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Beginning to School at Home

Welcome to our school! It is the place we laugh, learn, love and grow. Because we have many children with differing abilities it is also our place of challenge, tears and triumph. Shady Creek Academy is a safe haven where love is unconditional and everyday life is our classroom.

When Leah was a senior in high school she struggled with peer pressure, a giftedness that was hard to nurture in the public school setting, and a need for more stability with less pressure than she was experiencing in the public high school she had been attending. That year, in spite of my doubts of our abilities or time, we decided to allow Leah to complete her final year of high school at home. We had recently moved to a new school district and that move was the final factor in deciding to step into the unknown mine fields of home schooling.

During those early years there were few options when it came to curriculum. Following suit of other parents we ordered a very traditional curriculum from one of the few resources we knew. This gave us traditional guidelines, a standardized curriculum and a place to start.

We were reasonably successful that year, and enjoyed a sense of accomplishment when Leah stood with a few other pioneer home-schooled students in a simple graduation ceremony the following spring. Now, how had this experience altered our options as far as the education of the rest of the children in our home? What knowledge had we gleaned? How had our life been changed? Would we be able to return to the traditional educational approach? We carefully weighed the pros and cons of the now completed school year.

As we contemplated just how to tackle this huge task we come to the realization that we were spending many more hours each day helping our children who had remained in public school do homework than our high school daughter was spending doing a full day of school. Therefore, wouldn’t schooling our children at home during the day give us more quality time with our children? It would then free evenings for more fun activities and family time. A bonus would be no mandatory time around the kitchen table after dinner with tired toddlers clinging to me and teary eyed school children weary from lessons begging for mercy and a release from homework. So…with much trepidation we decided to try schooling for ‘just one year’. In spite of our protests, our valid objections, our insecurity and our lack of knowledge God made it very clear that He desired that we ‘bring our children home’, we opted to be obedient to the call.

For us, schooling at home has offered a multitude of benefits that we could not have understood that first year. We had no clue in the beginning we would leave our beloved home and begin a journey that for the past 10 plus years has taken us to a variety of states and a number of homes. We have added 6 more children to our growing quiver and the needs of all these children have far outweighed anything we could have known or imagined so many years ago. Dealing with others regarding the educational, spiritual and emotional needs of these children would have been all consuming, taking much quality time away from our entire family. So, Shady Creek Academy lives on, from state to state and home place to home place.

What has been required of us as both parents and teachers of our children has been nothing short of amazing. God has chosen to send us a rainbow of children from all parts of the world. All have come with gifts, talents and challenges unique to their design. As their teacher I have been forced to study, struggle and learn along side all of these children. The rewards have been tremendous. We have great relationships with our now graduated children. (At the time of this writing there are 4 adult children out of our home, 10 children at home, 7 officially school age.) We have experienced less of the adolescent rebellion with our home-schooled teens than we had experienced with our older public educated children.

Probably more importantly they have left home grounded in the love and knowledge of our God and with purpose and plans that have been worked out in the luxury of time at home. God has impressed upon me many times at the end of a long day of dealing with a special needs child struggling to read simple sentences or master another equally challenging academic skill, that this battle is for their souls, that in the end it is the heart issues that our God is concerned with. Academics will not get these children into heaven, nor will the school system teach our children about unconditional love, the Biblical truth of pro-life and the importance of walking in kindness and unselfish love. While the academics of life are very important, it is the world that places great emphasis on tests and reports…God is concerned with issues of the heart, and that is where He desires that we grow. At Shady Creek Academy that is possible.

I do not think for a minute that home educating is for every family. We are very thankful though that we live in a country and a state that allows us the freedom to do what we believe God would have us to do for and with our family. Within the mix of children presently in our home I truly believe there are those that would flourish regardless of the environment they found themselves in. I believe some of our children could resist the temptations of the world, and even remain bold witnesses regarding their faith in Jesus Christ. Within that mix are also some children that are so vulnerable to peer pressure that simple outings with other children cause them to misbehave and digress in ways only those parenting special needs children can understand. So, we school for those that might otherwise be lost. We school because God has ask us to. We school because it gives us some control, certainly quality time, and to a lesser degree luxury in scheduling and planning other activities. All of life is a classroom, so schooling at home is a natural way grow and learn.