Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why in the World Would I Homeschool?

DISCLAIMER:  I am not writing this to tell you that if you don't homeschool you should.  I am not writing this to tell you that if your kids go to another form of school that there is something wrong with you.  I am simply writing this to encourage those who wonder if homeschooling is for them, to remind those who do why they do, and to answer some questions posed by those who might simply have questions about why we do.


I attended my first homeschool conference when my oldest (now 15) was three years old.  My husband, John, had said that he wanted us to homeschool.  My exact words to him were "I don't know.  I could sure use that 8-hour break a day."  At that point, I only had two very young children.  Now I have three who are 11, 13, and 15.  Knowing that there was going to be a conference, I told John I'd go but that I'd have to see the handwriting on the wall.  Before the last seminar of the day, I called him to tell him that we would be homeschooling.  He asked how long, and I declared we'd homeschool the whole way through high school.  "That must have been some seminar," he remarked.  It was, and I had seen the handwriting on the wall.  The stories I had heard about the kids and the relationships between child and parent were enough to persuade me.  Little did I know then what a HUGE blessing it would be for our family.

I have had an amazing opportunity over the years to help others along in their homeschooling journey.  Whenever someone has a question, I am willing to find an answer for them and to share some piece of our homeschooling journey, if it fits the situation.  I have had some folks ask me recently about homeschooling.  Since I have moved to a new state, I am a little less comfortable sharing what the law is.  You learn a lot more when you spend nine years homeschooling in a state than just one year.  I can, however, share the blessings and our reasons behind it and try to help them make a decision that is best for their family.

Let me just say, before I start listing reasons to homeschool, that it is a calling.  It is a major undertaking and not for the faint of heart.  God also calls some parents to have their kids in brick-and-mortar schools.  You shouldn't feel bad that you don't homeschool unless you know you're ignoring your calling because you are afraid.  I digress.

Reasons to Homeschool:


Trust me, it isn't lollipops and ice cream every day.  We don't sit around singing Kum Ba Yah.  We don't get up early, get all our school done by 10 a.m., and then sing praise songs all day.  We get up late, have our school done by 10 p.m., and the kids sing Minecraft songs all day.  In all seriousness, it isn't that bad, but we are together.  Now that my oldest is 15, I realize how fast time goes.  Our conversations about Jacob's schooling now center around the fact that he'll be out of the house in a few years.  It's normal, but it's sad.  I cherish this time I have with him, with all of my kids, right now. I'm glad it is me who gets to spend time with him and not 400 other kids and however many teachers he'd have.  Not many people appreciate my kids the way I do because they just don't know them.  One story I've shared a lot lately is the conversation I had with Jacob while we were out one day.  I asked him why he so often chose to go with me when I'd go to the store or run some errand.  He stated, "Because it is fun."  My 15 year old thinks spending time with his mom is fun!  Success!


Since I am the teacher, I get to choose what they learn.  I can tailor their learning to their learning style.  It isn't a one-size-fits-all curriculum.  There are thousands of choices in the homeschooling market nowadays.  I don't use one curriculum for all subjects, e.g. Abeka, because I don't want to miss something out there that is great and would work really well with my kids.  I had been using Apologia Science since I found it because I absolutely love it, but I knew Nate (who is going into 8th grade) would not do as well with that style of curriculum.  The Physical Science book is a very thick book with a LOT of words.  He is perfectly capable of understanding it, but the format alone would not hold his interest.  So, this next year, for him, we are trying something different, something that is much more hands on - Exploration Education.  I can also tailor their learning to things they are excited about. For instance, Paige loves horses.  I can work horses into every subject if I want.  She can learn about the anatomy of horses.  Math can consist of horses being so many hands high.  There have been famous horses throughout history.  She can write reports about horses.  The list goes on and on, and this can be done with any topic.


