Wednesday, May 9, 2012

why i homeschool

People ask.

And fortunately for me, others answer -- better than I can.  Or perhaps choose to.

The words in this post could literally be mine.  Even down to the disclaimer of homeschooling being a personal decision and not one I want to be divisive (which I think is the reason I avoid conversations about it).    

Her top five reasons are my top five reasons.  Wow.  Thanks, Silvia, for sending this to me.

This was so good to read.  So I thought I'd share it with you in case you ever wonder and want to ask.

This is from Motherhood on a Dime, if you want more.  It's a good blog.

“Why Do You Homeschool?” (My Attempt to Answer the Question Without Offending Everyone Who Reads This Blog)

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Before I begin, let me just tell you that I’ve held out on sharing this post for almost a year!  I never want to alienate any of my readers…and I worried a little bit that this post would make someone feel uncomfortable or offended or even angry.  Please know that no matter whether you homeschool or take your child to private or public school, you are welcome here.  I understand if you think I’m crazy or weird.  I think that sometimes, too!  My intent is not to make anyone feel guilty or leave you thinking I believe everyone should do what we are doing.  This is where God has led us for now. 
Would I love for you to consider homeschooling?  Well, yes I would.  It’s been a real blessing for us.   Do I think everyone should homeschool?  No, I don’t.  But if the only thing holding you back is fear or the feeling that you just can’t do it, I want to reassure you.  I’ve had quite a few questions over the past year or so about why we are homeschooling, and I wanted to address them specifically for our family.

If you had told me seven years ago, I would be teaching my children at home…I’m pretty sure I would’ve laughed in your face.  I attended public school as a child.  My college experience included earning a degree in Elementary Education.  I taught in several schools before the girls came along.  School was my life.   
But somewhere along the line (after my oldest daughter was born), I began to feel uneasy.  I reflected on my time in the school system.  I didn’t like what was happening there, but I didn’t really see any other options.  I knew we couldn’t afford private school.  And then….
Yes, God.  He brought all kinds of amazing people and books and resources into my life.  We began to seriously ponder whether we could actually undertake this difficult task of homeschooling our children.
After studying and praying, I knew without a doubt, we had to do it.
Here are just a few of the reasons why we homeschool:

1)  Life is short.

I’ve shared about the loss of my dad before.  Although I was angry at the time, I’ve since been able to see the gift God gave me through my dad’s death.
Here’s the deal:  His death gave me perspective.  My dad was two days shy of his 50th birthday when he died, and I began to look at my own life differently.
I don’t know the length of my life.  Will I be around one month from now?  50 more years?
Time is short. Already seven years of my oldest daughter’s life have gone by. I can’t rewind time and I can’t get it back, but I want to make the most of what we have together.
Remember my mission statement?  Part of it says, “I will be a whole-hearted follower of Christ and glorify Him by shepherding the hearts of my children.”  It also says, “I will be a whole-hearted follower of Christ by stewarding wisely the time and resources God has entrusted to me.”
At this point, our family believes we must invest the precious time we’ve been given — and give our children a firm foundation.  Yes, I’ve had to “sacrifice” many things I’ve wanted to do.  Yes, I would love to have more time to myself.  Yes, I would love to write a book and write curriculum and take music lessons and speak to groups and have a clean house and cook more exciting meals and spend more time with my friends and on and on….
I don’t have all the time in the world.
I have right now.  And I believe I’m called to pour myself out for my husband and our three little girls.

2)  Homeschooling *forces* me invites me into relationship with my children.

I really hesitated to put this in here, because I’m afraid it might be misconstrued.  Please don’t read this the wrong way.  I genuinely love and care for my girls…it’s not like I have to be forced into loving them.  There are just moments when relationships are hard — when parenting is hard.
For instance, I butt heads constantly with one of my daughters.  Some days I think I would love to send her to school — just so I could have a break.  It’s at these moments I realize how valuable homeschooling is for our relationship.
If my girls were away from me for 8 hours a day, I’d miss the character and heart issues that need dealt with (in them AND myself).  Being with my kids 24-7 means we have to find solutions and grow together!  We’re *forced* into building a strong relationship.
In The Well-Adjusted Child, Rachel Gathercole mentions “the detachment snowball.”  This term was coined by Dr William Sears in The Baby Book.  She says, “According to this idea, the more time parents and kids spend apart, the less parents know and understand their kids; the less responsive, respectful, and communicative both parents and kids become; and the more time both need away from each other.”
I don’t want that to happen to my relationship with my children.  All too often, I’ve seen a similar progression in children as they go away to preschool, elementary school, and middle school.  By the time they are teenagers, they want nothing to do with their parents.  
I’m thankful that homeschooling invites us to a deeper relationship with each other — and I’m grateful for the time we have to work on it!

3)  I’ve been given a great gift.

