I have had several questions about homeschooling through email and blog comments recently. I wasn’t really planning for my podcast to be all about that, but since those are the questions and comments that I’m getting, I have decided to do a few episodes on homeschooling! Today’s episode is based on a post I originally wrote many years ago about why we chose to homeschool. You can find that post here.
Please remember that I think each family should do what they feel called to do when it comes to schooling—I have no preconceived ideas or judgments about anyone’s choice in that area. So far, we’ve done homeschooling and private school…and I work in a public school system. I’m sharing these reasons not to convince anyone or make anyone feel badly about their own choices. Instead, I want to share them to encourage people considering homeschooling. It can be a difficult road, but it is definitely a road I’m glad we took…and are taking again!
Feel free to ask questions or leave comments below. I’d love to know what you’re thinking and if you have any other topics you’d like to see me cover! Have a wonderful week!
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Amazing Mess Podcast #5 Transcript
Why Do You Homeschool? Five Reasons We Homeschooled
Welcome back to episode number five. Today, I wanted to talk to you a little bit about homeschooling. So I’ve had some questions about why we homeschooled, why we quit homeschooling and why we are going back to homeschooling–at least for one, if not two or three, all three of the girls next fall–we’re still kind of working on that. I went back into my blog archives, and I found an article that I originally wrote about why we were homeschooling and I thought that I would just share a little bit of that with you. Some of it is changed. I mean, we’ve chosen different reasons to homeschool, but some of it is the same.
First of all, you have to know that if you had told me 15 years ago that I would teach my children at home, I would have laughed at you. I attended public school as a child, my college experience included earning a degree in elementary education, and I taught in several schools before the girls were born. So school was basically my life. But somewhere along the line, I started to feel uneasy and I started to reflect on my time in the school system. I didn’t really necessarily like all of the things that were happening there, but I didn’t really know any other options. I had met a few homeschool families, but at that point I thought they were quite weird. I also knew that we couldn’t afford private school at that point in time, but then God started bringing all kinds of amazing people and books and resources into my life. And that’s when we began to seriously ponder whether we could actually undertake that task of homeschooling our children. After studying and praying, I knew without a doubt that we had to do it. So, here are just a few of the reasons why we decided to homeschool at the beginning when the girls were small.
Life is Short
The very first one, number one is that life is short. I can’t remember if I’ve talked on the podcast about the loss of my dad before. I was pretty angry about it at the time, but I’ve been able to see the gift that God gave me through my dad’s death (which I know is kind of a weird way to put it). What happened is that his death gave me perspective.
My dad was just two days shy of his 50th birthday when he died, and it caused me to look at my own life differently. And right now I’m actually 42, so I mean that’s just eight years away, and that really gives me perspective…because I don’t know the length of my life. Will I be around tomorrow, one month from now, 50 more years? I don’t know. Time is short, and already 15, almost 15 years, of my oldest daughter’s life have gone by. So I can’t rewind the time and I can’t get it back, but I want to make the most of what time we do have together. When the girls were little, we really believed we needed to give them a firm foundation, so that is one of the reasons that we chose to homeschool. So that was number one, life is short.
Homeschooling Forces Me (Invites Me) into Relationship with My Children
Number two, homeschooling forces me into relationship with my children (I changed it to say homeschooling invites me into relationship with my children). I really, really hesitated to put that in there because I didn’t want people to misconstrue what I meant. I genuinely love and care for my girls, and it’s not like I have to be forced into loving them, but there are moments when relationships are hard and when parenting is hard. Because I butted heads constantly with one of my daughters, I can see now looking back how valuable homeschooling was for our relationship. It forced us to deal with some of those relationship issues as well as character and heart issues that needed dealt with–in them and in myself. Being with my kids 24-7 meant that we had to find solutions and grow together, and we were “forced” into building a strong relationship.
There’s a really neat book that’s called The Well-Adjusted Child and Rachel Gathercole is author. She mentions the “detachment snowball.” This term was coined by Dr. William Sears in The Baby Book. She says, according to this idea, “the more time parents and kids spend apart, the less parents know and understand their kids, the less responsive, respectful and communicative both parents and kids become, and the more time both need away from each other.” So I didn’t want that to happen to my children. All too often you’ve seen that progression in children as they go away to preschool, elementary school, middle school, and then by the time they are teenagers, they want nothing to do with their parents. Homeschooling invited us into a deeper relationship with each other, and I was grateful for that time that we had to work on it [relationships].
