Wednesday, October 12, 2016

October 12- Island Home Education

For those of you reading my 31 Days marathon I thank-you very much. Knowing that these stories are enjoyable and informative makes me want to be a better writer.  

   How can a mother tutor the heart of her children?

     I was taking an island walk and processing my life. An unease swept over me. "Your son is not ready for baptism." Those words came to me from a source outside of my own thinking. I wondered what they meant. He would not be baptized until he was eight. Earlier that week his first grade teacher called to inform me that he was in the Principal's office for using inappropriate language. I was dumbfounded. My son was gentle, quiet and obedient. How could this happen? 
    Went I picked him up, his teacher said, "He doesn't have any refusal skills." Why did my six-year old need refusal skills? A seed began to grow. What was my role as a parent and a teacher? Did I feel comfortable letting public educators teach and sometimes "parent" my child? When living in Utah I would never have entertained the idea of homeschooling. It was too out of the mainstream. Now I lived on an island of independent thinkers, some who were homeschooling for various reasons. I studied, talked to many families who were and had homeschooled for years. I studied the state law, the philosophies of educating young children, and the objectives of my own school district. It would take me another year to get brave enough to check that boy out of second grade.
     Let me set a few things straight. The island had and does now have, good schools. The teachers were dedicated. My friend from my church was his excellent teacher in first grade. I believe what I was entertaining, as I read and read, was the question concerning who had the responsibility to educate my offspring. I was trying to wean myself away from the urge to just send them off every morning and exhale with relief. I had no religious reasons to home school except the most compelling one, it was the right thing, for that time, for that boy.  
   For fifteen years I persisted. Sometimes I only taught the younger two. Then my middle son started part-time Middle School. For some years my oldest daughter checked out of High School and asked to be home taught. What I wanted to drive home to these children is the fact that they needed to care about learning. Eventually, the responsibility rested upon them. My second son stayed in school until he graduated and provided a control group, of sorts. So what did I learn?

  • Every child has a unique way of processing information. Search for the way not only into their minds but also into their hearts.
  • My own education had holes. Technically, homeschooling was like getting another 15 years in school. 
  • There was someone who could provide answers when I hit dry ground. I learned that God would reveal things to me that I could not find out for myself. He loved them more than I because he knew them longer.
  • This island had mentors who wanted to extend themselves to my family. Island businesses allowed volunteers as a stepping ground to getting a paid job. Our island veterinarian, pharmacy, bookstore, pet store, all opened their knowledge to mentor my kids. 
  • My children still needed to test themselves against the world. When they went to college they were hyper vigilant because they had something to prove. The two youngest attended community college as their first school experience.
  • Children don't always see the sacrifice we make to educate them.
  • My children are not an extension of me. Their success or failure does not define who I am.

   The island school district worked closely with the parent educators. I appreciate the knowledge I received from meeting with the Superintendent, Principal, and school board. At times I was terrified to speak and express my opinions, as there were always critics who felt they knew more. Knowing what was right for my family came as a strength, over time. My grandchildren need my support now, whether they home school or attend public school. I provide many of them piano lessons and have opportunities to watch their intellects develop. Mostly I hope my influence provides a wee bit of tutoring of the heart.

Be open, to the truth which makes you,
And feeling,
That ye may be the children of Light.

(Our family motto)

I am writing for 31 days this October about Island Life. Click here to see the other days of writing.


  1. That's so cool that the school worked closely with homeschoolers. I think that needs to happen more - it's a partnership (on some level, even if homeschooling...) not a competition. Love this post and your thought process behind home education!

    1. Thank-you, Annie. We could be partners in education if we listened to each other.

  2. I'm really enjoying your stories and reflections this month. This is interesting to read about because homeschooling is not very common here at all. I like that you looked at what was best for each of your children individually because we definitely all learn and grow in different ways.

    1. Twenty years ago it was very fringe here. But, a generation of students have grown up and continued on to college with satisfying careers and so it is more common now.

  3. I started homeschooling in early 1999, when my children were in 1st and 3rd grades. Though our intent was only to finish that school year and then look in to a different Christian school, we ended up continuing on the next year...and the next...and the next...until we graduated both our students. It was a fantastic choice for our family, but I do loudly say that what works for one family may not work for another. Each one of us has to do what is best for our own family...and not feel like we have to do something because someone else thinks we should.


  4. This is great. Really. Thank you for sharing. I homeschooled my first two kids for two years. I loved it. They are now in school. But I miss it. Great insights here

  5. I just finished up 29 years of homeschooling this past May. It's been really tough this school year to have no boys to teach. I learned so much and wouldn't have traded a moment of it.

  6. I love that you followed your heart. And also your family motto--wonderful words to live by.

  7. Oh, I love this! I would not trade home schooling my children for anything! I'm a docent at our state's largest art museum and when I have home schooling families I like to tell the parents "This is what happens when your kids leave home, you find other people's children to annoy." You just cannot turn off that teaching thing! :)

  8. I am intrigued by homeschooling. I myself taught in public school for over thirty years. My daughter attended my elementary school. Our district was small and I was quite comfortable with who her teachers were. Today, however, I might have second thoughts.


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