Thursday, August 30, 2012

Why We Homeschool

When people find out we homeschool, their first questions are often about why we chose this. Normally, it is with genuine curiosity. Most people don’t know anyone who homeschools and want to know more. Occasionally, it can be a bit judgmental or people look at me like I’m crazy. But, overall, my experience with talking to people about homeschool has been pretty positive.

The question itself – “Why do you homeschool?” – isn’t an easy question for me to answer. There are many different reasons. And it seems that, each year, the list of reasons grows. But, there is one reason that first made me think that homeschooling might be a good option.

I love learning. As a kid I devoured books. Historical fiction was my favorite. I loved all the details of history and life in the past that you can learn from such books. But, I also loved learning in school. I eagerly took notes, I engaged in classroom discussions, I asked questions, and I loved mastering skills and concepts.

At the same time, though, I really disliked school. I was very often bored (interesting discussions only took up about 1/4 of class time throughout the year – if that). From the beginning, I tended to be ahead of my classmates. I finished my work before the others, I understood the lessons more quickly, and I was ready to move on long before the rest of the class. As a kid, this resulted in getting in trouble for talking (or even reading). As a high schooler, this translated into never studying and rarely doing my homework. Why put in all that effort when I could pass my classes with a B average just on my test scores alone?

By the time I got to college, I was a lazy student! I had no study skills and very little personal discipline where my schoolwork was concerned. Needless to say, what let me get by with a B in high school wasn’t sufficient for college!

When my kids were three, we decided that I would teach them preschool at home. We didn’t see the need to spend money on something I could do myself. This decision led to two things happening at the same time.

First, I started searching for lessons and games for my babies. I quickly realized that the fastest way to find the best materials was to search for “homeschool preschool.” The more I visited these sites, the more I learned about homeschooling. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. The idea fascinated me!

As I was learning more about homeschooling, my kids were quickly progressing with their schoolwork. It wasn’t long before I had to search for “homeschool kindergarten” instead of preschool. That is when I realized that they were already ahead of their peers. When they started school, they were already going to know the lessons. And, in a public school, their teacher was not going to continue to work with them at their level. It just wouldn’t be possible. They have an entire classroom of kids that they have to think about. Instead, Bub and Sis were going to have to wait for the rest of the kids to catch up before they could continue on and learn new things.

The possibility of them skipping a grade did not appeal to me at all. They were already going to be the youngest in their class. Since their birthday is just ten days before Kentucky’s cut-off, they would still be four years-old when they started kindergarten. They would likely be a year or more younger than many kids in their grade. If they skipped a grade, they would be two whole years (or more) younger than their classmates. The age difference might not be a huge deal in early elementary, but by the time they were 10 and their classmates were 12 or 13, that would be a huge gap!

So, this is when the idea of homeschooling became more than just a fascinating idea. This is when it started to seem like it might be a good option for us. The more information I gathered and the more I prayed for direction, the more I became sure that this was what was best for our family.

That conviction hasn’t changed in the 3 years since. In fact, it has grown stronger with each year. What started as a simple desire for my kids to be able to work at their own pace and not be held back, became so much more.

I learned more about the academic benefits, the social benefits, and the spiritual benefits that homeschooling can provide.

You can read more about the academic end of things at the website of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) where they have an independently conducted study of homeschool test stores which you can view.  Below are a few more links you can check out that contain links to studies of homeschoolers.

CBS News
Huffington Post

Also, with homeschooling, we have more control over who influences our kids. While we don’t intend to keep them in a bubble, we do want to protect them from many things during their formative years. This way, we can present information when they are ready to handle it and in a way they are equipped to deal with it. We can prepare them for facing things like sex and drugs before they are thrown to the wolves. We know that we won’t be able to keep them from these things forever. We are simply seeking to first teach them to handle these situations in a godly way before they have to face them.

Along with this, homeschooling provides us an opportunity to teach from a Biblical perspective. They can learn about the wonderful world that God has created and how it works. They can see His character in the beauty of nature, His orderliness in the concepts of math, His perfect plan throughout history, and His love, grace, and mercy through it all. These are not things they would have the opportunity to learn every day if they attended public school.

These are the biggest reasons that we chose to homeschool our kids.  But, there are plenty of other reason, too. For me, personally, I love that I get to combine two of my greatest loves - teaching and my children!

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