It is a list of what I call the Top 10 Joys of Homeschooling and the Top 10 Realities of Homeschooling AND the Qualifications of a Homeschool Parent. I originally posted each joy and each reality AND each qualification separately for 35 different posts but this time I'm just going to post all the joys togther, all the realities together, and all the "qualifications" together. I know they'll be long but I'd love it if you'd take the time to read. Thanks!
10 Joys of Homeschooling
I want to start off by singing the praises of homeschooling! Gee, you never saw that coming, did you? Well, enjoy it while you can, because after the joys, we're going to talk about the cold, hard, sometimes-not-remotely-joyful truths about homeschooling. But for now, the good news first.
In preparation for writing this, I asked myself what I would call the Top Ten Joyful Perks of Homeschooling. This brainstorming session was not as easy as you might think! There are a thousand little joys, including some things that are hard to find the words to express! But I did my best, so here goes, counting down to number one:
10. Protecting Your Children
Many people today are worried about the dangers, the actual physical dangers, of sending kids to school. Violence in schools is no longer a matter of a few isolated incidences, somewhere far from home. It is everywhere, in every school district, and at every age level. From elementary students who push each other around and plot to kill their teachers, to middle school bullies and fighting in the halls, to high schoolers with knives and guns.
But it isn't just the physical dangers we have to worry about. Children suffer emotional damage at the hands of their peers (and sometimes their teachers) as well. Any child who is different in any way - shorter or taller, fatter or thinner, faster or slower, quick at learning or slow to understand - any thing deviating from the "norm" will be get teased, mocked, put down, name-called, and chastised.
And then there's sexual abuse - by fellow students and adults in the school system. This kind of thing starts much earlier than you'd expect.
Finally, there is the spiritual danger. We raise our kids to ascribe to certain morals, values, and beliefs, and they go off to school to have all those beliefs shattered, those values laughed at, and those morals viewed as obscure and antiquated.
However, when you homeschool, you have much more control over what is happening in your child's life - who they spend time with, what kinds of ideas they are exposed to. You are able to encourage the slow learner, challenge the quick study, and help your children feel comfortable in who they are and what they can do.
“Clearly there is an appropriate kind of sheltering. When those who are opposed to homeschooling accuse me of sheltering my children, my reply is always, ‘What are you going to accuse me of next, feeding and clothing them?”
~R.C. Sproul Jr
9. Academic Excellence
Studies have shown that homeschooled students consistently score considerably higher than their public school peers on a variety of standardized tests. Homeschooling leads to academic excellence.
But great test scores are not the best part! It is not the purpose of homeschooling to make our children more intelligent and better educated than the public school family next door. The purpose is to help our children be the best they can be, regardless of how they compare to public school students, other homeschool students, or even their own siblings.
Homeschooling gives us the opportunity to discover each individual child's learning style, their strengths, their weaknesses, their interests! We, as parents, can then take that expert, individual knowledge and determine the best and most effective ways to get our children to learn - and not only to learn, but to enjoy doing it, so that as they age, becoming adults themselves, they will continue to crave learning experiences!
Freedom. Our very country was founded on the idea of it. Homeschoolers enjoy a glorious freedom that, unfortunately, public schooled students and their parents will never know.
The freedoms are various, some large and some small. We have the freedom to plan our own school calendar, to take off days of significance to our own families, to plan breaks around our vacations instead of having to try to fit our vacations into school breaks.
We have the freedom to take school with us wherever we go - to the park, to the doctor, to Grandma's house, on vacation! This coming Monday we're taking the kids fishing with my father . We'll spend many hours on the river bank. We'll be taking along our read-aloud books, our clipboards and paper and pencil (in case we find something worth sketching!), and of course, our camera!
We have the freedom to spend extra time or subjects that prove challenging and need a little extra work, and we have the freedom to make short work of lessons on concepts the kids grasp quickly! We have the freedom to pursue with passion the things that hold great interest to us.
We have the freedom to tailor our lessons to our individual children and their style and ability. We have the freedom to start when we want, end when we want, and go where we want - whenever we want to!
