Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Why We Homeschool

My husband and I did not wake up one day and say, “Hey! Wouldn’t it be great to homeschool our kids?” Our decision to homeschool was the result of a long process that included discussions with other homeschoolers, prayer, online and book research, prayer, many family discussions, and did I mention prayer? There are many in this world (and the numbers are growing fast) who choose or have no choice but to homeschool and have their own reasons for doing it. I would like to share with you our personal reasons for homeschooling our children.

Our Values - We believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, and therefore take seriously the commands (not suggestions) given in it. Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” This training is not limited to discipline or behavior, but refers to the whole child - mind, heart, and body. As parents of children God has so graciously given us to raise, we believe it is our responsibility to educate our children about the world they live in and the One who created it. No, we are not public or private school haters. We both attended great private schools, I taught for a year in a good public school, and many children do get excellent educations from them. However, during the many years children spend in educational institutions, countless individuals have a direct or indirect impact on the shaping of their minds and hearts. We as parents cannot guarantee that the values of those who are teaching our children, or those in charge of choosing the curriculum, are in line with the values we wish to pass on to them. Homeschooling gives us the opportunity to have a direct influence on what they are learning about life and the One who gives it.

Flexibility – We are a military family, which means we frequently travel for long trips to see extended family members. My husband will have long-term deployments, during which we will find comfort in spending time with out-of-town family and friends. If our children were registered in school, we would not easily be able to pick up and go anytime we wish for long periods. If we did take them out of school, it would be at the risk of them missing important lessons. As homeschoolers, school can come with us anywhere we go or it can take a break for weeks at a time and start right back up again with no lessons lost.

Every Child Learns Differently - We can judge where each of our children are in their learning development and customize an individualized curriculum just for them. My son began Kindergarten when he was 4 years old, not because I am a high-pressure mom trying to force early learning, but because he was learning so much on his own from his natural curiosity that I did not have a choice. If I were to enroll him in Kindergarten this year, he would be reviewing letter sounds when he is already a first/second grade reader. Imagine the behavior issues this could cause. This does not mean our daughters will also begin Kindergarten homeschool at the same age. We will watch how they learn about the world around them and judge from their own learning development when the right time will be for them.

Socialization – I do not know the specific statistical research on this point, but I have seen in my own personal experience that for the most part homeschooled children and teenagers are more comfortable when speaking to adults and tend to be more mature in their speaking manner. I believe this happens because homeschoolers, instead of spending most of the day with 30 similar-aged peers, have conversations with people of all ages, maturity, and speaking levels in their home and other outside activities. We believe that homeschooling and the opportunity it gives us for extracurricular activities will actually give our children better socialization skills than from any public or private school. We still enroll our kids in activities and sports and stay active in playgroups and church functions, giving our children plenty of supervised interaction with their peers. We would rather raise what the world thinks are “sheltered” children than children exposed to drugs, sex and violence before they are mature enough to make the right decision.

Homeschooling is Fun! – I cannot begin to think of all the experiences we would miss if our children were in school for most of the day five days a week. There is too much out in the world (not just in a schoolroom) to learn about and experience. Just as when we get to see their first steps and words, there is so much joy in seeing the excitement in a child’s eyes when he learns something new. Yes, it is work and an incredible learning process for us to plan a curriculum and bring it to fruition, but how wonderful it is to see the fruits of that labor. Sure, there will be twists, turns, and bumps along the way, but I feel so blessed that I get to go on this exciting homeschooling journey with all of my children.

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