Friday, September 02, 2011

A Road Less Traveled

Recently Beau and I have made a decision that is taking our family on a new adventure.  We have decided to participate in Provo's e-school and begin teaching our kids at home. Yep, we are on the adventure of homeschooling. It has been interesting to see the responses we get from others when they ask us if our kids go to school, and we inform them that we're homeschooling them this year.  You get surprised looks. You get lots of advice, warnings and opinions from anyone and everyone. Especially in the LDS culture, it isn't something that you see very often.  

As Beau and I were discussing the reactions we've gotten from people, I ended up finally being able to express something I had been feeling but couldn't quite put my finger on it.  It was the response I had felt to those that responded with, "Why?"  "Don't get extreme on us." "You're going to ruin your children for life." It was as if they felt like we had just suddenly in the spur of the moment, (while out of our right minds), ran down and withdrew our kids from school.  That now we are going to blindly teach them at home, withdraw ourselves from the world, and end up creating socially misfit children who can't make it in the "REAL" world. When getting this reaction I want to reply with... 

"You know... it's not like this was just a sudden decision, which we have given no thought to. On the contrary we have been looking into doing this with our children for the last 2 years. I have studied and tried to read everything I could on the topic. We have been weighing the pros and cons for those two years, and have had many  major thoughtful discussions with my husband.  We wanted to make sure we were both in agreement and on the same page.  We have prayed about it over and over, trying to know what is right for our family.  Last year we considered doing it, and didn't feel like it was right yet.  We knew that we needed to leave the option open, learn all we could about what is available and ways to do it, so that if it ever came to a point that we decided to do it, we were educated in our decision.  We have looked at the issue that everyone brings of "socialization." We even started doing a bit during the summer with the program we were wanting to use. We wanted to see how it went, how to fit it into our lives, and see what the kids thought.  We've asked the kids what they would like to do as well. They voted to be home.  It literally wasn't until about 2-3 weeks before school started up for the year that we knew it was time to just do it.  We felt that confirmation that we need to do it.  We have felt the peace of that decision ever since, and we are honestly excited about the possibilities, growth and experiences we'll get from it.  We did not make this decision alone, the Lord was part of it.  Did we just make this decision overnight.  No it's been a process over the  years.  Do we feel good about it. We feel really good about it. Is homeschooling for everyone. No. It's not even an option for some. But for us it is the right thing to do in our life right now."

Here are a few of my personal reasons though why I've chosen to do this.

We sent our kids to school last year and Savannah was not happy. We saw lots of changes in her that were not the best, and she fought about going to school every day. By the end of the school year we were back to seriously contemplating it again and praying about it. I was physically sick about the thought of sending her back to school. I did not feel good about it.  I wanted to teach her myself and bring her home. I wanted to give her time with me that she needed and was wanting.

The more I started studying the church's handbook for my calling, and general conference addresses, I started feeling more and more that it was my responsibility to teach my children.  That as parents Beau and I will have the greatest influence on our children. We are the ones that know our children the best, and can help them become what they need to be. I started recognizing what little amount of time I had to teach them.  Especially when they were gone all day to school.  The things that I wanted to teach them the time to do it weren't matching up.  

I also started to see that I was spending more time on things that didn't matter and that in reality my time should be spent in raising my children to the best of my ability. I started to realize that my kids were growing and time was flying by. Was I truly enjoying this time of life and moments with them? I started seeing that what my kids wanted most was me. Time with me and Beau. Time together as a family.  When Savannah was asking for things, it wasn't time with her friends, it was one on one time with Beau or I.  I started looking to see if I truly loved being with my kids all the time. Did I want to be with them?  Did I want to spend time with them?  Did I enjoy being a mom?  Or was I seeing them as constantly distracting me from other things I wanted to do more.  Did I find myself giving them other things to do to get out of my hair. I started recognizing that there were times I needed to change my attitude towards my greatest calling as a mother.  It was going to be my eternal calling, and if I didn't enjoy it here. I would not want it there in the next life either. I started realizing I needed to change some attitudes in myself.

So we are embarking on a new journey in our family. In the two weeks since we've started it has been going better than I thought it would.  There is much to learn, many ways to grow, and changes that need to happen. But it excites me and I know they will be good.  I feel good about it in so many ways.  The hardest part has been feeling that I'm paddling my boat in the opposite direction and against the current of our culture, especially the LDS culture, which I honestly don't understand. I feel ostracized in many aspects.  That's what can happen when your take the road less traveled on.  But it is helping me see things that I didn't see from the other side.  

