There are many reasons one may consider homeschooling. Perhaps you have a child who is extremely gifted yet private schools are too expensive or perhaps they have a learning disability that requires special attention. Maybe they struggle with negative social pressures or falling grades. Every situation is different, every family is different and every child is different, but homeschooling CAN work for anyone regardless of the reasons.
The reason we began homeschooling is not the same reason we continue homeschooling. It has been an incredible journey that keeps me always on my toes and while we’ve finally got a smooth routine going now, I anticipate many bumps in the road that will require reassessments and adjustments. Here’s a bit about our journey thus far:
When our oldest son was three he could read fluently, identify all 50 states on a map and recite all thirteen Articles of Faith. Had traveled with us to 5 countries and 20 states before the age of four. We had so much time to spend with him as our first child that he was just learning in leaps and bounds. He was also full of little boy energy yet could not enter kindergarten until age 6 due to the cut-off date. I knew that by the time his 6th birthday came around he would be reading at a 6th grade level and doing 2nd grade math and there was no way he was going to sit quietly in a kindergarten classroom cutting out shapes and counting to ten.
I started pricing out private schools in the area and quickly realized that was not going to be an option. It was then I realized homeschooling was really the only other viable alternative we had. Unfortunately I knew pretty much nothing about homeschooling other than they were socially awkward religious zealots who made their own clothes and lived on communes out in the desert. Seriously though, I only knew two people who homeschooled so I began to ask questions and search online and try to figure out what was really involved in this whole homeschooling thing.
Unfortunately I became very confused by all the different terminology thrown around, different philosophies and piles and piles of curriculum. It was quite overwhelming and in the meantime my over-ambitious five year old was tearing up my house. I had to do something and fast. I figured I had spent enough years in a public school classroom I kind of knew the drill, plus I’d taken several semesters of graduate level elementary education courses, it couldn’t be that hard. I’d just order the public school textbooks and teach at home! I got our “classroom” setup all pretty with an American flag, ABC charts, and maps galore. I pulled out my textbooks and began to “teach”. After about 5 minutes, my son started making laps around the table, and I realized this was going to be a little bit harder than I first anticipated…
I’ll share more about this journey in the sections about choosing a curriculum, but I want to jump ahead and tell you why I continue to homeschool. First of all, I kept reading other’s stories about why they began homeschooling and they all seemed to keep coming back to having received a “calling” from God. Up to this point I felt like my decision was purely a logical one but this made me realize that if I was going to do this and not look back I needed to KNOW that this was right for my son. It’s the simple verse “ask and you shall receive”, I asked and I did receive just like these other ladies, that this was indeed the right thing for my family at this time. This confirmation has been a strength to me throughout so many difficult times where I felt like giving up or when I felt like questioning whether it was really worth it.
I continue to homeschool because #1, God led me to this lifestyle and #2, I want my children to have an education, not just a career. The more I studied about education over the next few years, the more I realized that the public school system had completely lost sight of the real purpose of education. As I learned things with my children for the first time, I realized how lacking my own education was. My graduate degree prepared me for a career, but it did not provide me with an “education” or endow me with much knowledge.
In ancient times, education was meant to build men of character who would become future leaders, not simply fill their head with facts. I want my children to learn, not just memorize, but really learn. I want them to have time to read great literature that has shaped so many lives by instilling character and virtue. I want them to have the time and opportunity to study foreign languages and cultures, to experience the beauty and wonder of the world’s greatest artists and composers and to discover the beautiful earth and creatures God has created for them.
I have seen art come alive through the eyes of my children as they marveled at the Mona Lisa, the Rosetta Stone, the Sistine Chapel and Starry Starry Night. They giggled at the childlike paintings of Picasso and have spent countless hours doing their best to recreate his unique paintings. I have seen them gasp in wonder as they stood on the mountaintops overlooking the valleys in the Alps and Pyrenees and as they saw Old Faithful erupt. History came alive for them as they stood in the Colosseum of Rome, climbed 704 steps up the Eiffel Tower in Paris, climbed on castle ruins in England and stood inside the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
I want them to experience all the wonders life has to offer. Rather than sit hours a day inside a sterile classroom with little one-on-one attention, I want to take them to sites where historical events took place, give them time to read well written literature by passionate authors and visit museums and galleries where they can discover and explore the exciting things of our world.
Careers training will come later, now is the time for real learning.