[box]Curious about homeschooling? Want to know what you need to get started? Then this month's posts are for you. Join us in the month of March as we look at some of the things that I have learned over the past ten years of homeschooling our children.[/box] As the public school system becomes unfriendly to Christian values, many parents are looking to other options. Over the past couple years, I have had a good number of concerned parents ask me about homeschooling. Of course, I am more than happy to oblige. Usually the first question I am asked is: Why did you decide to homeschool your kids?
As I think back, I have found that the reasons I started homeschooling and why I am homeschooling today have changed quite a bit. At first, I thought of homeschooling as a one-year-at-a-time deal. I must admit that I entered into this gig with the attitude that if it didn't work out or if my kids got too bored at home or if God moved our family in a different direction, then I could easily send them back.
However, I quickly found out how stressful that kind of arrangement was. My first few years (poor Janna) felt like I was trying to cram twelve years of education into one because I didn't know if I was going to have another year. Also, because I didn't want her to fall behind should she go back, I was always asking her schooled friends what they were doing and making sure she was on par with them. Needless to say, that was not a good arrangement.
Only when I surrendered to this lifestyle have I really begun to enter into the joy and freedom that homeschooling offers. So while my original reasons for homeschooling still exist, they no longer are the top ones on my list.
Okay, so what are those reasons? Though I am sure others will come up right after I post this, these seem to come to mind first:
Reason #1: Homeschooling allows us to train our children's hearts even while educating their minds.
It has only been in the last few years since Janna has entered high school that I have been challenged to look at what was really important for me. Through godly homeschooling mentors, God has challenged my notion that my primary job in life is to make sure my kids are educated enough to get into a good college, get a good job, and earn their own living so they won't
leech off live with me for the rest of their lives.
At the end of my active parenting days, the greatest fruit will be godly children who are equipped not only academically but spiritually to make an impact in their generation in their own unique ways. And that certainly isn't going to come from a system where God is left out and everyone has to meet a standard.
Reason #2: Homeschooling allows God to dictate our family's direction.
When we were in traditional school with Janna, we were also in campus ministry. If you know anything about college students, most of the action takes place after 9 pm. However, because Janna had to be up early to go to school, this seriously limited what we were able to do as a family, which was hard because we saw ministry as a family affair. To be honest, this was the first reason why we chose the homeschooling lifestyle. While it is not impossible to serve the Lord and go to traditional school, we felt it was tearing us in two different directions. Once we switched, we felt like we were "whole" again. Ministry and home and life blended together. And I like that.
Reason #3: Homeschooling allows us to cultivate the relationships that are most important to us.
My desire is for my children to have wonderful relationships with each other. Friendships will fade, even though they think they will be BFFs. I am so excited to see my children genuinely love and care for one another. I am so proud of the way Janna and Matthew have sacrificed to care for their younger siblings.
Not only that, I have thoroughly enjoyed being able to invest deeply in the lives of my children instead of farming them over to another teacher, no matter how good, for six hours a day. I get to walk with them and grow with them and learn with them, building into their lives. And they are more important to me than anyone else.
Reason #4: Homeschooling allows us to make the most of our time.
Instead of waiting for the whole class to finish, we can move on when we are done. We cover way more in the same six hours that most kids are away at school.
Reason #5: Homeschooling gives our children the freedom to learn at their own pace and in their own style.
One of my kids learned how to read early and was quite advanced; the other was not. That same child, however, could not master math facts. The other one had no problem. Homeschooling has allowed our children to move at their pace. If a subject was difficult, we could slow down and learn it well. If they excelled, they were able to move ahead of grade level. This has been important, especially in those challenging subjects, so they do not feel stupid or behind.
Reason #6: Homeschooling allows us to develop their God-given uniquenesses, gifts, talents and bents.
God has created my children unique. While there are things they all need to learn, homeschooling has allowed us to bring out those things that God may one day want to develop. Instead of having to fit into a mold or meet certain standards and benchmarks, they have the time to cultivate those uniquenesses. And I love seeing how that unfolds.
Bottom line: God has not made us all the same. Homeschooling has allowed us to be true to His calling for us as a family, and for us to be able to help our children grow into what God has for them, not what some people in the higher eschelons of government say they should be. And for us, that is worth the cost of time, energy, and sacrifice.