The Joy

September 7, 2012

My Homeschool Journey

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Written by: Shari

This contest has ended, but thank you for reading anyway! Welcome! And thanks for stopping by to visit the Home Educating Family Blog Hop! Since we’re celebrating Not-Back-to-School, Home Educating Family has a giveaway for YOU! Be sure to leave a comment to this post in order to enter the drawing for the free subscription to Home Educating Family magazine.

I guess my journey began with a few casual meetings with some people who wore the label homeschool:

  • The little girl who explained how a two liter plastic bottle, a straw and a balloon worked like the human lung.
  • The family with ten children, who managed to live on the family farm with no outside income, all industriously engaged in cottage industry.
  • The teenage girl who had written a book – as part of a school assignment.

That let me know that there was such a place as homeschooling, but I hadn’t even considered that I might want to purchase a wagon, and trek out across the prairie on my way to Westward Ho-meschooling!

I remember the day when I decided I wanted to be part of that wagon train heading west or bust. I worked for a public school system in a conservative district where many of the teachers were Christians who truly wanted to make a difference in the lives of students. It was a noble ideology, but the flaw appeared in the long term results.

One day I waved at my little neighbor boy, who trooped single-file with his classmates into the room next to my office. He was a product of generations of Ozarks country folk. He and his kin knew the hills and hollers of our countryside, and could tell you how to hunt a deer or catch a fish. He would have been happy running barefoot and shirtless hunting frogs and climbing trees. Instead this seven-year-old country boy sat in a classroom all day. His teacher was a lovely woman trying to do the impossible with twenty-five students from all different socio-economic backgrounds, with different goals for their future, with different abilities and capabilities, and even at this age, the differences were apparent.

I’d watched the bus go by in the dark of the morning before the sun even rose, and every day it roared home well after 4:00. Day after day I watched him file down the hallways, and it seemed like he spent more time out than in the classroom. One day I decided to log their comings and goings.  Any time the door was shut, I assumed they were studiously engaged in learning, so I logged that. And although some of their time outside the classroom was for important subjects like art or music, I did not log that either. I only logged the time when they were at their desks in their classroom, presumably with an opportunity for learning the core academic subjects – like readin’, riting’ and rithmetic.

At the end of the day, I was stunned that these second grade students had spent a total of 2.5 hours in classroom instruction. My neighbor had spent nine hours away from his sweet mama, and six and a half hours he could have been running free, playing in the creek, learning to play the harmonica, or whittling, or building forts and dams, and studying crickets and frogs, or just hanging out with his grandpa.

On that day I determined that public school wasn’t an efficient use of time, and that I was sure I could do at least as well, or perhaps even better on my own – with a much smaller investment of time and tax payer money.

When it was time to send my daughter off  to kindergarten — I didn’t. I decided to keep her home and do at least two and a half hours a day of educational whatever. If my grand experiment failed, then we could send her to school the next year as an older kindergartner! There was nothing to lose. But, oh what a year we gained!

We had so much fun, and she learned so much, that we did it again, and again, and again until there were no grades left!

What about you? How did you start this journey? Did you admire a homeschool child or family? Did you have a concern with institutional education? Were you concerned with the environment of the public schools? Did you want more control over curriculum choices and peer groups? Did you feel called by God to home school? Did you envision homeschooling as a great new frontier available for those brave enough to pioneer the way?

This contest has ended, but thanks for reading! I’d love to hear your reasons. . . you don’t have to leave a long comment; just one or two words will do. And then you’ll be entered in the drawing for a free one-year subscription to Home Educating Family Magazine! Contest runs September 7th through September 13, 2013 11:59 p.m. CST.


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About the Author

Shari Popejoy, wife of twenty-eight years, mother of three, founder of a local co-op for hundreds of homeschool children, author of seven books, and creator of Won Without Words (a blog of encouragement for wives) lives in the quiet country of the Ozarks where she enjoys writing surrounded by nature (and her children, of course). She is currently completing Volume V of the Livingstone Library, an adventure series for 'smart' kids, which features characters with character, and underlying allegorical spiritual truths. She enjoys high places and the road less traveled, and moments when all is well, and peace permeates like a fragrance. . .oh, and chocolate, fresh fruit and veggies, and early morning sunrises. Read her blog at

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  1. [...] built for her. They fell into the homeschool lifestyle when she decided to keep her oldest daughter home from kindergarten so they could spend the days pursuing interesting educational and fun activities. Soon, the routine [...]

  2. Julie Youn

    I am thankful and blessed to have had a Christian Mama who was a pioneer homeschooler in the early 70′s.
    Thus forever changing my life…and now my children’s.

  3. Melissa Epperly

    Your story sounds very similar to mine, although this is our first year of homeschooling, and my children are 12 (7th grade) and 7.5(2nd grade). I worked as a sub for the public schools and saw all the garbage that went on, all the time wasted, and all the stuff my kids WEREN’T learning. My daughter did HORRIBLY on the state tests, yet she passed all her school subjects(she’s working on a 5th grade level in math, 6th in social studies, and 7th in Science and ELA!) My son, on the other hand, tested 2 years AHEAD in math on the state tests, yet the charter school he went to(to avoid the lousey public schools) REFUSED to let him do 2nd or 3rd grade math work(in first grade when he tested that high). He was misbehaving, mostly because he was BORED. he would be done with his work in 5 minutes, then he was just supposed to sit there and read silently. In FIRST grade? ALL subjects? NOT my son. Now i’m free to let him take breaks when he needs to, or do subjects that he’s interested in(DINOSAURS!). Math is on his level, not where the school thinks he should be. Best of all, WE LOVE HOMESCHOOLING!!!

    Thanks for sharing your story!
    Melissa in Dover, DE

  4. Ashley Corlett

    We started homeschooling this year because I felt that my children were being educated at public school, but were lacking in certain areas we felt were important. I wanted my children to learn good morals, manners, and while technology is important, I felt that there was too much time spent on this and less time spent on things like cursive writing.

  5. Crystal Casteel

    I enjoyed you article. Although we are just now doing Prek/K we are attemping HS because we noticed the growing drug problem in the area and the fact the drugs are getting to even the youngest of children. We also did not like the fact that when we looked up area schools our child might attend they were ranked some of the WORST in the state!

  6. Lisa C.

    This was a wonderful post! We believe that God has called us to homeschool our children! Thanks!

  7. Liz Ruble

    We have had our good days and bad days but I still believe this is one of the best things I have ever done.

  8. Nicole

    Well, I could write a book on this subject (lol), but I’ll try to keep it short. We homeschool for many reasons, but the main one is that I LOVE to be with my children. I can’t imagine sending them away all day. We like to have family time and with my husband’s busy work schedule, (we farm & he is also fertilizer plant manager and fert.truck driver),my kids would’ve been in bed if they were in public school when he gets home many nights. We love the flexability when he is not as busy, to go on a day trip or just to spend the day together. We are glad we can teach our children God’s Word and Truth without having to “deprogram” what they have “learned” in school. I went to college to be a teacher and worked in the public school system all through college and also for a little while after- so I was familiar with how it was ran and I didn’t want that for my kids. I feel blessed to be able to homeschool our children.

  9. Kele

    We homeschool because we truly enjoy time spent together as a family and because of the flexible schedule it allows. Childhood is so short, we want to raise up our children in the way they should go! Great article! I loved your example.

  10. Congratulations Ashley! You won the free subscription! I’m emailing you! Thank you to everyone for participating! New giveaways all month so please comment again!

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