Guest Blog by Lori Clayton
I’m not a planner or a goal setter, it just seems cumbersome to me.  When I have an idea that seems reasonable I just proceed, figuring it out along the way.  Such is my life and my home schooling adventure.  When my daughter turned five I decided to try out home schooling as I observed the neighborhood children and noticed that most liked their teachers, but almost none liked school. I’m not sure if it was the pressure, even in the younger grades, or if it was the dislike for learning but I decided I could do better.
I had a couple of potential problems with sending my daughter to school such as my daughter praying for children every time someone got hurt.  I realized if she went to school I would be “sent” to the principal’s office. Also I realized that there would be people who would be the authority figure in my daughter’s life who didn’t necessarily agree with our life view.   I decided I couldn’t mess up kindergarten too badly so we moved ahead.  She was a great student, as she sat at her Little Tykes desk I would show her how to trace the letters in the book and tell her to let me know when she was done.  One day she walked into my bedroom asking “Mother (yeah, not Mom or Mommy but Mother) do the teachers at school make their beds while the children are at school?” OY! Needless to say we moved ahead quite quickly in school.
My son was different than my daughter, hyper and always on the move; he needed to be able to move around while learning.  It would have been harder for him to learn to sit still; at some point I figured it would affect his self esteem. He wasn’t a bad kid just active.  Since ADHD runs on both sides of my family I knew what he would struggle with in school.  He is a lot like me. My son wanted to be part of the home school adventure at three years old, so we started some structured coloring.  I taught him to read a year earlier than my daughter just to keep him entertained.
I am an un-school, home school Mom.  I thought about how to get my children to enjoy learning above structure.  I wanted them to enjoy reading, so I let them pick whatever they wanted for reading. Once I let my son loose in the book store and told him to find something to read, being picky, he didn’t like the typical eight year old readers.  So he chose a book on mechanized combat, tanks in every country from A-Z.  He loved it and read it faithfully, and oddly, can still tell you who made what tank and what countries have those tanks.
Both my children are in college, my daughter graduates this spring.  She is pursuing Med School. I’ve determined she gets her smarty pants jeans from my husband.  Although she says it’s not naturally occurring smartness, she says she works harder than most, and she is a self learner. She does put the hours in, more than I ever had the patience for.  I think that home schooling was a great opportunity for my children.
I worked for a Christian School Association a few years ago and the majority of employees were former teachers. Every time I told someone I home schooled my children I got puzzling looks that seemed to communicate, ‘who do you think you are being an educator, I’m the professional’.  So I always mentioned that no one would love my children as much as I love my children. Pulse they are my retirement plan, I’m moving in. Although my son says I can live in his basement, he’s says he’s taking out the stairs. Humor is a big part of our lives.  Learning is good, but being bogged down with too many rules takes the fun out of learning.  Thriving is always better than just surviving, and having fun along the way makes life enjoyable.