Taryn decided early on that homeschooling parents homeschooled because they were controlling and paranoid. Yet after she had her own children, she realized how much control the government and teachers actually have over the children in the government (public) schools. At that point, she began to see homeschooling for what it really is–an excellent way to educate children in a safe and loving atmosphere. Keep reading to learn more about Taryn’s story.
The teacher who was concerned about the government’s curriculum proposals
I used to think that homeschoolers were weird. Anyone who would subject their poor children to stay-at-home studies was paranoid and controlling. Their children? Likely to be strange, unsocialized, and too brainy for their own good. I was a naive 18-year-old when I established that opinion. Then I became a high school teacher. My opinion of homeschooling did not change all that much, and my first encounter with a homeschooling family had me coming across as the strange, crazy lady as I tried to be “natural” with this specimen called a “homeschooled kid.”
Shortly after that crazy experience, I discovered that I was pregnant with my first child. Suddenly, the education question took on a whole new dimension! I loved teaching. I loved my students and my colleagues. I taught in an almost ideal context – small classes, caring teachers, involved parents. But two factors scared me. Namely: the government’s curriculum requirements and the power of the teacher. At the time, our government in South Africa was revising the national curriculum, and I was alarmed at their proposals. And as a teacher, I was abundantly aware of just how much power I had in the classroom. I could tell my students anything, and they’d believe me. I could tell them any thing, and no one could stop me – at least not before the damage was done.
I began to wonder what our options were. Private schooling was too expensive. The local public school with a lot of parent involvement, perhaps? Then a friend and colleague put the Sonlight homeschool curriculum catalogue in my hands. I read it from cover to cover. The books, the testimonies, the incredible articles about homeschooling … all of it blew my mind. I found myself echoing the Sonlight slogan: This is the way I wish I had been taught! Suddenly homeschooling became a very possible solution to my dilemma. And so I began in earnest to investigate the option called “homeschooling.”
Before my first-born turned one, I had consumed just about every piece of information about homeschooling that I could find, and I became convinced this was a very viable option for our family. Convincing my husband was a different story. But God in His infinite grace brought an incredible book across our path – Should I Homeschool? by Dan and Elizabeth Hamilton. It had my husband willing to turn his back on convention and try this thing called homeschooling. The appeal? Interestingly, it wasn’t the push factors away from public schooling that had got me started down this road. No, the appeal for both of us by then lay in the pull factors of homeschooling, with flexibility and freedom being at the top of the list.
It’s been 11 years since we first started down this road. It’s a lifestyle our family hopes to continue enjoying. It’s not without its challenges. I still struggle with patience and self-discipline. My four kids have good days and bad days. But, the rewards are so much more than any of us anticipated or believed possible. Best of all, we get to enjoy them together.
Taryn of tarynhayes.com is a former high school English and history teacher. She homeschools her 4 kiddos, ages 11, 9, 7 and 5.