Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why Homeschool?

So at the beginning of last year I listed my reasons for homeschooling.

I still find all of them to be true, but I have realized that some are WAY more important on my list than others.

Many of the reasons on the original lists are "benefits" of homeschooling rather than reasons to do it. So this year I wanted to narrow down my list to the reasons I homeschool rather than just the benefits of my choice.

I have found that at various times during the year, I doubt my choice. I begin to think the public school might do a better job. I start to believe that the
atmosphere there provides something necessary that I can't. And I have even found myself thinking that one of my kids might be more "cut out for school" than she is at home with me. I think they'd be more entertained, have more fun, receive more interaction, etc.

It is during those times that I sit and talk with a friend or my husband so I can get refocused on the reasons I homeschool. I find that I continually come back to the same core reasons, so I want to list them here for the start of this year. My reasons seem to fall under two headings: God and Family. So I'll attempt to narrow down an explanation of each.

*Please know that I believe every family can accomplish these same goals/desires if they have them, whether or not they homeschool. I just think homeschool is the most logical choice for our family, I am willing to do it, and it suits our lives. I know some of you reading this blog love to use some ideas here for your family even though your children attend public school. I am confident many goals for your family are the same and you can achieve them. It'll just look different!

I want my children to have have a deep knowledge and fear of the Lord. After all, that is the beginning of understanding. (Pro 1:17 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction)

When we study a topic, I want it to deepen our knowledge of God and to draw us closer to Him. It is my desire that our learning expands our knowledge of God.

For example, I don't want to just learn about Japan and the culture next year. It might be nice if my kids can find and label physical features and cities. But mostly, I want to use our study to develop a heart for the people of Japan. I want to understand the lifestyle, culture, and beliefs so we can pray for the people.

My prayer is that our two year "tour of the world" leads my children to a better understanding of the world as well as a heart for loving God's people.

As we look at historical figures throughout time, I want to include missionaries who have changed lives for His Kingdom. I hope my children see that serving God can be exciting and adventurous and can truly change the world! Their education should do this for them.

I want them to continue their bible class so they can see God's plan unfold throughout history. Their bible class is a good enough reason ALONE to continue homeschooling. This isn't a wishy washy cutesy bible story Sunday School class. (a topic for another post one day) This is an in-depth no holds barred study of God's Word in all its truth and reality! I don't want to lose this opportunity for them!

God has amazing plans for my children. I like being able to drill HIS truth and HIS word into the minds daily, throughout the day. Our school work, neighborhood walks, field trips, activities, and daily life all become opportunities to see His work. I want the opportunity to communicate that to them.

Loving God's People
My kids are going to realize that following God isn't always easy. And loving the people He puts in our path can be downright messy. There are hurt feelings, angry words, insecurities, pride, and so many other sins.

The good news is that living at home with me allows them to see the messy side daily.

The bad news is that living at home with me allows them to see the messy side daily.

Uh...yep, mommy is a sinner and my kids sure do know it.

Being home for an additional 35 hours each week gives us more time to work through loving God and loving people in the midst of the messy side of life. We aren't limited to the 4 hours we get between the bus and bedtime, or the 2 hours between wake up and bus, often crammed with things that need to get done. We have all day to work through some of the mess of sin.

Thankfully the additional time allows us less hurried moments to discuss the "mess" of life when we aren't in the midst of it with each other. In fact, my four year old told me on a walk today that she wished "there was never sin in this world." Oh how true that is!!! I am so glad we have leisure time to talk about that as we look at the world God intended and the fallen world we live in.

Also, I get to help my children work through loving their friends on a more personal level. We all know that peer relationships are tough. And let's face it...I have TWO GIRLS. Girl relationships are filled with mess. Insecurity, doubt, selfishness, pride, control, and all sorts of ugliness. I am thankful for the opportunities I have had to spot these situations and talk to my older daughter about loving her peers.

The situations are easier for me to spot and be involved in because they aren't happening on the playground or in the cafeteria. They are occurring in my presence or in the presence of other homeschool moms who bring it to my attention.

I also have a better insight to the personalities of the children that my children are interacting with. I can guide them with a bit more knowledge of the situation. At these tender ages, I want that advantage.

Finally the extra time at home give us more opportunities to love and serve together. We get to do things like visit the Senior Center or send packages overseas. I hope these opportunities grow as my children do!

*Of course, I am far from perfect at any of this. There are so many lost opportunities in this house. These are the moments I find myself doubting keeping them home, but that is when I have to come back to God in prayer and be reminded that He is working out His purposes even when I fail. He'll work out His plan for their lives and I just need to cling to Him and follow the calling I believe He has put on our hearts for our kids.

The other reason for homeschooling that I cling to during times of doubt is a deep bonding of our family. I am not ready for my children to lose 35 hours (or more) a week that could be spent making memories together.

I remember the girls enjoying watching D (now age 2) during his first year of life. They cheered him on as he learned to sit and crawl. (Yes, at times they preferred that he go take a nap but they truly got to know him.) We still talk about some of those moments when we look through our albums. I realize they probably won't remember the details of his first year, but there were bonds formed that will continue to remain and grow.

I can't imagine them going off to school next year and not getting to form those bonds with their new little brother, C. It would really steal time from their relationship with him.

There is a balance between friends and siblings, I know. But I love having the extra time to make memories with my kids that will last a lifetime. We have already started talking about the trips we want to take again and the activities we want to do.

And then there is always and unspoken, often unrealized bonds that deepen each day because we are together. We have more time to laugh together, play games together, be silly together, and relax together.

*Once again, I admit defeat many times in this area. Our house isn't immune to a tired mommy, grouchy kids, irritable 2 year olds, and many other moments you wish everyone would leave you alone. So often I am not doing what I so desire to do. But God uses imperfection over and over and I can rest in that. He'll use this time to bond our family together, to make precious memories, and to work out His purposes.

WHEW. I had a hard time putting all of this into words. I have edited this post a thousand times, but I think it finally says about what I want it to say. That was tough to communicate.


Kim said...

Thanks for the refresher before we start the school year! I've had a lot of days lately when I've thought "it sure would be easier to get stuff done if I could just put 'em on a bus and be on my way!" But every time I kiss their little faces before I go to bed I'm reminded that God has given me a tremendous privilege. I get to train up two of my future best friends! Sure seems like a long time from now, but I know I'll blink and they'll be moving off to live on their own. Don't want to have missed it or wonder if I gave them all the tools God handed me to pass on. "Happy tears" are the goal.

kristenymd said...

Here, here! I, too, have had some doubts lately. Thanks for the help in re-focusing, Mary. I am so thankful for these years and pray that God will work despite my many weaknesses!

Just Mom said...

Mary, will you teach my child? ;-D

I really loved this post. I'm sending JS to our parish's Catholic school this fall because I feel in my heart that will be the best situation for him. That doesn't mean I'll never homeschool again.

Julie said...

This was such a great post that I am bookmarking it so I can read in the future when I am having doubts. I just found your blog today and I am so glad that I did!!

weavermom said...

Love this post!

Mama Jenn said...

What an awesome post!!! I love how you actually wrote/typed out your reasons for homeschooling. I NEED to do this so that when I doubt myself and my capabilities, I can look back at WHY we chose to homeschool. Sometimes in the midst of the doubt it is hard to simply recall the reasons, but it they are written somewhere it is easier to read it and refocus. Thanks for such an encouraging post!!!

dhanna said...

As your arch nemesis, I should make a blog post on why not to home school. Would that be taking our rivalry too far? :)