Sunday, January 13, 2008

Our Homeschooling Adventure

Our homeschooling adventure begin 15 years ago when we were living in Omaha, NE. Our oldest daughter, Niki, was just finishing up the 1st grade and we were certain that God wanted this for our family. Actually, I was pretty sure that we were to start the previous year, but I was pregnant with our oldest son at the time and thought that "Surely God doesn't want me to home school with a new baby on the way!" Wrong! Isn't that funny, the misconceptions we can have that really make no sense at all?! So, we sent Niki to the 1st grade that year as we thought we should, and by the end of that year, it was obvious that it wasn't the right thing to do. She came home with several odd beliefs over that year. Things like - "white people don't tie their shoes," - "that if you had a black bus driver he would kidnap you and take you somewhere else," etc. And wouldn't you know it? She had an African American bus driver at the end of the week who happened to take a different route and just happened to drop off Niki last. She came home in tears just knowing that she was being kidnapped! This was traumatizing to a 7-year-old! Well that was just the beginning. We were told during Parent Teacher Conferences several weeks later that she was doing very well, was learning Phonics quickly, and was very smart. They suggested that we go look at her classroom at all the artwork and schoolwork that she had done that was hanging on the walls and at her desk. My husband and I went to what we thought was the correct room, but couldn't find anything with Niki's name on it. So, we went back to the gymnasium and asked the teacher again what room it was that we were to go to. So, back we headed to the same room we had previously gone to. That's when Niki came in to show us her things. Do you know what the catch was? Everything that was "Niki's" said "Hop". "Hop" you ask??? Yes, HOP. Well boy was she proud of all of her school work, her nice neat desk, and her pictures on the walls. Well confused by the name "Hop" on everything, we went back to gymnasium once again to talk to her teacher. This is when she told us that yes, Niki writes her name "Hop" on everything she does. Her teacher told us that, "It was so cute seeing her write her name like that, that she couldn't help but let her keep doing it!" So when we got home that night, we asked Niki to write her real name on a piece of paper for us. She did...HOP. We told her that we wanted to see her real name, not the play one she uses at school. She wrote again, "HOP." She really did not know that she was supposed to be writing either Niki or Nicole. That made no sense to her at all!

The final straw was when she was in Art class one day and came home very upset. We asked her what was wrong and what had happened? She told us about the movie she'd seen in Art class that showed the children that when someone died, they cut out your heart, put it into a big black kettle of boiling water, and then place a feather into it. If the feather floats upward, you get to go to Heaven. If it floats downward, you have to go to Hell. We had always taught our children to give their heart to Jesus, accept Him as their Lord and Savior, and believe that He is God's son...that without Him dying on the cross for us, our sins would never be forgiven. That was the only way they'd ever get into Heaven. So Niki's understanding was that she couldn't go to Heaven if they were going to cut out her heart and put it in a big kettle of boiling water! So, we called the school to ask a few questions about this movie they'd been shown in class. Apparently several other parents were calling also, and the teacher "was too busy to return our phone calls." We tried for several days...nothing. It was Track & Field Day that next week and Doug was going to go to spend the day with her as I was feeling incredibly miserable and getting closer to the day our baby was going to be here, so Doug said he'd spend the day wwith her cheering her on. During the day, he just happened to see Niki's Art teacher, and made his way over to talk to him. That is when the teacher tried to explain that it was a movie about how other cultures deal with their dead. Other cultures? Why was it necessary to show 1st graders what it was like to deal with their dead in other cultures?!?!

As I said, it was at the end of this year that we decided that next year would be our first year of homeschooling our children. That was the best thing we could ever have done! Not only for many obvious reasons, but because there was a Desegregation Policy in the Omaha Public School System to mix interracial children and white children. Niki would have to go to a school in an unsafe part of Omaha for 2nd grade that year, where the school kept their front doors chained closed to keep drug dealers and users out. If we wanted to take her out for a doctor or dentist appointment, we'd have to go through the back where the kitchen staff would show us to the front office? And do you know, that in what would have been her 2nd grade class that year, two boys were randomly stabbed after school one day, and one girl was shot by her older sister because she didn't want her sister to tell her parents that she was pregnant!! So you ask, are you sure this was the right choice? Oh yes! 100%! And to think that my huband had originally said, "Let's just try one year at a time and go from there." The next year he said the same thing. And now, 15 years later, it is just a given! :+)

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