A lovely lady from church called me recently and asked a great question. Most parents seeking to homeschool want to know how to homeschool. She asked WHY she should homeschool. That is a question I love to answer. I am not a chick who is good with details. My gifts lie in global thinking. The general philosophy of a thing is much more fun to discuss. Both questions are necessary for those trying to decide whether they will homeschool. But I just love to share why I homeschool.
The first part of my answer is a stern warning: Homeschooling is not for everyone. My mother enjoyed recruiting others to homeschool. She loved to tell anyone they could homeschool. She wrote a beautiful book, to which she had each of her children (that could write at the time) contribute, Homeschooling All the Way Through Highschool. It was her personal story of how she homeschooled.
I am of a different mindset: Do not homeschool if you cannot give it your all. Understand that there are as many ways to homeschool as there are homeschooling families. That is the beauty of homeschooling – it is completely customizable. But, to do it right, to do it well, to homeschool with excellence, it takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline, commitment, and some money. It is not free. Public school is free. Good curriculum is not. It is not easy. But nothing worth doing really is, is it? It is not quick. Every child is different and you must be prepared to teach the same concept over and over. It is not tidy. Look at the maps, charts,
graphs and tables adorning every homeschool household. But it is more than worth the effort.
The second half of my answer lies in the noticeable difference in many homeschooled kids from their peers: It is one on one education and character building. Humans were created for relationship first – not knowledge. Human life is beautiful and valuable without deep knowledge (think babies and the mentally handicapped), but it is meaningless devoid of relationship (think those that commit suicide because they think no one cares, or that solitary confinement is the most horrific of punishments, or the depression of the elderly who have lost spouse and friends to death, or babies who never develop emotionally because they were not held and loved).
Now I love reason. I little red heart knowledge. But the school atmosphere cannot feed the deep need my children have for relationships, primarily with family. It is certainly possible to cultivate that outside of school hours. I think of my dear friend Beth, our pastor’s wife, and our long time friends, the Lacys, masters of the craft. But I do find that being with my kids all day means that I see most everything that goes on, and can nip those behaviors in the bud. Immediate correction is helpful. Discussing everything we read together is not only literary reinforcement, but worldview forming. Integrating knowledge as a whole and not compartmentalizing each subject creates better thinkers, better problem solvers, and better communicators. My mom called it “total mothering”. “Subjects” don’t work in real life. Have you ever talked to someone who works during the week, parties all weekend and fulfills religious obligation on Sunday, only to start it all over again on Monday? And then complains of the meaninglessness and futility of life? Like a hamster on the wheel, they moan. Or maybe that is you? That is the effect of a compartmentalized life that does not begin with the end in mind.
I homeschool so that I can teach my kids what I want them to know. Occasionally someone asks if I am qualified to teach my own kids. That makes me chuckle. Who knows what my kids need better than I do? Who
nurtures their talents and gifts? Some poor soul who just met them and has 30 other kids to contend with? Or the two folks whom God gave that special responsibility? Then of course, I can always go with, “What degree does your kid’s teacher have? A bachelor’s degree? Oh, yeah! My friend in college was an education major. Her final project was crafting a bulletin board on dinosaurs. It was very colorful.” Okay, that was for my sister who is a very hard working teacher and was actually in English major. We music majors were always jealous of everyone else’s free time. My husband and I have doctorates pharmacy and law, respectively, so I think, yeah, pretty qualified. I can get up to speed on education pretty quickly. But, my mom had a high school education and went to beauty school and I think she did just fine. If you thought modern education was all it was cracked up to be, you would not be reading this blog!
Lastly, I homeschool because I was called to it. It has been my passion since the day I found out I was pregnant with my oldest. It is the most
fulfilling thing I have done in my life. Practicing law full time in a downtown office, I used to have to give myself a major pep talk every Sunday night to get me there on Monday morning. I have no more Mondays. I have only beautiful, joy filled work. It is very tough, taxing, exhausting work, but I see the difference it makes!
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