I never thought I would be a homeschool mom. When my oldest two kids were small, I looked forward to the day when they would be in school and I would have time to run errands, work on projects, or just take a shower without being interrupted. Little did I know that God had other plans for me.
It was when my oldest son was in second grade and my daughter was just starting kindergarten that I felt the tug on the heart that many homeschool moms have felt. It was a call to keep the kids home with me and I would be their mom and their teacher. I did not take this call lightly. Much study, thought, and prayer went into my decision because I knew it was of God and I did not want to mess this up.
This fall marks 15 years of homeschooling. I have often asked the question, “Why do I need to homeschool?” Most often, I thought it was for my oldest child who has health challenges. However, I have later seen that our entire family has benefitted in countless ways–including and especially me.
Here are 5 key reasons why I still choose to homeschool.
- Education is My Stewardship
We believe the children assigned to our family were given by God and we have accountability to Him for their upbringing. My husband and I together work to provide, protect, and teach them. We can delegate teaching to others when we feel it is appropriate and needful; however, in the day we live in, we are very selective in whom we trust. As their mother, the responsibility for teaching our kids primarily falls on me. I have learned to embrace this. It has given me a purpose and direction that I needed, since staying home with kids to cook, clean, and referee did not fulfill me. I have had many super hard days as a homeschool mom, but for the most part I have enjoyed sharing what I love about the world around me with my kids. My relationship with each child is strong because I have been there every day with them.
I never intended to isolate my children from their peers. Learning to “speak the same language” as their peers has always been a goal for our teens as long as they are able to maintain their high standards. My four oldest children have been given the choice to attend middle school and high school for part of their education. We have searched out fantastic schools and mentors when we felt it was needful. One daughter graduated from a charter school. A son graduated from an online private school. We have participated in lots of co-ops, extra-curricular activities, and combined lessons with other families. But, for all of my children, I have been their main teacher for their elementary years and their primary mentor for all of the remaining years whether they were learning at home, somewhere else, or a combination of the two.
This year I am teaching my four youngest at home and I will have one son at the local charter school for his junior year. This 16-year old will have Fridays off school. During this time he will study at home and participate in a monthly book club led by a distinguished older gentleman my homeschool mom friends have chosen to mentor our sons. Our 16-year old daughter will remain home with me supervising her education. It is the best fit for her needs right now. She desperately wanted to attend school a couple of years ago and learned a lot from that experience. Now, she is thriving again at home.
When our kids are learning away from home we strive to include what they are learning in our dinner time conversations and one-on-one interviews. I value their input and insights, and even differing opinions. Our conversations around the dinner table sometimes go until bedtime. We all learn from this experience. Having the kids learn in a variety of places is a good system for us and it still leaves me in the driver seat.
2. We are Building A Strong Family Culture
Years ago I heard a lecture from a well-known homeschool mother. She described having a long-term vision for her family. She taught me that if I wanted to have my children all friends with each other as adults and all coming home to visit on holidays and actually enjoying themselves together with their spouses and children, that I would need to work on our family culture early on. I learned how to create a family mission statement that explained what our family is all about. It became a fantastic resource for us. Whenever we got off track with bickering, selfish attitudes, or laziness, I would bring us back to the mission statement and remind the kids of who we were choosing to be. We often talk about our family vision and whether or not we are living it.
We have chosen to have our family culture include inspiring stories from our ancestors and excellent children’s classics, family work, wholesome fun and recreation, daily devotionals to increase our faith and spirituality, developing and sharing our talents, sharing music together, appreciation of the arts and nature, and much more. I realize that families can have this culture without homeschooling. However, in our family, we needed more time. There have been times when our kids were in school when we spent too much time on things that mattered least–like carpool lines, meaningless homework, and needless anxiety. We just do not have time for that which does not edify and lift us.
3. I Can Better Protect Their Childhood
One of the things I feel most passionate about is defending children. I have spent many hours studying about children and simply studying my own children. I have found that they need to play and they come already loving to learn. I have learned how to honor childhood and the special time it is. I consider it a tremendous honor to get to witness first hand my babies’ and young childrens’ “firsts.” I love learning along with them about what interests them most. Their curiosity is so strong! I have learned to use it to fuel their love of learning.
Happy children become happy adults. I promise. This foundational time is critical for their success in life. This is the time to teach right and wrong, how to be kind, what it means to be a family, and that they really are children of God. This is the time to play together and work together. There is nothing else more important, not even learning to read. Reading comes when the child is ready, but pushing academics on a six year old boy who wants to run and play is not what he needs. Pushing a child out in the “real world” before they are foundationally ready is not going to serve them. How many adults do you know who still do not know right from wrong or who they really are? Those critical life lessons are best learned at home from mommy.
4. We Read Out of the Best Books
When I was in high school I got straight As and passed multiple AP tests to obtain college credit. I did everything I was supposed to do and I did it well, according to my school’s standards. And I consider it a tragedy that I never read the Declaration of Independence or really studied the Founding of our country by reading the library of classics I now own. I never read Les Miserables, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, The Hiding Place, or Little Women. Instead, I read modern classics like The Great Gatsby. Most of the required books I read in high school did little to help me to learn to think and to develop my soul. I was never encouraged to develop my own thoughts, only to write an acceptable 5-paragraph essay which outlined the author’s literary devices. What a shame! The must-read books in my library now will never be used in schools because they have Christian themes. The main characters are archetypes of Christ. These powerful books have shaped who I am today. My true education started the day I began to homeschool my children. I will forever be grateful for that decision! The beautiful stories I have read aloud to my children in my home are part of them now and are helping to develop their souls and their moral compasses. It is by far the best reason I know to homeschool.
5. The Spirit of God Attends our School
I will wholeheartedly admit that I have fallen short so often in my role as homeschool mom. I have raised my voice and been impatient. I have resorted to my own opinion on what is best rather than really seeing what my child sees and needs. I have coerced and manipulated–and it has backfired on me. However, I have learned how to quickly repent and make things right again. I have been humbled and brought to my knees again and again and you know what? God sees me and he always sends me help. I have had miracles happen. I have had breakthroughs and incredible teaching moments! I have been able to teach the most important and even vital truths to my children in the perfect moments when they were most ready to learn them. I have had the Spirit whisper to me exactly what to say and which book is needed next. I have had many moments of heavenly peace descend into our home, usually through a great book or piece of art or music.
Our school is not perfect. But, we continue to try. We are all learning in my homeschool, and I own it. I love that I can powerfully teach from the scriptures–and we have the liberty to take as long as we need. I love that there is no separation of subjects. We can talk about history and religion together! We can choose a topic of interest and while studying it cover science, history, geography, religion, math, writing, and literature all from that one jumping off point. Truth is not segmented. It is one great whole. I love that we can see that in my homeschool.
To my dear friends who do not feel the call to homeschool and see the need to keep their kids in school, I wholeheartedly support your choice. I know many families who achieve all 5 of the above without homeschooling. I know many who cannot homeschool even if they want to. For some reason, God gave me this gift and maybe knew that I needed the extra time for our family. Maybe it was because we have chronic disease and health issues. Maybe because we adopted and are blending adopted children with biological children to make one unified family. For a variety of reasons which I probably still do not fully understand, I was given the call to homeschool. I chose to accept it. I am so deeply grateful I was brave enough to do it. It has made all the difference for us.
I know that you can do what is best for you and your children and I promise that I will applaud you as you bravely move forward and embrace it.