Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Top Six Reasons Why Our Family Chooses to Homeschool...

One of my very first posts back in 2008 when I started this blog, was a post on why we chose to homeschool our children. I wrote post in our first year of homeschooling. You can go here to read that post.

Fast forward almost four years, and I can tell you that those reasons pretty much remain the same. Now instead of thinking about why to even start homeschooling, I look back on those reasons to remind myself not only why we started, but why we should continue.

Let me first off start by saying that Sergei is not homeschooled. He attended our local public high school last year and for various reasons we pulled him from there and enrolled him in a private Christian school at which he is now happily attending.

I homeschooled him for the first two months of him being in our family, and it was not a good fit for him or our family. I tell you that because I'm not writing this post as an effort to condemn those families who choose to school their children in the traditional way. You see, you have to do what (after much prayer and God-seeking) fits your family the best. I homeschool, but yet, we also have a child in Christian school.

Moving on....

Are you curious why we chose to homeschool?

1. This first point is the one that I always have to come back to, time and time again, especially on those days when I feel like quitting. God called me to this.

Homeschooling is a calling on my life. It is one of my life missions. And I think that this is SO important. Homeschooling is hard work. It requires sacrifices. And that is why looking at it as a calling is so important. If I didn't look at it as just that, I would give up too easily. I would be tempted to focus on its negative aspects and give up.

Viewing it as a calling (because I really believe that that is exactly what it is), I am encouraged to persevere through the rough days. When I know that God has called me to do it, I know that it is the right thing to do. He's not going to call me to do something that's going to forever scar and mess up my children.

2. My children can learn through living.

One of the things that turns me off from traditional schooling is how constrained it all is, especially for younger children. Children sit on the bus ride to school. They sit at desks all day long. They sit in the cafeteria as they eat their lunch.

Homeschooling permits us to sit when needed (because let's admit it, it's kinda hard to practice cursive while gallivanting through the fields looking at wildflowers and honeybees), but it also permits us to go outside and explore, to hop in the car and visit a museum. We're not boxed in by certain hours or certain days.

To our family, homeschooling is about seeing everyday opportunities as learning opportunities. Teaching my children how to do laundry. Teaching crocheting and sewing skills. Teaching them how to bake cupcakes or making frosting. Exposing them to budgeting, wise and frugal shopping, taking them out in the woods to actually observe the insects and birds we read about in the books. Taking them out and letting them participate in outreach, service activities. This is real-life learning. And I know that if my kids attended a traditional school, the time that we would have to do this would be severely limited.

3. I feel that my children benefit more from a homeschooled education.

Ian knows many, many facts about ancient Egypt, ancient Rome, and ancient Greece. He knows about Michelangelo and Da Vinci and other artists of the Renaissance. My children can identify pieces composed by Handel and Tchaikovsky.

Some days, bugs are our best friends. Other days, we're all about history or story-telling.

In spite of what some may think, that a proper education includes sitting at a desk, listening to a teacher speak to you, learning things at certain, specified times, segregating the subjects, etc., I believe that a whole, more-integrated approach to learning is much more beneficial to my two younger children.

By reading real, living books (not textbooks) we have learned so much about the ancient world, the Dark Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation. We have learned about the undersea world in more detail than I ever did when I was young. We've learned about dinosaurs and creation from a Biblical viewpoint.

Of course, there is most definitely a place for math and English. Math is imperative to be taught, but I do believe in integrating manipulatives and other more hands-on ways of learning math skills. And nouns, verbs, and adjectives as well as proper sentence structure is also very important. And I teach my children these things.

But everything else is about learning through reading, through exploring, through logging on to youtube to see how cotton is spun into yarn because we just read about a young boy who worked in a cotton factory during the Industrial Revolution, and we're curious to see how in the world they turn that white fluffy stuff into yarn.

Children are sponges. They learn even when you don't realize it. And they don't need a desk, a chair and a blackboard in order to learn.