I want to record it. I want to do better at recording our families history, growth and life.  I plan on posting a lot on here when time permits. I hope you'll join me here.  For both the good and the bad that I know will come with it all.


Tiff said...

Can I just borrow your post, switch names & add it to our family? That is exactly how I feel. The road less traveled. So know I am on a different stream somewhere, but I am paddling the opposite direction too. I love the pictures you are posting. & I love your x-ray. Can I borrow it? Love you tons & can't wait to read more!

Tiff said...

Oh yeah, it looks like Mirian is writing to a penpal maybe? If so where did you find one?

The Lindsey's said...

Hey Shalae! I loved your post. It's very interesting to see the different view points with different Geography in the U.S. We're living in New York right now (about 10 minutes from Palmyra!!) and about half the families in our ward home school their kids. I was VERY surprised by that when we moved here but it's just accepted and I think it's awesome! I don't know that I could ever do it myself, but I think that those that can, are just incredible. I hope the home schooling bug catches and moves west to you guys so you aren't looked at as weirdo-s. I look forward to keeping up with how things go!!
Traci Lindsey

Robert and Heather in Hawaii said...

I have a bunch of things to say, the first being kudos for doing what you know is right for your family. Homeschooling today is very different than it was 40 years ago which I think is what some people are referencing when they have negative opinions. You also mentioned LDS culture and how it's not the norm. I would say that there are many outside of Utah and the other more LDS populated states that do homeschool (so don't feel alone) but really what everyone else does or doesn't do really doesn't matter- it's what is right for your children. One of my good friends here just started homeschooling her daughter. She is probably about Miriam's age- maybe they can be penpals. Also, I know Kristin is looking into it for when they go to Brazil. My last comment is how do you do it all especially with a new baby! Seriously, I'd like to know how you balance your time as I may be doing it myself someday.

Brent and Jenny Colvin said...

More power to you! Home schooling and/or unschooling is getting to be very popular here, and I think it's great that you feel you can do this. I'm sorry people have to be so judgmental. If/when we move up there again, I want you to teach me everything you know. Seriously. :) I love you guys.

Valerie said...

Your kids are your greatest creation. I am proud of you for listening to your heart and working in harmony with your husband to build a nurturing home and school life for your kids. Bravo for having the courage to do what you and Beau agree is best for you and yours. Xoxo, v

Heidi D. said...

I've had so many of the same thoughts, concerns, and feelings. I think it's so great that you're doing what's right for your family. :)

P. S. I noticed your photo from Discovery Gateway. Nelly and I were there just today. We have a family pass and she loves it. Let us know if you ever want to meet up there sometime. :)

Christy said...

i think what you are doing is wonderful and I also marvel at when you find time to do everything.
I have to admit that a part of me gets defensive when I hear of people homeschooling their children. I think it's because I wish I could take charge in that way of what my children are learning and how they are growing. I considered home schooling and the answer for our family, for now is to continue with public schooling
It's definitely a very personal and prayerful decision--not one that is right for everyone.
I so appreciate your post because I too realize that my little ones won't be home much longer and I feel the responsibility that is mine to teach them.
And I relate to what you are saying about finding something for the kids to do so that you can get something else "more important" finished. Can you do a future blog post on how you are overcoming that?
Good luck with your adventure--I am certain that there are many wonderful days ahead of you.

Spencer and Kimberly said...

Good for you Shalae, for doing what you know is best! I know a lot of people that homeschool - it seems to be a lot more common these days. Good luck with all of it!!

Brittons of Provo said...

Hi Shalae- I loved this post. Having been homeschooled myself I know how people can sometimes react negatively, especially about the issue of socialization. However, I have no doubt that you and Beau will do a wonderful job, and that you really are the people who know best what is right for your children. I feel like I am in the same boat, but in the opposite way. I have always planned on homeschooling, but we recently learned that the Montessori school near us offers a free Pre-K program. So, Gabe just started school this week. It isn't something that I had planned on, but right now I think they have more resources then I do. It doesn't mean that is what we will do with all our children, but it is teaching me that we have to take each child and do what is best for them. Best of isn't easy, but you are a great mom, and you will do well, I just know it!

Austin and Amy Smith said...

I want to say something I noticed through my own experience, confirmed by yours. I think that Satan will make us feel "alone" (because he is). It's amazing how when we identify in our minds what that "feeling" is we have in our hearts, we gain this power to share and it brings us out of feeling alone. From a place of just feeling something is right to sharing it with others, with confidence! I felt that way with my last birth and feel similarly with home school. Keep sharing and you will never be alone! It's an eternal truth I just realized will give me a greater understanding in sharing the gospel in general :) THANKS!