I guess it's probably been about a year and a half since I first felt the hints of a call to homeschool. I paused for a moment to listen more carefully to that little voice, that urgent whisper, and suddenly it became as loud and clear as a shout through a megaphone. Practically overnight, I became completely enamored with the whole idea. I discoursed at great length with Darren about the multiple merits of home education. I envisioned brilliant, angelic children who would beg to learn more. I marveled at the notion of unlimited and unrestricted learning. I was charmed by the thought of cozy teas and picnics in the park and supplemental outings relevant to current topics of interest. I discovered, at approximately the same time, this great big blogging world of amazing and incredibly talented homeschooling Mommies, and I was completely captivated. Totally gone. Most certainly, and without reservation, this was the way I wanted to be raising and teaching my children!
But then. Then, as I began delving further into the actual reality of homeschooling, that loathsome, overly analytical mind of mine began to sabotage the blissful utopia in which I had been living. I doubted myself: my abilities, my patience, my motivations, everything about which I had previously been so convinced. My resolve began to waver. I doubted whether or not I had actually even heard the call, or if maybe I had somehow misinterpreted it. Sometimes, my mind is my own worst enemy. So I prayed for a sure sign, one that would leave no room for doubt or wonder. I prayed for something, anything, that would assure me I was really leading my family down the right path.
Did I expect bolts of lightning and peals of crashing thunder? I don't know; maybe. Probably. What I got instead was, all at once, many subtle signs that, together, were just as impressive (if not more so) than any electric storm (which could, by my critical mind, be misconstrued as a natural and common occurrence).
So, no--no lightning or thunder. No booming voice from the heavens. But I am absolutely certain that the signs I have received in the past few days can only suggest a call to homeschool. Each and every one that I've received have been a direct response to the issues with which I struggled most. To illustrate: a significant concern of mine has been the lack (or my perceived lack) of a strong Catholic homeschooling community in our area. But last Sunday, while talking with my brother about our upcoming Vacation Bible School experience, he whipped out his phone and said, "Oh! I should introduce you to my friend "Sandy". I teach her kids piano and she homeschools. You'd love her! I'm calling her right now." And without reservation or a second thought, he called her up and chatted a bit about how his sister was planning to start homeschooling this fall and would she be around for VBS at all this week to maybe meet with me? Oh, she would? Well, how perfectly splendid! He hung up and asked me if I had heard her happy squeals of excitement. I had not, but I was so touched to know that his simple request had been met with such enthusiasm! And what's more, she also named for him a few other families that we know from church who I had no idea were homeschooling their children! My brother has promised to introduce us and I'm hoping to meet her sometime this week.
Another thing I've worried about (and believe me, there are plenty!) is my struggle with Dylan and his short attention span, distractibility, and hyperactivity. People close to me swear he has ADHD, and who knows? Maybe they're right. But at this point, I perceive his behavior as being that of a smart and healthy little boy. And over the course of the last year or so, I have seen marked improvement in his behavior, so who's to say that this is not just something he will one day outgrow? I'm willing to take the "wait and see" approach, but I'm not so sure that any traditional school we could send him to would be as tolerant. This was one of the primary reasons that homeschooling sounded so attractive to me to begin with; I want him to have the opportunity to learn in whatever way is best for him, and I know that sitting at a small desk for much of the day would not be compatible with his personality. That being said, I still didn't really know how I planned to teach him, as most of the supplies and materials that I've looked at seem rather geared to a "sit down and learn" style, too. But a few nights ago, Darren came home from Hastings with a book for me that I have not been able to put down since. It is 100 Top Picks For Homeschool Curriculum, by Cathy Duffy, and it is amazing. It describes the learning styles of different personalities and identifies certain curriculum that are most compatible with their individual needs. I cannot tell you the tremendous relief it has been to me to have found options about which I had not previously been aware! A few such examples are the Math-U-See program, which I think Dylan would really enjoy as it is so "hands on", and Moving with Math, a similarly engaging approach to math that I could really imagine us loving. There are resources for unit studies, too, which I was really excited to see, and even phonics programs (such as this one) that I think might make a perfect supplement to the materials we're already using (for both Dylan and Caitlyn). Another element I appreciate about this book is that it identifies which curriculum are compatible with Catholic teaching, an important factor for me as I'm considering which components to include. I'm sure that a lot of you other, more experienced homeschooling Mommies are much more aware of the many curriculum options available, but I was really excited to find this book! It has opened my eyes to a whole new realm of possibilities that I doubt I would have otherwise considered.
And finally, let's not forget the one GREAT BIG SIGN that practically fell at my feet last weekend! Such amazing learning materials, and at such a steal! How could I interpret that as anything less than a divine slap in the face, so to speak? Someone up there must really be trying to get my attention! And you know something? I think it's worked.