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The Blessings of Homeschooling Teens

By Kathy S.

My name is Kathy. I am the mother of Jose, Jr., Anna, Laura and Paul. These children are blessings from God. They are, respectively, 16, 14, 13, and 8. Yes! Three teenagers! YIKES!

I'd like to tell a little about our homeschooling journey. In 1992, our family moved to the suburbs (from the 'big city'). It was a suburb that I'd grown up in. Our children were then in fourth, second, and first grades, with the youngest still a toddler. They actually began attending a brand new public school that opened that year along with all the other new students - so they were 'new' along with everyone else. At the time, I thought, "New building, new classmates, who could ask for more?" I'd almost (but not really) like to say that something happened that year - as in, some incident, that is - to make us hate the school and bring the kids home. It didn't. At least, nothing noticeable to the kids. There was the situation of not being able to visit the school, which I did upon several occasions, even though I was watched like a hawk. There was the principal who looked straight through me as she passed by each morning when I said, "Good morning." There was also the realization that began dawning upon me that year of the fact that my fourth grade son (who made 'straight A's) really couldn't read on a 1st grade level.

More than anything, I believe that God placed a 'fear' in my heart for my children. I had, for the first time, a real fear for their well-being. I began to look around and see other children that they went to school with. I began to notice that not all of these children had the strong sense of 'family' that my children had. I noticed that some had parents who were really not 'there' for them. I saw that some of these same children, as a result of their home environment, I believed, were 'acting out' aggression, and other inappropriate actions that they learned at home. Some of them talked about sexually explicit subjects. I knew, in my heart of hearts, that I couldn't protect my children from them all the time as long as they were in public school.

Homeschooling came to my mind. I truly didn't know anything about homeschooling. Really had never heard of it other than from a 'friend' in my old neighborhood that was 'doing it.' Literally, she was the only individual I had ever heard even MENTION homeschooling, and to be honest, I thought she was a little 'off'. I really thought she meant that she was just keeping her child home a little longer than most - as though she was delaying the inevitable. I called her anyway. With the little bit of information she was able to give, I set out to research this thing. Research it I did, too! My first question, since, in my then 32 years, I'd never heard the word, really, was, "Is it LEGAL?" If it was legal, then, was I possibly qualified to teach? I have a high school diploma and one semester of college as my 'formal' education. Incidentally, my one semester of college consisted of completing two music education courses that I really enjoyed! Not much to speak of, as far as I was concerned. My 'main' qualification, I eventually decided, was my literacy - my love for and ability to read well.

Well, I researched from around Feb. through mid-summer, before my husband agreed for me to try it. I know exactly what he thought! I've never been known for 'following through' on projects. I'll take something up for a few days or sometimes months, and then drop them! All I can say is that these were my children and God had given me a newfound love and appreciation for them and their well-being. This new 'way of life' became a constant in our home, before long. I do believe homeschooling is a way of life!

Well, needless to say, it is 1999 now, and we are just completing our sixth full year of homeschooling. There have been many challenging years! Many years of disappointments. There have also been many years of joys. Just having these kids with me all the time is really a dream come true. I remember when my oldest son was beginning first grade. He cried on that first day. He had been to pre-school for two years, kindergarten a full year, and on this day he cried. It broke my heart to have to walk off and leave him crying there, looking as though he was so ashamed for doing so, for you see, he was the oldest of three at that time, and felt he was too 'big' to cry. I knew all these things, and, yet I just walked off and left him. I want to cry when I remember that, even now. Anyway, I look at this young man, now (weighing in at around 200 pounds and a bit over 6 ft tall), and am so glad that I brought him home. He is any parent's dream! Handsome! (I know, that doesn't count!), gentle, kind, hardworking (he helps his dad run the family business and has done so since the age of 11 or 12, literally handling a man's work), protective of his sisters and brother, and smart. He is so good with our elderly neighbors who are 86 and 90 years of age - he can sit down and have a conversation with them just as well as anyone his own age. He replaced a sewer line 2 years ago for them, painted the interior of their house over a two day period last summer, repairs their cars, etc, etc. I could go on and on, but I am so proud of him - he has never accepted a single dollar from them, either - OK, I'll stop now! You get the idea! No, he's not perfect, but then, neither am I! My other 3 are equally as blessed.

I have had the privilege of teaching my youngest to read this year - from the beginning! He is my only 'school-free' child! I was concerned about whether or not I could handle it from the beginning! He has done marvelously! I am so glad to know that he doesn't have to compare his school to anything else - like my others have had a hard time getting past (and me too!). I hope that he will always keep his sense of adventure about 'learning' and never feel 'inadequate', as my oldest son did. My oldest, by the way, took a year to learn to read (by phonics) all over again during our first homeschooling year and progressed amazingly! I am convinced he may never be the reader that I am, meaning that he may never have the love of reading that I have, but, he has more than adequate skills and sooooo many other talents, as well as personality, that I know he won't miss a beat. At least he doesn't have to be subject to the constant assessment and comparison of his skills that he was beginning to receive in public school. If I could take that away from him I would. Six years of being 'home', though, have made a tremendous difference! He has two more years of homeschool, and then, will make his own life choices. I will miss being his teacher! My prayer is that I will always be able to homeschool my children and that this gift from God won't be taken away!

About the author: Kathy S. and her husband, Jose, live in Texas where they raise their four children. Jose runs a small, home-based drywall corporation and although he works locally, he is in such constant demand that he is home only on Sundays and two to three hours before bedtime each evening. He was born and raised in Mexico which brings a lot of culture to their home. Kathy was born and raised in Texas and has a background in music - piano to be exact and voice. Before homeschooling her children, she served in a variety of positions, from secretary to church pianist to child-care giver. She is happiest at home with her children!

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