"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. "For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14
I have had this blog post stirring in my head for awhile now. I don't blog that much anymore. Life is full of lots of kids, lots of activities, and lots of chaos. This topic, though, is one that needs a voice. It's a misunderstood topic by many. Homeschooling.
I want to start out by saying Homeschooling is a privilege. It is by far one of the most important decisions you can make as a parent. It is not to be taken lightly. It is a blessing.
I will be entering into my eleventh year as a homeschooling mama in the fall. I need also to say that homeschooling is hard. It is demanding. It is time consuming and can be frustrating. It can bring out the worst in us, and divide relationships. As I said, it is not to be taken lightly. It is a commitment like no other.
Over the years, I have heard many questions. Questions like, "Why would you want to homeschool" "What does homeschooling look like?" "Do your kids have friends" "What about socialization?" My oldest daughter now hears questions and comments like: "What do you do all day?" "Do you stare at the walls, and watch t.v?" "I would love to be homeschooled so I don't have to do homework" "Do you have friends?" "Do you ever get out into the real world?" We answer these questions as simply and as honestly as we can with every person who inquires.
I must say there is one comment that sticks out in my mind more than any other though...when someone finds out that I homeschool my six children, the most common response is "I could never do that...you must be a really special person with a lot of patience!" To this, I haven't really come up with a great response yet, so I wanted to address that common misconception here...as it has been on my mind for months.
A few months ago I was at a spa having my hair done and a massage...as I was lying on the bed getting the massage, the young girl started to ask questions and the topic of homeschooling my children came up again. And...once again, she said "Wow, I could never do that, you must be very patient and good at it!" This time, however, I responded differently. I blurted out, "No, I'm not. I'm not even good at it, and I am a VERY impatient person." She listened more intently and had more questions about the ins and outs, and rules and regulations of homeschooling. I shared even more that I really was being honest. I don't homeschool because I am exceedingly patient and sweet and filled with joy at the thought of teaching and being with my children every second of the day. I homeschool because I believe it is the right thing to do. I homeschool because as a Christian I want to lead my children back to the heart of Jesus every chance I get. I homeschool because I wanted it to be a lifestyle lived out, and I didn't want my children joining the masses staring at 4 walls in an institution. That just wasn't my vision for them, although I know many find it to be a positive experience. I homeschool also because my views do not line up with some of the liberal and secular teaching that goes on in public schools today. I homeschool because the opportunities homeschoolers have these days are off the charts. I homeschool because homeschooling can look any way you want it to and you can cultivate a love of learning within your child at a very, very young age, that I believe will last a lifetime. I homeschool because I really get to know my children and their giftings and talents and interests and I can build upon that and give them lots of ways to develop these areas. I homeschool because there is time to focus on those areas of interests and talents and develop them when you homeschool. I homeschool because our life is a lifestyle of learning, and my kids are learning just as much when they are helping me in the kitchen and helping Dad in the garden as they are doing assignments we give them. I could go on and on and on with a hundred more reasons why we homeschool...but just wanted to share some off the top of my head. I believe in this life, this way of living that just happens to involve home educating our children. Sometimes I even scratch my head these days and think, "why do so many people just think when their child turns 5 off to Kindergarten they go?" People don't even question that, or look at other options. They miss the opportunity by not looking into what home education could look like for them, or their child.
There are so many more benefits that are flooding my mind as I type. My kids get to play outside all the time. They run and jump, climb trees, swim, make mud pies, pick berries in the garden and run their own little fruit stand out of their play house. They ride horses, gather eggs, bike ride and more. They get fresh air, they get dirty, play with bugs and worms in the dirt and they explore to their hearts content. They are happy.
Reading begins very young in our family. If they are ready, they are reading at age 4. If not, at age 5. I have noticed that after they learn to read, they have a huge appetite for books...and they never stop. When my nearly 14 yr. old was around 7 or 8, I would have her write me stories, and she would bring me novels...I knew there was something there that needed nurturing and development. So at the age of 12, we helped her to take a class, write and publish her first novel. She is currently gearing up to write her second one.
Mostly, though, I am so thankful that I can keep my kids home so that I can always point them to their savior. They learn and know who He is at a young age. He is their father, their healer, their savior, their friend. We take a lot of time to focus on this. We start our day with Bible time. We sing praise songs, we pray, read devotions they intently listen as the word of God is read to them. Kids are ready for this, they want to hear and know His word! They are hungry and thirsty for it! My job is to fill them up with it, and allow them to read, learn and grow in their relationship with him. I am so thankful that they don't have to deal with peer pressure, and bullying, school bus issues, and more. Not that their life is sheltered or deprived or that they are not learning to handle conflict. No, they have their share of battles and learning opportunities with each other and friends, so it's not that much different.
Oh, did I just mention friends? Yes, my home educated children do have friends! Wonderful, amazing, great friends! They are well socialized with all ages! We are so blessed with the relationships we have cultivated in our lives and the people the Lord has put in our paths. My kids go to birthday parties, skating parties, picnics, play dates, outings, field trips, co-ops, Awana, sports camps, summer camps, vbs, horsemanship camps, 4-H, gymnastics, dance, music lessons, and sports of all kinds. We also have time to have friends over, go on camping trips, have BBQ's and more. Our family is just a typical family who's children happen to not attend the local public school. That's all. But, because we home educate, I feel my children have had (so far) an amazing and abundantly blessed experience. It's not all fun, they complain about having to do math, they sometimes argue, they sometimes whine, but they also jump up and down like it's Christmas when a new school book arrives in the mail! Home educated children really do love to learn, and that is one reason I am so grateful for the opportunity I have had for so many years.
There is a Biblical basis for homeschooling, and there are many verses to back it up. Here are a few: Listen, my son, to your father's instruction, and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22: 6
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14
There are many many more verses you can use to help guide you in your current homeschooling adventure or your decision to home educate in the future. I especially like the one from Matthew above. We are in a fight for the minds and souls of our children. There is a battle raging out there whether you homeschool or not. I want my children to know that this path they are on, is Jesus's road. It's narrow, not wide and veering off in many directions. No, it is narrow and straight and if we stay on it, it leads to an abundant life. I don't know about you but my life has not been boring by staying on this path. It has taken me places I never thought I would go, and places I never dreamed of myself. It has been a wild, adventurous and blessed ride staying on the narrow path, walking with the Lord, and I desperately want that for my children. :)
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