“Do you knit?” I asked my friend Stacey, who sat beside me at a table near our sons’ fine arts classes. I pointed at some moms across the room who were furiously working with their needles.
“No. Don’t knit. I can’t even cook,” she said. I’d met Stacey a few weeks earlier when our young sons had hit it off on the playground. She had never struck me as a typical homeschooling mom. “And I only have three kids.”
We laughed. I only have two myself, but they’re “spirited,” so they count as six.
Of course, as I’d found out when I began homeschooling last fall, there is no one type of homeschooling mom. That was a fallacy I’d believed for a long time—one that nearly kept me from plunging in myself. I’d always thought that in order to teach my two sons at home, I would have to buy a long denim jumper and—shudder!—wear it; grow my hair out very long; and make my own soap.
Furthermore, since both my boys have the energy of Hammy the squirrel from the animated flick “Over the Hedge,” I’d never, ever considered it. My sanity is fragile, at best.
That said, after my husband’s job and our city of residence changed for the third time in several years, we began exploring options for our sons’ schooling. It became clear to us that the best choice for our family might be enrolling Jordan and Jackson in our new church’s homeschooling co-op.
My initial reaction to this surprising turn of events: Um…what?! Subsequently, I decided to ask the Lord about His unique sense of humor.
“Lord, you aren’t serious, are you?”
“I mean, I’ve always said I would never homeschool, and surely you aren’t trying to teach me a lesson?”
“I am terrible at math, Lord. And not so hot at science, either. And I need lots of time alone. Surely you know that—you made me this way!”
He seemed to smile.
My husband encouraged me to call the co-op’s director, a personal friend. After an hour of conversation and reassurances that we could boldly (if not bravely) go where many families had gone before, I felt calmer and more open-minded.
The co-op is a rapidly growing trend, in which homeschool students gather one, two, or three days a week to learn subjects such as science or math under qualified teachers. In our case, Jordan and Jackson would take most of their courses on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. We would purchase their textbooks, keep track of the credits they needed and received, and help them with homework and projects.
Slowly, the idea grew on me. When I found out that a church less than an hour from our house offered stellar fine arts lessons for homeschoolers on Mondays, everything clicked. I realized that I didn’t have to be an expert at everything in order to give my kids a more specialized education.
We’re now proudly a part of what I call “Homeschooling 2.0”—a new brand of education in which parents choose from various options and create a plan which best meets their family’s needs. The specifics vary for each family. Some parents teach their children full-time, aided by online classes and printed curriculum; others take part in co-ops, such as Classical Conversations, from one to three days a week. Even parents who work full-time are homeschooling older children, aided by technology and self-directed kids.
I still don’t think I’ll ever learn to knit—but I’ll never say never. Again.