April 12, 2011
I had the luxury of visiting with a dear friend of mine this morning for "coffee talk". I love coffee talk. Some of my deepest connections happen over a warm cup of joe. It's liquid "me time".
Today, our conversation centered around her new decision to home school her children. That's my kind of discussion. I am so very passionate about our way of life. Not because I think it's "the right thing to do", but, because it affords so many wonderful benefits for our family.
I am feeling extremely humble and grateful to God today for His perfect provision and direction in this matter. When my older children were toddlers I would have never imagined that we'd be home schooling. I thought that I wasn't patient enough to spend ALL of my time with my children. I was looking forward to the break I would get while they were away at school. I had fantasies of several consecutive hours of peace and quiet, free from the demands of everyone else needing my time and energy, which was depleting quicker than I could replenish it. Yet, today, I cringe when I think of ever sending them back to public school. (*Disclaimer: It's not a terrible thing if you send your child to public school. It's a fine option for many families and I'm not against public school. There's just a better fit for my family in home schooling.)
I don't want to give up the freedom we have with our time. Strange how that works, right? Vacations and sick days happen when we need them. Field trips are as often or seldom as we choose. We operate at a slower pace, taking in more of the simple things in life. Spring afternoons can be spent outside digging in warm dirt. We have plenty of time to play in between the work.
I don't want to give up the relationships we've built as a family. Kids fight, especially siblings. And there is no shortage of opportunity for me to don my stripy shirt and whistle to referee a good altercation. But, there is also something else there. The four kids whom I birthed from my loin are FRIENDS. They know each other. They trust each other. They love each other. They spend time playing together. Time they would not otherwise have if they were in separate classrooms for seven hours a day, five day a week.
I don't want to deal with the stresses of a school system that is a difficult fit for my children for whatever reasons. My kids had major issues with the condition of the restrooms at school, despite the fact that I was heavily involved in working toward a resolve. We had other issues, as well, that applied to how well my kids did or did not thrive.
I love that we fit school into our lives and not the other way around. Trust me, education IS very important to me and my husband. But, who says it has to take up so much of any given day? My kids are learning just as much, if not more, than they would in public school. But, the pace at which we proceed is very comfortable. School time takes up a small percentage of their days and they are not "burnt out" with school.
I have discovered that a public school education is not free. I spent a lot of money sending my kids to public school and have noticed a significant savings by keeping them home. This may not seem like a very good argument for home schooling, but, especially in our current economy, when you are a one-income family of six, every penny needs to be spent and saved wisely.
Another reason that I love home schooling my children is that I can incorporate the Word of God into their curriculum. It's an opportunity for them to learn about God the Creator of all things on a different level than is possible because of the separation of church and state.
I could go on and on about why I love home schooling our children. But, I want to be very careful not to offend those of you who choose not to. I am certainly not trying to be condescending or righteous. I am just extremely blessed and grateful for what God has given to our family. Home schooling works well for many, but, I am not implying that it is the best fit for all. I'm just offering some benefits for those who are taking a peek at the road to becoming a home schooling family. The first steps of the journey are often terrifying. There can be a lot of judgement and concern from well-intentioned friends and family. Many do not understand it. It is a different choice that we are faced with as parents. And it's not always easy.
Are there any cons to home schooling? Well, yes. But, it's little things, like having to bring the kids on every shopping trip I go on. They hate to shop. It's having to find a babysitter when I have to go to the gynecologist. There is a little more house work that I have to do having them home all day every day. But, they can all pitch in and do their part to help out. There are also the days when the kids don't feel like doing school work and I have to deal with that. But, all in all, the benefits FAR outweigh the deficits.
"I have called you back from the ends of the earth so you can serve me. For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don't be afraid, for I am with you. do no be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will help you. I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." Isaiah 41:9-10
"Tell them especially about the day when you stood before the Lord your God at Mount Sinai, where he told me, 'Summon the people before me, and I will instruct them. That way, they will learn to fear me as long as they live, and they will be able to teach my laws to their children.' " Deuteronomy 4:10
"Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it." Proverbs 22:6