Why do you homeschool?
This is another question that gets asked of me, sometimes with trepidation. I think people are expecting to hear a story of deeply held conviction laced with some anger and legalism. While I have developed some deep conviction over the years about why I homeschool, and legalism and anger are dragons I have to slay every now and then when they rear their nasty little heads, those really aren’t my why. The short answer is simply that I love the freedom we have to really learn outside of classrooms, textbooks, and standardized test. Our learning is joy-filled and life-giving. But, I’ll include the long answer if you are one who wants to know the full story.
It all started with me simply recognizing that my daughter was ready to learn academically but she wasn’t quite old enough to really start school. So, I started to teach her at home.
When baby #4 came along, I was overwhelmed with trying to do a formal method of teaching at home, so we sent our oldest and her sister to public school. My oldest did great! She had a phenomenal teacher and she really enjoyed it. Child #2 hated it. She cried every morning when I woke her up. So after 10 weeks of gutting it out, I had an incredibly helpful conversation with her very kind teacher and decided to bring her home and try home education again. She loved it and so did I.
Then the following school year, my oldest started having major anxiety. She would not eat her breakfast or lunch. The joy of learning left her eyes and were surrounded instead with dark circles of stress and boredom. She was in second grade. How could she be only 7 and already disinterested in learning? She would call me from her teacher’s phone almost every day upset and scared. She would go the nurse several times a week with a stomach ache. We asked her over and over what was happening at school. She always said nothing. No one was bullying. No one was hurting her. We were lost as to what was going on. We met with her teacher, the school counselor, and I talked to any mom who would listen in hopes they would have insight to share. Nothing changed.
At the Christmas break, we pulled her out. She was thrilled. Within a month, the circles around her eyes were gone, the joy of learning returned, and she was eating all of her meals, snacks, and then some!
Best. Decision. Made.
But if we were going to really educate our children at our home, it had to be manageable. I had to find a method that worked for our family dynamic and that fit into our lifestyle and schedule.
I reevaluated everything I had been doing before in order to find a way to manage the burden better.
I tried a lot of different routines and methods, and after several years (good things rarely happen overnight) I found what works for us. We are so happy home educating. The kids are happy, I am happy and my husband is happy. We do take it year by year, because I am fully aware that life can change in an instant, so I don’t want to have a clenched fist when it comes to our plans and methods of education. Also, high school is on the horizon, so…that should be an interesting shake up.
For now, we have a very laid back and restful rhythm in our day. I am able to read-aloud to my kids and have meaningful conversations with them about what we are learning. I am able to really listen to their thoughts, ideas and hopes for the future. They are able to find creative ways to explain what they have learned through narration, art and of course the occasional mundane fill in the blank (but we keep that paperwork to a minimum at this point. They’ll have plenty of time to learn how to fill in the blanks in the upper grades.) I am getting to know them more and more as real people with real ideas and it is beautiful.
Yes, we have hard days, but they are only days. New days let us start fresh and try again. We slow down when a subject ignites our interests. The stuff we don’t enjoy (hello long division, I’m talking about you) we are able to slow down on that as well and take our time learning. If we don’t get it figured out today, that’s ok. Tomorrow we get to try again. And again the next day, and next week, and at times, even next month - because mastery trumps speed in our house. I’d rather hold a child back and let her build her confidence in an area than frantically push her through a subject with panic and threats just to meet a deadline. Yes, there is a time to learn how to meet deadlines, but childhood isn’t the time. Not for us. Not right now.
The result? My children love to learn. All children do until it becomes a mundane, rote, pointless practice as it so often does with traditional methods. How sad it is to see the joy of learning leave a child’s eyes! It broke my heart when I saw it leave my daughter’s eyes.
We are all born with a love of learning, because our Creator wants to be known by His creation. So, He made us curious. He designed our brain to ask questions and make connections so that we would seek, and in our seeking discover Him. This kind of learning takes time. It is slow. It takes a different shape with different personalities and temperaments. These commodities are scarce in a classroom of 25-30 where everyone has to learn the same thing at the same time, but in my homeroom of 4, we have the luxury to explore deeply in our own time. We can ask questions and follow trains of thoughts to new ideas. We can put our paperwork away and pursue passions for a few hours. I am so grateful that we have so much freedom to learn! And learn we do.
This is why I homeschool.
Why do you homeschool? I really want to know! Share your why in the comments below (with kindness and grace, please slay your dragons before you post).