CF: Why I Homeschool, Classical Foundations 2014

Homeschooling: A Love Story, by Genevieve

 

I was eight years old the first time she visited my daydreams. I gave her a name that day in my little yellow bedroom, a name which means ‘tower of strength.’ I dreamt of her again in my twenties. She reached out her arms to me, across the darkness, across the stillness, across the middle of the night.

When the doctor told us we might never have children, I hung on to the vision. I had seen her. I had named her and she was going to be mine. One beautiful August day she was. Within moments of her birth, I could hear the delivery room nurses saying, “Huh, I’ve never seen a baby do that before.” With practically her first breath she proclaimed that she was different.

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I had it all planned out. She would stay home with me until she started public kindergarten. Then I would be a room mother and bake cupcakes and plan parties. I might even be president of the PTA. By the time she was two, I realized that my plan was going to need a little revision. She wasn’t natural and comfortable in her interactions with other children. I decided that she might benefit from Mother’s Day Out two days a week.

I found a wonderful program where I could keep her new little brother in his sling while I taught next door to her classroom. She had a chance to learn new things from new people but I was right around the corner if she needed me. Seeing her in a class full of two-year-olds made it even more clear how different she was. By this age, she was reading over fifty words and yet she had difficulty with some of the simplest classroom routines. I decided that she needed a program more tailored to her special needs, so I started my own preschool.

I was both headmistress and lead teacher. My church donated the building and the utilities. My husband donated our supplies and materials. Without those expenses, I was able to keep a ratio of five children for every teacher. We were also able to provide scholarship slots for children living in low-income housing. It proved to be an ideal environment for my daughter. Even though she continued to lose control in certain situations, I still planned for her to start public kindergarten right on schedule. I still saw PTA President in my future.

That summer, we moved to another state that is not known for its public school system. Fortunately, we found the private school of my dreams. Every child in this school was in two plays each year. Every child learned to swim and how to ride a horse. The third graders each had a garden plot. The teachers truly valued diversity. The curriculum was a year advanced in each grade level. Every student, including incoming Kindergarteners, had to pass an entrance exam. Despite her August birthday, she passed with flying colors. In fact, they later told me that she was able to read the teacher’s manual. She thrived in such a challenging but supportive environment.

Unfortunately, when she was halfway through first grade, we were transferred back to Texas. I met with the principal of our award winning local school. Based on test scores, my daughter was immediately put into the gifted program. She had problems from the very first day. She was different. For six years, she had been taught that its okay to be different. No, it is actually pretty awesome to be different. She was in a situation where she was expected to conform and to crank out a vast quantity of mediocre work. She absolutely would not comply with those expectations. I don’t blame the school. I don’t blame the teacher. In a classroom setting, how could anyone meet the needs of a kid who was years above the program academically, but years behind in maturity?

I began to understand that I would never become president of the PTA. I’d be up at the school every day instead, advocating for my daughter’s needs. If her education was going to be my new full time job, I might as well teach her at home and give the poor public school a break. We tried out homeschooling over spring break. After that one week, she was hooked. This kid was made to homeschool. She loved every minute of it. Once, a relative teased that she was going to be so mad when she found out that she had never had a summer vacation. She replied, “That’s just stupid, who would ever want to go months without learning?”

There were days I wondered if I was failing her. There were days that I wondered if I was going insane, and days when I felt ready to give up. I didn’t give up because my love for her has always been stronger than my plan of living a tidy, ordered life. I came to homeschooling so reluctantly. I was driven to it by a child who was absolutely, fundamentally not going to to succeed in public school, but I survived and I do not regret one moment of the journey.

She is an adult now, a thriving college student, a small business owner, a devoted sister, a loyal friend, a happy, happy human being…and my tower of strength.

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30 thoughts on “Homeschooling: A Love Story, by Genevieve”

  1. I know what you mean about being “made to homeschool”. My girls are the same way; they would not thrive in public school. My husband isn’t so sure, but I’m the one who’s with them all day every day, and I know how their personalities would clash with the system.

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  2. What a wonderful gift you’ve given your daughter. Maybe you were reluctant at first, but you obviously excel at homeschooling.

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  3. Well said! I tried being the room mother, baking cupcakes and planning parties. The conformity drove me crazy. I want our daughters to be different and I am proud that they are.

