On June 6, 2016 we started a pre-kindergarten curriculum with our oldest. Our first official year “homeschooling” (although we’ve been teaching him from the day he was born). We had such a fun year, and it was such a joy to see him grow and mature in different areas over the past 8 months. He competed his curriculum yesterday, and my husband and I are taking him out to lunch tomorrow to celebrate.
As we start Kindergarten next week, I’ve decided I want to take time to write about and document the experience. I think it would be fun to look back on it at the end of the year and see the progress and be reminded of all the fun we had together. But first, I want to write out our family’s personal reasons for homeschooling. Maybe they will change, but for now these are our top 7 reasons for homeschooling:
Homeschooling allows us the freedom to cater our children’s education to fit their unique personality styles. We can look at each child’s strengths and weaknesses and pick a curriculum that works best for them.
It also allows us the freedom to pick and choose what we want them to learn, and when. We can teach them about more sensitive matters when we feel they are mature enough to handle them.
If a child has an interest in outer space we can spend as much time as we want on that topic. Reading books, watching documentaries, going to museums, building telescopes, and star-gazing. Best part, the child doesn’t have to wait until after 7 hours of being at school, 2 hours of extracurricular activities, and 3 hours of homework to dig in to their interests. It can be done at any time!
Homeschooling also gives time to our family. Time spent together, rather than rushing off to the next activity. Time in the evenings and the weekends to relax and unwind without worrying about hours of homework that needs to be completed.
I almost just included this with Time, but decided to give it it’s own column. Homeschooling offers a lot of flexibility, especially when homeschooling year-round as we do. We can vacation in the spring or fall when rates are lower and destinations less crowded. We can take advantage of activities going on around town during school hours. We can take a week long break simply to visit the grandparents. And, let’s face it: life happens. Moving to a new house, birth of a new baby, or death of a loved one, are major life changes that we can go through together. During those big life changes we can take a week or two off if needed to simply focus on creating a new normal. (Don’t worry, you won’t get behind doing this, and it’ll be beneficial to the whole family).
Quite honestly, kids don’t come out of school with a love of learning. Even the “smart” kids probably don’t wait with bated breath for their next day of school. And it’s through no fault of the teachers! I have many friends who are teachers that I highly respect and would be honored if my child had them for a teacher. But our way of doing things has set children up to fail-and early.
Kids don’t have the option to say “I would rather study….” or, “I want to work more on….”. You only study what the state mandates you learn and everyone goes at the exact same pace. And in doing that, no one wins. The smart kids learn that school is boring, the kids who struggle learn that they’ll never be able to get ahead, so no point trying, and the kids in the middle don’t have to push themselves-mediocrity is good enough!
I don’t want that for my kids. I want them to want to learn. To love learning. Not because they have to, but because they want to.
Schools are known for bullying. If you stand out in any way (too short, too tall, too black, too white, too nerdy, too punk, etc) you’re ostracized and even bullied. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking they need to blend in and follow the crowd. I want them to stand out! To be the leaders of the next generation! I want their confidence to come from their skills and accomplishments, rather than from how they dressed.
Are you surprised to see this one so far down on the list? I think most people assume this is the number 1 reason (or perhaps the only reason!) a Christian would have to homeschool. While it definitely plays a major role in our decision, it’s not the top reason (it’s not even in the top 5!)
The fact is, we believe that this life is but for a moment and that our focus should be on eternity. We want to train up and disciple our children, encouraging them in biblical truths as much as possible. They are ours for such a short amount of time. We want to learn about and discuss difficult topics along with them from a Biblical perspective. We don’t plan to shy away from anything, but rather approach certain subjects when we feel they are mature enough. We want our kids to be confident enough to not only know what they believe, but why–and to be able to give an answer for it.
Let me tell you about the conundrum I faced throughout high school and college: I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation. Actually, I couldn’t narrow it down! I knew I wanted to work with children. I wanted to help them. I wanted to teach them. I wanted to counsel them. I wanted to nurture them spiritually and emotionally. I crammed 4 years of college into 6, graduated with a Psychology degree (though not before also studying social work and education), got engaged 2 weeks later and decided I would not be going back for my Master’s degree.
I share that back story to say this: all those years ago I believe God was leading me to be a homeschooling mom. My desire to help and nurture children spiritually, educationally, emotionally, and mentally is fulfilled in homeschooling. Those years of frustration and tears I now see as having a profound purpose on my life. (Apologies once again to my parents for my lack of direction and tuition bills!)
So, for now anyway, I believe that God has called me to homeschool. It isn’t always easy, and some days that big yellow bus looks awfully tempting…but I believe this is the mission field He has called me to, and I’m willing to make sacrifices in order to be obedient to His calling.