I am blessed to be home full time with three small, energetic, and amazingly bright boys. My oldest is 6, and is in first grade–at home. On some days, I ask myself “Why?”
Why do I do this to myself? “Everyone” else gets a break with their kids at school, to run errands without toting the whole crew, clean up without the immediate destruction, maybe sit down a little during the day, to avoid burnout by getting a break. (Of course, I believe that a lot of the chaos comes from my constantly exploring 16 month old. He really takes his baby job seriously!) For a while, we had a regular sitter for an afternoon every week, and that was great–until she found full time work recently (while dh was away for a few weeks on a business trip, of course!) So no break was in sight…
But it’s important to revisit the reasons we decided to home school our kids in the first place!
1. NO ONE loves, cares about, and knows my children like I do. I am the most invested in them and have the most experience with their personalities, weaknesses, and strengths.
2. I want family to be the center of our lives. Spending 8 (or more) hours a day at school, plus another few getting there and back, plus the fun stuff–playdates, lessons, and activities take over the child and the family’s life. The child sees siblings between activities and on weekends, but the family life feels fractured–everyone has different directions to go. Why should the center of our weekday lives be school?
3. Homeschooling allows for the gift of time. Once schools are introduced, they take the best hours of the day with a child–40 or more per week! It’s a full time job, not including commuting time and carpooling hours. Homeschooling children allows time for individualized lessons, but also down time, time to think, time to sleep, time to interact with siblings, as well as time for playdates, activities, and lessons outside of the home. This balance is critical, and missing from many lives we come into contact with.
4. Homeschooling allows children individualize their study – to go where they are interested. I’m not fully into unschooling (I’m sure some would say I’m too stuck on the need for lessons). But I do believe that children, and all people, in fact, learn from everything they are doing. It might not be what is on the calendar to learn, but lessons that are really learned are very valuable. I also have no problem teaching writing while working on a science experiment–scientists have to track their experiments accurately! I do work toward specific goals with each child, but I let them led more than a traditional school experience would. And if something isn’t working, I can start again in another way!
5. Homeschooling is just plain fun for all – most of the time. Joy can so easily be taken from learning, and I love that we can keep it throughout our learning. We can enjoy each other, figure things out, and work on projects with no required breaks. We can plan to make cinnamon rolls and roast marshmallows over our fire on a spur of the moment when schools are getting canceled–and get a lesson on the mechanics of fire! We can decide to stay a day longer on a trip because the kids won’t be missing school, we can take a break to drive to see family during the less busy seasons, we can follow a rainbow until we can’t follow any more.
Will we continue this forever, or even for next year? We’ll take it a year at a time. But despite the messes, it has been a great journey so far!