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  4. This is what I wish I had done.I and my daughter are not “normal”. Being Hyperactive is not a disability or a sickness and the schools always treated it as such. Having known Maddy for a few years now and her little sisters too I Love this! You were totally perfect for doing this!!! I tried to fit in I tried to be the cookie baking mom but the other moms would not have me! My son is a special needs kid and I did pull him the last part of 6th grade and taught him to read and comprehend. I wish I had had a good base of friends homeschooling to have done what you did! This is SOOOOOOO perfectly said! Such a truly great piece! Thank you for sharing it. I hope someone with a gifted or challenged kid will read this and try it!

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  5. My own children went to public school, and while there were gifted teachers who still stand out in our memories, they were much the exception. As my three advanced from the sheltered world of the gifted and talented elementary classrooms, they did not fare so well in junior high or high school. Two extremely bright sons refused to continue cranking out vast quantities of mediocre work, quit school and received GEDs instead of diplomas. My daughter did better, but the happiest day of my life was when she graduated, and I knew I was finished with the public school system. They are all three college students now, pursuing different dreams, but I will never forget the frustration of years fighting a losing battle to get the schools to think outside of the box.
    Reading this has helped solidify our resolve as a family to homeschool our granddaughter, a decision her parents made before she was born. I wish I had done it for my own. Thank you for sharing.

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  6. Genevieve is a resourceful, kind, and uncommonly smart individual–this I have always known (we are friends from way-back-when Houston). But the manner in which she has created a wide-eyed-with wonder, learning-for-learning’s-sake world by way of the home school scenario is inspiring at so many levels. Thank you for sharing this story about parental maturity and devotion, educational purposefulness, and love-guided tenacity.

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  7. Gen, when my husband came home and said he wanted me to never go back to public school teaching and to homeschool our daughter, first I thought he had lost his mind and second, you were the first person I thought of and contacted. I saw that Madi was not only learning but truly thriving above and beyond what I thought was humanly possible. Your dedication gave me hope then, as well as now that my own gifted daughter would also excell. I appreciate this tribute to she and all your children and your dedication to not raising your blessed family to only exist, but to truly be a part of the solutions to our world and to live in it…comfortably. To teach them to believe in themselves and their abilities and to search, flounder, fail even, to achieve their goals/dreams/aspirations. Being that awkward child in school myself and seeing that same, Rachie smarts as her brother calls it, you inspired me to let my own daughter to learn at her own pace and to jump on the rabbit trail with her as she explores this universe. You told me way back then, there are no rights, only things left out to explore and to explore them as long as she wanted to. I’ve always appreciated your devotion to all your children and each of their abilities and your adapting to their needs instead of expecting them to conform to yours/ours/the systems. You are far more than a model homeschooling mom and I still want to be you when I grow up. I officially nominate you National Homeschooling PTA (Parents Teaching Academics) president….and then some.

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  8. Wonderful, beautiful story. Love conquers all. Although both of my children went through the public school system and my gifted out of the box child was always way ahead of many. We were blessed with so many wonderful teachers and administrators that we now call friends. Both girls are in college now, but what a pleasure is to hear my children talk on the phone, see an e-mail, FB, Instagram post with their lifelong mentors/friends.

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  9. Beautiful! I wish I had known that I could have homeschooled my oldest, she was (& still is) different too. I was young & had no idea this was an option for her. Thankfully now that I’m older & know better my youngest are not going to school (although we discuss it as an option if they choose). I think that k could handle it (though it is her choice not to go) & do well there (for the most part), but I believe b would have immense problems much like B had. I’m so glad we have this option & the loving support of their father to make their homeschooling journey possible.

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  10. Gen, witnessing your unconditional love for Madeleine helped me through some of my darkest times and helped shape the type of mother I wanted to be. You were such an inspiration. Your tower of strength was different, yes but in the all the best ways. When I would babysit and ask if she wanted a bedtime story she would go pick out a book I had beer even heard of and ask if she could read it to me! Everything all day was about learning, but it was never boring. The kids had so much fun learning that they soon became the teacher when siblings were born. I vividly remember the house on Glenway being decorated with all their artwork and school work proudly on display. You gave the kids all the tools they needed to unleash their creative wrath upon the world, and nurtured and admired even their littlest victories. Homeschooling was a perfect choice and your tower of strength is a beacon of light and a force to be reckoned with. Strong, smart, resilient and and just as beatiful on the inside as she is on the outside she reminds me a lot of someone else I know… You!

