Monday Musings: Homeschooling

Posted by on Jan 16, 2012 in life | 3 comments

Here’s another topic that could fill a few pages. The short of it is that I’ve wanted to homeschool since before I was married. It didn’t take much time in the classroom during my student teaching days for me to decide that, while I enjoyed teaching in a traditional school, I did not want my kids in one. Thankfully, God hooked me up with a husband who feels the same way, and the longer we’ve been parents the more reasons we’ve amassed for why we will make some serious sacrifices to keep our children home for the majority of their education.

Certain reasons are more important than others, and their importance changes up sometimes depending on our current philosophy or where the girls are developmentally, but theĀ  reason that will always remain at the top of the list is the simple fact that we have been entrusted by God with our children’s education–not the government, not other people. We will be the ones held accountable for how our children were raised, and that includes how they were trained and taught–it’s not a responsibility we can pass on to someone else.

Closely tied to this is the fact that we cannot trust other people to teach our children the beliefs that we hold. Even at a Christian school, children are going to pick up theology and doctrine that doesn’t necessarily line up with what their parents believe. And when it comes to theology and doctrine, Dan and I are pretty picky.

But those reasons aside, I really just can’t imagine sending my children away from me for six (or seven, or eight) hours a day, five days a week. I know that makes me sound like a mom who just can’t cut the apron strings, but it’s about so much more than attachment. It’s about wanting to be involved in what they learn. It’s about wanting to be the one who sees the light bulb go off when they finally learn to read, or how to do long division, or what it means for a liquid to become super saturated. (I have the *coolest* experiment to do with them for that one!) It’s about tailoring their education to their strengths and weaknesses and passions so that they never lose their enjoyment for learning. It’s about protecting them from bullies until they’re ready to defend themselves. It’s about keeping them innocent for as long as I possibly can. (And no, innocent is NOT synonymous with ignorant.) And yes, it’s also about wanting to strengthen the bonds of our family.

Homeschooling is not for the weak, or lazy, or self-involved. Sadly, I’m often all three. But I believe God has called us to homeschool, and I believe Scripture when it says that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. With the advent of 2012 we instituted a morning schedule that includes daily lessons, something we’ve never done before, and something that is still quite laid-back and small-scale right now–only 10-15 minutes per girl–but it’s inspiring discipline and diligence, and all of us are reaping the benefits. When we begin more rigorous, formal academics next year for Abby, I will hopefully have shed some of my weak, lazy, self-involved ways and become even more dedicated to our homeschooling lifestyle. Until then, I will continue to plug away at our daily Hooked on Phonics, to play fun games like Quirkle (the girls beat me 224 to 225 today!) and story cubes and Math Animals and Inchimals, and to pack up half the food in the house for day-long outings to the zoo or the museum or the Garden of the Gods. Hopefully God will allow us to send the girls to dance classes, and the co-op in the Springs that Abby liked so much, and art classes and music and swimming classes, but if those things aren’t in His plan then we’ll look for other ways to get them education in those areas–we’re blessed to know a lot of very talented people, and who knows what arrangements might be made? Regardless, the adventure that awaits us over the next 15 years is daunting and exhilarating all at the same time, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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3 Comments

  1. I’m a teacher, I taught high school scripture classes in 2 public schools and it wasn’t for the faint-hearted, but I would struggle to home school my daughter. Mainly because I would feel so very inadequate to handle their education. So I applaud you for taking this road.

    I have come across many parents who are homeschooling their children and I freely admit that I would really struggle with content and teaching it to them, especially as they get older (can anyone say “really bad at maths” and “no concept of science”!). But I’m always impressed with their drive and time management in order to teach their kids.

    So good on you Alison! :D

    • Oh Jess, my math is horrific, too, and I am definitely not science-y minded! :) But a couple things I learned when I was teaching in traditional schools is that a) there is no teacher out there who knows it all, and b) there is no teacher out there who is confident in every single subject. That’s why so many homeschoolers bond together to create co-ops–”I’ll teach your kids how to write and spell, and you can teach them geometry.” :D And actually, something else I learned is that teaching a subject makes the teacher understand it even better. When I first started in the classroom I was terrified of fractions and decimals. Even after all my “how to teach” classes in college, I was still shaky on those concepts. My first year of teaching them, however, it all clicked.

      I don’t think *any* parent should fear for their ability to teach content. There are SO many different approaches and packaged curriculum out there that you can find one that suits your own level of knowledge and comfort as a teacher, no problem. I had plenty of teachers in my public school career who were lousy at teaching this subject or that subject–like I said, there’s no teacher out there who is brilliant at everything! And yet, no one is stopping them from teaching! And no one should, necessarily. (Though this train of thought will take us down the road of public education reform, which is a totally different animal, so I’ll stop now. :) Again, the ability to partner with other homeschoolers, or even to enroll your child in enrichment classes or work with a tutor, means that there’s always *some* way to get your child the help they need in a subject that is not one of your strengths.

      I’m totally not trying to talk you in to homeschooling–really! :D I just know so many parents who say the same thing, and I often worry that they’re stifling a desire to homeschool simply because they don’t think they’re well-enough equipped. TRUST ME, you really could do it if you wanted to. :)

      • You make it sound so easy Alison! :) As a teacher myself, I am well aware of not knowing everything. I taught high school scripture and I didn’t even try to say or think I knew everything, I just prayed!

        I would imagine that other home schooling families would get together and teach their subjects of strengths. Here in Australia the home schooling community is fairly small but it is growing. I imagine it wouldn’t be as big as it is in the states (the 200 million extra people in population might account for that!) :)

        I doubt I’ll ever have the desire to home school though. My hats again go off to those who can. :)

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