Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Back To School

Sometime in the early 1980's, years before I had my first child, I read an article in the Mother Earth News on the topic of home education. It was a strange notion at the time--I was surprised to learn that it was even LEGAL--but I was intrigued.

I think I was born to teach. When I was growing up, I loved everything about going to school--my instructors and the classrooms, the crayons and the jars of paste, the workbooks and the library. At home, I loved playing school, rounding up my dolls and my little brothers and forcing them to be my pretend students. Then, at the ripe old age of seven, I started taking piano lessons. Right away, I determined that I wanted to be a piano teacher when I grew up. I had a few struggles along the way--The Song of the Volga Boatmen and Turkey in the Straw were special challenges--but I rose above them ended up going to college and obtaining both a bachelor's and a master's degree in piano performance and piano pedagogy. It seemed like the perfect choice for a woman who wanted to have a career AND stay home and raise a family.

It was. As a newlywed, I taught piano in Peoria, Illinois; a few years later, when my then-husband accepted a job in Raleigh, North Carolina, I said good-bye to Peoria and established a studio in Raleigh. There, my first son was born; of course, I continued working with my students, but along with the parenting handbooks and Clavier magazine, I read everything I could find on the subject of education in general and home schooling in particular. And when Josh reached the age of mandatory attendance in North Carolina, I completed the necessary paperwork and our home school became official.

Casey came along in four years later; in 1994, our growing family moved to the metropolitan Atlanta area where Nathan was born in 1996. The little ones learned alongside the older ones. Over the years, I taught all three boys to read and write; how to add, subtract, multiply and divide; I even taught Casey and Nathan how to play the piano. Together, we learned about American history, world geography, the scientific method and elementary French. We went on field trips to art museums and symphony concerts, took art classes and attended park days, joined Cub Scouts and took swimming lessons, watched birds and baked cookies, created nature journals, dissected owl pellets and listened to books on tape while we drove from one activity to the next. And I spent many afternoons and evenings reading aloud--even after the boys were able to read for themselves--including the entire Little House series and all the Narnia books. Eventually, I became something of a leader in the home school community; I gave seminars and led support groups and tried to give other interested parents the skills and confidence to teach their own.

Altogether, I spent 33 years home schooling. But this week marks the end of an era. On August 10, 2009, the first day of school in Gwinnett County, Georgia, my thirteen year old son, Nathan, boarded the big yellow bus and rode it all the way to Osborne Middle School and began his studies as a public schooled eighth grader.

And yesterday Casey got the phone call we have been waiting for from Georgia Gwinnett College; he was accepted into the joint enrollment program for his senior year of high school. His classes will start on Monday. Josh is already in college; he graduated from home school high school in 2006, and is studying photography Portfolio Center in Buckhead, GA.

I couldn't be any prouder of my three sons. They are bright and capable; I can only hope that I gave them the foundation they need to be successful in their future educational endeavors. But one thing is for sure: I have wonderful memories of the many happy days we all spent learning together. I wouldn't have missed them for anything.


Jeff said...

Wow, Pam, what a story. My wife, Cindy, home schooled Rachel and Alex off and on. Isn't it a fabulous choice?

You mention your "then husband". Not to pry, but since you are blogging about your life, I feel it is fair game. Did you remarry?

I saw that you live in Atlanta. I LOVE Atlanta. What a city.

Janet said...

It's bittersweet, isn't it? I know for sure that all of your boys have been given a great start and will be star students wherever they end up!
It must feel a little like an "empty nest" right now as this new phase begins for all of you.
Take care,

Pam said...

Jeff, thanks for your comments. To answer your question, I'm still single after all these years. :)

Nathan said...

you stalker. :(

Nathan said...

Taking pictures of me without my knowledge, THAT SHOULDN'T EVEN BE LEGAL.

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