Friday, February 27, 2009

Why we Started Homeschooling in 1990...

The following is something I wrote some time ago, but it gives you an insight into why we started homeschooling. I am printing it here because I think sometimes people worry about their kids and don't know what to do. In our case, homeschooling ended up being the answer that made such a huge difference in how our older son blossomed physically, emotionally and intellectually.

The Whistle
by Jill © 2003


My son was looking poorly. He had stopped whistling and his shoulders were hunched as I picked him up from school that fall day. It was hot--it was hot most of the time in our Florida community. He looked so small coming out of that big school, so slender and vulnerable.

He was trapped. We were all trapped. Since school started a few weeks before, Cris had been sick with asthma one day out of every three. Threatened and pushed around by the bigger boys because he wouldn’t fight back, his health was deteriorating. There were gangs and he was an easy target. Even though he was 12 years old, my husband and I couldn’t let him walk the 1/2 mile to and from school every day. It wasn’t safe. The neighbor boy had been badly beaten doing that very thing only a year or two before. It was one of the hardest times in our lives.

We tried getting him transferred which required a special permit. Dead ends. All dead ends. We had four younger children at home and my husband was the sole bread winner. We couldn’t afford a private school, and we were losing Cris to discouragement. The asthma was draining the very breath out of him.

A friend of mine mentioned homeschooling. This was in 1990 and I had never heard of it before. Was it legal? Would it work? Did I have the time? Were we crazy to even consider it? In no time my friend had put me in touch with a friend of hers, and before I knew it I was sitting in a park with my two preschoolers and several moms, perusing math books and scope and sequence charts. I had graduated from college years earlier with a teaching degree, but to teach all subjects with two little children under foot seemed daunting.

Still, it was worth a try. My husband and I felt God leading us in this direction, and Cris was willing, so I ordered 7th grade text books and waited for the mailman. In no time the books arrived. With warnings from the superintendent that he could probably never go to college or get back into public school again, we withdrew Cris from school, and began homeschooling.

My parents, and especially my dad, were really against the whole thing. A retired public school teacher and college professor with a Ph.D., Dad worried that Cris would never get into a college, and he wouldn’t learn what he needed to know.

Meanwhile, Cris began to flourish. Within two weeks I heard the sound I had prayed to hear for a long time ... Cris was whistling! He wasn’t so pale, he was standing taller and his asthma was practically non-existent. As we finished that year we looked forward to the next.

Our second son Dusty was supposed to go to the same school the following fall. I knew what we had to do, but I felt unequal to the task. “Lord,” I prayed, "I don’t want to homeschool them all. I am not qualified. How will I find the time?"

But God was faithful and I remembered His promise to be with me always. So the next fall I had an 8th grader, 6th grader, 4th grader, Kindergartner and a two year old in my homeschool. Could I do it? My husband Bob, my biggest cheerleader, was behind me all the way. The curriculum came and school started.

My parents were still against it, but Dad volunteered to teach the boys drafting and woodworking. He was such a good sport, even though he disagreed with us. We never really talked about homeschooling ... it was the elephant in the room. We all knew it was there, but we avoided talking about it. We agreed to disagree.

Years passed and after seven years my dad was visiting us (we now lived in Kentucky). I was busy correcting papers when he came in and sat at the table with me. “You know I never approved of your homeschooling.” Then there was a big pause. “You have done a good thing. When I see your kids, their character and what they know, I realize that the sacrifice you made was worth it. You have done a good thing.”

My dad died three years later, but that moment stays with me in my heart and mind. The sacrifice God had called me to WAS worth it. My homeschooled kids have been a joy and a blessing to my husband and I, to each other, and to the community.

Sometimes the hardest times in our lives lead us to the best decisions in our lives. Sometimes it takes years to see our sacrifices pay off. Sometimes we never see them pay off. But always God is with us; leading, guiding, helping us do what He has called us to do. Helping a little boy to whistle again.

