I do my very best to remember that methods change but principles don't. I will not engage in the co-sleeping vs. crib debate. Or the breast-feeding vs. bottle-feeding war. Or the whole foods vs. processed foods skirmish. Or the...well, you get the idea. In matters of principle, I will not argue; but I may give you my Scriptural reasons. That being said, I will sometimes share what works for us but perfectly respect your right to do it differently.
We have decided to teach our children at home. When people find out we homeschool our children, about 75% of them keep their opinions to themselves. Of the other 25%, some do give their opinions and others just ask questions.
"Were you or your husband homeschooled?" Nnoooo.....
"Did you have a bad experience in school as a child?" Not really....
"Does anyone in your church homeschool?" Nope.
"Does your family want you to homeschool?" Ha, ha. No comment.
Five years ago, I would have laughed if anyone had suggested that I would homeschool my children. I grew up with the idea that private, Christian schools are superior in training academically and spiritually and getting into a good college is the ultimate goal of education. I did get a good education that way--at least as far as my grades went. I saw homeschooling families as "weird", "antisocial", "educationally inferior" or at least "nerdy and geeky--the kids no one likes to be around even if they do have PhD.s at age 15". You know the stereotypes. My husband was more open to the idea, although he had great reservations. He had attended a private, Christian school and a public school and wasn't satisified with his experiences in either. He learns new skills better than anyone I know, but he has always hated school.
The lack of quality education, threats to children's safety and false religion in public schools and the exorbitant costs of private schools in our area led us to rethink our prejudices. I can't remember when we made the decision, and I haven't necessarily committed for life (though I'm leaning that way), but there are a myriad of reasons we homeschool. Consequently, when I started homeschooling, I realized that this is just an extension of what I've been doing since we brought my firstborn home from the hospital. "Formal education" is just building on the foundation that has already been laid. Since our decision not to send our daughter to kindergarten, people have said, "Imagine how much freedom you could have if you'd send your kids to school!"
I went down that road in my thoughts...how would I feel if I dropped off my kids at school each day? Besides feeling that I was missing out on a very big part of their training.....I would feel bored. Yes, bored. What on earth would I do without my children? I would spend my days cleaning house unencumbered by little ones spilling mop water and "helping" wash dishes. Without them, it would take me record time. Then what? I'd start cooking supper. But, what on earth would I do without my son trying to taste the flour or my daughter fetching me things (and sometimes spilling them) from the pantry and fridge? How would I set the table without a lesson on "the fork goes on the left, the knife next to the plate on the right"? You guessed it---it would go pretty quickly. Well, then I would have time to spend with friends, right? Yeah, the friends that are either at work or the friends that are home homeschooling their children....all of them would be busy. So why not just get a job and let someone else teach my children?
In the past year and a half, here are just a few of the things I would have missed had I sent my children to school:
- The absolute hilarity of seeing my kindergartner and her brother practicing their fire escape when we studied fire safety. I will forever remember my two-year-old son carefully inching his way down the stairs, covering his nose and mouth with his hands, only to get distracted with his toys once he hit the living room.
- The flexibility of gathering up my kids to fix breakfast with my grandparents each Friday morning then to stay with my grandpa while my grandma was rushed to the hospital where they confirmed that she was gone from this world.
- Seeing my anti-homeschool, math-whiz brother painstakingly teaching my daughter the shapes she didn't know (all those geometry shapes that end in -on). The lesson stuck because when I showed her a stop sign a few days later in hopes of having her recognize the blend "st-", she answered with a bored expression, "That's an octagon."
- The wonder in my two-year-old's eyes when we studied magnetism and he saw a magnet pick up a paper clip for the first time.
- Giving my 5-year-old the beginning readers and finding out she already knew how to read before I even had a chance to teach her!
- The two-for-one phenomenon. It's hit me many times. One example was when my 2-year-old started singing the alphabet song by himself after a week or two of school or when he supplied the correct phrase for his sister when she stumbled in the 23rd Psalm.
- Family time with Daddy who works Saturdays but has Mondays off.
- A lot of field trips! Daddy jokes that they have many more than he ever had.
- The enormous task of daily modeling and training in the things of the Lord.