Sunday, May 5, 2013

Homeschooling, what is it really like?

When the girls were little, people would often say things like "That's amazing that you homeschool. I could never do that, I could never spend that much time with my kids every day." It made me wonder, was it the educating, or the child-rearing they were afraid of?

I'll be brutally honest here, educating your kids at home can be really tough...but so can parenting in general! Somedays it's the kids with a bad attitude, sometimes it's one (or both) of the parents. If this life was all daisies and bon-bons, more people would homeschool. 

Here's the reality, it's like digging a ditch and planting roses. It's hard work! Along the way, you sometimes get stuck by thorns, but when the time is invested to do the job well, and you don't rush things, you usually end up with beautiful flowers to enjoy at the end.

There are as many reasons to homeschool as there are families about a million! Some parents teach their kids at home because they were falling through the cracks, or falling behind in public school. Some parents disagree with the curriculum or philosophies taught in public school. Some parents want the discipline of an elite private school, but can't afford the cost. Some parents just believe that they should be the biggest influence in their young children's lives. And at least a few of us, like spending time with our children, and learning alongside them.

You may have thought about homeschooling your kids. Maybe you already do. It is not for the faint of heart, but neither is choosing to follow Christ. As a Christian, God calls me to do difficult things all the time, like: forgive someone who has wronged me, pray for my enemies, help the hurting, live an unselfish life. I have to trust that God will help me do all those other things He has called me to do, so I have learned I can trust Him to help me educate our girls as well.

Some homeschools look just like a traditional school, but at home, with less kids. Desks in a room, decorations on the walls, seven subjects from seven textbooks in the same order every day.

Other homeschools follow the Classical model...learning the Trivium.

Many of our friends follow a delight-directed path, usually with a lot of unit studies.

Us? Well, what our education looks like varies from year to year, sometimes even month to month. We are following a Charlotte Mason style of learning. We always have. Shorter lessons, that focus on mastery, rather than long lessons just to fill in all the blanks. Lots and Lots of nature study, and fieldtrips! Have I mentioned recently how much we love fieldtrips ?!? Here is a link to my favorite book about a Charlotte Mason education!

When the girls were little, they learned to narrate. As they grew we worked on learning how to write down what you want to tell. Yes, we do math. Now, often, the girls' work is laid out more in a 'University' fashion where they will spend more than an hour on a subject, but get them all in by the end of the week. So if they're working on a Lit paper, for example, they may spend a couple hours one day, and just proofread it the next. Yet on that first day they may not do much math, but do two or three lessons the day they're proofreading their papers. 

One of the things I love about educating our girls at home is flexibility. The girls know that if they focus on getting the basics done, there will be time for electives later in the week. It has taught them to be self-starters (most of the time) and to learn that there are consequences for not getting their work done well on time.

I would consider that my own education (in the public schools) was above average. Yet, by educating our girls at home, they are able to receive an excellent education. One that doesn't just check off boxes, but one that can give them knowledge, wisdom, and life skills.

When our country was young, 85% of the youth were educated at home, about 15% went to public school. It has obviously shifted the other way around. I know that not every family will choose to homeschool. But some will. For those that do, know that I pray for you...I know how hard a job it can be. For those of you whose children go to public school, know that I pray for you as well. Parenting is always a hard job, but SO worth it.

Even when you're feeling like the Christian, facing the Roman, God is in control !

Be encouraged- God has a Master plan. He wants you to join Him. He knows your future, and if you trust Him with it, your life, heart, and family will be changed. We are trusting Him to provide all that our girls need, and all that I need, not just for an education, but for life!

By the way, if I ever have one of those days that is all bon-bons and daisies... I'll let you know!

Praying for you & your family!

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