Today was a tough day. And I mean tough. I’m not exactly sure what we accomplished, for at the end of the day, I had nothing to show for all of my hard work. I was exhausted, the house was a mess, and it took everything in me to outlast a defiant child while doing my best to cook dinner and feed a hungry baby.
I have found that homeschooling is sometimes like that. It’s hard. I don’t think I ever realized how hard it would be. I don’t think I ever realized how very little time I would ever have to myself, how difficult it would be to try and balance school with housework with being a wife and mommy . . . and finding me somewhere in the midst of it all.
When I gave up my dreams to become a homeschooling mom, I had no idea how much I would have to give up. I went in thinking that if things didn’t work out, we could always put our son in kindergarten the next year as a six year old or put him in the first grade and all would resume as if nothing ever happened. I remember thinking we would take it on a “year-to-year” basis . . . or “semester-by-semester”. I remember thinking that nothing was set in stone, and I could always just put him in school whenever I wanted to.
But a lot has changed since I heeded that call three years ago. I’ve grown. Our family has grown–literally and figuratively. And now, I’m not so sure I could do just that; for you see, now that I have experienced homeschooling, I really like it. I like it a lot.
I’m often asked, “Are you still homeschooling?” as if the “year-to-year” idea is something that others are expecting as well. And although it’s something that does cross my mind from time to time, there are so many beautiful things about homeschooling that have been such a blessing to me despite the challenges. There are so many things I have come to truly love about it. And so, I thought I’d take a moment to think about it all and to reflect on my favorite reasons for homeschooling. (My intentions are only to encourage and share, and I mean no judgment on those who have chosen a different path for their own children’s education.) This is that keeps us going when times are tough. This is what moves us forward with excitement for the upcoming school year. This is why we’re still homeschooling.
I love that we can talk about Jesus all day long if we want to. When we start our day, we bow our heads to pray, we read our Bible, we talk about God’s saving grace as we maneuver through the trials in our day. We listen to K Love in the car and children’s hymns in our home. The children pray over each other when one gets injured; they pray over strangers when an ambulance passes by us with flashing lights. We get to talk about how the earth was created and how God made the birds, the dinosaurs, and moss. We get to live our lives with God as our center, and we don’t have to tuck Him away during certain hours of the day. Our faith is a part of everything we do, and I couldn’t imagine having it any other way.
I love that I can pace our lessons to best meet the needs of our children. When we first began our journey, I didn’t know how very important this was. I remember a lady at a homeschool convention telling me, “You have chosen the education of kings and queens. You have chosen the education of royalty.” I’m not sure I really understood any of that until now, but I’ve come to find how very important it has been to have the one-on-one instruction that homeschooling allows.
Our son struggled with reading, and it’s because I was home with him that I was able to pick up on his areas of weakness and find a doctor who could help him with eye convergence issues. I was able to slow down the curriculum in some areas and speed up in others in order to reach him where he was. I was able to teach my daughter to read at the age of three because she was excited to learn and wanted to read books like her big brother. I have been able to abandon curriculum that didn’t work for us and have had the freedom to choose what does work, and this has been such a gift to our children. I love that we are not on anyone else’s time table, and our children can grow and learn in a safe and supportive environment.
I love that I can choose what to teach. When I first began homeschooling, I had never heard about creationism or the significance of history as “His Story.” My eyes were opened to books and resources that provided the scientific evidence for creationism and shared a historical perspective that allowed me to better appreciate the vision of our forefathers for our country. I felt like I was learning everything for the first time, and I found myself getting upset that no one had ever shared any of this with me before.
When a school only teaches one side of the story, that is not education; it is indoctrination. I have come to find that the teaching of evolution is not neutral; it is rooted in atheism. In a true educational model, the students would be exposed to multiple viewpoints and be given the opportunity to think critically in order to evaluate the information and synthesize it to form their own conclusions. As a homeschooler, we don’t have to leave creationism out. We can focus on all of the scientific evidence and logical conclusions that support it, and then we can discuss evolution and compare the two. We get to think critically and research about topics that are prohibited in most schools. We get to study history from a Biblical perspective and see God’s hand in the unfolding of events over time. We can study gardening or homeopathy, snakes or birds, swimming or robots. We can learn for the sake of pursuing wisdom, for the pursuit of wisdom and the pursuit of God cannot be separated. The world is our classroom, and I love that we can explore it as much as we choose.
