Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why We Homeschool...

Every week without fail, someone asks my kids if they are out of school for a holiday. And each time they tell the person, "No, I'm homeschooled." It's always fun to see the responses. Some people look confused, some are congratulatory, and some give looks of disapproval. But so far to date, not a single person has asked me why we made the choice to homeschool.

My story of homeschool started in 2006. We lived in a large homeschool community where most families we knew were homeschooling. In fact, we were the oddballs for having our kids in public school. Sarah was in kindergarten and we LOVED her teacher, her school and her friends. We had no reason to entertain the idea of homeschool. Then, without us really noticing, God so gently began to turn our heads in that direction. Three quarters of the way through her school year, the teacher informed us that Sarah had mastered all the necessary tasks for kindergarten. I politely asked the teacher what we needed to do and she said "Teach her when she gets home." (Now you need to know that my sweet Sarah was fried when I picked her up from school. She was so tired that she wouldn't talk to me for atleast 30 minutes. Then, like we all do when our kids get home from school, we would eat a quick snack, start the homework, roll into dinner, take a bath, maybe have some play time and then off to bed to restart the same routine again.)  There was no way I was going to teach her more school after she'd spent 8 hours in school.

And that, my friends, is what put us on the journey to begin homeschooling our kids. Here are some of the main reasons why we homeschool to date.
1. The galaxy is the limit to learning. If our kids work hard enough to complete a grade early or a subject early, we can move on to the next one without having to wait till the next school year.
2. One on one learning. There are so many positives to sitting down with my kids and teaching them in the ways they have been created to learn. Whether visual, auditory or tactile learners, I customize their learning to their needs. Also if they don't understand a concept, we can take as much time as needed to work out the questions.
3. Freedom! We have so much freedom. Freedom with our time. Freedom with the curriculum we think is the best fit for our kids. Freedom to take field trips to wherever we want and stand at the monkey exhibit 10 extra minutes - Oh sorry, I digress. Freedom to minister to the people around us while we're doing school. Freedom to do 2 days of school in 1 day if we're on the ball and then take a long weekend! Freedom to take a vacation during the school week!
4. Teaching unlimited. Our kids are learning how to love each other, how to have quiet times, how to serve each other, how to walk with Jesus; how to cook meals, prepare menus, grocery shop; how to do home skills (from changing the toilet paper roll to cleaning dishes...) Andrew occasionally goes to work (and really 'works') with Bryan. All the while, I get to train them (and hopefully ground them) in the Truth of God's Word.
5. We can do school anytime, anywhere. We have done school in the car, while waiting in doctors offices, in the grocery store, on weekends (although rarely!), and through the summer. We've traveled out of state and not missed a beat. And it seems there is always a teachable moment for us to capture wherever we go!
6. Condensed time. On average I spend 30 minutes with my preschooler, 2 hours with my 1st grader, and 4 hours with my 5th grader teaching and working. We start around 8:30 or 9 and wrap up in the afternoon. It is wonderful!
7. Biblical training and life application. This, to me, is the most important reason why we homeschool. Being home with my kids gives me a day to day opportunity to really model walking with Jesus. They get to see my imperfections and failures and God's grace and forgiveness in the midst of them. They get to see me work through struggles like fear, anger and laziness, with Jesus helping me. We pray together over life issues throughout the day and they hear me praying out loud, talking to Jesus about life. They see me reading the Bible. I'm also able to point out to them when God repeats scriptures and Biblical themes to help them learn to recognize His voice and hand. We work on applying Truth to difficult situations too. And that, to me, is the gold nuggets of parenting.

Alot of people say "I could never spend that much time with my kids. They would drive me crazy" or "I could never homeschool my kids. I need me-time during the day" or "I'm not smart enough to teach my kids. I don't have a degree in teaching." Let me just say that I don't believe homeschooling is for everyone, just as I don't believe public school is for everyone. It is definitely something that parents (and kids depending on the age of the child) should pray about and seek the Lord for direction. But, let me encourage you in this: If God is leading you to homeschool, don't let fears of failure, fears of days spent all day with your little ones, or fears of the seemingly overwhelming task of teaching, stop you from moving ahead.

Recently my mentor pointed out to me that I have only 16 years left with my kids, compared to the 40 or so that I will have afterwards without them. It really hit me. 16 years left to teach them everything that I want them to learn. Is homeschooling challenging? For me, at times, yes. But is it worth it? Absolutely.

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