We started homeschooling for many traditional reasons. We wanted to focus our kids’ education on our faith and have more time as a family. We also chose homeschooling out of concern for some of today’s educational trends, etc., etc. We’ve been in the trenches with our daughter for four years now, and our son will join her next year when he begins kindergarten at home. It has been a really good four years. Not perfect, not easy, but GOOD.
I realized along the way that as much as we are homeschooling because we believe it is best for our children, I am reaping the benefits along the way too. If you are a homeschool parent, maybe some of these ring true with you. And if you are on the outskirts wondering if homeschooling is for you, maybe this will give you an inside look at what could be waiting for you.
1. I’m learning things I never knew before.
As I teach my children about different phases of history, or we do science experiments together, or we learn about biblical geography, I find myself remembering things I had forgotten. I am also learning things I was never taught. In my classical education circles we call it “redeeming two educations,” but I don’t think the phenomena is limited to the classical approach. Nothing teaches you as much as teaching someone else – especially your own child.
2. I’m working on my weaknesses.
Anytime a friend tells me she could never homeschool because she is not _____ enough (patient, smart, disciplined, you fill in the blank), I want to giggle. Because I am NOT _____ enough to homeschool. I get impatient with my children, my daughter and I butt heads every single day on something, I have trouble prioritizing, I get distracted by Facebook, I am consistently inconsistent with disciplining my children … the list goes on and on.
Choosing to homeschool is not about being enough of anything before you begin. It is about being willing to work on your weaknesses as you go along. Thinking that you have it all together actually is a great recipe for disaster. You may not have the humility necessary to see where you need to adjust course halfway through the year, or maybe you need to bone up on algebra along with your 7th grader. I am face to face with my weaknesses in a humbling way because of homeschooling, and it is forcing me to work on them.
3. I’m being challenged professionally.
I have a SC teaching certificate and even got my National Boards when I was teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages in our local school district. That does not make me more qualified than any other parent to homeschool (see point number two again!). In fact, in some ways it was a stumbling block when we first began. I was used to “doing school” one way in the classroom. I had to learn other ways to teach when my daughter didn’t want to do it that way. As I have learned about the classical approach, I’ve had to relearn other things as well.
Does my training in education help? Well, yes, in many ways. But the last four years have also been a crash course in professional development. I have delved into books, articles, and blogs about learning styles, the classical and other approaches, setting schedules, and choosing curriculum. I could not clearly explain my educational philosophy when I was in the classroom. Now I can.
4. I’m learning to trust my gut.
I’ve always been a people-pleaser, overly concerned with what others thought of me. Homeschooling is curing me of that, too. I learn to trust my gut more as I know what curriculum works for us and what schedule is best for our family, even if the homeschooling family down the road is doing something different. It is a very freeing thing!
5. I’m becoming a student of my children.
I am with my children more hours a day than average. That time helps me study my children and learn even more about them. I know what subjects my daughter is good at and what she struggles with without someone else telling me. I know what my children love to do and what they drag their feet on. I know their dreams and what they dread. Time with my children is such a gift, and this is one of the benefits.
6. I’m being deliberate about other activities.
Being in charge of our children’s education means that we look at everything as part of their education. We run all of our activities through that filter. We also look at whether our activities support our values as a family, including time together, which is the same way we decided to homeschool in the first place. I am more deliberate in our choices than I would have been otherwise.
7. I’m praying in a new way.
My prayers for my children have changed over the years. I pray not only for them to make good choices, but for me to have wisdom as both their mother and their teacher. I pray for their attitudes towards learning, towards me and my husband as their main authority figures, for them to find good friends in the different activities we spend time in. And especially for guidance as we travel this journey of schooling from kindergarten to twelfth grade at our kitchen table.