Darren and I met in French class, in 1988 at Kennebecasis Valley High School, in New Brunswick, Canada. I had just moved there with my parents when my Dad's job transferred him there. We dated from 1988 to 1993, when I left college in my second year, and had to return to the United States, since I could not work in Canada, as a U.S. citizen.
At this point, we were faced with the issue of which direction our relationship would take…. should we get married (I was only 20) or give the long distance thing a try? Well, we gave the long distance thing a try for a few months, but we soon opted for the marriage route. In fact, we eloped (told our parents first, though)…. and went to Bangor, Maine. We were married on April 20th, 1993. This was the beginning of our marital bliss…. well, there have been some less than blissful moments along the way, but we've grown and learned together, and wouldn't have had it any other way!
Since our marriage in 1993, we have lived in Connecticut, Italy, Kentucky and now Maryland. Darren left the Army in 1999 and has been working in the civilian sector of the governement since then. Right before the time Darren got out of the army, our daughter, Florence, was born on August 2, 1999. Three and a half years later, we got a new addition to our family when Joseph was born on December 11, 2002 while we were living in Connecticut. Then, most recently, our daughter, Zofia Roze, was born on August 19, 2007 here in Maryland.
We are a homeschooling family, so we're all learning together! We decided to homeschool when our first child, Florence, was just a wee baby. Some people we met were homeschooling, and this prompted me to research it a bit. What I found was the perfect fit for us, and both Darren and I were excited about the possibilities of our child's education.
Of course, Flo has grown up quite a bit, and started her first "official" school year in the Fall of 2004, here in Maryland. We've come to know first hand what the process of homeschooling is really like, and all the challenges and rewards that come with it. What we love most is the flexibility homeschooling affords us, and the fact that we can work at our child's own pace.
We realize homeschooling is not for everyone, and certainly acknowledge that there are many ways to get a well-rounded education. We feel fortunate to have the time and energy to devote to our children during these years, and have been overwhelmed by the amount of support, activities and resources available to homeschoolers in our area, and around the country. We even helped create a thriving support community in our area, called The Potomac Home Learning Circle.
Since we've decided to homeschool, two of the most common responses I get from my peers are "I could never do that. I wouldn't have the patience to teach my own child." and "What about socialization?" As for my opinion regarding these statements? Well, let me tell you…
Firstly, as for one's ability to teach their own children, I think most of us are socialized to believe that educating our children is someone else's responsibility. It often doesn't even occur to parents that they could effectively provide their children with all the knowledge they need to eventually go out into the world and be effective members of society. Or, furthermore, that this process wouldn't involve simulating a classroom environment in the home, but can happen naturally, just by taking advantage of everyday opportunities and resources. We want to provide our children with the tools to do anything they want in life. We don't believe these tools come in the form of any specific curriculum or classroom setting, but from the ability of the child to have the resourcefulness to seek out and accomplish the goals they set for themselves.
Next, we have the issue of socialization. According to Webster's Dictionary, the word "socialization" can be defined as "the adoption of the behavior patterns of the surrounding culture." This may be great, if the surrounding culture embodies characteristics we wish to have our children adopt. We just happen to be of the mind-set that our children can interpret and define their surrounding culture, without the filter of institutionalized education. Okay, so I know when people say "socialization," they generally mean the opportunity to interact with their peers, not the process of being culturally brainwashed by educational institutions. That's a reasonable concern.
Maybe fifty years ago, homeschoolers didn't have the networks they have today, and homeschooling could have been an isolating experience. However, today, with just a little effort, homeschooling parents can find a multitude of opportunities for their children to engage in activities with their peers. Flo has taken gymnastics, music, art, soccer, swimming and participates in at least a couple weekly playgroups. Equally important, we try to ensure that she has plenty of opportunity to interact with adults and encounter other types of social situations, in which she has to practice using her communication skills, manners and common sense. So, for us, the potential lack of socialization with homeschooling, as opposed to a "traditional" schooling situation is a non-issue.
Homeschooling is much like life. You find things that work, and things that don't. I'm sure we'll learn as much as our children as we continue on this journey. So far we've learned to just not take things too seriously, and to just provide a safe and stimulating environment in which our children can learn.
But, that's just a bit about us… You can find out more about us and our interests on our main site at www.GreensNGoodness.com.