I haven’t written a post in quite some time – the reasons are many and I won’t bore you with them. Suffice to say we’ve been busy and I really didn’t feel like writing. Today I’m going down a rabbit path, somewhat away from the usual farm related topics that I write. Today I will share my heart with you – a heart that is grateful to be a mother and even more grateful to be a homeschool mom.
I follow many homeschool families and businesses on Facebook. There are never-ending blogs written about why homeschooling is the best option, especially if you are a Christian family or if your child is gifted or if you are just tired of the government shoving liberal agendas down your child’s throat. I agree with many of these articles but many times will shy away from “sharing” them on Facebook because I have so many friends that are incredible, loving, dedicated teachers in public and private school. I also realize that homeschooling is not an option for everyone. Let me tell you our story and you may understand why I am so passionate about homeschooling – and wish that more families would take the plunge into a decidedly different way to educate their children.
My heart has always been ready and willing to homeschool. When our daughter was of preschool age, I had already been working with her on colors, numbers, letters, etc. with varied degrees of success. It retrospect, she did great with anything that was hands-on and activity based learning. Try to sit her down to teach and it was almost impossible – but I digress. My husband did not share the same ideal of homeschooling that I did, so we enrolled her in our local public school Pre-K morning program. Her teachers were wonderful, I was a class mom and we joined the ranks of all our friends as public school parents. Kindergarten was next, with more wonderful teachers and aides. Another year of being involved in every possible aspect of the public school scene. First grade rolled around and my daughter had the best possible teacher – a caring, thoughtful, wonderful woman who adored the children in her class. By this time I was seeing some troubling warning signs in my daughter’s education. She loved books but hated reading. She didn’t quite get the shapes right when asked to copy them. She had a lot of “little” bumps in her abilities that by themselves were no big deal. Second grade rolled around and our little girl went from a child who loved school to hating school – in just a couple of months time.
What on earth happened to our happy child? No longer did she enjoy going to school. She had trouble focusing on assignments in class. She was easily distracted. She was “just making” the benchmarks every five weeks – yes, every five weeks being told by her teacher that she was “just making it.” Now that’s encouraging to a seven year old. She didn’t qualify for remedial reading, but they sent packets home and worked with her as they could. We worked every evening with her on reading and math. She struggled to learn her math facts – one minute knowing them, the next minute acting like she had never seen those numbers before. The joy of learning had been extinguished.
During the early part of summer, I approached my dear husband again about giving homeschooling a try. He told me that if we won the lottery, we could homeschool – because homeschooling is not always the inexpensive option. We won the lottery – my dearest friend had a full year 3rd Grade curriculum that she let us borrow. We had a few items that we needed to supplement, but it cost us virtually nothing. So we notified the school district and began our homeschool journey.
We saw the love and joy of learning return. We were able to customize her learning to her abilities and her learning style. We were able to work with her and realize that there was an actual physical issue with her eyes that required months of vision therapy to correct. We have never looked back. So what, really, is our reason for homeschooling? They are many – and I will try to articulate them without being offensive.
Reason #1: We are able to teach our daughter (within the constraints of our state laws) what we feel is important. If we want to spend three years studying American History, then we will. We can teach our daughter from a God-centered perspective instead of relying on the government’s social experiments to dictate our perspective. We can teach what is interesting to her – like basic chemistry (truly, we did that in 4th grade).
Reason #2: We can integrate our farm life into our studies. I’ll call that life skills that make for a well-rounded education. She is learning how to care for animals, where her food comes from, and the work it takes to grow your own food. She is learning about the cycle of life and death and how to deal with it.
Reason #3: We can actively learn. By actively learn, I mean move while we learn. We can relax on the couch while studying Civics and Government. We can learn math while camping out in a quilt fort or cooking dinner or grocery shopping. We can learn about nature while being in nature. We can “do school” outdoors on those beautiful spring days instead of being cooped up in a classroom. We can move, which is so important to children!
Reason # 4: We spend quality and quantity time as a family. We are not separated from our daughter for 30 hours a week while someone else is influencing her beliefs and world-view (more if the child is involved in sports). We can discuss current events and current trends as we come in contact with them. We can guide her heart toward what is good and right. We eat together, play together, and learn together.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but they are the major reasons. We are able to fashion an individualized education for our daughter that cannot be duplicated in public or private school. While we do have certain subject areas that are mandated by our state education department, we have great flexibility to customize her education – and that is priceless. It is not always a bed of roses, sweet-smelling and beautiful. There are days that we could easily throw in the towel and give up. But it is worth every minute that we’ve been given to shape her young life. This is a glimpse into this mother’s heart.