I do not often write about homeschooling because it tends to be a very controversial topic. People have strong opinions about homeschooling and on whether or not it is the best way to educate a child. But it is the choice that we, as a family, have embraced, and I have been learning to unashamedly walk out our decision with gratitude and joy.
We are a homeschooling family.
And when I say a homeschooling family, I do not mean a denim-jumper-wearing, hide-from-the-world kind of family, which I think everyone first pictures when they hear the world “homeschool.” We really are quite normal. My kids wear jeans and t-shirts, we watch TV shows, and my boys religiously play superheroes on a daily basis. We just chose to educate at home. And we do not think the public school is the “enemy.” I was raised in the public schools, my mom is a public school teacher, and I have an elementary education degree. I do not think homeschooling is the best decision for everyone, but I DO think it is the best decision for Me. for US.
Ann Voskamp says in a blog post about homeschooling, “I do not think in any way that homeschooling makes a family virtuous — and there are a myriad of very good educational choices. Homeschooling is not a formula for perfection, nor is homeschooling a panacea for all the sin in this world. We’re all messy and fallen and sin-scraped. We and our children are born sinners. Homeschooling will not fix any of that. Only Jesus and His grace can.”
For us, the stirring to homeschool came when our oldest son was in preschool and was often overlooked as a student because of his more quiet, go-with-the-flow personality. We started attending a church in which several families not only homeschooled, but homeschooled quite successfully. They had children entering or graduating from college that were extremely intelligent, well-adjusted, and completely ready for whatever God had for their lives. This was so. very. appealing to my husband and me, and it placed that seed of possibility into our lives.
My husband was all for it, but I was still quite hesitant about the possibility…Would my children be well socialized? Would we be able to afford the curriculum? Where would we put all of the materials in our tiny house? Would they miss out on the traditional school experiences of field trips, class parties, and group projects? Could I manage it all with my other responsibilities as a wife and mother?
I began to pray about this decision, and after months and months of praying and impatiently agonizing over what to do, it became crystal clear to me that God was calling me to homeschool. Now, I’m not one to regularly say that I hear from God on specific issues, but this was beyond evident to me. And as soon as I made the final decision, peace flooded my mind and heart, pushing aside any previous doubts I had so dutifully dwelled on.
And here we are.
I chose to homeschool because of a calling, but now, I am thrilled by all the incredible benefits of homeschooling that we have experienced.
First, I get to. I get to keep my children home with me, I get to educate them myself, I get to be in control of what they learn and how they learn it, and I get to create memories with them daily as we learn. It really is a privilege.
Secondly, I get to disciple my children day in and day out towards a life of godliness. Every homeschooling mom that has gone before me has instilled in me the mantra of home education, which is character FIRST, academics SECOND. I get to disciple my children to follow God, to love his Word, and to be people of love and grace and compassion. I am with them to teach them and guide them in carefully shaping their character as people.
Another major benefit of homeschooling for us has been getting to tailor our son’s curriculum to both his interests and his academic capabilities. If he’s in first grade but is advanced in reading? We can start him in a second grade language arts curriculum! If he finishes his math book by Christmas, we can start him in the next book! If he loves space, we can learn about the Solar System for science! If he’s enthralled in a good book, I can let him keep reading!
I love the freedom of getting to jump in the car and tag along with my husband on a work trip out of state. I love getting to take my kids on field trips to various children’s museums and activities in the area. I love getting to snuggle up with them on the couch, reading aloud Newberry novels and history books and books about the Animal Kingdom. I love that I get to help them to love learning. I get to pick curriculum that fits their learning styles, and I get to celebrate their successes and victories with them.
And is it always easy? Definitely not. But is it rich? Oh, yes.
Again, Ann Voskamp says it the best…”You cry and wonder if you are insane to try to educate these children, to disciple these little hearts, while laundering, cooking, cleaning, managing a household, and still being a wife, a sister, a daughter, a missionary in your community, a servant to Christ and in your faith community. And He smiles and says that He walks with you, has grand and glorious purposes, and He understands radical and crazy!”
That is exactly how I feel…like we are on a radical, unsatisfied-with-the-ordinary kind of journey. It is messy and imperfect and sometimes so very challenging. But it is rich and rewarding and the absolute best way I would want to be spending my days.