We homeschool our kids, but it’s not because we want to avoid Common Core. Nope. We have much better reasons than that.
It can be a common misconception that all homeschooling families have chosen to take on the responsibility of teaching their children at home because of what they want to avoid, as if the primary goal of homeschooling is merely to shelter our kids from society as long as we can.
I will admit that there is a degree of this in our choice to homeschool.
However (and this is a BIG however), when I think about homeschooling I do not think of it in negative terms. For us, and so many others, the choice to homeschool is not rooted in fear or a false hope that by homeschooling we will guarantee that our children will be and do exactly as we would like.
Anyone who has tried to implement a habit or lifestyle change which is negatively motivated can tell you that those motivations are not enough to help you persevere when the going gets tough. The call of OREOS is too strong when your motivation is simply “I need to lose weight”. (Ask me how I know). But when your motivation is “I want to eat healthy because I will feel better”, then your chances of saying no to that late night stack are much better.
Homeschooling can be hard. Both the teacher and the students still have bad days. Which is why I spend much more time focusing on the good that comes from homeschooling, rather than the bad we are dodging. It is always the good that fuels me– the good that I see in our school and the good that I am inspired by in others.
So I can confidently tell you that our decision to homeschool has nothing to do the the so-called evils of Common Core. It is not because we think that professional teachers are not incredible. I taught elementary school and know from experience that those who give their lives to teaching are not there for the salary, but because they love their students and their job. We don’t homeschool primarily because we are afraid of other students, (though I do have convictions on the peer culture in schools).
We homeschool because when we look at the allotment of time we are given with our children, and then we look at all that we are responsible to teach them and all that we want to do with them, we are jealous for that time that they would spend away from the home.
Yes, TIME is why we homeschool.
As parents, we are told to enjoy the time we have now because “the days are long, but the years are short”. As Christians, we are told to “make the most of our time because the days are evil”; and to learn to “number our days so as to present to God a heart of wisdom”.
Those who say “they’re only little for so long!” and the Bible are both echoing the same principle– time is a commodity and a gift. We cannot control how much we are given, but we should strive to use it well.
Our choice to homeschool our children essentially means that we have more options and more freedom to choose what we will do with the allotment of time we are given. Any family can make time for spiritual instruction, time to pursue interests, time to be together, and so on. But the uniqueness of homeschooling is that it affords MORE control over your time for each of these simply because you are the one in charge of your own routines and schedules.
In any given day, we have the TIME to focus on the things which we deem most important in our family…
⇒ My kids can take their time and learn at their own pace. No one has to rush to learn to read just because they are in a certain grade or at a certain age. It’s okay if my kids learn to read at 4, 5, 6, or 7. And whichever age they learn to read, they won’t be told they are late. We’ll just celebrate that they got there. This same principle goes for math, science, writing, and so on.
⇒ My kids don’t always get along. Who does? But because they have so much time to be together, they can develop friendships with each other that will last a lifetime. Every week they create imaginary worlds together; explore the backyard together; build Legos, play bunnies, and watch Netflix– you guessed it, together. All this time isn’t wasted or unimportant. They are becoming each other’s best friends and seeing this fills my heart with so much joy.
⇒ One of my favorite homeschooling bloggers and podcasters, Sarah Mackenzie, writes about filling your life with beauty, truth, and goodness. A primary way we do that is through beautiful stories and poems, captivating characters, and living books. All day long homeschooling gives us the time to read, read, and read some more.
⇒ Last week we went camping together as a family for five days at a park near the beach. In January we will head south and visit family and friends. This week my boys will take a day to go fishing before it gets too cold, and next week I hope to take a day to go apple picking so we can enjoy cider and apple pie pop-tarts with friends. Homeschooling allows us to be in charge of our schedules, our holidays, and our vacations so that we can choose time off that best suits our family’s needs.
⇒ Each morning we have the luxury of a breakfast together, time to play, and a chance to get a few chores done all before we start our school day. Even with a later start, we have enough time for both school and slow mornings because our school time can be focused and lessons can be kept short.
⇒ My kids are young, but no matter what age they are, learning about God– who He is, what He is about, and how they relate to Him– will be paramount in their education. So I don’t take it lightly that homeschooling gives us the time for a rich Biblical foundation in their lives. Part of each day is spent reading the Bible, studying theology books for kids, memorizing Scripture, learning to pray, and singing hymns. And perhaps most importantly, there is time for conversations and questions which encourage us all to see God’s love and sovereignty in all areas of our lives.
⇒ When my oldest son was younger, he was all about tools. After tools came bugs, then dinosaurs, and then all manner of animals. These days, he is fascinated by gems and minerals. Who knows what will intrigue my children in a year from now. What I do know is that homeschooling gives us the time to pursue their interests and delve deeper into the things that they love.
⇒ Because we spend so much time at home, and most of it as non-school time, my kids have time to participate in the natural activities of the house, as well as join in on a few of my own hobbies. Anyone who has been around this blog for a little while won’t be surprised when I say that I love that my kids are learning to cook— not everyday, but often enough to feel comfortable making simple foods. Laundry, sewing, cleaning, decorating, painting– these are all things they are able to learn by doing, little by little in ordinary ways.
⇒ Especially in these early years, giving my children generous stretches of time for free play is very important to me. Einstein said that “play is the highest form of research”, and when I watch my kids playing, I tend to agree with Mr. Rogers sentiments that “for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
I get overwhelmed and exhausted at times, just like any other mother. I wish I had more free time, or at least thirty minutes when no one is sitting on my lap, hanging on my arm, or needing to be held. And homeschooling certainly doesn’t mean that I get a pass on the need to oversee laundry or get meals on the table.
But even though there may be a moment in each day when I struggle with these things, there are also (often more) moments in each day when I see the myriad of reasons why we count it as a blessing to have the opportunity to homeschool our children. These moments are small, and seemingly insignificant, but they keep me going.
Each family must decide what is right for them in the season that they are in and in whatever circumstances they are given. There is no prescription for familial and scholastic success which can be applied across the board. Even so, I do believe homeschooling is an incredible option worth serious consideration. I hope that this glimpse into our homeschooling life can be just that– a glimpse that shines a light on a way of life unfamiliar to you, or a glimpse that spurs you on and inspires you to pursue a schooling option that is equally beautiful and refining.
If reading wonderful books, spending plenty of time outdoors, seeing your children as individuals with individual needs and schedules, and putting a feast of true and beautiful things before them sounds appealing to you, then you may be interested in learning about a Charlotte Mason style education.
I’d love to hear from you now!
What schooling works best for your family? Why?
If you homeschool, what do you think is the greatest benefit?