Why Homeschool?

Homeschooling is something near and dear to my heart.  My children are very young so I haven’t officially started grade school with them yet, but I know that the home and the outside world are their classroom already, even from such a young age.

I was homeschooled and I am thankful for my upbringing where my curriculum was faith based so God was acknowledged, as He should be, first and foremost in everything.  This is my reasoning for why I want to train and instruct my children at home.

There are so many stereotypes out there about homeschoolers and I will admit, some of them are true, but there are just as many public school kids that are the same way.  Not to mention the many different problems with public school and the kids in them these days.  Now this is not to say that public school is all bad and that the kids who go there are all ill behaved, because that’s certainly not true.  Most of my friends that I love dearly who have their kids in public school are great wonderful kids, and I love them!

One common thing about homeschoolers, though, is you can pretty much always pick one out and not for the bad reasons you might think.  When I hear people complimenting parents on how well behaved and polite their kids are, come to find out… they’re homeschooled.  Homeschool families seem to have such a rich, warm, and loving family dynamics.  They know who they are and what they are about.  They are different…in a very good way.

Something a lot of parents struggle with is the idea of educating their children at home themselves.  I get being nervous, but the good news is that there are so many wonderful resources and curriculums out there today, as well as all the awesome homeschool support groups.  Homeschooling has come quite a long way as far as the actual school work part and it makes me so excited that more and more parents are stepping up and taking charge of their children’s educations.  You definitely won’t find a lack in the actual curriculum part.  There is so much more to the idea of homeschooling though.

 The benefits to homeschooling are so many and the awesome thing is that you can make it into whatever you want it to be.

Homeschooling is a calling and a conviction.  If your heart is wrestling with the decision to homeschool then this post is for you.  I asked a couple of Mothers that I know who homeschooled/are homeschooling their kids what their reasoning was and why they chose to homeschool.

Here is the beautiful letter I received from one of the Mothers:

Why did I choose to homeschool?

First, a bit of history about me – I am an unusual person who was myself homeschooled during my 8-

10th grades back in the dark ages of homeschooling, 1979-1981. In order to comply with the local school

board, my parents had to operate a satellite school through Christian Liberty Academy. We completed

the assignments, mailed everything back to the school, and they graded it. My family lived on a farm

near a small town in Missouri. I found homeschooling to be a very socially isolating experience because

none of my friends were doing this, or had even heard of such a thing. On the bright side, after rejoining

my classmates my junior year I found I was not only academically ahead, but had gained a sense of self

discipline that few students achieve until college, if even then.

Now fast forward about 20 years. As a parent of 3 young children I again examined the question of

whether I would choose a path of homeschooling. While I had considered the question from my oldest

daughter’s birth to 1st grade, I found that the timing was not good for our family. My daughter was

blessed with good public school teachers, and we lived in small, rural communities in the heartland of

America. However, even with these positives, I wondered if she could be having a better educational

experience. Also, public schools were no longer the same as my husband and I had attended. Teachers

faced crumbling authority and respect, from both students and their parents. Safety was becoming

more of an issue as well. We also had recently moved to a new city in which we found an abundance of

homeschooling families. We were struck with the differences in attitudes and maturity levels in their

children, and we admired the close relationships they had within their families. Also, here was a chance

to homeschool with the support of other families. I certainly didn’t want my kids to experience the

same social isolation that I had felt. Since I wasn’t working outside the home, my husband and I felt it

was the perfect time to embark on this new adventure. Armed with my husband’s support and

knowledge of our state’s laws on homeschooling, I was ready!

Quickly that excitement turned to anxiety. I was overwhelmed with the plethora of homeschool

curriculums. I chose A Beka because it was Christian based, and it seemed to cover everything that a

second grader needed – from language to art and everything in between. I certainly didn’t want to miss

anything she was supposed to be learning. Also, I liked their hotel display sales format in which I could

pick up and thumb through every book before I purchased it. Now I was ready. I had books on the

shelf, educational posters on the wall, and a small school desk stocked with sharpened pencils and

purple scissors.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was trying to duplicate a public school experience with its

routines and schedules at home. With a three year old and one year old to care for as well, I quickly

bogged down. One of the best books I read at this time was “Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days” by

Nancy Lande, in which 30 different families share one day of what their homeschooling looked like.

