A bit ago I mentioned that we, technically, aren’t homeschooling anymore. After homeschooling my children into their teen years, all of the sudden they are involved in outside educational programs and I still find that to be a very strange thing. Personally, I don’t like that they’re gone so much and they really don’t like being gone so much. I suppose there is a sense of relief to know that they are glad to be doing what they’re doing but that they so much long for home and family.
People have asked most often about Miriam, why she is attending the local community college. Many of our friends have shown a fearful concern that either we had skeletons in our closets that have somehow affected a terrible change in our family or that we’ve been bewitched by some newfangled idea or that we simply fell off the wagon. :) I thought I’d share a bit of why we have come to this place and the kind of spring-board we hope to use it as.
Miriam will be 17 on Monday. I can’t believe it. How does time go so fast? She is my right hand here at home, and though I don’t count her as my friend she is one of my closest companions. We work together and talk, we sing together while we work, we laugh till we cry about some of the silliest things you can imagine. We dream about her future together and reminisce about our past. She is my role model in so many ways, I simply cannot understand how she has been growing into this wonderful young woman that she is in spite of all I’ve done. Praise G-d, it’s been all His doing! So why on earth would I encourage her to go off to college? I must have lost my mind, right?
It wasn’t a shock to me to hear that Miriam intends to homeschool her own children someday. I was quite pleased when I understood how deeply she desires to be home with her children, teaching them and sharing with them. She wants to be her future husbands helper, a superb manager of her home, a wonderful chef, and more. She wants to be able to assist in running a business or a farm, or both. She likes the idea of working for a time with one of her favorite organizations, Heifer International and later to be a 4-H leader. Most of these things she has a good solid foundation to be able to begin to do when HaShem says it’s time.
As we were considering the various things she still wants to learn and master before too long, we also were considering what obstacles she might encounter. One of those obstacles involves her ability to homeschool her own future children. Today in our state, the parent who does the primary homeschooling is required to be at least a high school graduate but it is preferred that that parent have a college education. (Of course, there are ways that an individual without these qualifications can qualify in the eyes of the state but let’s not focus on those for now.) I do not know the rules in other states for homeschooling parents but the friends I’ve spoken with feel as I do that in time, those requirements will change. What kind of change? I don’t know, but there has been speculation that in the not too distant future, a college degree might the minimum requirement for a parent to legally homeschool their children at least in our state. Miriam and I discussed this and decided that since our state has a program for high school Juniors and Seniors to go to the community college and earn their Associates Degree at no cost to us, that we should consider taking advantage of that opportunity. We had looked through the courses offered and she had settled on the Veterinary Technician course, an easy choice for my beautiful young shepherd. The veterinarians she deals with all smiled and assured her that the courses would be a breeze for her since she already knows and does the job of a Vet Tech on her own. Piece of cake. Settled. Done. She started taking classes this fall. She was excited to have a purpose to be working toward, not a career but a lifestyle.
So she set to work on the requirements to gain admission to the Vet Tech program and with her elective credits she chose things like accounting and business marketing with the hopes of gaining some insight into how to run a small business (small farms are small businesses, after all). She also took some art and pottery classes because she has a great love of art and she wanted to make some of her own items for her hope chest. She has been enjoying the variety in her schedule and smiles when the instructors ask if her goal is to be an accountant or an artist or whatever. :) But shortly after she started taking classes she came to me and said, “I don’t think I want to do the Vet Tech program. I’m just not that motivated to do it. If I’m at the school to be a better home manager and homeschooling mom then maybe I should consider Early Childhood Education instead of the vet stuff. They tell me I already know most of what I’d learn and if my future children are why I’m doing this at all, then maybe that should be the route I take instead. It just makes sense.”
We both had heard and discussed the potential changes to the homeschooling requirements that may come down the road for her and one of those changes included the possibility that the parent may need a college degree as some form of teacher. I know, those ideas have been tossed around for a long time. But looking at the state of our state and our country I’m not so sure that hoping it doesn’t come to that is a good idea. She really wants to be sure that she’s covered and can fulfill her dreams within the boundaries of the laws of the land. And I’m grateful that she’s looking seriously at her future.
We have enjoyed the conversations when friends have asked us about why Miriam is enrolled at the local community college. But one thing that she and I have observed is that when we share our reasons for why, the other mothers’ faces have betrayed their shock, their voices have shakily said, “Oh! I never thought of that.” Some of her friends are now considering whether or not a college degree is prudent for them while others are re-considering what courses they’re interested in. I don’t know what choices they’ll make or for what reasons, but I’m glad to be able to share ideas with friends and discuss them. Who knows, by the fall we may change our minds too.
As of today we’re both looking forward to the summer months when she will be home again. She’s only at the school 3 days a week but that sure changes everything here at home. She’s looking forward to canning with me this summer/fall, making jam and jellies, trying out new recipes, sewing some new dresses, making more herbal tinctures and try our hand at salves and soaps, we’re both hoping to get a grain mill, and we’re still working on getting that ol’ meat slicer… We’ve even discussed learning the art of butchering livestock (with the guys, of course) this summer. And we’re both hoping to stave off the fall as long as possible. We’ve both decided that we’re really looking forward to her final classes and the satisfaction of knowing that wherever she lives, she’ll likely be qualified enough to spend her days with her own children on her own small farm. I’m so glad our farm is a multi-generational one – with multiple homes and plenty of space (where her flock of sheep is already established…).