Our Homeschool: Fond (and-not-so-fond) Memories!


All photos are from the artists at Dollar Photo Club

In 1983, our family moved to a beautiful (actually very beautiful!), little farm nestled in the mountains of North Carolina, just outside Smoky Mountain National Park. We were all so happy! 

We had 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 goats, 4 geese, a dozen chickens, a magnificent blue & gold pet macaw, a big red barn, mountains in our back yard, and a babbling stream in the front! 

What we didn't have was a good school for our 3 elementary-aged children. Just months earlier, the local elementary school had made national headlines for an incident in which the principal paddled every child on the school bus for misbehavior: from the 6th graders all the way down to the Kindergarteners! At that time corporal punishment was legal in NC, and so the principal was within his rights.
So we homeschooled.

In those days, homeschool fell into a grey area of the North Carolina law. The only legal way to homeschool was to set up a private school (which we did!) and even that kind of set-up required that you have at least one child enrolled who wasn't part of the family household (which we did!)
However, we still got in trouble with the law! 

That same local school principal reported us to the truant officer, and one Saturday evening the sheriff came knocking at our door and told my husband and I that we were under arrest for truancy!

We were doing all that we could to "legally" homeschool during those days, but we still ended up having to retain a lawyer and yes!...the sheriff did take my husband down to the station to sign a paper saying we wouldn't leave the county until after we appeared in court.

Our lawyer arranged for us to continue our homeschool as soon as he showed the court the evidence of our private school. Even so, there were court battles going on throughout the state during those years and homeschooling was a top debate.

Nowadays, the legalities of homeschooling are not in such a grey area anymore. That's a good thing!

For us, in the 1980's,  Growing Without Schooling (click link for more info) was our go-to place for all homeschooling resources, including curriculum and legal references. Growing Without Schooling was the newsletter produced by John Holt, who has been one of my heroes since my college days. I read his first book, How Children Fail, in 1969 and I was hooked! John was a conscientious educator searching for effective teaching methods and then he came out with his next book, How Children Learn, considered a classic in child development/education studies. Over several decades, John critically examined the art of teaching and wrote many great books. He finally came to the conclusion that children might be being damaged by the way schools teach and he wrote Teach Your Own in 1981. This book about homeschooling had an enormous impact on the homeschool movement and still does! John Holt wrote often about the Montessori method and was a strong advocate of Dr. Montessori's ideas, especially her teaching concept of "control of error" and the brilliant "Montessori Erdkinder" for adolescents. (Just click on the links to find out more about the Montessori terms mentioned above.)

Here is a link to a helpful organization that has been around since the early days of Homeschooling: Home School Legal Defense. They have information on the legalities of homeschooling in every state.

I know this post has been a departure from my usual topics, but I just felt like writing about homeschooling since it was the most wonderful time of our family life ever! Fond memories.

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