And, if nothing else, we have the freedom to put the books aside for awhile and go out in the sunshine!
7. Learning as you teach
Do you remember everything you were taught in your own school days? No? I didn't think so. But if you choose to homeschool your children, you'll be learning it all again - and then some! You'll come across facts you had forgotten, things you never knew about in the first place! You'll wonder how on earth you ever graduated without knowing this stuff!
Subjects will arise that scare you silly, because you either don't know anything about them at all, or your remember studying them years ago but really struggling with them. This is your chance to be that good example to your little learners! When they see you, undaunted by the challenge of a difficult subject, they will copy your resolve and your enthusiasm, and you'll learn something new together!
Also, never discount the most important thing you learn about as you teach your children - which is your children themselves. You will learn their hopes, dreams and plans, their fears and their struggles. You will learn the way their minds work, the way they see things and question things. You will learn to see through their eyes and feel through their emotions. In short, you will learn who your children really are.
6. Taking Your Time
We're not morning people. Oh, sure, the kids are all up between 6:30 and seven in the morning, despite much wishful thinking on my part. They're up then, yes, but they're not truly awake until much later. I can just imagine how hard it would be to try to focus enough to learn anything before your brain is fully awake and functioning. Actually, I don't have to imagine it, I can remember it from my own days in public school!
Around here, "school" doesn't start til nine - at the earliest. Sometimes it's closer to ten. Does that make us lazy? No! It makes us smart enough to realize that peak learning hours for us are late morning and early afternoon, and smart enough to utilize those particular hours!
Having trouble with a certain lesson or subject? You can take your time! Carry it over to the next day, or the next week, or the next year if you have to! No one tells homeschoolers that we have to do or learn anything at a certain time. We do things in our time - after all, who knows when we're ready for something better than we do?
5. Enjoying God's World
This goes right along with "taking our time". It is so important that children - especially in the elementary years - spend great amounts of time outside! Where else is better for physical activity: running, jumping, swinging, sliding fun? Where else can you study nature - and therefore science - in all its...well...natural splendor?
Inside we are surrounded by man-made things: functional, useful, sometimes even entertaining! But nothing - no thing - compares to the beauty and mystery of the great outdoors!
Nature provides children - and their parents - with a canvas, a backdrop, a page, a place to paint pictures or write stories, to observe life and death. It is a place full of wonder and imagination, a place to learn skills and observe the workings of the world. It offers comfort to troubled hearts and minds.
William Wordsworth said, "Nature never did betray the heart that loved her."
In addition to all this, time spent outside is a wonderful way to bring God into any conversation. How can you not think and talk about Him when surrounded by such awesome reminders of his power and love "The course of nature is the art of God," said Edward Young, and who can dispute the truth of that?
As homeschoolers, we are able to spend great quantities of time outdoors - far more time than those poor children stuck inside a classroom for six hours a day! Whether it be a physical education exercise, a formal science lesson, or just time to wander and explore, time spent out of doors is time well spent!
"Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee."
4. Experiencing the "Ah-ha!" Moments
All parents know the thrill of seeing their child's first steps or hearing their first word. Imagine experiencing that thrill on a regular basis - usually several times a week! That is what you get as a homeschool parent! Every new discovery, every lesson learned, every challenge mastered, every new joy - you get to be there for it all! You are the one working side-by-side with your child every day, feeling his struggles, struggling along with him, and ultimately being there to watch as he finally breaks through and masters a concept!
The first word they sound out on their own. The first book they read by themselves. The first page of math problems they work without manipulatives. The first time they play a song perfectly. The first time they draw or paint a true masterpiece. The first time they write a story, or poem, or essay that really expresses something. The first time long division "clicks" in their brain or they finally master the intricacies of chemistry. The first time they discover a subject that truly takes their breath away and pursue it with passion. The first time they question the great questions of life - behavior, morals, values, spirituality - and begin to form answers and therefore opinions of their own.
