Our Homeschooling Story
If you don't mind, I'd love to share our homeschooling journey (it's quite long)...
Why we Homeschool
How we Began:
My homeschooling venture began several years back when my now 10 ½ year old was ready to begin kindergarten. My best friend at the time, was homeschooling her own (then eight) children. I thought she was completely crazy and just couldn’t understand why in the world she would want to be in a house with 8 children all day long! Oh, how the Lord slowly, but surely, change my heart and then, not to long after that, the heart of my husband.
I looked into homeschooling off and on but, ultimately, decided it just wasn’t for us. My husband, Dan, and I had both gone to public school and I thought we turned out just fine. Plus, there was no way that I was “smart” enough on just a couple of years of college and no degree to teach my children at home. Then, of course, there was the whole topic of socialization. How in the world could I homeschool and not allow my children the benefit of socializing with other children their own age?
Then, came the day that I was to go down and register my son for kindergarten. We went down to the school – about a block away – and began the registration process. From the moment I walked on to the campus, I had this strange feeling of “something just isn’t right”. I blew it off, though, and proceeded with the registration. We were almost done before someone told me that I could not complete the registration process because we were missing the chicken pox vaccination that was required if he were to enroll in school. So, we were told to go that done and then come back. By then, that feeling that initially came over me was so heightened, that I walked away and just began to cry. All the way home I prayed to the Lord about why I was feeling this way. As soon as I walked in the door, the phone rang and my best friend was on the line asking if I had completed Ryan’s enrollment. I told her what happened and she just encouraged me that maybe this was the Lord’s was of getting us to take another look at homeschooling. So, I called up my mother-in-law and asked her to come over that evening to watch the kids, while I took my husband to dinner to talk with him about this whole “mess”.
Now, keep in mind, at this point Dan was even more against homeschooling than I was. So, I knew that this was going to be an interesting conversation. I had already purposed in my heart that whatever he ultimately wanted and decided on, I would do with a glad heart. On the way to dinner I explained to him our venture over to the school to register, my hesitations, and what I thought might be a good route to pursue. By the time we had arrived at the restaurant I had already laid it all out. When we sat down to eat, we prayed for our meal and during that prayer Dan laid the situation before the Lord. By the end of the meal it was decided that we would “try out” this homeschoooling thing for one year and then reevaluate and bring it before the Lord again at the end of the year. One year is all it took and we were hooked and convinced that this is what the Lord wanted for our family, at least for the elementary years.
Now, my husband, Dan is a youth minister turned public school teacher. He teaches 8th grade English and Reading and is now working on his Masters to become a principal. The first year we began homeschooling was his first year in the public school system. And, needless to say, the more years he has been teaching in the public schools, the more this has solidified our decision to homeschool. Now, no longer where we convinced that we needed to homeschool our children in elementary but also all the way through high school.
Through the last several years of homeschooling, the Lord has opened our eyes to many new and wonderful revelations, thoughts and convictions. Here are a few that I would like to share:Academics
Like I mentioned above, I didn’t think I was “smart” enough and well educated enough, at first, to teach my child at home. And, even I could make it through the elementary stage, there was no way I could possibly handle teaching Jr. High or High School Curriculum. Oh how much I have learned over the last several years. I have come to realize that I am indeed smart enough and educated enough (yes, even without a college diploma) to teach my child. And what about those subjects like Chemistry and Geometry that I myself struggled through in high school? There are all sorts of options out there now from video classes to homeschool cooperative classes and even many Jr. Colleges offer Junior and Senior level courses for high schoolers to take if needed! My mind was put to rest and I realized with a great big ere of confidence, that I COULD do this!
Homeschooling has given us the ability to be very aware of how each of our children is doing in a particular area. I can correct mistakes right on the spot and tell exactly what they do or do not comprehend. We can truly individualize each of our children’s learning needs/wants. If one of my kids moves faster or slower in a particular area, it’s ok and there are no frustrations with being ahead or behind of a fellow peer. All of this has allowed for better focus and un-wasted time.