I’ve Been Given a Great Gift
Number three, I’ve been given a great gift. I went to a conference before I started homeschooling and listened to Voddie Baucham, and he made a comment that stuck with me. He said:
“Just imagine someone coming to your house knocking on your door and asking for the keys to your brand new car. They tell you they’re just going to use it during the day, but they’ll return it to you in the evening.”
Are you kidding? That would be crazy. I would never just let someone use my car. Aren’t my children more valuable to me than a car? And yet we turn over our children to a teacher we’ve met once and let them be influenced and molded by them for hours each day.
Now, don’t believe that for a second that I’m bashing teachers. Just two years ago, I went back to teaching for a year, so I know there are lots of excellent teachers in my community and across the nation. And I know how challenging it is to be a teacher. And the rewards are often few and far between. But still, there are lots of teachers that I don’t know their worldviews. I don’t know what they believe in. I don’t know what they’re spending those seven hours teaching my children. And even if they do share my values, a lot of times they can’t teach those outright in public schools.
My girls are gifts, and they were, especially when they were little, like little sponges. I didn’t want them to lose the curiosity they possessed and the desire that they had to learn and create. I, as their parent, know what they love, I know what they struggle with, and I love them more than anyone else ever could. So, ultimately, I felt that God made me responsible for training and discipling them in those early years. I didn’t feel like I could abdicate that responsibility to someone else for hours and hours every day.
So that was number three, because I felt like the girls were a gift to me and I really wanted them to have a firm foundation.
Schools are not a Good Fit (for Most Kids)
Number four, schools are not a good fit for most kids. Now, I personally loved school. I loved the school part of school. I was good at it. It fit my learning style, but I don’t think every child is like that. Many schools that I’ve seen and been a part of attempt to make cookie cutter people, they really don’t have any other way. I mean, because if you have one teacher trying to teach 20 to 25 kids at a time, there just isn’t enough time to do all of the things that you need to do to make sure that everyone in your class is learning all that they can. You kind of have to teach to the middle. Obviously, you try to change and adapt for those that are a little bit ahead, and you try to change and adapt for those that are a little bit behind, but basically you’re kind of stuck.
But there’s also other reasons that schools are not always a great fit for kids. Bullying, violence, peer dependency, early exposure to alcohol and drugs, sexual experimentation and disrespect for adults [are just a few other reasons]. Our children are growing up too fast too soon. I like to think about this analogy that our kids are like newly-sprouted plants in a greenhouse. They need special care, especially when they are young. You’re not going to just stick them out in the elements and expect they’ll be able to survive. They need time to grow deep, strong roots. And it’s my job to nourish them and protect them and then to give them the guidance they need to grow. Soon enough as they’re entering adolescents and young adulthood, they’re transplanted outside of the “greenhouse,” but I want to make sure that they are ready for that.
We Teach as We Live
All right. Number five, we teach as we live. One of the things that I loved about homeschooling was that we could accomplish our schoolwork in a very short amount of time. We didn’t have to wait for other kids to finish their work. We didn’t have to spend time moving from one location to the next. We didn’t have to go at the same speed for everyone, and we didn’t have to deal with tons of discipline problems. Our on-task time was probably more in just a few hours than what most children in school accomplish for the whole day, so that freed up our afternoons. We did a lot of music and art classes, cooking, and playing outdoors, and visiting and serving and other kinds of creative pursuits. We were involved in local classes and a variety of sports and Girl Scouts and other community activities. When family members visited from other states, we took off and enjoyed their company. We could even do school in the evenings if necessary or sometimes even on the weekends.
So basically life is education and education is life when you teach as you live.
Those are just a few of the reasons that we started homeschooling and I realize that homeschooling is not an option for everybody. I hope that you will not take my own personal reasons as judgment on what your family has chosen to do. Again, lots of you have asked, and so, I just wanted to share why we originally chose to homeschool. There were lots of hard days. There were days that I wanted to give up. There were days when I thought I was pretty much crazy, and there were days that I just blew it. But the blessings far outweighed the hardships. I am so thankful that we had those early years of homeschooling, and I’m looking forward to going back to those days now in middle school.
If homeschooling is something you want to try or you’ve been considering, just know that you can do it. And I truly believe that.
So there you go–five reasons that we decided to homeschool originally. I would love to hear your questions or comments. Feel free to send me an email. You can look me up on social media or find me over at amazingmess.com. Have a great day, and make some memories with your kids!