The scariest thing I have ever done was NOT picking up and moving 1500 miles from a place where we'd been raised to a place where we knew no one. It wasn't marrying my husband a year-minus-day from the date of our first date. It wasn't having children. No, the scariest thing I've ever done was to decide to undertake homeschooling said children. Yep, that is the truth. Deciding that I was perfectly capable of providing my children with better than adequate early to middle education was the scariest thing I've ever done. When I homeschooled Charming, he was already middle-school-aged. I did it under the auspices of the local school district and I knew he'd be going back to high school. I just went ahead with the curriculum I was told to do. I was the quintessential substitute teacher and it was fine. (It was more than fine...he's graduated from a four-year university and living on his own at 19! Oh, and he actually likes his parents. Obviously, I didn't mess him up too badly.)
Deciding to pull Valiant and Buttercup out of school meant that I'd be starting with younger children - Valiant had just finished 4th grade and Buttercup had just finished 1st grade. I wouldn't just be following along, I would be doing it all. That was and remains daunting. Can I really teach Valiant to write? What about Buttercup? Can I help her embrace her creative side without choking it with her desire for perfection? Obviously, I think the answers to those questions are "yes", but the truth is, I won't know for a few more years. By then, if I've messed up, they will be paying a tremendous price for my faith in myself, won't they?
This is our fifth year of homeschooling. Buttercup is now a sixth grader (by traditional measures) and Valiant is now an ninth grader. Has it been perfect? No, not even close. We've all had to learn new ways of communicating and getting along when things get strained and it hasn't always been easy or successful, but it has been worthwhile. Truthfully, even if they end up with an academic hole or blank, they've done what I'd hoped they'd do: they've embraced learning. They've become curious again. They are willing to dig, to search, and to question. To me, that is what education is all about.
(This post was originally published on the blog I shared with my sister in 2009 as we got to know each other after a lifetime on separate sides of the country...I've updated it for today's post.)