Since I started writing up Learning Notes each week, a couple of people have told me they think it sounds overwhelming, like something they could never do. Two of these people have confessed that they’ve thought about homeschooling their own kids, but don’t think they could do it, based on my notes. That makes me feel terrible!! So I wanted to write a post to try to clarify my level of insanity. 😉
Homeschooling is not hard. It really isn’t. I mean, you do have to do the work. And yes, you will fight with your child. No, they will not obey you as well as they obey outside teachers. They will not always see the value in what you’re asking them to do. They will not always go about their work with cheerfulness; can you imagine? They will fight with their siblings. People have often offered those things to me as reasons not to homeschool, which puzzles me. (It really puzzles me when people say they couldn’t stand to be with their kid that many hours a day. Especially when they say it in front of the kid. Sadly, I’ve seen this more than once.) They say it like those struggles would happen at their house, but they must not happen at mine. No, no, those things happen. Regularly. But here are some reasons that I find the struggle worthwhile.
No frantic evenings. We are very busy doing school from 8:00 until 2:30 or 3:00. But then we’re done. No homework. No busy work. No pointless projects that keep us up late and make everyone cry. I went to public school, and I remember all that ridiculousness. I even have a few weeks’ experience as a parent of children who went to school. The thing we hated most was the insanity of the evenings. Homeschooling eliminates all that.
Time to for kids to be kids. My kids play outside for hours pretty much every afternoon. (Three cheers for Florida winters!) When we finish school, they head outside and run around until evening colors plays at dusk. (Life on a military base.) I hear about kids who come home from school and have hours of homework and projects plus required computer time, not to mention instrument practice. I feel so sorry for them! When do they get to play? When do they get to be outside or be creative or read for fun or just chill with their thoughts?
Homeschooling is relational. Highly, highly relational. I am intimately acquainted with everything my children are learning, because I chose it. And I taught it. (And paid for it. Ahem.) We read together for an extended period every morning. And even though there are many struggles with bad attitudes (theirs and mine) and I sacrifice free time and quiet time and alone time (these are a few of my favorite things), I do it because I believe – like, deep down in my soul believe – it is worth it.
Individualized education. No one knows my children better than I do. No one. So no one is better equipped to individualize each kid’s education than I am. And not just each kid, but each subject for each kid. Grade levels are just something to put on a form. We can be at one “grade level” for math and another for grammar or spelling. We can use one method for this child and something different for this child, if it’s a better fit. We can slow down or speed up as needed.
Awesome education. I also happen to think it’s a pretty great way to educate my children. I work really, really hard to make sure I’m giving them the best education that I possibly can. For us, that’s meant using classical methods. (The Well-Trained Mind and The Latin-Centered Curriculum were really helpful to me.) We prioritize math and music and languages (grammar, writing, spelling, reading and Latin). Other subjects are officially done once a week and further explored through our morning read aloud time.
Ultimately, homeschooling is the gift of time. Time to be with my children. Time to know them well. Time to share great books and learn together. Time for them to be children. And I believe that investment of time is the best investment I can make.
I wish everyone would at least consider homeschooling. Are there some people who shouldn’t homeschool? Absolutely. If you know you’ll get up in the morning and watch tv or play games and not be disciplined, um…you should send your children to school. But I want people to know that I’m NOT some incredibly patient or brilliant person. My children are not perfect. Not even close. We’re often a mess. But we’re a mess together and we’re learning together and we’re growing together.