Day Writing by Heather Hamilton-Maude: Education
We were at Darrell and Mavis Peterson’s branding a few years back. Mavis, known as Mrs. Peterson to many of her former students at the local country school, asked me if we knew where we would send our kids to school when the time came.
I replied I wasn’t sure. We are located in Wall’s district, but New Underwood is a little closer, and Rapid City is all highway, but the class sizes concerned me, and we had discussed homeschooling, though not very seriously.
“You know, you could do it. You are quite capable of teaching your kids, should you go the homeschooling route,” Mavis replied to me in complete seriousness.
I was a little surprised – hers wasn’t the usual response.
Fast forward, and we tried preschool in Wall for one semester. While the teacher was phenomenal and our son thoroughly enjoyed it, the rest of the situation left quite a bit to be desired.
Located an hour from home, preschool ran from noon-3 p.m., meaning I couldn’t make it home before having to turn around and head back. So, I spent the time he was in school running errands or doing business from my vehicle.
A certain amount of this time was spent pondering solutions. I started looking into pursing a bus route. Not one parent I spoke with had any interest in backing me. After all, parents have always driven their kids. It’s that way it has always been. A school board member told me this is the time in my life when I become an aid at the school. The man who eliminated school buses told me the reason was the district didn’t think it was fair to put children’s lives in the hands of one person – what would it do to that person if there was ever an accident. But, their solution from the start was to have families get together and carpool.
It was like hitting wall after wall as we tried to find a way to make school work for our family, while maintaining a side business that pays more than driving an hour from home to be an elementary school aid, while also keeping our farm and ranch afloat.
At the same time, the kids and I started attending a Wednesday afternoon and evening kid and adult bible study. Several of the other mother’s homeschooled their kids, either for several years, or as a result of COVID. In speaking to them, they were happy to answer any of my questions. They provided me materials to look over, insights into what did and did not work for them, offers of help in getting started should we decide to go that route. For every hurdle we faced in pursuing public school, it seemed a door was easily opened on the homeschool side. All while sitting at a weekly, Bible-based gathering of 50-plus kids, which they noted was an awesome socialization opportunity.
The tipping point came on an exceptionally hectic day that also included preschool. That night I told my husband I couldn’t do both our side business and school fulltime. I was largely failing at our side business, and that was with school only occurring two days a week. We had to make a choice of whether I would spend two-to-four hours a day driving our kids to and from school, and significantly cut back on our meat business, or, try homeschooling and see if that option would allow us to continue our meat business.
So, we talked about it, and prayed about it. I stopped by a friend’s house, and the curriculum she showed me was nearly to the day where our son would begin Kindergarten. The Wall Kindergarten teacher called, and in visiting I explained what we were considering. She said if she were in our situation, she would consider homeschooling too, and said if we did go that route, I was welcome use her as a resource, ask her questions, or see how we were doing relative to her class at any time.
These are just a few of the many ways in which God directed what has become our decision to homeschool for at least this school year.
The Lord works in mysterious ways, and plants seeds along the way to what he has called us to do. I have no doubt my conversation with Mavis several years ago, and her positive endorsement of my abilities, was one of the very first seeds God planted to bring our current education decision to fruition.
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