes! I get tired, but I just take a nap; I worry about college costs once again; I wonder if a boy will be well-adjusted growing up in his grandma’s shadow; and the list goes on. What I do not have to worry or think about are the peer pressures at a local school and what goes on there. I know who he is with and what he is doing. I also am able to see him relate with some of the boys who attend school. We discuss why they might do some of the things they seem to think are fine that we do not. Putting it into perspective is the best I intend to do. Completely sheltering him would rob him of another valuable learning experience. He needs to learn how to handle certain situations and people, but it would be best learned in a home atmosphere.

Would I do this again? I know I would not want to have missed the long talks we have daily about anything and everything. It has been a rewarding journey that is not finished yet I probably would do it again. No, I definitely would but am hopeful that one of the girls will not ask!!!

And to think we might have been through…Perish the thought!!