All "ah-ha" moments. All important, no matter how small. And all happening right there before your eyes. And all amazing.
3. God in Everything
We live in a society that has forgotten its beginnings. No matter to us that it was by the grace of God that the first settlers managed to survive at all, no matter that our country was founded by men who believed in that same holy Father - "One Nation Under God" and "In God We Trust."
No matter at all.
We, as a society, think so little of God that we've done our best to remove even the mere mention of him from public life - including our public schools.
As homeschoolers, we get to put God back into the lives of our children. We get to bring God into everything - from breakfast to bedtime His name is on our lips. Science is all about God - how can it not be? History is full of godly men and women who did great things, as well as the parallel of ungodly people who did horrible things and were eventually brought to justice. God is in music and art in abundance.
More importantly, we should have God in our minds and hearts, in our words and actions. Our children need to be learning Godly wisdom and spiritual guidance at their parents' knees.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says:
"These commandments I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
We, as homeschoolers, have the ultimate opportunity to do just that!
2. Being With Your Kids All Day
I don't get it. I really don't. I do not understand why some parents seem so eager to push their children off onto someone else at the first available opportunity.
I was at a birthday party for a friend's son one day, and one of the other guests made the remark that "daycare was the best thing ever invented" because, as she said, it gave moms time to let someone else deal with their kids so they wouldn't strangle them.
Can you see me now, sitting there, speechless and in utter shock?
When did it become such a horrible burden to spend the whole day with your own children? When did our culture become so selfish and self-centered that we decided our own petty desires were more important than the needs of our precious children?
I guess I must have missed the class that taught that way of thinking, because I LOVE spending all day with my kids!
Here's a thought for parents who are quick to hand their kids off to the nearest responsible-looking adult: your kids are probably not all that bad. If you'd take the time to get to know them, you'd probably realize that you love being with them. And if, by chance, they really are some ankle-biting, fit throwing, breath holding, kicking, screaming little demon, well, guess who made them that way. Fix your problems yourself, don't hand them off to someone else. And yes, "someone else" includes Grandma.
I wrote a blog one time talking about the reasons we like homeschooling. At the end I said, "And, everything else aside, I LIKE MY KIDS!!!" A friend of mine commented that she was going to use that answer from then on, whenever people asked her why she homeschooled.
It's a pretty good answer. Of course it will seem too simple to the people asking the questions, but we homeschoolers know that often the simplest answer is the most honest.
Because I LIKE MY KIDS, that's why!
1. Knowing You Are Doing God's Will
Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.
It is the question all prospective homeschoolers ask. Even veteran homeschoolers, often on the edge of burnout, ask it.
"But how do I know if I'm supposed to be doing this? How do I know if it is the right choice for us?"
How do we even know if anything is the right choice? We can read all the facts, study all the research, check all the statistics. We can pore over every self-help book and how-to guide on the market, but when it comes down to it, decisions are made on gut instinct and God's direction. Personally I think God's gentle nudging often is what we call "instinct."
Most likely, if you're homeschooling or considering homeschooling, it's because it is heavy on your heart to do something different, something more, something better for your family. And most likely, it is God himself who has laid this burden on your heart. God has always spoken to those willing to listen, to "Be still, and know." I believe God is speaking directly to the hearts of mothers and fathers across the nation, and even the world. I believe He is leading parents to the decision to bring up their children in the ways they should go - in His Way - and I believe that most often that leading leads straight to homeschool.
We're in our sixth year of homeschooling (NOTE- this was true when this was first posted, we're now in our 10th year). For the first three years, I had my doubts - you know, those little fears that the devil is so good about planting in our thoughts. But, with time, perseverance, positive results and much prayer, I have reached a point where you'd have to kill me to stop me homeschooling.
I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I am called to this service, this ministry, this thing called homeschooling. I know that I am right where I supposed to be, and that I am here for a reason.
There is no better perk, no greater joy than knowing you are where God wants you to be, doing what God wants you to do, and that God is by your side and on your side no matter what trials may come.
If God is for us, who can be against us?