When I originally considered homeschooling, my reasons were both academic and developmental. However, the biggest benefit that has emerged from this lifestyle was the least considered.
Forging The Bond
My kids have always been close. Since my little guy finally got out of the NICU and made it into his then three-year-old sister’s arms, their bond was sealed. Those two LOVE each other. Of course, they have their moments. Being 3.25 years apart, they can squabble like the best of them. However, the good majority of the day is spent just enjoying each other. It’s incredible.
So, as I considered whether or not to send C off to school at the fresh age of six, her brother still two at the time, my pondering only remotely included him. Rather, I felt bad considering keeping her home, having looked forward to more one-on-one time with my son. But as I contemplated the differences in my children I think I realized that, though important, perhaps the second child doesn’t have that desire to have as much “alone time” with Mom and Dad. Rather, he has always known C to be in his life and if anything, feels like a part is missing when she isn’t around. As far as I can tell he is grateful to get to spend every day playing with his big sister, especially since he has her pretty well wrapped around his finger.
Because we homeschool our days are very flexible (see next point) and I wake up daily to the sounds of the two leisurely playing together, laughing and pretending, getting that time then and throughout the day to work through both play and arguments. This bond that has developed even more deeply now that N is really starting to come into his own person is the BEST benefit of homeschooling.
I know that most likely homeschooling for us will come to an end at some point, mostly because I’ll need to pay off those law school loans someday . . . and I know I will miss these days of togetherness. Because when I think of what the purpose of life is and my goal as a parent, the relationship my children have with each other (which will, God willing, outlast their physical relationship with their father and me) is practically at the very top. I want them to be able to lean on each other, to comfort, entertain and complain. And so far, I see homeschooling as directly impacting this goal in a very positive way.
The Days Are Ours
Lets just be real. Does anyone actually enjoy getting their kids up to go to school every weekday morning? I have yet to meet a parent who does. Homeschooling lets the kids and I naturally start out day, basing our sense of time on our patterns more than the clock. Westerners as a society are so beholden to the almighty clock. As an attorney, you literally bill in 6-minute increments! But most societies base their day more on natural rhythms and personal energy levels that wax and wane. I know, I know. Not everyone has this luxury. And before you contradict me with the reality check that most people actually need to be able to be on time, I would say that my children have many opportunities to test their “get ready” skills, whether it be for a gymnastic class, play date, or dentist appointment. But for now, in these early years, the kids and I relish this slower pace of life, a pace that allows for spontaneous curiosity and learning.
Homeschooling also gives us a chance to both travel and have visitors without interruption to our schedule. We are currently nomads, bouncing from family member to family member, and yet our homeschooling has continued smoothly throughout this big transition period. Also, when grandparents come to visit, the days are free to go on outings or to just spend a good chunk of time together. Those moments have been invaluable to my kids and I’m grateful that while we were living so far away, C was home to enjoy every minute of the time available to her.
Keeping Childhood Sacred
One main reason my husband and I made the decision to homeschool was that we wanted to have control over what our children were exposed to and when, as much as is possible in today’s society. To us, childhood is sacred and unfortunately children seem to be growing up at a much faster pace than years gone by. Public schools are introducing very adult topics to younger and younger children and kids are being exposed to adult content through media at a much higher rate that when I was a kid.
So does this mean my children will be “sheltered”? Perhaps. But why is that a bad thing? I have no problem discussing any topic with my kids, but I’d like to introduce those topics when I deem appropriate, not when a child at school shares what’s going on at home, what R-rated movie their parents let them watch, or what they saw on the news. Homeschooling keeps life simple.
Continuing the Bond
I have been home with C ever since the day she was born. Until I was in the hospital with N during his NICU stay, I had never spent a night apart from her. Our bond was very deep and strong.
I know dropping your kid off that first day of school is hard on every parent. Had I had to do it, I know that C would have smiled and waved goodbye. She’s very confident and I’ve seen this in other quasi-school settings. However, my thought process in our decision was “Just because it’s available doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for us.” We knew for sure I was going to be home raising N so it made sense for us to keep C with me too.
I love teaching. I have a BS in Early Elementary and almost became a 1st grade teacher before switching gears and heading to law school. Watching a child light up with understanding is the best feeling in the world. Or at least I thought it was until I taught my own child how to read. Wow. There are no words. As a huge reader myself I had exposed C to books since she was an infant. Actually, I think I may have read to her in the womb. And now, over the past year and a half I’ve watched her go from learning her letter sounds to reading picture books to me. I know that in another six months to a year she’ll be curled up on the couch reading to herself for entertainment and that moment is something I’m so excited to witness.
If all this sounds too angelic, then it probably is. Teaching your own child can be tough! C and I have had moments of tears and yelling, moments of throwing the book down or refusing to sound out a word. And as a high achiever who always did what the teacher asked, I have doubted my ability to teach my own child many times. She is a very different learner with a very big personality. And my son will be his own, different challenge. However, getting through those moments, learning to give my child and myself grace, and the willingness to alter future lessons based on where my child is right now, has created a deeper bond than had we not had those tough moments.
So for us, homeschooling has been a blessing. I am thankful for the resources that are now available as well as the community of parents that make this task both seem doable and enjoyable.
If you’d like to see how I run my homeschool day as well as some of the resources I use, click here.
I’m curious: What do you see as the biggest benefit to your own homeschool? And if you are still deciding whether to take on homeschooling, has this post helped with that decision?
Until next time,