This is such a big year for our family. This year we transition from a preschool at home family to an elementary school at home family! Yup, that’s right we officially a have a Kindergartener on our hands. I am equally excited and terrified, all at the same time. There is something about Kindergarten that seems so official. I’ve been homeschooling for years but for some reason now I feel like this is the real deal.
Homeschool is something that has always been on my heart but that doesn’t mean I never had my doubts that it was a right fit. I get asked this question all the time so today I am going to break down for you why we finally made this choice and what factors ultimately lead us to choose to homeschool our three girls.
I put a lot of weight on this decision to homeschool. I spent months making sure this was the right decision for us, with quite a few sleepless nights. Like I said I had always felt that homeschool would be right for us but as Kindergarten registration approached I started to panic.
Was I so blind in my convictions that I would miss an amazing opportunity for my daughter?
I decided to enter us into the lottery of our county’s magnet school program. Thousands of kids applying to the best schools in our areas. I loved the last few years of preschool with my girls. I truthfully had no complaints (with the exception of how demanding it was on me) and I saw my girls thrive. I just had to see it out with the lottery, I just had to make sure homeschool was the “right” choice and I couldn’t feel confident in that until I considered all my options. Maybe I was looking for a bigger sign.
As I looked at the website showing that we didn’t get accepted to any of the magnet schools we choose, I started to feel this huge weight lifted. I know, it sounds backwards, but here is the thing. I saw this as the clearest sign of the direction God wanted for our family. He knew what was best for us and in this moment it was so clear. If there was a “right” decision for our family, homeschool was it. From that moment on I decided that it was no longer fair for me or my children to second guess this decision anymore.
I feel so blessed. So convicted that homeschool is right for our family that I decided to create a mission statement of sorts.
This is why we homeschool.
These are our beliefs and our vision for this coming school year and hopefully many years to come. I by no means am saying that Homeschool is the “right” choice for everyone. I created this list for those of you who are looking to homeschool, veteran homeschoolers and curious readers alike. I hope it brings to light the beauty of this way of schooling and gives you insight into why my family came to this very important decision.
10 reasons why we choose to homeschool:
This is the most important reason we chose homeschool for our family. School takes up a large portion of a child’s day and for us this is time that we can spend together. Building and strengthening our relationship as a family. These young years are so vital for forming the character traits that will build them into adults and we want to be able to be the ones to mold that. We want to spend our days fostering a relationship with our children built on love, respect, honesty, kindness, hard work, compassion and so much more. I love my children so much and homeschool provides us the opportunity to experience some of life’s greatest gifts together. As their teacher I feel so honored that I get to be the one with them as they feel the success of accomplishing a new task or comfort them as they are discouraged with failure. Being there with them during these moments might be one of the things I love most about our homeschool adventure.
When we were looking at schools for my daughter the demands of the schedule seemed kind of daunting. A full day of school for a 5-year-old with early drop offs and long pick up lines and after school requirements. To me it all seemed too much. Not only was I worried about the demands on my kindergartener but also my younger two. They would be spending a large part of their day in car line and commuting to and from and being woken up from naps and I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it. During our homeschool day it feels more in line with our children’s ages and what works best for our family dynamic. Don’t get me wrong, we think it is so important for children to have a routine, but schedule and routine are two different things. I believe at even 5 years old there needs to be a lot of flexibility in their day. Maybe we get started at 7:30 and maybe its 8. Everyday it is different. What isn’t different is we maintain a very consistent routine. The way our day flows stays basically the same and even though there might be hiccups along the way in regards to timing, my kids feel comfort in knowing what to expect throughout the day without the pressures associated with doing it at a certain time. Also I feel strongly that a lot of learning happens by experience and children should be spending a majority of their time outside.
We also have flexibility in regards to what we learn and how we learn it. If my girls are acting extra active we just might take our school outside or take a break for some yoga and start up again later. The flexibility really allows us to listen to our girls needs.
Creativity and imagination are so important to us in regards to learning and something that holds a huge amount of weight in our schooling. Fostering makers and free thinkers, developing innovators and self-directed learners are our end goals here. Yes math and reading too, but we truly believe creativity can mold passionate individuals who will be successful in every sense of the world. I want my girls to learn from doing and making and figuring things out. Instead of just searching for answers for a test I want my girls to be the ones asking the questions, sparking a love in all things learning.
Meet their needs
Each of my girls are completely different and they each come with different needs. Homeschooling allows us to be able focus on their strengths instead of trying to correct their downfalls to fit into a mold they aren’t suited for. I am sure you have heard this quote by Albert Einstein “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This really speaks to me in regards to homeschooling. Since I can give my children individualized attention I am able to play to their strengths. This helps for several reason but mainly for building confidence which in turns creates a love of learning.
“We can think of ourselves not as teachers but as gardeners. A gardener does not ‘grow’ flowers; he tries to give them what he thinks they need and they grow by themselves.” ~John Holt
Create a love of learning
I always tell this story but I think it’s an important one in understanding why we homeschool. Most mornings we listen to classical music to try to calm the chaos that is my home. One morning my daughter paused during a beautiful cello solo and began to ask me questions. She was intrigued by all things cello and so that was where our lessons took us. We read about composers and listened to music and talked about musical notes. Even our math lessons tied into the cello. All I want for my children is for them to realize learning doesn’t happen between a set number of hours. It doesn’t have to be textbooks and learning what someone tells them is appropriate for a girl her age to learn. Learning is a journey and as long as my children love learning they will live a life so full of wonder and rich with experience.