However, there was still a lingering question – how would my kids stack up to those being taught by “trained” professionals? Do you know what I found out? There is actually evidence out there that, on average, homeschooled children actually do better academically than those that are public or private schooled. Can you guess why? Most likely it is because they have one on one “tutoring” for their school. That just makes sense to me. And guess what else? Colleges actually WANT homeschooled kids on their campuses. They say that homeschoolers actually tend to make better students because of their learning styles and are usually more motivated.Socialization
Ah, the socialization question. Am I “socially killing” my children by not putting them in school? Ten years ago it was an unequivocal yes! However, the Lord has been so gracious and patient showing me otherwise! The whole idea of “lack of socialization” is a misnomer. I love the what John Holt, who was on of the early advocates of homeschooling, said, “If I could give just one reason why children should NOT go to public schools, it would be the socialization they receive there. In general, the kind of behavior one finds most often in schools is petty, cruel, and mean-spirited." Is this the kind of socialization we want for our children? Keep in mind Dan is a schoolteacher and can attest that this is the “norm” in the schools. Though there are good and wonderful children in the public school and private school systems, the bad can, and does most often, out weigh the good!Family
How often do we here folks say, “gosh my children have grown up so fast,” or, “looking back I wish I had spent more time playing with my children”? I get to spend all day with my children. I know for some, it might seem overwhelming. Yes, there are days that I wish I could be doing anything but grading a math paper, but then I remember that this is my job and my calling. I remember that I get to be the one that influences and teaches my child. This is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.
By homeschooling, we get to set our own schedule. I don’t have to work on anyone’s time frame but my own. If we want to take a day off, or a week off, or even a month off, we can do it. This was especially helpful when I was taking care of my mom while she was battling cancer and then after when she passed away and we needed time to grieve. And, again, when my best friend was in the hospital and died, we were able to take the time we needed then as well. It allows for such flexibility.
We can take family vacations anytime we want without having to worry about pulling them out of school to do it. We have the freedom, too, to go on field trips anytime we want without fighting the crowds or traffic. These may seem like such small and insignificant reasons, but having the freedom to do what I want, when I want with my kids is huge for me!
Our children have become one another’s best friends. My oldest enjoys playing with the younger children and vice-versa. It is wonderful to see them enjoying one another’s company. It is fostering close relationships that will last a lifetime.Spiritual
Most of what the Lord has shown to us and revealed to our family has been in the spiritual realm of reasoning. I love the scripture in Deuteronomy 6:7-9 that says “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” By Homeschooling, we allow the Lord to fully be in charge of what we are teaching our children. Each semester I spend time in prayer seeking the Lords wisdom and direction in what we should use for curriculum and what/how we should be teaching our children. We make sure to choose curriculum that is Christ centered and Biblically focused.
Even more so than what they are learning, the Lord has very much convicted me that I should be more concerned with their holiness. I often tell my children “that I am more concerned that you be Holy than you be Happy!”
Having my children at home with me, gives me the opportunity to train them in the Word and prepare their hearts and minds for whatever the Lord calls them to do when they are grown.
I’m sure I could sit here and list 100 more reasons that we have felt led to homeschool, but the above is pretty much the “gist” of it. Many people have questioned my strong convictions to homeschooling. Let me be very clear. Do I believe homeschooling is the best way? Yes, I do. HOWEVER, I strongly believe that homeschooling, is indeed a calling. No, it is not for everyone. No, I do NOT judge those who decide to public school or private school their children. Homeschooling is a conviction, not a law, rule or doctrine and should be treated as such. My best word of advice for anyone who is considering homeschooling is do your research, pray, pray, pray and talk it over with your spouse. If you both feel a peace about it and feel that the Lord is leading you to homeschool, then you should. But, each family is different and the Lord has us all in different places. Ask God, listen and then do what go where He leads!