Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why I homeschool

There are many things in life I am passionate about, and one is homeschooling. I cannot tell you how much I love it. Since making the decision to homeschool, back when my now 10 1/2 yr old was about 4, we have all grown so much. I never really knew much about homeschooling, but once a couple people shared their stories, I became curious. I started doing a little research. I met teachers who decided to homeschool instead of putting their children in daycare all day while they taught other peoples kids. I met actual homeschooled kids and I saw something different...and I was..impressed. I decided to dig deeper and what I found got me really excited, and to this day, I still feel that twinge of excitement when I think about and plan my upcoming year of homeschooling. 

So what is the excitement all about? Well, I will try and explain. Homeschooling is vast, it is broad, and it is AMAZING! It gives you, the parent the opportunity to tailor the education of each specific child's needs. You can create a rich environment for your child that no one else can, because you know your children best! It opens doors I never knew existed. It allows your children to learn to cultivate a love of learning. It is freedom, and creativity, and discovery and fun all wrapped up together. 

Homeschooling has brought so many amazing gifts into my life. Not only do I get to live daily watching each of my children learn, grow and delight in daily life, I am showered in hugs and kisses daily. When you homeschool, you join a community. You meet many other nearby families who also love to home educate, and who are part of co-ops, support groups, arts events, and more. They are some of my dearest friends, and I love that we are all "in this together" and have each other to lean on, learn from, and support along the way. It is truly a beautiful thing. 

I recently attended a large homeschool conference. Here was another gift I didn't realize existed in the homeschooling lifestyle. And, WOW, what a gift. This particular conference focused on the fact that we are discipling our children, bringing them up in the ways of the Lord, and how that is the most important thing, far beyond curriculum, classes, and computers. The wisdom that was shared, and that I tried to completely soak in over the course of the weekend, was priceless and will serve to improve, and bless our homeschool years. 

Children are naturally curious. The are hungry for information. They want to know what makes things tick and who made the amazing things of this world. Nature study is a big part of homeschooling in many households. Parents and children will be found in parks, in forests, in orchards, and near streams, studying the incredible creations the Lord has made for us to enjoy and learn about.  My children have nature journals where they sketch pictures of intriguing things they find in nature, and they have learned to research to learn more about their exciting finds. 

So what I love about homeschooling is that it is so out of the box. It is not happening within four walls as my public school experience was (where I honestly was bored out of mind and didn't know there could ever be a better way). The children aren't made to spend endless hours each night doing homework cramming their heads with information that they aren't interested in for a test, just to be forgotten.  It is often child led, and expanded upon, giving your children more to explore and think about. It doesn't happen at school desks set up in the house to imitate a school. My kids are often writing stories while breathing fresh air on the front porch, painting outside, reading books in every room of the house, and baking in the kitchen (today it was a quiche made with farm fresh eggs from our barn). They play throughout the day as well. Play is a child's work, and that is something they get lots of time to do. They don't have every new video game system, tv's in their rooms, or cell phones. Yesterday they were climbing trees, and my  four and five year old collected all sorts of items from nature and created a store under the cottonwood tree. 

We also attend field trips with other homeschooling families. We have learned about fire stations, the local newspaper, and how it's made, old farming methods of our local area, and will soon attend our last two of the year, one on raptors, and the other,  King Tut. Another fun thing we have been doing for years is studying one country per month, and then getting together with a few other families for an ethnic potluck from that country as we watch each child complete their own presentation on a topic they have chosen from that country. It is always a good time, and so great to see how the kids grow and improve over the years. 

My kids have freedom, creativity, tons of social events to attend, and never enough time to do it all! Homeschooling has opened up my eyes to the world around me so much more, and that is what is exciting. The possibilities are endless when it comes to planning my next year of homeschooling. We have time to read missionary stories, and raise money for orphans, and recently my 10 year old put together little snack bags with a little note inside that we will be sending with a teen missionary to Africa. She will be handing out these snack bags to street children there. And as I think about the little things that really matter, that really count, I remember days like today, where my kids and I got to read and pray, and I got to hear their little hearts as they shared what they know of God. I got to see them sharing, and hugging the baby and I got to help my 5 year old as she made up a recipe for a smoothie, and then sent a copy of the recipe off to a friend. I get to see them get excited when they understand something new, and I get to hear them as they squeal with delight when they have found something new in the garden. I am so blessed to be home with my children, living this amazing dream that was never really my plan in the beginning. But as life unfolded, and I opened my eyes and heart to different possibilities for my children and our family, we embraced this lifestyle, and it is incredible! I am so thankful, and never do I take it for granted. It is a privilege and a blessing, and more abundant than I ever could have hoped or imagined! Thank you Lord!