What I came to realize is that homeschooling looks different in each family because each family is

unique. Welcome to the wonderful world of flexibility in homeschooling! I didn’t have a classroom of

2nd graders – just one. If she understood a concept well, it wasn’t necessary to spend an hour doing

busywork. We could move forward. If she was interested in a subject, we could pause and explore it. In

many ways I found that I enjoyed learning or relearning things right along with my kids. Over the next

few years we dissected a beef heart; we invited friends to a “California Gold Rush Party”; we read aloud

countless books; we took field trips to a reptile ranch and pythons were draped over the kids’ shoulders; and

we even staged a play in the basement and invited friends and family to watch. Learning had become

fun! After all, if it wasn’t fun for me, the kids wouldn’t likely be interested either. Yes, I had become a

bona fide homeschool mom and I wore the title with pride.

So, back to the question, “Why did I choose to homeschool?”

Here are some observations:

First, the most successful educations have the involvement of the parents at its heart. No matter if a

child is educated in a public, private, or home setting, the more involved the parents are, the better the

chance for success.

Second, those who choose to homeschool start for a variety of reasons. But often, the longer they

homeschool, the more reasons they find to continue home education. I found the flexibility to be

enormous. To be able to choose our children’s curriculum is HUGE! Our values and faith could be

incorporated into their studies. From science to penmanship we could be fulfilling our charge to raise

our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Their studies could allow room for their

individual interests and abilities. For example, I can remember quizzing math facts to my energetic

young boys as they bounced balls around the room. Also, the flexibility in arranging our schedule was

wonderful! We created our own schedule and weren’t tied down to a public school schedule. We could

sleep in if needed, and I didn’t have to rush home before the school bus arrived in the afternoon. We

discovered that homeschooling is really an oxymoron – schooling only started at home, but extended far

beyond its doors. We enjoyed vacations and field trips in the spring and fall with fewer crowds to

contend with. We could schedule around our extracurricular activities, and most importantly, we could

capitalize on my husband’s time at home.

Finally, homeschooling for us allowed our entire family to participate together in many ways that we

wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. This flexibility would lead in later years to our involvement in

theatre, robotic competitions, 4-H projects, sports, co-ops, church activities, and even building a house,

to name a few. Our children were turning into responsible adults who were kind, thoughtful, curious,

and intelligent. Life was coming full circle. I was beginning to hear from others the same type of

admiration that I had held some 15 years before. Could it have happened without schooling them at

home? Naturally, just like the traveler in Robert Frost’s poem, we’ll never truly know. But for us,

homeschooling has made all the difference.

Pam Williams

Rolla, Missouri

The other Mother I know has a blog with her Husband and they are Missionaries overseas in Cambodia.  Her Name is Elizabeth Trotter and she was reluctant to homeschool at first but then realized as she did it, she loved it more and more.

Here are some links to her website that are good reading as to how she learned to homeschool, why she loves it, and encouragement for when it gets hard.

How to be a Temporary Trailing Spouse (or, How One Husband Lives with his Wife in an Understanding Way)

6 Things I’ve Learned from 6 Years of Homeschooling

The Homeschool Manifesto

Those are just a few.  Search her blog for more homeschooling advice as well as check out their work over in Cambodia.

Homeschooling is about so much more than just the school work part.  I have been reading a book called “Teaching from Rest A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace” by Sarah Mackenzie.  I already love it.  She used to do what both Pam and Elizabeth talked about doing, how they were so focused on the curriculum and just getting the work done.  That was, before they realized the beauty of what it could be.  In the Forward written by Christopher A. Perrin, PhD, he says of Sarah that she now:

“aims at the cultivation of wisdom, virtue, and eloquence in the souls of her children.”

I love this little part from her afterword also (yes, I skipped ahead 😉 ):

” “School is not about school,” Andrew Kern says.  “Homeschooling is not about school.  It’s about pursuing wisdom; it’s about becoming virtuous beings; it’s about soul transformation.”

We don’t view our children as products coming off a factory line- no, we view them as human beings made in the image and likeness of God.  We seek to cultivate and nourish their souls on truth, goodness, and beauty by means of the arts they study with us in our homes. “

That is what I hope to accomplish with homeschooling the blessings God gave to me to rear up in Him.  I know there will be tough times ahead, but I also know that anything worth doing is not always going to be easy.

Hopefully these women have helped give you some insight and encouragement on your decision whether or not to homeschool or maybe just a refresher on why you yourself also chose to do it.  I know they have been a great encouragement to me.  Thank you Pam and Elizabeth!

 

2 Comments

  1. These are excellent thoughts and reflect so much of why we want to homeschool our babies, too! I really love the philosophy of Teaching From Rest as well. 🙂 Blessings to you!

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