A mom’s devotion: education at home | Opinion

Kira Clark - File photo
Kira Clark
— image credit: File photo

At age 6, I hated reading. The gray and white text blurred and my head hurt. Why did I have to read anyway? During silent reading time at school, I daydreamed.

By the end of first grade, I was reading below grade level and my first-grade teacher thought I needed special education. My mom wasn’t against special needs programs, but she decided to try something else, first.

The summer between first and second grade was reading camp at my house. Every morning, before I was allowed to go outside and play, I read to my mom out loud for an hour.

I hated it. This was summer break! I was supposed to be able to play all day. The pages seemed to taunt me and the words played leapfrog off the page. I cried and fought, but my mom didn’t budge.

As my reading increased, so did my imagination. My afternoon adventures began to expand from playing house and fairy princess. I was Laura Ingalls Wilder gathering huckleberries in the “Big Woods” of Wisconsin or Sacagawea guiding the Lewis and Clark expedition through the treacherous Rocky Mountains.

By the end of August, I was reading above grade level. When it came time to ride the yellow bus back to school, I stayed home and started home-schooling with my siblings.

It wasn’t an easy choice for my mom. Before she decided to stay home with us, she worked as a commercial loan officer at Rainier Bank in downtown Seattle.

Instead of teaching division tables to screaming 8 year olds and cleaning muddy footprints off the ceiling, she wore blue silk blouses and advised executives from some of the ritziest and most influential businesses in the city.

She had graduated from University of Washington with a masters of business administration, earned the respect of her colleagues and was on her way to a vice presidency.

But, my mom gave up her lucrative career to take a thankless job. History books aren’t filled with the names of influential mothers, but they should be.

My brother, who threw tantrums under the table during spelling lessons, just graduated from Yale University. My sister, who has wanted to be a doctor since age 12 but had to take Algebra twice, is a third-year student at Cornell Medical School.

I’m the girl who hated reading. In December, I’ll graduate from Patrick Henry with a degree in classical liberal Arts journalism. My little brother, who would hide in the closet to avoid work, is working a job and is on his way to a tech degree.

Every child and family is different. Each parent needs to decide what will be best for their child, given their circumstances. My mom, who worked as a public school teacher before getting her MBA, is the first to say that conventional public and private schooling can be a good way to teach a child.

Homeschooling isn’t the right choice for many families, but it was for mine. To my mom: I am eternally grateful for your sacrifice.


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