4. Homeschooling permits me to teach according to my children's innate learning style.

Every child learns differently. For instance, I could read anything to Ian and he would remember it for years. That kid has such a memory on him that I'm constantly amazed. Lily, on the other hand, requires a more hands-on approach in order to learn most effectively. Now as she grows, this may change (all-in-all, the younger the child, the better they learn through hands-on learning experiences), but because I have the flexibility to, I can change how I teach as she (and Ian) change how they best learn.

5. Homeschooling permits me to expose my children to those things which support our Biblical worldview.

As an example, I teach my children science from a young-earth perspective. I believe in the literal seven days of creation from the Genesis account. I teach them this perspective because that is what the literal translation of the Bible teaches me. And just so you all know, there is scientific evidence that backs up the Biblical account of creation and the worldwide flood. Just don't expect to hear it from your local public school.

Having said all of that, my children can most certainly tell you what evolution is. I don't shy away from it. We use a couple of secular living science books to discuss the topic. But the difference is, when I'm teaching my kids about evolution, I'm also teaching them the inaccuracy in it. I'm not teaching it as fact.

There are, of course, other controversial topics that are being taught today in public schools that go against our moral beliefs and the Bible's teaching. And so I can present those topics but I can present them in a Biblical light.

5. Homeschooling makes learning fun.

Now, not everything in our homeschooling day is "fun" to my children. There are certain things (like handwriting for Ian) or certain more difficult math concepts that I have to fight tooth-and-nail to teach. But they have to be taught, because it is information that my children need to learn in order to be able to live in the world.

However, most of our learning is done through the reading of living books, exploration, hands-on activities, and just living in general. I don't want my kids to see learning as something that is dull and boring. I want them to see learning as something that can occur anytime, not just while they're sitting at a desk doing worksheets. I want them to love to learn. There is so much to learn about God's world, I don't want to pollute their view of learning by setting up their perspective of learning as something they have to do to get a certain grade in school or to pass a certain standardized test.

Life is learning. Learning is life. When we love learning, we love life. We can look at God's creation around us, and see it as a playground for our mind and soul.

6. Homeschooling allows ample time to impress God's teachings on my children's hearts.

To my husband and I, academics are not the most important aspect of our children's education. The most important thing to us is that they are learning about God and His love for them, the gifts He has blessed each of them with, the talents He wants them to use for His glory, the calling He has placed on each of their lives.

We want our children to grow up in faith and love of the Lord. We want them to meditate on His Word. We want them to know the dire importance and necessity of His presence in their lives. So to us, homeschooling is so much more than academics. It's about writing His Words on our doorframes (see Deuteronomy 6:9) and talking about them constantly with our children. If our children were in school all day long, we wouldn't have as much time to do this.

Well, these are the six major reasons we homeschool. Of course, there are always other little reasons that pop up in my mind, encouraging me to keep on keeping-on, but these are the six major ones my mind constantly comes back to.

When I talk to other women who are contemplating either starting homeschooling or quitting homeschooling, my first thing I always discuss first is point number one. Have you prayed about it? Do you feel this is something God has called you to?

Because if they answer yes to this, if they see homeschooling as a calling God has placed on their lives, then it's easy for me to encourage them to keep persevering. Callings are never easy, but they are always fulfilling. Sometimes we get fulfilling moments, or even whole days. And sometimes we go for weeks without feeling fulfilled or seeing the benefits.

But I can assure you that if God has called you to something, He did it because it is what is best and because it has a Kingdom-purpose. And when God calls us to something, it will always be something worth our time, effort, and sweat. And it will always be something that will reap an eventual harvest, even if we don't eat from that harvest right away.

Have a blessed Wednesday!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love, love, love this post and the first one, Amber! I too remember saying I couldn't HS - I was so for it, but terrified of doing it, I thought I was too dumb actually, and feared failing my daughters. The lies the enemy will whisper to your heart and the grief the world gives HSers had me in a grip. I too ate my words, gladly. And surprisingly I found that when I gave it all to Him and decided to start each and everyday with Him and take it just a day at a time, and year at a time, I am not failing anyone. Actually, I am shocked to discover that I'm pretty good at this! LOL!! I agree with all you wrote and find myself thankful each day to share and learn along with my daughters! Thank you for posting your thoughts and sharing your journey.

In Him~ Sandi