“Why did you decide to homeschool?”
It’s the most common question homeschooling families get asked. Strangely enough, the reverse question is never asked – why did you decide to have your child go to public school? I can only imagine the looks I’d get if I answered in kind!
The decision to homeschool our 2nd grader this school year did not come easily, nor quickly. I had been researching homeschooling since he was 2 years old. It was always an option for us. Granted, we didn’t really plan on making that decision until he was older, maybe in 4th or 5th grade. But during his 1st grade school year in a private school, it became clear our time to homeschool was coming much earlier than we anticipated.
I myself was homeschooled my K-12 academic school years. I didn’t set foot in a public school until I was a junior in high school (I needed a class in order to swim on my high school swim team, so I took Computer!). I graduated as Salutatorian (do they even have those anymore?) of my homeschooling class – yes, I gave a speech and everything! Homeschooling was through a department of the school district; I thought it was pretty neat that they allowed the homeschoolers to have a graduation ceremony of their own. Even back in 2002 in rural California, homeschooling was a rather popular education choice for families.
I continued on to attend community college for my A.A. degree. I finished my Junior and Senior years at a university, and then went on to receive my M.S. degree in Mass Communications.
I’ve taught at several community colleges for a number of years and have seen a large variety of students come through my classroom. To teach in education was an educational experience to say the least. Many of my students have given me a stark realization of how far behind many young adults are academically as they graduate high school and enter college.
My husband, by the way, also did not attend public schools.
The Decision To Homeschool
There were several predominant reasons we made the decision to homeschool our children.
1) The Christian spiritual growth of our children.
First, it’s no secret that the public school system does not encourage nor value the presence of Biblical teachings, either in the classroom or the school environment itself. The Christian spiritual growth of a child is of no concern in public schools and of course, we should not expect it to be so. Nurturing and growing a child in the Christian faith is primarily the responsibility of parents, as instructed by our Lord.
What better place for our children to learn the Word of the than in the home! It is our prayer that, on the Last Day, we will be standing before the throne of God and can joyfully say, “Here we are, and the children you have given to me.” Everything from the way we begin our morning with prayer to the curriculum we choose to the activities we take part in – it all can be done with spiritual learning opportunities for our children with our eyes set on their eternal future!
When my child was in school all day, I had absolutely no idea what he was hearing, learning, and doing. I truly didn’t know how incredibly sad this would make me! My little boy, the child we had raised for 5.5 years, was suddenly yanked out from under our care and guidance. He was under the influence of complete strangers, adults and children. This weighed heavily on my heart, and I knew this wasn’t right for our family. As I considered what educational and spiritual benefits would come from homeschooling, we committed to prioritizing our son’s spiritual journey together with his academic life.
Mid-way though his 1st grade at school, it became extremely clear that homeschooling was the path we were meant to follow. Our son was home on Christmas break, followed by numerous missed days off school due to the frigid temps we had that winter. Many of my mom friends were bemoaning the fact that their kids weren’t in school – I, on the other hand, loved having my boy home and dreaded his return to school!!
2) Utilizing the time we have.
The second reason we homeschool our children is because I honestly didn’t know what my son did half the day at school! The papers he came home with left much to be desired. He didn’t seem particularly interested in any subject (except reading! He’s an avid reader! You can read about our family’s approach to reading here). I wanted my son to enjoy learning, to take interest in something academic – that never seemed to happen. No, I am NOT laying blame on his teachers or school or any particular person at all – it’s just simply the way our education system has evolved.
I began to investigate into what an actual day at school looked like for most kids, since I had no experience in the public school setting. I have a number of friends who are teachers, so I naturally went to them first. I asked them to share what a day at school looked like for these young children. Their responses were not encouraging to me. They mentioned large amounts of “down time” for students who were quick learners. Children who finished their work and didn’t need assistance were directed to read, draw, or were given more papers to allow the teacher a chance to work with the others. All I could think about was all that time when my child could’ve been home doing a number of different things – one of those things simply being a CHILD and playing!
Then I began to ask our babysitters, (teenagers from our church) and some of our other church youth the same question, phrased differently: “How much of a class period was spent actually learning?”
About 10 minutes. Their responses were all similar – in about an hour time spent in a class, they spent approximately 10 minutes learning.
I can’t say I was surprised, especially after talking to my teacher friends. Logically, it just didn’t make sense to me personally to send my child to school ALL DAY LONG when he could be taught in half the amount of time. I don’t like to waste time; I like to have a purpose and direction throughout my day (as much as I can with young toddlers around!).
I also asked these kids what they liked BEST about school. Their answer most likely will not shock you.
“Seeing my friends and hanging out with them all day.”
Socialization is a very important part of our development as individuals. However, I personally don’t believe that it needs to be the main part of our children’s academic learning. There are so many opportunities for our children to socialize: church, youth programs, sports, friend gatherings, extracurricular activities, etc. Academics is a time for learning which requires a child to focus; if you’ve ever been around kids, you will know that when they are hanging out together they are definitely not able to focus easily on academics!
3) Focusing on the value of family.
Finally, we wanted our family to be a family. My husband doesn’t get your typical time off. As a pastor, he spends the majority of his weekends planning and preparing for Sunday services. His day “off” at home usually involves book work and prep work for future services and Bible studies. We don’t have the “typical” family week.
As I envisioned the future, I saw a life where our children would rarely see their father. They would be at school all day, and then head out the door to some sporting activity. We would be home around dinnertime, which is when my husband leaves for meetings.
Not exactly the picture of a family united together!
Our desire for our family is to grow together, which means being around one another A LOT. Yes, that’s challenging as we see the best and worst of each other. But it offers us a chance as parents to teach our children to be loving, kind, and forgiving. The time they spend at home should be focused on instilling in them Godly characteristics. The younger years are instrumental for creating the foundation to pour into their faith and teach them God’s Word.
We are just scratching the surface when it comes to explaining why we homeschool our children! There are many more reasons but these three truly solidified our choice to educate our children at home.
So welcome along on our homeschooling journey!! I will share what we learn as we go, because I am sure that the lessons I’ll learn will be daily! Right now, we are currently homeschooling our 2nd grader – next year, we will have a 3rd grader and a kindergartner!
Are you a homeschooling family? We’d love to hear why you homeschool your children! Or maybe you’re considering this academic change. What are your concerns or worries about homeschooling your children? I would love to address these concerns in future posts.
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