Drew Homeschool 1993–2010
Shelly is originally from Houston, Texas where she taught high school math for three years and hated it. After Shelly and her husband, Phil, had children, a friend encouraged her to homeschool. She thought that was a bit weird, and Shelly was not convinced home educating was her best option. When it was time for her son to go to kindergarten, she enrolled him in a very small private school. Even though home educating was not her plan, her three years teaching public school had shown her that public school was not the direction she wanted for her three children either. Soon after enrolling her son in the private school, Shelly’s chemist husband’s job transferred them to Vancouver, Washington. Their son would not be able to attend the private school in Houston. Shelly had to rethink her plan.
When they arrived at their new home in Washington, there were many others home educating their children. Homeschooling did not seem so unusual. In September of 1993, Shelly drove to Target and purchased Golden Step Ahead books to begin her home educating journey. It was her strategy to just try it for a year, but Shelly says, “It went so swimmingly, I did it the next year.” Her children continued that year with the Golden Step Ahead books, got a library card, and they read many books together. In the beginning, they wrote thank you notes to family and friends to teach them to write. Later they included passages of scripture for practice in printing and then cursive. She was very confident in teaching math, and was creative in her approach. She liked to use cracks in the sidewalk to create giant number lines. She never purchased manipulatives, but used whatever was on hand—counting geese at the park, sorting laundry, and M & M’s were a few. Their home education style was eclectic in nature; they never had just one curriculum. Shelly picked what they liked for each subject. Her opinion of history textbooks was that they were rather boring and dry. For history, they spent time reading G. A. Henty novels and other books. One adventure took them camping for two weeks from Mount St. Helens in Washington, to Mount Lassen in California–a hand’s on experience in nature that cannot be duplicated in a book. Learning was her objective and not merely finishing a textbook. They continued on their homeschool journey and home educated through high school. Only once did Shelly decide to try private school again for one of her children, but she could not find peace in the decision, so her daughter went one day. Shelly cherishes all the time she was able to invest in her children.
In 1999, they were transferred back to Houston, but only for a year and they moved back to Washington. In that year the Drew family connected with old friends and influenced several of those to begin home educating. It was not so much what Shelly and her husband said, but the positive impact the friends saw. As the old saying goes, “the proof is in the pudding.”
As home educators know, one of the questions asked of them is, “Are you really qualified to teach math and science?” Shelly would have liked getting that question, because she and her husband have very strong math and science backgrounds. However, one question that stands out that was asked by a friend who was concerned for her chosen method of education, “How will you teach them home economics?” To Shelly it was an absurd question to ask, but she answered. They all researched purchases together so the children could be smart consumers; the children helped to select groceries to understand cost and nutrition; and because they were there to work alongside with household chores like cooking and laundry, they learned all kinds of “home economics.” In my opinion, they would probably know more home economics than a child in public school. All home educator’s love those questions that make us roll our eyes in private, but smile politely and answer the questions in public.
Shelly’s children are now grown; one is single and is a dynamic car salesman in Vancouver, one is an accountant (CPA) and a stay-at-home mother who is married and has one daughter of her own, and the youngest daughter is an RN, is married, and at the time of this writing expecting her first baby at any time. After living in their beloved Northwest for 20 years, Shelly and her husband moved to Edmond, Oklahoma to be near their daughters’ families in 2014. The girls had moved to Edmond to attend Oklahoma Christian University and made their homes near Edmond. Today, Shelly is a math tutor and Phil does statistical analysis for Oklahoma Christian University. They are not crazy about Oklahoma’s hot summers, but love the people and the conservative attitudes of Oklahomans. Many of Shelly’s extended family live in Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas, so she is pleased to be closer to them.
Now that the dust has settled on the homeschool journey, and the Drew family have had opportunity to reflect, they are all glad they chose to home educate. Shelly’s top discoveries about homeschooling from her experience are these:
- Children learned to think and solve problems
- Know and understand each other well
- It is actually cheaper to homeschool
- Children developed valuable life skills that taught them to be responsible adults
- Children learned cross generational communication
- Children learned to be better citizens and care for others
- Delayed exposure to negative influences
- Able to focus on developing each one’s strengths
- Gave the most valuable resource—Time