Friday, May 21, 2010

Essay Two

Chasta AtLee

Homeschooling was the traditional method of education until public schools became common. Then, in the 1970s and 80s, as many parents decided to remove their children from public and private schools for various reasons, the American homeschool movement began. At first, some homeschoolers faced problems with school districts, and parents had to fight for the right to teach their own children. Gradually these difficulties were overcome, and homeschooling has continued to grow rapidly as another learning option for children. Approximately two to four million Americans are homeschooling today. Chasta AtLee of Marion, Ohio, has been a homeschooling mom for ten years now, ever since her oldest son was just three years old. She has seven kids: Wesley, Caleb, Samantha, Miriam, Levi, Zipporah, and Naomi.

Well, growing up, I always wanted to be a nurse. And I thought, “I’ll be a nurse until I get married and have a family. ‘Cause that’s really what I want to do.” And I always said, “I want seven or eight kids.” [Laughs] Be careful what you wish for, right? So, growing up, that’s how I always saw myself, as having a large family. I’m the oldest of five in my family and to me that was normal. And even then five kids was like, “Wow, that’s quite a bit of kids.” It was normal to me. …When we had our sixth child, it hit me, like, “Wow, I have more kids than my mom did now.” …But I mean to me, I don’t know, I love kids, so having them around…I don’t see it being any different than any other family, I guess.
I was homeschooled fifth, sixth, and seventh grade…and maybe it was just that age or whatever, but I loved being outside and exploring and just seeing the world around me. And I think that was probably one of the best things for me homeschooling at that time was just, I loved exploring. I mean, I would just go out and make up my own science experiments or just go out and read a book all day long or, you know, whatever I would be able to do and I could do it on my time and not have to sit and wait for the other kids to catch up.
That’s one of the things I love doing as a homeschooling mom, just being able to show my children how things work, not just say, “Well, read this section and we’re gonna take this quiz.” …It clicks for them because they see it.

Why did you choose to homeschool your children?

Lots of reasons. I think foremost would be, my husband, Brian, and I feel that it is our duty as parents that God has given us the responsibility to educate our children. And we see that as educating them at home under our authority.
Let’s see… My highest priorities. As far as homeschooling, it would be to see my children loving God and using the abilities that He has given them to the fullest. To use what God has given them as far as how they can learn, what their abilities are, what their passions are, and try to encourage that. To help them be the people that God has created them to be. I would say that’s probably my number one priority.
I love seeing them—especially now that the girls are in softball—and to see them out there playing and enjoying it and just having fun, and knowing that they are using the abilities that God has given them. I like that. …I love seeing them enjoy life and learning.

What kind of challenges and struggles have you faced throughout homeschooling?

Keeping up with them. They seem to learn at such a fast pace it’s like I constantly have to keep something in front of them, or they get bored.

What events would you consider to be the highlights of your life and how would you say they’ve brought you to where you are today?

Probably when Wesley was born just for the fact it was starting our family and I was seeing myself as a mother, I think for the first time, was kinda shocking in itself but exciting. It was exciting too. To go along with that, I would say that just the birth of all of my children has been, wow, look at how blessed I am…and just really thankful that God has given me the opportunity to raise these children…which, of course, at the same time is scary. That’s probably been one of the highlights. And how has it affected me? I would hope to say that it has stretched me as a person to be better, to be a better mom, a better Christian…and just knowing that these children are depending on me, and knowing that they need me to set a good example for them and to help them reach their full potential.

And what would you most want people to remember you for?

Probably being a loving and giving person, which I hope I am. I try. I think that would be it. That I was a person that people could count on and I was generous and caring…and a good mommy.

What advice would you give to others following in your steps?

Always remember why you started homeschooling. If you keep that perspective, you won’t get burnout, and you can press through the really hard days where it’s like, “Ahh”. And you know, we’re never gonna get though this, or I just wanna not do this right now…just step away… But for me, keeping that perspective and knowing that hey, we didn’t choose this because this is our only choice. This is something we chose to do for very good reasons, and I go through those reasons and that helps me sometimes when I’m like, “Ah, I don’t know about this anymore…” You get fed up or you just get tired. So I think keeping perspective on what you’re doing and why you started the homeschooling and why God has called you to it. Then you know, yeah, I can do this, because it’s not just me doing it. God’s going to help me, ‘cause, you know, this is what He would desire for us. So that helps to get though some of the days. [Laughs]


  1. I love her story! I can't imagine having that many kids, I think I'd go insane. But I admire her positive outlook and her dedication to God and having her children knowing Him. Awesome.

  2. I agree, with home schooling or a more traditional route that kind of outlook on and in parenting is awesome and sort of rare, lately.

  3. I know a huge family who homeschools just outside of Marysville, and they're great. I'm really not sure how I feel about homeschoolong, to be honest, because I worry that it can stunt kids' social growth, but it's great nonetheless to see people doing things like education in different ways.