Okay, I’ll confess… before I had children I honestly thought I would never homeschool. After all, I had survived public school just fine, and as long as I was involved in my children’s education I was sure everything would be just fine. The year my oldest child turned 4, a friend who also only had preschoolers invited me to attend a homeschool curriculum fair in Wichita with her. (We lived in Kansas at the time.) My friend did intend to homeschool, and I was interested to see what was out there for preschool… because I knew I wouldn’t be sending my child to school till kindergarten.
What an overwhelming and eye-opening experience that was! I took the tote box they gave us at the door and proceeded around the hall, gathering as much information as I could. And that’s exactly what I recommend to folks who are considering homeschooling for the first time. Attend a conference. Explore your options.
Up until that time I only knew about a typical textbook curriculum, or a not-so-typical but still very cut-and-dried workbook approach. While I have always loved to teach, I wasn’t sure that either of those approaches really appealed to me. I would really just rather read to my children. Imagine my delight when I discovered the literature-based approach to home education! I have always been a voracious reader… and I love to read aloud. To get to do that, and call it school? Umm… yeah, I b’lieve maybe I will homeschool! No, I really didn’t make up my mind that day, but it sure gave me food for thought.
I had a part-time job in the evenings as assistant children’s librarian at the public library. Working there I began to get to know the homeschoolers who regularly visited the library. Later that summer some of them came in with book lists because UPS was on strike, and their curriculum was delayed in coming. As they asked me to help them locate the books on their lists, I was delighted to find many of my childhood favorites included. Turns out, the book lists were from a company called Sonlight Curriculum.
What really clinched the decision for us was an opportunity to move out-of-state the next year, just before our daughter was due to start kindergarten. We moved to Idaho after school was out for the summer, so I didn’t have a chance to check out the public school. My husband and I decided that I would try homeschooling for the kindergarten year and see how it went. After poring over dozens of catalogs, I finally settled on Sonlight for that first year. By the end of the year, I couldn’t imagine not continuing with Sonlight for the next year. And we never looked back.
I started representing Sonlight at conventions in 2000, when the children were still very young. Every year at the conventions I went to, I still explored my options. Yes, I loved Sonlight, but first and foremost, I wanted what was best for my kids. If there was a better curriculum for us out there, I wanted to know about it. Always, I came to the conclusion Sonlight was what our family needed. It is flexible enough that I could adapt it for my kids’ individual needs and we could still enjoy and learn from all the great stories.
Looking back, I can’t imagine what our life would have been like if we hadn’t chosen to homeschool. It has been such a rewarding experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
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