You Homeschool? (Part 1- Why)

Several readers have asked that I explain a little bit more about why and how we homeschool.

Let me start with this – discussing homeschooling publicly is more terrifying to me than spilling my guts about my children, my marriage, my faith, or any other topic. And I know exactly why…

I used to be extremely opposed/judgy/uninformed/militantly against it. I was once so rude and condescending to a homeschooling mom at the park that I wish I could go back in time and not only take it back, but clean her kitchen for her while she sips a glass of fine wine.

So, if any of you are asking because you feel that same violent opposition, there is nothing but understanding and a hug for you here.

It’s a little crazy how much our perspectives change over the course of mommyhood.

Suffice to say, God changed my heart about homeschooling dramatically. What did it was enrolling my son in public school. After two years, it was clear that although he was in the top 1% of second graders in the school district and had perfect grades, he was miserable every single day (and therefore so was I). It was also painfully clear that, because he was so advanced academically, he was not learning anything new at all.

It took seeing him painfully try to fit in, hearing kids tease him about his 6th grade reading level, having meltdowns every morning over having to put on shoes/get out the door, his teacher telling me that she didn’t need my input,  the constant threat of bells ringing, crowded cafeterias, PE on the prickly grass…it took all of this to cause me to take a step back and say, maybe this isn’t working.

Add to this a husband who had the desire to homeschool 10 years before he had children (or step-children), and it suddenly became a very simple decision.

Our decision to homeschool has only intensified since we pulled the boys out of school three years ago. As we have learned more about the boys’ unique learning differences, homeschooling has been a great blessing for our newly formed family.

So, here it is.

Some Of the Reasons Why We Homeschool

Individualized Approach

Having two children with near genius level IQ’s, but also brain differences that in a school setting would classify them as “behind” means we individualize everything. For example, at 8 years old, Bacon is still learning basic reading skills and may be for the next two or three YEARS. He is also completing math lessons that are several grade levels ahead, and has historic and scientific knowledge that is advanced for even a middle schooler. We are able to continue to challenge him and move him along in the subjects that he is naturally more adept, because I can read the directions, the worksheets, and the books to him. In a school setting, not only would he not be able to advance this significantly, he wouldn’t have the support necessary to be able to focus on learning the subject matter, instead of struggling to read the most basic information.

On the other hand, Sourdough at eleven years old, could take the SAT right now and get a better score than I did in high school.  Challenging him and truly helping him learn always requires tailoring the plan to his level and needs.

Flexibility

With the crazy that can sometimes rear its ugly head around here (especially with intense meltdowns or completely sleepless, neurologically impaired nights), it has been a huge benefit to be able to tailor our days to our capabilities. On the worst days, we simply don’t complete much school work. We may leave the house and head to the aquarium or call up some friends and ask if they want to come over and do a project in the kitchen or garden. When we have better days, we load up on the more detailed learning. We end up even in the end, and sometimes even ahead on our lesson plans.

Quality Friendships

In the past, I was super critical of the “socialization” part of homeschooling. You hear it a lot. How will they be socialized? Won’t they be weird? For the record, my son did not have a very “social” year in public school second grade. If anything, what he learned in a formal school environment was stay away from most other kids.

One of the greatest surprises and benefits for us have been the sweet, close friendships the boys have developed because they are homeschooled.  When they connect with other children, there is time to get to know one another at park days or play dates or field trips. They don’t interact in short snippets of recess time. They have hours to learn to get along. Because we are not changing grades and classrooms each school year, my sons have both had close friendships for three years. There is so much good that has come from this..

Here is one of the most salient examples I can share – Sourdough was at a playdate with one of his closest friends (we will call her Flower). Now Flower might be a girl, but Sourdough and she have gotten along like twins since the first time they met. They were outside playing with some of the neighborhood kids, when one of them came up to Flower and told her that she thought Sourdough was “really weird” (to this day, I am not sure if my son heard her). Sounds like a sad story, but the beautiful part comes next. Flower and her little brother, “Kennedy”, were outraged. Flower stood up to the little neighbor girl, while Kennedy ran into the house, went straight to his room and started crying because he felt so bad for his friend. My son had so much support and love surrounding him, that I am not even sure it registered with him the way it did for his friends.