This is one of the things I love the most about homeschooling.  It really goes hand in hand with #1.  The kids and I, and sometimes Dad if he isn't working, go to museums, forts, old town tours, battle sites, etc.  We have thousands of pictures that include our family visiting all sorts of places throughout Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C.; Florida; Virginia; South Carolina; California; Nevada; Arizona; and Kentucky.  We visited the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam.  It was amazing to be able to go there!  We are creating memories.  Not only will they remember the places they've been, but they will remember that they were there with their family.  Their best memories will include their parents.


Many opponents of homeschooling or people with a limited knowledge of it will ask, "What do you do about socialization?"  I always answer by telling them all of the activities they are involved in, but what I really want to say is "If socialization means my kids act like most kids in schools these days, then I don't want them to be socialized."  Now, I don't think I'd ever have the nerve to say that.  In reality, because my kids don't spend eight hours a day surrounded by kids their own age, they are able to have remarkable conversations with adults.  Yes, I know there are kids who go to brick-and-mortar schools who are just as capable.  I'm not suggesting only homeschooled kids can talk maturely with adults, but I am glad mine can, and I do attribute it to a great deal of their socialization being with adults.


A great reason to homeschool is so that you know what your kids are learning.  It is sad to think that there are teachers who stray from the accepted curriculum and interject their own beliefs into the classroom.  It's hard to know what they will come home with next.  I don't think it is bad that a science curriculum would have something like evolution in it, but it is unfortunate that it is taught as the  truth.  Who was there in the beginning who can attest to the big bang theory?  Students should be given all the views and be allowed to choose what they believe.  There should not be indoctrination.  At home, the family's belief system can be taught.  I encourage my kids, now that they are older, to understand differing views and weigh them with what they believe.  I love it when they ask questions so that they can further understand something.  We look for the answers together.


This was one of my reasons when we started (it is a little less so now).  I have seen bullies in action, and I didn't want my kids to have to go through that.  I didn't want them to be pressured with drugs, alcohol, or sex.  I didn't want them learning certain things before we, their parents, thought they were ready.  My kids stayed relatively innocent for a very long time.  They are still very modest.  They have made healthy choices and have vowed to not make the wrong choices.  Hopefully, they will stay true to their word.

7.  IT IS FUN!!!!

I hope you can tell from this post that I think homeschooling is a blast.  We have days when the kids fight or I have to tell them 100 times to get their math done.  My house is cluttered with papers and magazines.  I can't see the top of my dining room table more than one day a week, if that, but all of that doesn't matter.  We are together; we are learning (I love learning alongside the kids).  If you ask my kids if they want to stop homeschooling, they will tell you unreservedly, "NO!"  This I count as success.

There are more reasons (feel free to share yours in the comments), but I have named a few of ours.  I know some folks can't homeschool for various reasons.  There is no condemnation.  You must do what is right for your family.  God will let you know that.  If he wants you to homeschool, he will provide a way.

So many women say, "I'd love to homeschool, but I don't have the patience" or "I'd love to homeschool, but I'm no good at math (insert any subject into this sentence)."  Someone once said something to the effect, "If God calls you to it, he will carry you through it."  If it's God's will, there is a way.  I don't have a lot of patience either, so I say "sorry" when I need to.  Like I said, I learn right along with them.  If you feel you are lacking in some area, there is an endless supply of help.  There are homeschoolers in your area, all over Facebook, blogging, on Pinterest, on the internet, and in homeschooling magazines.  We are here; reach out, and we will help you as much as we can.

Don't let anything stop you if you feel God is calling you to homeschool your kids, even if it means pulling them out of school once the year has started.  You can do that.  God will provide.  Don't let anyone else's opinion deter you either.  You must obey God.  You owe it to your kids especially when it concerns them.  You will be blessed.  Your kids will be blessed.  Trust me, your extended family and your community will be blessed as well.

(Please feel free to add your reasons or examples of your homeschooling journey.  Please do not comment if you are going to bash me.  I hold nothing against people who don't homeschool.)