Take care,
Jill

As a note: [updated 2012]
  • Cris graduated from Asbury College in 2000 with a degree in Physical Science, and the College of Engineering at University of Kentucky in 2001 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He is married and lives with his wife Jen and toddling daughter Elinor in Lexington, KY.
  • Dusty is married, and he and his wife Sharon also live in Lexington, KY. Dusty is an accountant at a Geo-Spacial Engineering firm and Sharon is a Registered Nurse.
  • Chad graduated from the University of Kentucky majoring in computer science and math. He is married to Molly and dad to toddling daughter Allison and works as a computer programmer in Lexington.
  • Kari graduated from our homeschool in May 2004 after spending her 10th and 11th grade years in public school and graduated from University of Kentucky in 2008. She spent a year in Americorps NCCC and currently is the Safety Coordinator at a company that does portable combustion services to dry out refractories.
  • Scott graduated from our homeschool, having been homeschooled his whole life. He graduated from Eastern KY University in Dec 2012 and currently works in Lexington.
Photo: From left to right: Jen and Cris, Sharon and Dusty, Bob and I, Chad and Molly, Kari and Scott.

11 comments:

  1. I'm glad to read that. I have wondered many times how am I to do this with all these different ages and responsibilities? Especially as they hit the high school years...

    JD
    (micahrhys on Sonlight forums)

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  2. I am glad this was helpful--you can do it! Just take it one year at a time--then day by day within that year. I know it can seem daunting, but you can do it!

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  3. Jill,

    This was beautiful to read. I really appreciate you sharing your story.

    Susan, c_and_s, from the Sonlight forums

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  4. Jill,

    This is so encouraging! I think that I am soooooooo unqualified and feel as though I want to run the other direction on most days.. At times I wonder if God is with me. I believe He is but sometimes I don't know it.
    I get very irritated at the children because I feel very unorganized!! then I fuss at them. But then there are those moments when I have a great day and say yes... this is why I am doing this.
    I am unorganized and overwhelmed at times with 5 children( 1 being 2 years old and going to home school all 4 in the fall).
    whew!! I need some guidance!! I have loved Sonlight and just want my children to thrive instead of feeling like I squeek by on most days.
    But I am reminded of pressing on for the prize set before us by Paul. The prize in this case is God does want to teach me many things if I am willing. My children will learn I know, I simply want to overcome this discouragement and really teach this children what God wants them to know.
    Thanks for writing the article Jill, it gives me hope.
    - JS

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story. As the others have said "yours gives us hope". I have home schooled my son (currently in 5th grade) for three years. However, next year brings new hurdles and blessings. My grandchildren have ask too be home schooled. They will be 8th and 3rd grades. Needless too say I am in a bit of a panic. At the same time constantly reminded of what the Lord says, "we are never given more then we can handle". I am so thankful for ladies/families like you the paved the way for us. Again, Thank you and God Bless!

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  6. Thanks for your kind words. You sound like one busy lady, but you can do it!

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  7. Mrs Evely,

    you are a true inspiration in every sense of the word, you have the most beautiful family i have ever seen, your time, love, and dedication to them all, is one that is truly amazing, you are the essential charcteristics of them all, and should be very proud of your achievement in their individual upbringing.

    J.T.

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  8. Jill, my eyes were tearing up as I read this. And you have helped me to better appreciate my son, James who is 11 going on 12 and whistles CONStantly...sometimes, I tell him he is driving me crazy ;-)~ but I do love it...and him.
    What a dramatic story.

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  9. Thanks Jenny, I am glad I could be of some encouragement. As a note, we now have two granddaughters, born to Cris and Jen and Chad and Molly in 2010. We are blessed to live close and enjoy them immensely.

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  10. Thanks, Mrs. Evely, for sharing how and why you started homeschooling. Jason and I are praying about this decision with regards to our two boys. Hope that you and the family are doing well. We hope to see you this summer, in June, at my 10 year class reunion. (Yikes...10 years already!)Also, Mom and Dad say, "Hi!" to you and Mr. Evely.

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  11. Hi Heather,

    I look forward to seeing you and your kiddos. Please let me know if I can send you a catalog or if you have any general homeschool questions, feel free to ask. I would love to help. You can email me at bluegrassjill@gmail.com

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