When I was in elementary school I knew zero kids that were homeschooled. It wasn’t even a concept I was really aware of at the time.
I had my first introduction to homeschooling when I was in my last year or two of high school, I was friends of friends with a girl who was homeschooled. A girl, a few years younger than me, who I don’t remember much about except her confidence. Her confidence in who she was as a person and who she was in Christ. That made me take notice; girls in high school aren’t supposed to have such confidence, are they?
Fast forward a number of years and I started following some amazing women on social media who were photographers, and as I kept following them I also realized most of them were homeschooling their children. I loved seeing their days through the tiny Instagram squares; how they made their family and living for Christ their priority and how choosing to homeschool helped with that.
I think I’ve had the idea of homeschooling on my heart since Raeca was about two, we did end up sending her to kindergarten at a semi-private Christian school this year and it was not a bad experience at all, but it wasn’t as good as I would have expected either. Raeca loves to learn and Jared and I both thought she would thrive in kindergarten and were surprised how neutral she’s been about it.
For the most part the specifics I share will directly relate to Raeca since she is the one we will be starting to homeschool this year, I actually see a lot of characteristics in Ephraim that show that he will do a lot better being homeschooled than going to regular school (can someone say class clown) but since he is only three we won’t be doing a whole lot of school work with him yet (also because he is just not nearly as interested school type stuff now as Rae was at this age).
One thing that has really factored into me wanting to homeschool is the fact that I am a teacher by trade and I’ve had the chance to teach in a lot of different classrooms over the years and have been able to get a general overview of the education system at work. I don’t want to come across as overly negative, and let me just say there are some amazing, loving teachers out there, I have many friends who are great at it, but from what I see the system is made to produce a certain type of child and very few kids thrive in that environment. I want my children to be pushed, not kept behind because others aren’t as far ahead, I want my children to be creative, even if that means they don’t fit the mold, I want my children to be respectful, even if that means they ask a lot of questions as they grasp for understanding, and above all I want my children to love Christ and show it with their actions.
Since I started really thinking about homeschooling and why we are doing it, I came up with a few core reasons as to what influenced our decision and then also a lot of added benefits, that probably didn’t sway our decision but help to confirm it. The five main areas definitely have a lot of overlap because one area often also allows the other to shine.
01. simple & slower life
I’ve really come to value a slow kind of life, a life with less commitments, less rush, less expectations, and instead just living and enjoying the small moments, the day-to-day.
I read Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before, at the beginning of this year and in the book she has a framework called The Four Tendencies which explains how you respond to expectations, both inner and outer expectations, it was here that I realized I am officially a Rebel 🙂 – which means I resist inner and outer expectations, which also explains why I get annoyed with some of the expectations schools have on parents, I don’t like being told what to do. This also helped me to understand why I am looking forward to homeschooling so much, now we get to start the day when we are ready, get to focus on the things we want and we can learn anywhere!
I’m also excited about getting my children started on a life that is slower than a lot of the world around us and hope it’s something they realize and embrace when they are young and don’t have to learn it in their late twenties like I did.
02. character development & showing them Christ in their everyday
These are two big reasons for homeschooling for me. Since I will have my kids with me all day every day there will be lots of character development opportunities.
I also see homeschooling (and the extra time in my kids lives) as a great opportunity to weave the story of Christ into our every moment, it is not something I am very good at yet, but it is one of my goals and is something I hope to become better at with at time. I want my children to see God’s handiwork in creation as we go out and study nature, I want them to learn about their sinful nature and forgiveness as they struggle to get along, and I want them to know that loving Christ isn’t just something we say with our words but also something we show with our actions.
03. freedom & flexibility
Had I been homeschooled as a child I think I would have pretty much read all day long every day. And now I ask myself, what is wrong with that? Because of my interest in books, as well as Raeca’s, we will definitely be doing more of a literature based curriculum. The downfall with my reading when I was in school was it kept me from doing my homework (but it makes me ask, which one really benefited me more?), and looking back now I wish I would have had better books at my disposal to read, I just read whatever I could get my hands on to and now I wish people would have put some classics in front of me, so many of them I still have not read, I know I would have read them voraciously. This is something I plan on keeping in mind with my children and am already building up a used book collection as well as an ebook collection of some great classic books.
