Welcome to the beginning of a series of articles on my homeschool journey as the student. We began homeschooling before it was “in,” and our homeschool looked different than mine does today.
The Beginning: 1983
In 1983 I was eleven years old and in the 5th grade at Nocona Elementary School in Nocona, Texas. My sister, Amandah, was in the 2nd grade. My parents had begun attending different churches and met some homeschoolers in our area. They were experiencing some doubts about the public school we were in, and when they heard about homeschooling, they began to pray about it. They had also been to hear Bill Gothard of Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, and he had also mentioned homeschooling.
Mom mom told me her first thought was, “Oh, I couldn’t homeschool!” She was a highschool drop-out and a teenage mom. But things kept happening at our school that they didn’t like.
When they made the ‘big decision’ they didn’t just think it was a good idea; to them it was a conviction of the right thing for our family.
During that summer, we moved to a small town in southern Oklahoma. So it was decided that we would start the next school year at home.
Since homeschooling was so unheard of, and my parents were almost clueless about where to start, they were mentored by a wonderful couple who had been homeschooling their children. They used A.C.E. (now known as School of Tomorrow) and so that’s what my parents used.
Their mentors trained them in a week of ‘school,’ complete with workbooks, pledges, and rules. Then Mom and Daddy went to homeschool seminars to learn everything they could. Daddy made wooden table-top desks.
My Dad started teaching us because my mom had a childcare job down the street. Each morning, we would start with “chapel,” consisting of prayer, pledges, singing, and scripture memorization. Then my sister and I would begin work in our ‘paces.’ Soon, my Dad got a job with the local Sheriff’s office, and mom became our teacher.
I enjoyed it immensely. Actually, we all did. Our family had already given up TV, so this was not that weird. We spent lots of time together, and have always been a very close family.
We experienced what many homeschool families still experience 26 years later. People thought my parents were crazy. My dad’s parents were particularly upset, because they were a whole family of teachers, principals, and school superintendents. But it didn’t deter us from doing what my parents felt they had been called to do.
When I asked my mom what the typical reaction was, she said people felt judged and threatened. They wondered why the public school wasn’t good enough for us. So my mom told them her story.
She told them how she was offered drugs on the school bus; how she repeatedly skipped school and then lied about it; how my mom and aunt Kari had run away from home, been arrested, lived in children’s homes, and dropped out of school. Her point was that many of the bad behaviors they learned, they learned at school.
And, yes, the socialization question was around back then, too. Can you believe it’s survived all these years? My parents felt that my sister and I actually had more, and better, friends once we began homeschooling, and were exposed to a much wider variety of social situations. I agree. : )
Stay tuned for Chapter 2: The Arrest.