I went to a conference last summer and listened to the challenging Voddie Baucham.  He made a comment (actually several of them) that stuck with me…
“Just imagine someone coming to your house, knocking on your door, and asking for the keys to your brand-new car.  They tell you they’re just going to use it during the day, but they’ll return it to you in the evening.”
Are you kidding?!!  That would be crazy…I’d never do that!
Are not our children much more valuable to us than a car?
Yet, we turn our children over to a teacher we’ve met once and let them be influenced and molded by them for hours each day.
Now, do not think for a second that I am bashing teachers!!  I know there are excellent teachers in my community, and there are excellent teachers all across the nation (I hope I was one of them)!  I know how challenging it is to teach and the rewards are often few and far between.
But because I was a teacher, I also know that there are many teachers whose hearts are not in it.  They’ve grown cynical.  They crush instead of inspire. 
More than that, they don’t share my values — and even if they do, they can’t teach them outright in the public schools.
My girls are gifts.  They are little sponges….and I can’t stand the thought of them losing the curiosity they possess and the desire they have to learn and create.
I know what they love.  I know what they struggle with.  I love them more than anyone else ever could.  Ultimately, God has made me responsible for training and discipling them.
I don’t feel I can abdicate that responsibility to someone else for hours and hours each day.

4)  Schools are not a good fit for *most* kids.

I personally loved the “school” part of school.  I was good at it.  It fit my learning style.  But I would say I am the exception rather than the rule.
Many schools I’ve seen (and been apart of) attempt to make cookie-cutter people.  They desire uniformity.  They quash creativity.  They have an agenda.  They leave children with wounds.
I’ve seen kindergarteners come to school excited and exuberant.  Nine months later, they leave hating school and learning.
It’s extremely sad.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of other reasons schools are not a good fit for kids:
  • Bullying
  • Violence
  • Peer-dependency
  • Early exposure to alcohol & drugs
  • Sexual experimentation
  • Disrespect for adults
I will do what I can to guard my children’s hearts.  I love the analogy that they are like newly-sprouted plants in a greenhouse — they need special care right now.  I’m not going to stick them out in the elements and expect they’ll be able to survive.  They need time to grow deep, strong roots.  It’s my job to nourish them, to protect them, to give them the guidance they need to grow.  Soon enough, they’ll be transplanted outside of our “greenhouse”!
Right now, my children love to learn.  They feel safe.  They talk to me about everything.  Home is a pretty good fit for them.

5)  We teach as we live.

When you are one-on-one with a child, you can accomplish “schoolwork” in an abbreviated amount of time.
We don’t have to wait for the other kids to finish their work.  We don’t have to spend time moving from one location to the next.  We don’t have to go at the same speed for everyone.  We don’t have to deal with tons of discipline problems.  Our on-task time is probably more in just a few hours than what children in school accomplish for the whole day!
This frees up our afternoons — for music, cooking, playing outdoors, visiting, serving, or other creative pursuits!  We’re involved in local classes, sports, Girl Scouts, and various other community activities.  When family members visit from other states, we can take off and enjoy their company.  We can “do school” in the evening if necessary — or even on the weekend(yes, we have)!
Life is education.  Education is life.

I realize that homeschooling is not an option for everybody.  Please do not take my own personal reasons as judgment on what your family has chosen to do!  Again, lots of you have asked, and I just wanted to share why WE homeschool.
Truthfully, there are hard days.  There are days I want to give up.  There are days I think I’m just pretty much crazy.  There are days I blow it.
However, the blessings far outweigh the hardships.  I cannot even imagine my life without these three little people with me most of the day!  If homeschooling is something you want to try or you’ve been considering, you can do it.  I truly believe that!
Questions?  Comments?  Please feel free to voice your opinion and share your thoughts!  This can be an emotionally-charged issue, so I do ask that we keep our comments kind and respectful! 

1 comment:

  1. Heather, Thank you for sharing this with me. For me I know that homeschooling is not an option for many reasons. In some ways I wish I had what it would take but I also know my children need the outside world too.

    I agree with homeschooling for the most part but I also feel that children that are homeschooled miss out on a great many lessons in the world. Like you I want to shelter my kids from all the bad in the world, I want to protect them from that bad, the ugly that children can be. On the flip side if we never expose them to some of these things then they never learn to survive in the real world because when they do grow up they will have to be in the real world and know how to handle it. What you are teaching them is a great foundation and ground work for a great adult person to come but without the use of those tools you have taught them in the home they don't know how to use them. Without the exposure to take what they learn and use it everyday with all types of people we don't know how they will handle and use what you have taught them. I hope that makes sense.

    As for public or private schools you will always find those that love to teach and those that are just waiting to be done. Greatfully I can say to this point my children have gotten wonderful teachers that really do want to be there and are excited to teach. One of those teacher was an advocate for Kaitlyn and got her what she needed to help her be successful in school, me on my own never could have done that. We teacher our kids faith, faith in God, faith in themselves and faith in others and I honestly feel they need to have faith in their teachers. They also need to learn that some people will not hold up to our expectations but it's ok, just remind that to keep their faith that all will work out.

    I guess the whole thing I am trying to say is I want my children to be ready for the real world and use what I have taught them at home in the real world. Keeping them in a "bubble" so to speak will not help them in the long run. I continue to teach my children the values that we believe in. We teach them respect, we teach them to be good friends, we teach them to believe in themselves and in God, we teach them to lead by example not by following others. Have we had issue in school, Yes, but I believe my children have grown and learned from it.

    In the end we all are doing what we feel is right for our kids. I don't judge others for homeschooling since there are so many that do it for many different reasons. I respect your decision to homeschool your kids and have the faith in yourself that you can do a good job. (Side note I do think you are "crazy" trying to homeschool all your kids, I don't know if I could handle educating 5 kids.) Me I know I can't give them what they need. Like I said before all each of us wants is the best for our children and we will all will do what we feel is the best.



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