Growing up the daughter of a history, shop, and drafting teacher and his wife, I had a wonderful childhood. My two sisters, brother and I have memories that we will cherish forever. My dad always wished he could have lived in the age of Buffalo Bill, and we were taught the meaning of holding a hand of "Aces and Eights,"(the dead man's hand) at an early age. I never thought of our extensive family trips to historical places as anything but fun, but I dare say that looking back, most of what I really know, in my heart, was a result of "homeschooling." Back in the 60s the concept was unknown.
Perhaps because of this upbringing, I don't think much of what I learned in school really stuck. What I knew of nature, or how a piston works in a car, or how to doctor hurt animals, came as a direct result of my father's innate teaching ability and his desire to spend time with us. As for history, we climbed the ancient pyramids in Mexico City and saw their marvelous construction, and horrible sacrificial sights first hand. The Alamo, Little Round Top, where Custer made his Last Stand, a Pony Express Station, ruts formed by constant traveling along the Oregon Trail, the Alaskan Highway, old gold mines, Kit Carson's grave, I've seen them all. History and a lifelong love of learning coursed through my veins, as did the love for teaching. I knew how to paddle a canoe, pack a backpack, cook over an open fire, read a map and plan a trip, build a doghouse, sew my own clothes, garden and so much more by the time I was a teen.
Because of this early upbringing I grew up thinking I could do anything. In the early 70s I was the first girl allowed in the drafting and shop class in my high school. During this time, I met my husband at church, and we were married 3 years later, in 1975, when he graduated from college. Our first son, Cris, was born in January 1978, and I graduated from Michigan State University two months later. I of course earned a teaching degree-as teaching was in my blood. Although I elected to stay home with my precious son, I have always been grateful to my husband for putting me through 3 years of school. I read once "If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family." I think that is true.
As the years went by, two more sons, Dusty and Chad were added to our family, and off to school they went. We moved to Florida in 1982, to change careers and to change climates. I did licensed day care in my home to help make ends meet for 5 years and although it was a great way to make money and stay home with my children, it was exhausting. During this time, our daughter Kari was born. Three years later our fourth son, Scott was born and my husband and I felt he was being called into full time ministry. At our pastor's recommendation, we eventually sold our home and moved to Wilmore, Kentucky to attend Asbury Theological Seminary.
Two years before moving to Kentucky, Cris started having multiple problems in the middle school he was attending. The school had major safety issues. Cris was not safe, and he was absent with asthma a third of the time. We could not afford private school, and I was in the process of trying to get him a special permit to attend a different school when one of my close Christian friends asked if I had considered homeschool. (Is it legal? Could I do it? Sounds crazy!)
It was October 1990. I met with a friend of hers from a community Bible Study, and within one month Cris was home where he belonged. My husband had more faith in me that I had in myself, but within a month Cris was whistling, a sound I hadn't heard for months. His asthma was non-existent. He was growing spiritually. We had made the right choice.
Chad and Dusty remained in our neighborhood school that year. But the next year, because of rezoning problems in our neighborhood, and a growing conviction that God really wanted us to homeschool all the children, my little school had four students and a two year old. I used textbooks, combining Dusty and Chad where I could. It was a lot of work, but we were all happy.
During the next several years I tried many different teaching techniques. I used textbooks and prepared unit studies. For a year one son used a video homeschool program, one used workbooks for biology class, and one ambitious year, I wrote my own unit studies for a 9th, 7th, 5th, and 1st grader and a three year old. It was learning at it's best, but by the end of the year I was exhausted. Back to textbooks!
When Cris finished 9th grade, he asked to go to the local public school. We consented. He had a strong support group with kids from the youth group and we felt it was best for him. His brother's followed suit, going to the high school in 10th grade.
In the spring of 1997 a friend of mine was going to Nigeria as a missionary. She said she was going to use Sonlight, had I heard of it. I checked into it, and the rest, as they say, is history. Since I had used so many varieties of curriculum through the years, I felt that I had struck gold when I found Sonlight. The focus on history combined with great literature was like a breath of fresh air. The historic places of my youth came alive, and best of all, no more planning!