The Accidental Homeschooler

By Cindy Morningstar

Homeschoolers are as varied as snowflakes, or flowers in a field to use a more spring-like analogy. We share many common attributes including an intense concern for the well-being of our children as whole and unique human beings, as well as the desire for them to have an education that meets their individual personal needs. Many parents knew from the birth of their first child, and even before, that they would homeschool. Others didn’t give it much thought until they received that letter from the town announcing that their baby had reached kindergarten age and it was time to say goodbye. Still others have become home-schoolers by default, or what I call “accidental” homeschoolers.

Their kids started down the traditional path and all was fine until one day something changed. One unhappy day becomes an unhappy week, the tears flow and parents are scratching their heads wondering what went wrong. And beyond that “what” lies the “what now”. Teacher conferences, IEP’s, doctors’ visits and more, and still there is no peace at home because school is no longer working and something needs to change. Sometimes that change works out within the system, and sometimes a new school is found that better suits the needs of the child. Often, however, the only solution is to abandon the notion of “school” altogether and start down a new path that no one in the family ever expected to be on.

I fall into the last category, though my unsatisfactory experience with my son’s preschool was 23 years ago so I feel like I have always been a home school parent. My first-born’s tendency to want to do things his own way, and his unusual appetite for telling long tales during sharing circle did not earn him any gold stars. Instead it landed him in the quiet corner segregated from his peers for the crime of having too much to say. Well, I quickly decided that I liked his independent ways and his long stories so I decided to keep him home with me. Shortly thereafter, I had my last tearful battle with his two younger brothers who were dutifully enrolled in preschool (because everyone sends their three and four year olds to preschool if they want them to have the best start in education, right?) All they wanted to do was stay home and play, and I realized that all I wanted them to do was stay home and play.

So here we are, 23 years later, still home schooling the youngest siblings of those delightful little boys who opened the door to a life I never expected to lead and wouldn’t change for the world.

This is my journey as an accidental homeschooler; what’s yours? Please send us an account of how you arrived at homeschooling with your children. We would like to gather and share a multitude of such stories, each one unique and interesting to those on the same path.