Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Thoughts On Home Education (And Why I Home School Despite My Busy Schedule) Part 1


I have enjoyed the flexibility that home schooling has offered our family.  Without it, we would have surely given up by now.  We've been able to pick up and go on spontaneous trips, feed our curiosity with interest based "lessons", and work on discipline and character training on a continuous basis.  I have loved having my children with me, and feel comforted in knowing exactly what they are  being taught and presented each day.  But I didn't always home school.  And though I wish more parents would step out of their comfort zones and give it a try, I do not believe it is necessarily the right choice for every family.  I've met some great, well rounded kids who have gone through the public school system, really love the Lord, and live a life of service.  I also know some wonderful, spirit filled public school teachers.  They are like lights shining in the dark places.  We are not trying to keep our children in some sort of protective bubble by avoiding sending them to "real school".  We simply choose to help "our  little lights" grow brighter under the main influence and supervision of their parents, submitting to the Lord as we have been led.  Each parent must hear from the Lord themselves concerning what is best for their children and their family.

How We Got Started:

By the time my oldest son finished public kindergarden, my son's teacher had scheduled 3 separate meetings with me to discuss his "showy and distracting behavior".  Plus, I had been a parent volunteer and had seen firsthand how little individual attention each child actually received.  So when I got married that summer and became a stay at home mom, Shawn and I made the decision to keep Breaden home and to try teaching him ourselves.  It's been a challenging, memorable experience; one that I never imagined getting involved with, and one that I now can't imagine wanting to give up!  Even if it would make life a little easier.  Over these past few years, I have developed a much deeper, personal commitment to continue home schooling; and God willing, I will continue to do so in the years to come.

What It's Been Like:

It has taken a fair amount of trial and error for us to find a workable plan (or at times, a lack thereof) to make home schooling work for us.  When I started teaching my son, I felt he had to learn to read and compute well right away, to keep up with his peer group.  I quickly realized that my attempts to "standardize" him were only driving the love of learning further from him.  He wanted to be BatmanAnd stand on his bicycle seat while riding.  And do acrobatics.  And so I backed off a good bit, to the delight of my son, while criticism grew from family members that perhaps I wasn't fit for the job:  I'd better put him back in real school, they'd say, before he falls hopelessly behind.  After all, I wasn't trained to be an educator- was I?  Well, maybe I didn't have the formal credentials to back me up, but as a parent, God had blessed me with the ability to know and be able to help my children learn better than anyone else.  And I've learned as much (if not more) than them in the process!  

By continuing to encourage a love of learning through reading aloud, exploring the library, nature, and how things work, we now have a 10 year old boy that would rather read than watch a movie in many cases.  His inflection while reading is comparable to many adults.  I give credit to "Big Dad" alone for this miracle, and will continue to trust in him for some help in the department of his mathematical comprehension and general focusing abilities.  It is coming, though.  *Sloooooowwly, but surely!* 

Even though some days are so busy with sick kids, heaping laundry piles, or my own nutritional needs, God has grace for us and allows learning to happen amidst the chaos.  Up until I had my 3rd baby in under 3 years, I was more of a free spirited, plan as you go type, but now, seemingly forced into routine for the sake of making things work, I have found a real (almost enjoyable) value to it.  I'm still working on having a solid 5 day week since we started the new school year, but things are looking up :)  And even though Breaden still wants to do acrobatics (including swinging from trees on leather bull-whips), when we sit down together to learn something new, we both enjoy that valuable learning time together more than anything else.  And that makes me want to try just a little bit harder.