kids in the Young Scholars program at work

How the Homeschooling Journey Begins

Seventeen years ago, I married my best friend and we started this journey together.

Sixteen years ago, we experienced our first miscarriage, leaving us uncertain if we would ever be parents.

Fifteen years ago, we excitedly welcomed our first son. Like most first time parents, we went overboard! Every bath he had was given by both of us, he had almost no screen time before the age of two, and we sanitized everything.

Fourteen years ago, after expanding our family, I became a stay-at-home mom.

Thirteen years ago we started exploring our school options: public, private and parochial. We listed our pros and cons for each and quickly realized that we weren’t satisfied with the options on the table. The number of children, living in Orleans Parish school system, and the cost of school were NOT the top considerations.

The factors that did matter:

-our oldest had a January birthday, but he was academically ready for school;
-we wanted to have a little more time to guide him before exposing him to external influences;
-we knew about the disproportionate number of black boys profiled and put in special education, and we didn’t want that to happen to our son;
-we wanted close sibling relationships;
-we wanted our children to have a diverse and rigorous educational experience;
-the thought of waking up the baby when we had to bring or pick up kids from school was unappealing;
-having kids in multiple schools;                                                                                                                    -what would happen on sick days? I heard about the number of illnesses kids get when starting school;
-I wasn’t ready to send him away yet.

So where did that leave us? None of the available options fit our needs. After much discernment, I started exploring homeschooling. Homeschooling? Really? What does it entail? Can I do this? How can I do this?

Derrick and I had another conversation about education, and I introduced homeschooling. Derrick wasn’t so sure for many reasons. First, I’m passionate about a lot of things, until I’m not. He didn’t want our children to be one of the casualties of my newest best idea.  Second, he wasn’t sure he wanted the responsibility of their education resting on our shoulders, after all, wasn’t that what schools were for? Teachers and administrators are trained for this. Third, would it negatively impact our lives? Fourth, would they learn all they needed to know? And, the elephant in the room: What about SOCIALIZATION? How would our kids know how to – be a kid?

Even though it was hard to admit to myself, I took all of his concerns to heart, because he was right. How many passions had I explored- at least 10 up to that point? But, these were our kids and I didn’t want to “ruin” them, which led to more doubts. Was I patient enough? Was I smart enough? Was I committed enough? Was I enough?

So we talked again, addressing his initial concerns. Ultimately, Derrick thought that his quiet demeanor wouldn’t be the best role model for the kids. However, after discussions, he realized that going to school didn’t change his personality, so maybe staying at home wouldn’t change our kids either. So we were closer to a maybe.

Maybe? What does it look like? I need to know EVERYTHING. You wake up and? Do you just start? How do you structure your day? What curriculum do you use? How do you know they are learning the information? What grade do you start with? How do you teach a child to read? What about the baby? How do I teach the three-year-old, manage a 18-month-old and care for the 3-month-old?

Well, he’s 3, so I can continue what we’re doing. We played lots of educational games, spent time doing puzzles, learned math through daily activities, and read aloud, A LOT.

During this time, I was fortunate enough to hear a presentation by Lisa Whelchel Blair from “The Facts of Life”, about her homeschooling journey. I devoured So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling, and realized that I could do this. I realized that homeschooling didn’t have to look a certain way and that there was SO much FLEXIBILITY in homeschooling that I could decide what I wanted our educational experience to be.

That began our journey. Homeschooling happens while life happens. In addition to welcoming two more children into our family, we experienced three miscarriages over a 2-year time frame. We served in leadership with several different organizations. We lived through multiple hurricanes. We helped to grow some homeschool programs and start others. We played, prayed, cried, learned, and traveled together.

Fifteen years, five children, multiple homeschool groups, four miscarriages, three dogs, two homeschool programs, and one flood later, we’re still on the journey with our five children. If you are currently or considering homeschooling, reach out to us. In addition to a network of homeschool families ready to offer support, answer questions, and share their experiences, you will realize that you are not alone! Through NOLA Homeschoolers, we provide support, community and opportunities to enhance this journey.

I’m Ty Salvant, a Nola native passionate about homeschooling, marriage, and volunteering. I look forward to sharing my journey with you.

by Ty Salvant

October 27, 2017.

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