Over the last six months I have run into more than a few moms who are suddenly finding themselves seriously considering homeschooling their kids. These moms had never thought they would go this route. The schools around here are good and respected.
So what is the deal? This is what the parents say their kids are coming home and saying:
"Mom, I don't like school"
"Mom, school is boring"
"Can I stay home for school?"
"Mom, the kids are driving me crazy."
"We are spending all of our evenings doing homework."
"Why do I have to keep doing these papers; I already know how to do this"
Most of these moms see their children 'wilting' and learning to dislike learning more with every year.
More and more families are choosing to homeschool and the idea is becoming a lot more accessible and accepted. These families I talked to all had at least two things in common. The parents have very good relationships with their kids. And the kids in these families were friends with a few homeschoolers. Thus, the children see another option and the parents are listening.
Education is a huge part of a child's life and is thus, a very big decision for parents. We originally decided to teach our children ourselves because we saw it as the best option. We were not interested in our children being taught by our government. Neither did we see fit to pay an arm and a leg for someone to teach them in a 'Christian setting'. We still see homeschooling as the best option, but now we choose to continue down this path for additional reasons.
To begin with, it puts our take on this subject in the correct perspective if we first explain some of our most important goals, as parents, for our children.
1: to raise them to know and love Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and in turn produce fruit from their God given abilities
2: to teach them how to be a responsible and productive future adult; provide for their future family, take care of a household, handle finances, etc
3: for our children to be able to find information, debate it from many sides, and decide what they believe either based off of their own faith or facts they find or both
4: for them to be equipped to pursue a career or life path of their choosing when the time comes and have the knowledge and discipline to be successful
With those in mind I would add a few general convictions that we hold to be true:
Family is the basis for society. God planned it that way. Parents are given children to raise to the best of their abilities, with God's help and grace. In many cases, the family is much better equipped to facilitate a child's education than the government.
Our culture is full of bad and good. We do not believe that throwing our children into the mix from the age of five will make them stronger people. Even a private school is not much of a filter (We have both been there in multiple capacities).
In addition, we believe the worksheet based, streamlined system of mass education does not serve the individual child well at all!
Please understand, we are not of the opinion that all families should homeschool nor do we believe that the Bible commands this specifically. There are verses some use to explain that a "Christian parent's responsibility is to teach their child in the home", but we are not comfortable with those absolute interpretations. That being said, We believe God wants us to teach our children, right now, and we have taken on the task.
Most see homeschoolers as trying to keep their children 'away from it all' or 'sheltered' or 'as close to home as possible'. Admittedly, we have had some of those feelings in a mild form. However, homeschooling for us has taken on a whole different purpose.
Over the last two years it has been a delight to have the ability to adjust curriculum, schedules, vacations, book choices, electives, and more to each of our children's needs and in accordance with our family objectives.
We can take vacations in September (or any other month for that matter) when most everybody else can't.
I appreciate not having to wake a baby or toddler up to get anyone to or from school.
We took a month off for Christmas and are still tracking on schedule to finish in early June. We baked, decorated, colored Christmas pictures, and enjoyed many more fun activities while not feeling over scheduled.
We are able to add in more simple handwriting for T when she isn't quite ready for first grade writing although she finished up the Kindergarten handwriting text (yes, she is that far ahead; and we are constantly putting on the brakes!). It is an awesome benefit that we are able to challenge her up to her abilities, but not expect her to be older than the nearly five she is.
We switched math books mid year because Z was going bonkers with the previous text.
We find it very valuable to have the option to choose the literature our children read. One evening last October we went to play at the local elementary school's playground and were absolutely horrified by the posters all over the exterior doors promoting their reading program with many dark Halloween books. Books can be as powerful as visual media. We are grateful to not have to battle a teacher on reading selections or justify our opinions to a school district.
In addition, homeschooling has given us many more opportunities for 'life lessons'. The siblings really have to figure each other out and learn to live together (this will be in process for some years to come). They have also begun to learn how to teach and accept help from one another (definitely still working on this one, too!). Also, the older kids have begun really learning how to work and do various chores and necessary jobs around the house on a daily basis.
Homeschooling gives the parent the opportunity to fill the role of teacher more often than disciplinarian. In addition, it sets a foundation for the children to look to their parents for guidance and understanding rather that the school setting. This will evolve as the kids grow, but it is an awesome starting point.
One of the biggest advantages to homeschooling, without a doubt, is the opportunity to meet the child where they are. Whether that means to slow things down, skip a level, or adjust to their learning style there is no other place where this is so possible as the home.
All in all, we have come to see homeschooling as a big opportunity to give our children the best 'complete' education available to them at this point in time.
Homeschooling in our home has not been easy, but a journey we are excited to be on. Whether or not this is what we will do for the next eighteen years is yet to be seen. But for now, this is why we have our kids learning at home.
Next in Series: How we Homeschool