I love that we have the freedom to create our own schedule. I am not a morning person, and I am not sure if I would be able to stick to an early wake-up time in order to get the kids to school on time. I couldn’t imagine preparing snacks and lunch and breakfast and getting them all out the door in time for the first school bell every single week day.
This past year was also very difficult for us because our baby was such a poor sleeper. I really do not know how I would have done it. Homeschooling has been so good to me in this area. I have been able to sleep in a bit (until 7:30) if I need to and work the school day around our needs. Sometimes, we school in the mornings, and others, we school in the afternoons. Sometimes, we take days off and others, we move on through the summer. I love that we can live simply and not be thrown into the hustle and bustle of our culture. Homeschooling is so flexible, and I love that we can make it work for us during the changing seasons in our lives.
I love that our children get to spend a large portion of their days outside. I subscribe to many of Charlotte Mason’s writing and strongly believe in the benefits of having children spend their days exploring the great outdoors. As a former educator, I also know how important it is for children to move and develop their gross motor skills, which often have a direct impact on their academic skills. I love that we can have school outside or finish quickly enough to allow them to play outside for hours on end.
I love that our children have plenty of time to be creative. This is definitely a benefit I have seen with homeschooling. We don’t have a lot of screen time at home, so the children have figured out how to entertain themselves. I have been amazed on more than one occasion at their ingenuity and creativity when left with time to explore their own ideas. They have made planes out of paper bags and talking robots out of hangers, paper, and digital recorders. They only have just a few short years to enjoy their childhood, and I couldn’t imagine having them sit indoors for the better portion of each day throughout the week.
I love that our children are best friends with one another. As an adult, I have come to find that I am closest to my family. Friends have come and gone, but at the end of the day, my husband, parents, mother-in-law, and sisters have always been there for me. I wasn’t sure how things would go between a brother and a sister, but I have been so happy to see how well they get along with one another–even among their friends. At church one day, I saw them passing one another in the playground, and both reached over to hug the other before moving on with their Bible hour classes. I was so moved by their love for each other and pray that they continue to remain close throughout the years.
I love that our children spend most of their days with people of all ages. They are comfortable with adults and little ones and everyone in between. During field trips, they group up with children of different age groups, and I have found it encouraging to see how the older kids care for the younger ones. I’ll never forget an incident at a neighborhood playground one time when an older girl told my son that they couldn’t play with his sister because she was a “baby.” I love that he stood by his sister and convinced the older girl to allow her to play with them.
I also love that the adults in our children’s lives are their primary influences–not their peers. They spend many afternoons throughout the week with their grandparents learning art, woodworking, gardening, or exploring. They love helping me out with cooking and crafting or with my husband working outside in the yard. We get to be there to teach them about life as we live it alongside them.
I love short lines and discounted rates. Okay, I know this isn’t supposed to be a leading reason to love homeschooling, but it’s been a really neat perk. We get to travel during the “off-peak” times and enjoy discounted rates and much shorter lines wherever we go. We also live just outside of a large destination city, so there are so many wonderful homeschooling opportunities available during the week at much better prices. Shorter lines and smaller crowds have definitely been a bonus when heading out with three kids under 7 years of age.
And finally, I absolutely love that I get to share life with our children each and every day. I get to see the look on their faces when they read their first words or books, complete their first puzzles, or explore an interesting bug. I get to be there for field trips, nature walks, and park days. I get to be there for their questions or to help them with their own personal struggles with selfishness and anger.
I have come to find that quality time comes as a result of quantity, and the more time I have been able to spend with them, the closer we have become as a family. We share wonderful memories of snuggling on the couch with good books, playing games on the floor, or just laughing at the silliest of things. We have “inside jokes” about stories we have read together and enjoy talking about all that we learn together. My children are growing so very quickly, and my time with them is so finite. I am so grateful for all of the wonderful memories I’ll get to keep in my heart when they are grown and gone.
Yes, there are days when it is hard, but that comes with any choice we make. If we put the kids in school, some things would definitely get easier, but others would also get more difficult. For me, I find that it would be harder to let go of my convictions and the reasons I came home to my family in the first place. I don’t know what the future holds, and the choices that are good for us now may not always be, but I trust that The Lord will lead us every step of the way.
Three years ago, I felt The Lord calling me home to homeschool; and now, I can honestly say that despite the challenges, I am so very glad I did.
What are your favorite reasons for homeschooling?
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***The pictures above were just a few of my favorite snapshots from our journey over the last three years. In the last picture, I was pregnant with our third baby. I am not currently pregnant. 🙂