H is for Homeschooling

HH has to stand for homeschooling because we’ve been doing this gig for seventeen years. When we got on the homeschool road it was legal, but it was something only weirdos did. For us it was a grand experiment and had all the attendant insecurity of such. Now homeschooling is like breathing.

The year we decided to be weirdos Katae was to enter third grade. She couldn’t read, though we memorized the sight words and slogged through the Dick and Jane books with all the religious fervor you’d expect from new-parents-first-child-I’ve-got-something-to-prove. It didn’t work. Katae’s second grade in public school was a waste. This is not a public school bashing post. Lots of kids learn to read in 2nd grade, just not ours. In education, desperate times call for homeschooling.

My first year of homeschooling I had a non-reading third grader, a kindergartener, and a newborn (born October 26 that year). Do you think I was uncertain? That I questioned the sanity of our decision to homeschool? Bob dragged me through that year kicking and screaming, and then he dragged me through six more before I began to enjoy myself. Teaching Katae to read was the most difficult task I accomplished, not because there was anything wrong with Katae, but because I had to start in the middle with her, undoing her bad habits or working around them. Sight words should be torched. Not sure what educational brainiac came up with those. Memorize words and then when you get to one you don’t know, switch gears and sound it out? I taught my other three kids phonetically with Bob Books.

Here’s what I really love about homeschooling: For their benefit, I can keep my students ignorant of the high bar. Gabe described this dynamic most succinctly when he said, “Mom, you just want us to think we’re dumb so we’ll work harder.”

Here’s how this actually played out in the Griffiths homeschool. Katae began college classes when she was in the 9th grade. Tory ran three miles without ever having run long distance before. Luke won a high school Model UN scholarship before he was in high school. Gabe completed a high school history workbook because he had no clue it was high school level. In each case I exploited a strategically placed ignorance. Can’t do that in public school.

And you can’t wear your PJ’s in math or eat homemade quesadillas in history. Best thing of all for us… the deal-maker– God’s invited to every class.

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11 thoughts on “H is for Homeschooling

  1. So now what? Want to volunteer to help out the mess in public schools? They could use a dedicated teacher…I know, you’d have to learn crowd management and that would be a drag (and maybe dangerous?), but…maybe it’s your calling?
    I was a late-to-learn reader myself—but sounding out (if it had been taught) didn’t work for me because I had already figured out I could learn faster visually. That’s just me tho–one of my skills (visual recall, I mean).
    I love the idea that they didn’t know they weren’t “supposed” to be doing things on this or that level. Very clever.

    • Haha! That’s my weakest area- crowd control. Not sure if you know, but I teach classes in my home, so I’ve got the tiniest taste of what a classroom can be like. My ratio is 14:1. Pretty sure at 30:1 they’d eat me alive!

  2. My 7 year old son was recently made fun of by some neighbor boys for not knowing what grade he was in. He told them “I don’t know.” and they laughed and said he must be in preschool. I’ve been coaching him to respond, “In my homeschool we don’t go by grades, I learn what interests me.”

    • Nice response! We are blessed to not be restricted by grades. I want my kids to aim for humility, but since so many people think of homeschoolers as behind academically or backwards, I don’t mind them saying things like, “I’m in 4th grade by age, but I do sixth grade work…” I also like to underscore the fact that we can sleep in and do school on our couch. Who doesn’t love that!? 🙂

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