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  11. Homeschooling is one of the most complicated jobs I have ever had. It is demanding of both our time and dedication, the rules change everyday, sometimes our different children need different teaching styles, and there is always so much to try and figure out on our own. In addition, there is always this looming doubt, hovering over our heads, asking if we are making the right decisions for our kids or not. When I start doubting my lessons, or my children’s progress, or find myself trying to compare my kids’ education to the education of their peers at the local elementary, I stop and think of your family. I love, and I mean deep down love, the family structure and learning process your family has developed. I could ask any of your kids “What grade are you in?” and they would just shrug and tell me to talk to their mom about that. They do not feel like they are trying to fulfill any set program or pre-designed education. They work together as a team to not only educate one another, but to just simply better themselves as individuals. I love your immensely talented children, and all that you do to educate them. Your homeschooling family is my number one role model for homeschooling.

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  12. Absolutely beautiful. You are a powerhouse of a woman; it’s only natural you’ve produced nothing but powerhouse children. I am constantly in awe of y’all’s incredible family dynamic. (I’m still up for adoption, I swear.)

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  13. Great article,very encouraging. I’m so happy that God gave your daughter to YOU. I’m going to share your article in hopes that it encourages others.

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  14. Genevieve,
    This is such a touching story of your devotion to your children. Oh, that all parents could homeschool their children! I really, really wish I could! Our school system now is in such trouble. I’m getting more and more worried for my Olivia. But this really is just a beautiful story told straight from your heart and your dream.
    Thank you for allowing me to read and post a reply!
    A good teacher is SO hard to find! I have Blair’s ( my husband) mother to compare all other teachers to. But Pat is just gifted!!

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  15. Genevieve,
    This story brought tears to my eyes! As I was reading, all of the memories came flooding back to me. You are such an inspiration and a blessing to all.

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  16. I love this story (and all of the people in it!). I often think about the path you took with your kids and wonder if that would have been a better plan for Elliott and me than struggling through public school. I hope that mothers with young children see stories like yours and learn about alternatives that can help children who don’t quite fit into the public school model thrive.

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  17. Great lessons to be learned here. This is a wonderfully written account of what to do right when the public educational system is wrong for your kid. Well Done!

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  18. What a powerful and passionate commentary on parenting and home schooling! Your children are so fortunate to have a mom with such resolve, spirit and resourcefulness! I love that you nurture them as you challenge them. You provide them with a multitude of experiences that most children will never know. You include differentiation in your curriculum for your entire brood of five, and it shows in their varied gifts and passions. The most valuable gift you may have given them is the inspiration to dream and act on their dreams. This support has allowed Madeline to become a truly remarkable young woman with unlimited potential. I just hope she never gets too busy with her many enterprises to feed my pony on occasion. (I trust no one with animals like I trust her!)
    As a public school teacher of gifted and talented children, I have always believed that we are all gifted in different ways. Sadly, few are encouraged to pursue those gifts with wild abandon as you have encouraged your kids to do. I applaud your love and tenacity to create that environment for your children. I know it’s no easy task!
    My nearly forty years of teaching experience has also made me acutely aware of how truly gifted children often have individual “quirks” that many see as “deficiencies.” This quirkiness actually adds to their charm, but some teachers don’t have the patience to appreciate it as such. You have enabled your own children to embrace their quirkiness and celebrate it while still interacting reasonably with others who live “in the box.” You have prepared them to be not just survivors – but successful in their own unique ways. They’ve got true spunk – just like their mom! You ARE the PTA – PARENT/TEACHER/ALL in one!

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  19. Wonderfully written and so true. Madeleine is such a wonderful person to be around and both her and Genevieve are so inspirational to me. 🙂 I’ve been home-shooled all my life. I’ve also visited a public school as a guest for a day and I’m so glad and appreciative to my parents for taking the time out of their lives to teach and encourage me, as I’m sure Madeleine is as well. Keep up the great work all you amazing home-schooling moms and dads. 😀

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  20. Ah, Genevieve, you have always been “outside of the box”. You are such a treasure in this universe. Thank you for writing this and the inspiration and hope that it brings to a lot of parents who are struggling with how to best support the children they so love.

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