I recently submitted this article as a commentary in the Delaware State News, but with our homeschool year just underway, I thought I’d share it here as well for you mamas who may be contemplating or questioning this school option. For the original article, please visit http://delawarestatenews.net/opinion/commentary-my-reasons-for-embracing-an-out-of-the-box-homeschool-education/.
After fifteen years of homeschooling, I still find it difficult to wrap up the “whys” in the 30-second sound bite people are often looking for. My reasons are so many and so evolving that no answer-in-a-nutshell exists. Still, I am aware that many people are curious about homeschooling, while others are contemplating this venture, and still others would rather pluck their fingernails out one by one than take on this counter-culture form of education.
I almost don’t remember when homeschooling was foreign and when I believed I was disqualified because I wasn’t “patient enough” or “organized enough”. But with two children who have graduated, I’m relieved to say that despite my fears of messing up my kiddos for life, they are happy, competent adults who both plan to homeschool their own children some day.
However, with an eight-year-old and a ten-year-old, I’m far from finished. While I do have a short list of reasons to quit homeschooling, which include the fact that I’m still not patient enough or organized enough, my list of reasons to homeschool continues to grow.
The Family Dynamic and Focus on Relationships
I have a passion for my family, and homeschooling lets me savor the moments with them. Instead of whisking my children off to school and coming home to a chaotic night of dinner and baths and homework, we all get to slow down and enjoy each other. After years of life together, we still like each other, stand with each other, and feel blessed by each other.
This is definitely the concern I hear most and once had. However, I now know that if you can put siblings in a room or a house or a yard together every day and they all live to tell about it, that’s socialization at its best. Really though, despite fears of raising kids who couldn’t look adults in the eye or play kickball with the neighbor kids, I have found that because my children join me on nursing home visits, trips to the grocery store, hospitals to see newborns, as well as take part in sports, co-ops, church events, and park outings my children mix well in any gathering. It didn’t take me long to realize the “unsocialization” fear is unfounded and my oldest children have lifelong friendships with age-mates and adults alike.
This is huge! As a homeschool mom, I have the freedom to choose our curriculum and our schedule. We are free to travel, pursue individual passions, and learn whatever interests us. My children are free to master a skill before moving on or skip through easier topics. I may not be as free to chat on the phone or lounge with a cup of coffee, but I am free to read to my children all day when it rains or shelve the books for a walk in the park on a sunny day.
I may not know Calculus, but that doesn’t mean my children can’t learn it. There are curriculum options to suit every learning style, such as traditional texts, video and online learning, and even satellite classrooms, so opportunities for learning are limitless.
Besides academic education, my husband and I have the advantage of directing our children’s moral education, which ensures consistency and provides a sense of security. Our children will one day have to make their own choices, but we want those choices rooted in our value system.
The Opportunity to Work
It takes effort to run a full house and a family business. My children learn that work is part of daily life. This instills competence and subsequently confidence. We are a team and depend upon each one doing his part, so our children learn not only the value of work, but also that they are a valuable part of our work.
Even after all these years, there are times still that homeschooling overwhelms me and doubts wash over me. Did we cover enough material? Am I pushing them too hard or not enough? But one thing I am certain of; this journey has taken my family down invaluable roads. For us, for now, it is not just a choice, but the best choice.