Freedom and flexibility also means that we get to take advantage of the nice weather in the summer and learn as much about nature as we want, and throughout the year if there is a specific topic of interest we can focus on it for as long as we want, and we can incorporate that interest into other subjects as well.
I also like the flexibility of being able to travel with the kids throughout the school year if we want and being able to have “school” anywhere.
To me flexibility also means that they can progress at their own speed, we can have school all year round, and if we’ve had a later night than usual they can sleep in and fully rested bodies.
04. love of learning & inspire creativity
I want to instill a love for learning in my children, I want the ability to spend more time on topics that are of interest to them and I also want to fan the flame of their creativity.
All children are artists.
The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.
– Pablo Picasso
I want to make sure there is time in every day for some kind of creativity, I know I value it in my own life and want to make sure I can help my children to develop their own creative spirit.
05. stronger family culture & bond
Sometimes we are led to believe that giving siblings a lot of space and time away from each other helps them to get along better but in my experience, siblings that are together more get along better and have a stronger bond. I’ve even seen this in my own kids, after Raeca’s had a couple days off of school they start playing better together again.
Most children hold in a lot of emotions over the school day to be on their best behavior in front of their teachers and peers, which means once they are comfortable at home a lot of the bottled emotions from the day come out and those parents often see their children at their worst. With homeschooling we will still see the worst of them but we will also be able to see them at their best.
Every family develops their own family culture, whether or not they homeschool but I dream of a richer, fuller family culture since we will share so many more moments together.
Phew! So those are our five main reasons and there are a lot of other benefits to homeschooling that I am looking forward to as well:
- teaching through hands-on learning as well as learning through the day-to-day – there are so many examples of this, right now we are planting our garden and I am looking forward to teaching the children what each of the different plants are and showing them how our food grows.
- give academic opportunities they probably won’t receive in school – there are some subjects that I pretty much missed in school such as geography, music and art history, I want to make sure they get a chance to learn about each of those and more.
- less time with lessons – ah, do you know how much time is wasted in each school day just waiting for all the children to pay attention or catch up? Let’s just say it adds up and we can skip that time and have a much shorter school day
- more control over diet – Raeca is fairly gluten sensitive, we have it pretty much eliminated at home but slack off when it comes to what is offered in school, unfortunately it was then that we realized how gluten sensitive she really is. Had we realized earlier how much gluten really affects her we would have sent some alternative snacks with her to school but at this point she only has three weeks left so we will just get through these next three weeks and then we’ll be able to monitor and control her diet better.
- more time outside – going on nature walks, taking advantage of the weather when it’s nice, especially those rare few nice days we get in winter, we can do tons of our lessons outside, in the grass, on deck, at the park, wherever we want!
- limit negative influences in their lives – this was not a problem at all this year but it’s nice to be able to have some control over the kids they spend time with, especially those children who may be less than ideal role models.
- less homework (or maybe it’s all homework?) – either way, we get to decide how much they need to work on subjects if they are falling behind or not understanding certain concepts, and we never have to do school in the evenings unless we want to.
- less annoying pieces of paper coming home – um, my girl is a paper hoarder (receipts and everything), so I’d like to be able to better manage the paper junk coming into our house.
- customizable field trips – we can go anywhere we are interested in, and, bonus: we all get to go along for every field trip.
- less germs & exposure to sickness – after this last year and how many sicknesses our family picked up in a 3 month time span I’m ready to have a lot less sickness this next year.
- it will stretch me to grow in grace – oh dear, I know it will definitely be a growing experience for me, just as parenting has been for the past 5.5 years, but I think it will be a good thing.
I thought I would ask Raeca why she was looking forward to homeschooling and of course I should have been able to predict some of these answers, after all, she is a highly sensitive child:
- because I can listen better without a lot of people
- it’s too noisy at school
- because then you get to go on more field trips
- I can eat whenever I want
We are all excited to start this homeschool journey and can’t wait to share it with you!