** Warning: LONG POST ... grab a cup of tea before you begin! **
Why do I do what I do? How does it help my family out?
If I were to try to list the reasons I homeschool, it would take me days to write this post and it would take you just as long to read it. It would be an ongoing, never-ending list. I would think I was ready to publish the post ... then, I'd think of another reason. This would go on forever. I'd never get it published. And, if I did get it published, I'd regret it five minutes later because I'd think of another reason I do it.
When someone asks why we choose to homeschool our children, it always smacks me in the face for a minute. For me, the choice is so natural, it is akin to breathing. Why do I breathe? Why do I eat food and drink water? Why do I sleep? Because they are natural parts of life. My children being at home, living and learning as a family is as natural to me as breathing.
I understand where it comes from. I guess, if you're not "in it", it is difficult to understand. I get that. We have all been raised in a society that takes away our freedom to live our lives the way we truly want to or that we see as best for our own families. When someone goes against the grain, it can be difficult for others to understand. But, when you are "in it", it becomes second-nature. As natural as going to bed each night. Of course my children are home-educated.
People often think it is only because of the school system of the area in which you live. "So, then when you move, are you going to put your kids in school?"
Sometimes they think it has only to do with moral upbringing. "You know, you can still teach them right from wrong and what you believe when you are together."
That may be true, but when they spend the majority of their time with their peers, how much influence would I really have in the long run?
Sometimes they think it is religious. "You can still teach them about your faith on the weekends."
True. But, when your belief system is more about choices you make all day, every day than about what you do on Saturday or Sunday morning, it is important that you are together for those teachable moments that arise all day, every day.
Sometimes they totally miss the boat and think you want to shield your children from the rest of the world and keep them inside some sort of bubble. "Your children would benefit from being around other children." ... or "It is not healthy to protect your children so much from the outside world. Eventually they will have to deal with and live around other people."
Ha Ha. Because that child who sits in a classroom with 25 other children his same age 35+ hours a week instead of dealing with and living around other people all day and all week as mine are doing is going to be so much better prepared to survive in this world. Because that institution that we call school, where they are told to be quiet and sit still and listen and behave and only get 20 minutes on the playground (if they are lucky) and have to scarf their lunch down in less than 20 minutes of "silent lunch" at 10:50 am in the cafeteria is doing such a better job of preparing children for the real world. Isn't it possible that the children who are living and learning and playing in the world every day might be better prepared to survive out in it?
My children are already comfortable dealing with the post man who comes to our home each day, telling the post man at the post office about their day, talking to the cashier at the grocery store and asking the librarian for help locating materials they are interested in. They know where their food comes from, they know how to ring it up and pay for it in the self-checkout aisle at the grocery store. They know how to weigh their vegetables and fruit and estimate how much it will cost. They see me adding things up in my head as we go along inside the store. They see the importance of keeping to my budget. They know how to do the dishes and the laundry and scrub the toilet and vacuum the floors and take care of the animals. They know how to deal with the neighbor who is in her 50s as well as her elderly mother and father who are living with her. They know how to interact and play with children of all ages because their homeschool groups are not limited to children who have a birthday in the same year as they do. They know how to handle babies and toddlers because their homeschool peers have younger siblings. They know how to handle the adults because Mommas and sometimes grandparents participate in the things we do.
My children know more about how to deal with all types of people, all ages and professions, because they are out in the world all the time. The myth that homeschooled children are not socialized is probably the biggest lie of them all. The total opposite is true. When you encounter a group of children and most of them will not make eye contact with you or talk with you, but there is one girl who walks right up to you and talks to you while actually looking into your eyes, not afraid or uncomfortable, I guarantee you that if you were to ask around, you would discover that that child is homeschooled.
So, why do I homeschool?
I absolutely wouldn't have it any other way. And, neither would my husband. And, neither would my children.
The Bible says that we should train a child up in the way that he should go and he will not depart from it. God gives us these children because He has faith that we are capable of taking care of them and teaching them to live in this world. We as humanity were designed to be centered around the family unit. When family is the center of everything, things just work better. Homeschooling is about family.
Homeschooling is about natural learning, natural living. We do not have to wake our children because of a schedule. They can naturally rise when their sweet little bodies are finished doing the hard work of growing at night.
My children do not have to spend 7 to 8 hours stuck in a desk in a classroom being talked at. They are free to learn about their world be exploring it, playing in it, reading about it, watching videos about it, visiting museums and cool places to learn about it, drawing pictures of it, observing it, painting it, baking in it, being the children that they are.