“Since we can’t know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned.” – John Holt
Instill our values
Character is just as important as knowledge. This isn’t a race to see who can read or write first. This is about setting a foundation of good character. A child who knows wrong from right. Loves their neighbor. Has a heart of servitude and a relationship with God. When I am my Childs teacher I get to guide her in the way of academics but it’s actually so much more than that. I get to show her empathy and love. I get to teach her that in our home everyone has helping hands and that keeping up with our chores is just as important as our math work. Maybe someday we practice our sight words and some days we spend time together practicing compassion and love for others. These carry just as much weight in our school and when I am their teacher I can not only teach it to them but show them through my actions.
Everyday is a lesson. Learning isn’t about preparing my girls for tests but more for preparing them for life. That is why experience plays such a big role in our day. What we learn from books is just a small part of our learning. Its measuring when cooking. It’s learning about money at the grocery store. It’s experiencing different people and cultures when you travel. Once I took out of my mind that learning only happened in textbooks I realized what an amazing world we live in and how I can equip my girls to be the adults this world needs them to be.
This type of schooling also provides us the flexibility to have more experience. Everything from field trips every week to traveling more as a family. We school all year round and that provides us the flexibility to travel when we want to and sometime we even take our lessons on the go.
Alright lets finally get to the big elephant in the room. The question I get asked more than any other question. Socialization. I find it quite ironic actually because I had quite a few teachers in my schooling years that used to say “school is not for socializing, it’s for learning”. Now if only I could find those teachers to tell that to the old lady questioning me in the grocery store, I would be all set. I truly believe that homeschooling does not deny my daughters of socialization. We feel that at an early age the best socialization can come from our family, not just children but adults too. First they have each other, which is their greatest gift. Just as I want to foster a relationship with them I also feel that way about their siblings. Second our school days are short in comparison to traditional school. With individual attention we can get most of our “core work” done in 2 to 3 hours. That leaves much more “socialization” time for my girls. With each other and with their friends from church, homeschool groups, gymnastics, performing arts class, Girl Scouts, the park, the grocery store, you get the point. Plus this question makes an assumption that just by being around kids all day teaches them socialization. I feel that good socialization has to be taught and we can’t expect that to come from their peers. I do understand why I get this question so much. Some of my best friends were made during school. Did you ever think that maybe that’s because that is where we spent most of our time and if we were somewhere else, like say dance class, we could still form those important bonds that stay with us for years? Just a thought.
“The idea of learning acceptable social skills in a school is as absurd to me as learning nutrition from a grocery store.”~ Lisa Russell
Doing things different
I went to public school. I feel like I turned out alright. I went to college, got good grades, considered myself to have a pretty good career before I became a stay at home mom. Why would I want to do it different? Yes my experience was ok but I wanted more… more for them… more asked of them… and more time with them. I wanted to create a child directed learning environment. I wanted them to spend as much time in nature as possible. I wanted to build strong moral character and find purpose in life. I wanted to mold life long learners. I wanted them to feel confident in who they were each and every day. These were the things that were important to me. Maybe they don’t meet a state standard or meet testing requirements but these are the things that will make them world changers. With homeschool I am free to choose my childs resources. I can choose to have our days focused around God. I can allow my children to learn what they love.
“We’re not trying to do “School at Home.” We’re trying to do homeschool. These are two entirely different propositions. We’re not trying to replicate the time, style or content of the classroom. Rather we’re trying to cultivate a lifestyle of learning in which learning takes place from morning until bedtime 7 days each week. The “formal” portion of each teaching day is just the tip of the iceberg. ” ~Steve and Jane Lambert
Taking breaks when they want to, eating when they want to, using the restroom when they want to, these are all part of a childs autonomy. Yes they are children and yes they need guidance and structure but I believe children should be capable of free will (safely of course). Have you ever thought about how many times your child hears “no” in a day? I did a little exercise once and I told my daughter no 43 times in one day. That crushed me. Plus when I looked back on most of the things I said no to I realized that I didn’t have to say no, it wouldn’t hurt her or me, I just didn’t want to say yes. I had authority over her and I took it all her individuality away. We want to raise world changers and free thinkers, right? Well how can we do that if we don’t allow them to learn, to make their own choices. For me that includes when they can use the restroom or choose what she wants to learn. Now don’t get me wrong, in a traditional classroom settings these rules are vital so kids don’t run a muck and so teaching can actually happen. But in homeschool they have the flexibility to actually be free thinkers. There are rules when there needs to be (you better believe there are no snacks before dinner) but I have also learned to let go in a lot of ways and allow my children the individuality they need to really learn. Its not easy, but this isn’t an article about how homeschool is easy is it. So there it is. My ten reasons why we choose to homeschool. Or more like my 10 reasons why we choose to homeschool for right now. There are so many changing variables and so many experiences that I could probably write 20 reasons if I had the time.
I do hope this list gives you a tad glimpse into my crazy head and motives for making this huge choice for my family. I hope that if you are beginning this journey this gives you clarity in deciding if this is the right fit for your family.
I also want to share some books I love as a homeschooling mom. These books below made me question and rethink education and I feel helped me for the better.
Do you homeschool? I would love to hear about it in the comments below. Read more about our homeschool journey HERE.