My point is, these friendships are real. They don’t end because of summer break, or because of the latest drama on the playground. They matter to my boys and they matter to me. (Please note – while I am sure not all homeschooled kids are as amazing as Flower and Kennedy, we are grateful that all of the boys’ friends have the same protective nature and genuine interest in/kindness towards Sourdough and Bacon). I couldn’t ask for a better environment in which to “socialize” my children.

Jesus and Their Hearts

I will end with this one, because in the long run, this is what matters to me most. For our family, it has been freeing to weave a Christ- Centric approach into the boys’ education and daily lives. Instead of a devotional at dinner time and church on Sunday, we are able to talk about Him all day long, as a response to questions and concerns that naturally come up. If we are all grumpy and struggling to be kind to each other, we can talk about what the Bible says about bearing each others burdens. If we are out on a walk and see a beautiful view of the mountains, we can talk about Creation and how much God loves us to provide a breathtaking world in which to live. Sometimes, my boys completely ignore me. But then every once in a while, when I least expect it, they ask a deep theological question that I am not even sure how to answer. Or, I overhear them encouraging each other in a way that shows they are paying attention. These random, throughout the course of our day conversations, mean more to me than any math equation or history worksheet.

Jesus has showered me with so much love and grace in my life.  Being with them for so much of every day, allows the boys to see the evidence of Him in me. More than anything, I want my boys to know Him, love Him, and follow Him. Homeschooling allows us to make this a very real priority.

So, this is why we homeschool. Next week, I will share how we do it. (click here for part two – How)

In the meantime, please know that this is what we feel is right for our crazy life, with our wonderfully made little guys. It may not be what’s best for yours, and that’s OK. I support that. I am a big fan of yours, fellow momma.

You choose what  is best for your child and I will celebrate it with you. Happily. And hopefully with a clean kitchen and a glass of wine.

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Cheers Mommas!

 

11 thoughts on “You Homeschool? (Part 1- Why)

  1. Shawna, I know I could never do what you do. But I know this is the best choice for those boys. I’m not sure HOW you manage it all. But I do know I’m proud of you and love you lots…and wine.

  2. I am looking forward to the day when Avonlea and I can share homeschooling together. As a former classroom teacher, in the past I have also looked awkwardly at homeschooling families, until I saw from up close how very clearly the public school system can fail kids. My prayers, of course, are that Avonlea won’t have some of the more severe needs that others have (including you), but if she does, then we’ll be able to tackle it together, instead of hoping that things will get worked out “eventually” in the public school system.

  3. I 100% agree with you. I could have written this, your story is so much like mine! The “socialization” piece is what so many people bring up, and yet it is the main reason we finally pulled our son out of school at the end of fourth grade. Now he is learning at his own pace instead of repeating over and over things he already knows. And being able to share Christ through-out the day! I can’t think of any better reasons to educate my child at home.

  4. Thank you for sharing. I think about homeschooling a lot and wonder if it will be in our future. Right now my daughter is in a small preschool. She has one more year before she will mixed in with other traditionally developing kids in kindergarten. She is 4 and has global delays. I am okay with her in a small, contained classroom with other kids who are at varying levels but I worry how she will fit (or not fit) once she moves on to kindergarten. But, right now, I don’t trust that I could teach her. I teach college kids full time, I don’t know how to teach the basics and I fear I lack the patience. But it breaks my heart when she cries when we take her to school. (She doesn’t communicate well yet so I don’t know if this is because she is having separation anxiety or she doesn’t like to be at school. I have been told that most days, she seems to enjoy the activities and has fun)

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