I sat down to write one post on homeschooling, but soon realized I have a mini-series in the making. So… this is the first of many posts to come on how we do homeschooling at our house.
There are so many different options for school and no one-sized fits all approach! Public schools, charter schools, private schools, and homeschools are the most common options for us to choose between in the United States. The best fit for our family in this season is homeschool. But like parenting, and so many other things in life, we homeschoolers all have to find the groove that fits our family. I feel like that is a moving target, especially as my kids grow older and we add more babies to the mix, but that’s part of the fun of life.
I was actually a homeschooled kid for most of my school years. This was a weird thing in the ’80s and ’90s. When I started public school in high school, no one knew what I meant by “homeschool”. My peers thought it was some type of remedial or correctional program – I am serious, they actually thought that! I think they learned otherwise as I soon rose to the top of the class and graduated salutatorian.
I love how homeschool helped mold me into the person that I am today. Homeschooling allowed me to learn at my own speed (which was actually very slow at first – I didn’t read until I was eight!) and pursue things that interested me – which was pretty much everything.
Homeschool instilled in me a universal love of learning that I still have today. I learned to love every subject, mostly due to my parents’ love of learning and reading. My mom and dad read out loud to us for years – years longer than was necessary. I cherish these memories of family reading time, huddled together on the old family room couch, on a family road trip, or around a crackling campfire. These books opened up so many opportunities for us. I only hope that our own homeschool can do the same for our family.
When my husband and I had kids, he knew right away that we were going to homeschool them. In fact, he told everyone that. (He was never homeschooled himself, but he saw the benefit of it.) I wasn’t so sure, only because I knew how challenging it is to be a homeschool parent and that the majority of their education would fall on me. However, as our oldest grew older, I started to look into our options.
Our local schools are good schools and the teachers and administration are very good people, so I was not concerned there. However, as I saw my young and very impressionable son interacting with other kids at the park, I noticed some things I did not like. He learned to copy other children’s behavior, especially bigger “cool” kids, just from an hour or two at the park. And that behavior was more “Lord of the Flies” than it was good Sunday School kid. I didn’t like it.
My husband and I knew that we wanted to be the biggest influences of our children, not some cool kid on the playground. We wanted to know what was going on with them everyday and to be able to pour life and love and grace into them throughout the school day.
I knew from my oldest’s personality and learning style that going to public school would be tough on him and we decided when he was only three and a half that homeschool would be the best thing for him. We have not regretted it at all.
Homeschooling gives us the ability to allow our kids time to be kids. At most schools today, kids are not allowed the time to just play that they need for their cognitive development. Many, if not most, schools have all-day kindergarten. Homeschooling has let my kids be kids. Kindergarten work takes 1-2 hours of our day and the rest of the day can be spent exploring nature, running around, building with Legos, and just letting their imaginations go!
I love that my little boys are not made to feel bad or be punished for being wiggly kids. My kids don’t come home from school with a “frowny face” for not being able to sit still or wrestling with another kid. I can give them the time they need to wiggle and move and wrestle. For most little boys, and many little girls, this is normal and not something to be punished or medicated.
Now that I have a third grader, we spend more than 2 hours a day doing school, but it is still much shorter than the time his peers spend in public school. He is starting to be able to work independently, for a short time, and I love to see how his brain is developing. His attention to detail with science and history just astound me. I am so honored to be able to spend this time with him and see him grow into the man he will become.
Another reason homeschooling fits our family is because it allows my kids to have a very special and tight bond. Although my kids all have friends their ages, they are also very best friends with each other. And although they do fight on occasion, as all kids do, for the most part, they get along very well.
It was the same for me and my siblings growing up. If we weren’t friends with each other, who were we going to play with during the day? Sure, we had other friends, but not “at school” with us. I think the sibling bond is one that should be cherished and nurtured. Siblings just tolerating each other, fighting constantly, and making each other miserable is just not acceptable. We work hard to maintain that bond between them. It is worth preserving.
The final reason we have chosen to homeschool is because we can integrate our faith into our daily studies. We open each day with a prayer, allow the kids to take turns praying, and practice Bible verses. And although we don’t use Christian curriculum (more on that in my curriculum post coming soon), I make sure to integrate our faith whenever I can – which is often! The opportunities abound to share the importance of God with our kids and I try to be intentional to take these opportunities when they come up.
So, were you homeschooled or is it something that you have chosen for your children?
I’d love to hear about what works best for your family.