First, I will tell you a little about how and why I started. We lived in Coolidge, AZ when we started having children. Life was so simple in those days. We had two kids, Ashley and Tyson. Ashley was turning 3 and my thoughts turned to preschool. With Ashley being my first, I believed (at the time) how important preschool was and, as many first time moms do, I felt an urgency for her to be reading before starting kindergarten. I didn't want to pay for preschool, which seemed so expensive, so my friend and I did a little preschool with our two daughters. Our little girls were the best of friends and the girls had a great time. Ashley was doing great and learning so much. She was starting to write her name and read. We soon decided to move to Rexburg, Idaho so Eric could finish undergrad there. During our transition, I put Ashley in a preschool at my friend's house so that I would have time to pack. Ashley was always so excited to go and they did really fun activities with her. There was one day that I asked her if she wanted to write her name with me and she couldn't do it anymore. In all of my crazy packing, I had stopped working with her as much and she stopped progressing in reading and writing. That moment was a confidence booster in my ability to teach her.
We moved to Rexburg and I was so motivated to just teach her and have fun with her at home. We had a great time reading, coloring, crafting, building, exploring, and cuddling. Those are some of my most favorite times. Time passed and soon Ashley would turn five. Everyone was registering their kids for kindergarten. I expected Ashley to be so excited to go to school, but she was anything but excited. I tried to say things to excite her, but it didn't work. I really didn't want her to go either. I LOVED every minute with my sweet little five-year-old. She had so much passion, joy, excitement, and love. I cherished my moments with her and I didn't want to give those moments away. I had such a pit in my stomach about her going to school and I just kept feeling it wasn't the right thing to do. I had all kinds of thoughts and concerns, like: After doing preschool on my own with her and having so much fun, should I consider homeschooling? What about the social pressures of sending your kids to school? How would she have friends? Would she be socially weird? Did I have the ability to homeschool? Am I just feeling hesitant because I don't want to have her away from home or are these feelings coming from the spirit prompting me to take another direction with her education? I expressed all of my concerns to my husband and he felt fine either way. He was open to homeschool and told me he would support me in whatever choice I felt was best.
Rewind several years.... I was in high school and my brother, Michael and his wife, Kortni were expecting another baby. She was having complications and asked if I could come help her during one of my school breaks. My nieces and nephews had my whole heart and I loved every chance to spend with them. Helping Kortni gave me the chance to spend a week with them. Michael and Kortni homeschooled their children and this was my first introduction to homeschooling. I thought it was perfect! They read tons of books, sang, colored, created together, and my favorite part was hearing those young kids memorize "The Family Proclamation" (that is a document that our church leaders wrote about the family and our beliefs on the family). They were so young and were seriously memorizing The Family Proclamation?!?! When I heard that, I was determined that I wanted to do similar things with my family. I LOVED the feeling in their home and hoped I could have a similar feeling in my home.
Fast forward again... so after being torn as to what to do with Ashley and kindergarten, I called my sister-in-law, Kortni. I expressed all of my concerns and she really helped me. (And yes, she has received NUMEROUS calls from me over the years.) I drilled her with a bazillion questions. I asked her why she had decided to homeschool. Her answers really resonated with me and I felt I was starting on a journey that would really change me. I felt so much peace when I was on the phone with her. It was that phone call that reminded me of the feeling I had felt in their home several years earlier. I remembered the peace, the love, the thirst for knowledge. I wanted that. I wanted to be there when my children learned something new. I wanted to learn with them. I wanted to be just as excited about knowledge as them. I wanted a love of learning to run deep in my home. I wanted to study the classics with my kids because I never appreciated it when I was young. I wanted my kids to remember what they learned and not just memorize for a test and forget it soon after. I wanted to build strength in character. I wanted to have devotionals every morning with my children. I wanted my kids to have a firm testimony of the gospel. I wanted to teach them that the things they learned in "school" applied to the gospel. I wanted to learn who my children really were: what excited them; and what their passions were. I wanted my children to feel that their brothers and sisters are their very best friends, over and above any other friends. I mostly wanted to spend my days with my kids—learning, growing, and loving life. Could these things happen if I sent Ashley to school? probably so, but this other way of life resonated with me and I took it on, full force.
During this decision time, I was expecting our third child. I was wanting to have my baby natural and to use a doula for the first time. I ended up with two doulas (which is a story for another day) but one of them homeschooled. You can find her blog wetoatmealkisses.com. Her name is Tracy and she invited me to join their homeschool group. Tracy taught gymnastics for local homeschoolers and I became friends with several in the homeschooling community there. It was amazing and I loved them! Homeschooling became less scary and my inhibitions melted away.
Ashley is now ten, so, counting the preschool years, I have homeschooled for seven years. There are hard days, but SO many good days. I love my life with my five little ones. I love the feeling in our home and that I get to share each day with the ones I love the most. We read great literature, study great composers and artists, learn all about chemistry and nature, develop our passions, craft, read about great people from history, discuss good character, read and write poetry, and study the gospel every day together. I absolutely love it! It is my life and my joy! I've felt in my own home that little spark I felt in my brother's home over 15 years ago, and it has grown to a fire burning bright within me.
So what is my why???.....It started with a sweet little 5 year old girl who was hesitant to go to school and it ended with a deeply rooted desire for a different kind of education, a different feeling in my home, a different family culture. That has all led to very fulfilling days and a very fulfilling life.