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"Why on Earth would you want to do THAT?"
Our Family's Decision to Home School

by Bette Holleman

People stare at us when we go out, and I guess I don't blame them. We look like a military unit, our fearless leader guiding us, the troops marching along, with bundles, backpacks and strollers bringing up the rear. We vaguely remember our lives before this happy chaos started, but can't imagine things any other way. My husband, John, and I have five children, three boys and two girls, ages 16 months to 12 years. We will begin our ninth year in home education this fall. Our five year old son, Ben, has been diagnosed over the past year with a mild form of autism known as SPD, so we are now moving into the area of special education along with dietary intervention to help him achieve his full potential. Many people ask why we would voluntarily take on the responsibility of educating our kids. Along with the central tenets of our faith, life experience played a great part in how we live our lives today.

The decision in favor of home education for our children evolved for my husband and me over the course of our lives. For me, the seeds were planted with my decision at the age of five to be an at home mom, and later in college, when I saw, in no uncertain terms, how incomplete my public school education had been. For my husband, it was years of labeling and pigeonholing by the public school system, and all the social chaos and isolation caused by it.

Home schooling your children

How The Concept Came About

We were introduced to the concept of home education when our oldest son was about two years old. We had just started attending a new church with three home school families in the congregation. What we noticed first about them was that their kids were different from other kids we knew in public schools. They weren't brainwashed automatons, but they were happy, confident, well behaved, and very well educated. As we got to know these families better, we could see the positive dynamic home education had in their lives. There was little in the way of fierce sibling rivalry, and the fathers were more involved with the day-to-day aspects of their children's lives and education. But the mothers were the ones that impressed us most. No, they didn't all have lots of money, perfectly clean homes, perfect bodies or perfect lives for that matter. They were just regular people, teaching their children with fantastic results. They were investing in the future through their kids. They were sharing one of the most precious gifts one being can give another: knowledge. Most of all, they gave us the encouragement we needed to know that we could do it, too.

At the time, we may not have seemed like the most qualified candidates to home school. Both college dropouts, my husband worked as a carpet layer, and I sold insurance. We had a total income of about $18,000 a year. We drove an old car, and had a lot of debt. When we began to home school two years later, we had another son, I was pregnant with my oldest daughter, and I had given up my job to be a full time mom. I had garage sales and cleaned houses to raise money to buy my curriculum, and I collected cans and bottles to buy the rest of my school supplies. We worked at the kitchen table, spent a lot of time at the library, and visited the local nursing homes as a charity project. After the birth of our daughter, my husband felt led to go back to school, and I worked full time nights and weekends, teaching the kids during the day. I saw my husband in the driveway as we did the 'changing of the guard' each evening. It was not easy, but it spurred us on to tremendous spiritual growth, and with that came greater closeness and trust within our family, and later, financial prosperity. Home education not only raised the standards for our children, but also our expectations for ourselves. We have never regretted our decision.

No One Is More Qualified

When anyone asks us "Why on Earth would you want to home school?" our response has been "Why on Earth wouldn't we want to?" No one else is more qualified to teach our kids than we are. We know them, love them, and will be directly affected by the outcome of their education. We can take as much or as little time as we need for a subject, do extra work in areas of interest for our children, or organize special projects. We can share in our children's challenges, growth and triumphs. Home education is not a job to us, it's a passion, a life's work. There is nothing we could do for our kids that is more worthwhile.

I plan to cover the "how-tos" of home education in detail in the months to follow. Home education is accessible to anyone, anywhere, who has a genuine desire to take a positive role in the lives of their children. I will try to give you guidance to ask yourself the right questions, find the right resources and help you build your support system. I would appreciate your feedback and questions about this column, or anything else pertaining to home education.

Until next time,

A Home Schooling Parent


Bette Holleman is a WAH mother of five children, and a home educator for the past nine years. She has been married to her best friend, John, for 15 years. In addition to her roles as zookeeper, slave driver and crisis queen, she runs a financial referral service at http://FamilyFinances.FinancialCircuit.com

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