In the afternoon, they can continue to play and enjoy freedom and space and time and wonder while their schooled counterparts are busy doing endless amounts of homework and getting ready for the drudgery of doing it all again the next day. While my children are chasing butterflies and watching the manatee swim under our nearby bridge, their counterparts are busy memorizing facts to be spit out on Friday's test, only to be pushed out of their brains next week to make room for more facts to be memorized.
Our society is moving at an ever-increasing speed. It is too fast-paced for even adults, and it is taking a serious toll on every one's health! Children are over-diagnosed with ADD and ADHD and over-medicated for it while adults are over-diagnosed and over-medicated as well. The sad thing is, if everyone could just slow down and simplify their life a bit, the issues would ease themselves. Children aren't truly getting ADD/ADHD more and more. They are simply over-stimulated. Their lives are too busy. With school and homework and dance and soccer and gymnastics and scouts and church groups and ... and ... and ... and ... Fill in the blanks with whatever comes to mind. The end result is the same ~ their childhood is lost.
I, for one, am choosing a life that will not do this to my children. I want my children to have the freedom and the time and the space to explore and play and learn and just be. I want them to find and appreciate the beauty in God's Creation ~ how can they do that if they never get the opportunity to be in it?
So, do I homeschool because of the school system? Yes
Do I homeschool for the moral upbringing? Absolutely
Do I homeschool because I believe that they can learn more and actually enjoy it if given freedom and time? Yes
Do I homeschool so that their little bodies can sleep when they need to, play when they want to, run and jump when the mood strikes, eat when they're hungry, sing when they are inspired, read when they feel like it, paint any day (not just on Art day), bake and cook when they get an idea and so on? YES
Do I homeschool because I believe that the best possible place for my children to be is with me? Without a doubt
Does homeschooling in my home mean that my children have no interaction with the outside world or that they don't have any other children to play with or that they are secluded in my own personal little bubble? Absolutely not! We have pool days and park days and Spanish Club and Zoo School and Handwork Group and Circle Time and field trips and we sing Christmas Carols in retirement homes and we give food to the homeless and we go to the post office and we go to the grocery store. Homeschool should really be renamed EARTHSCHOOL. The world is their classroom!
Do I homeschool because I respect their childhood and want to protect it and allow them the time that they need to play and explore? Absolutely! I do not want my children to start the rat-race at 5 years old like so many do today. Shoot, we are trying to raise children who will never join the rat-race. They are FREE to choose the life they want to live... just like their parents are doing!
So, you may be able to argue one point to me and convince me to take pause and think for a minute. But, you'll never convince me to put my children in school because if you make me rethink my views on one point, there will be 1,999 more reasons lined up behind it.
You may convince me that we need to find more income, but you will not convince me to put my children into school in order to make that happen. Contrary to what I've heard multiple times, homeschooling is not a luxury reserved for those who can afford it. It is a decision, a choice, a life filled with many sacrifices made by the families that choose it. Rarely will you meet a family that is wealthy and homeschools. We are all scraping to get by. But, we choose to, because no amount of money or ease in life would be worth changing the one thing we hold so dear.
As I said, my family living and learning together is as natural to us as breathing. It may make some areas of our life difficult, but what others don't seem to understand is that we choose and accept that struggle for the good of our children and our family.
Could I get a "real job" (as if the one I have isn't "real") and bring in an income to help my family? I could. But, I believe with every fiber of my being that the most important thing I could possibly be doing right now is exactly what I am doing. I am loving my children each and every day. I am guiding them in this great big thing that we call life. I am teaching them to make good choices in all things that they do. I am showing them how to maintain a household, because no matter what path they choose, they will each have to do that one day.
I am loving and supporting my husband as he makes this life possible for us each day with all of his hard work. I make sure that he can go to work and concentrate on his job and nothing else because he has full confidence that I am handling everything else. Not to sound like June Cleaver, but I have a scratch-made, whole-foods dinner on the table when he gets home each day. I make sure he never runs out of the things he needs to be successful. I make sure his children are happy and loved and educated and cared for. I make sure the bills get paid and the errands get run. I do all those things so that he can focus 100% on his work when he is away from us. And, he works hard so that his children can have the life that he and I want for them. We are a team. We work together. We each are helping the family each and every day with the things that we do.
So, while I do realize that the hugs and kisses and drawn pictures and cuddles and sweet little notes and the AHA moments that I get "paid" in will not pay any bills, I know that there is not a single job on the planet that is more important than this one at this time in my family's life.
Children are only young once. They are only this small for so long. I intend to protect it and cherish it with every ounce of my being.
Let me leave you with one of my favorite homeschool quotes ...
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."
I am trying to light that fire ...