As a NextGen Homeschooler, I am thankful for my own homeschooling experience as well as the opportunity to homeschool my own daughters now. Homeschooling has come a long way since the mid-80s when my mom started homeschooling: From more curriculum options and enrichment programs to public funding for homeschooling co-ops. Homeschooling is more accessible and “acceptable” today, and it’s growing in popularity every year as more statistics show that homeschooling produces superior academic results. However, the reasons I am thankful for homeschooling go beyond the academic benefits.
1) Freedom: The more I read in the news about problems with public school (common core, bullying, cutbacks), the more I’m thankful for the freedom to choose the best educational environment for my three daughters. I have the freedom to use the curriculum that I believe works best for my children, as well as a teaching approach that leverages their natural strengths.
I don’t take this freedom lightly: In light of what’s happening around the world with homeschooling (such as the recent Romnieke deportation case) and the slippery slope we’re on in this country, I know that this freedom is precious and I thank the Lord for it everyday.
2) Flexibility: Life can be bumpy, and when things get tough, I’m especially thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling. Whether it’s health challenges, financial upheaval, moving, a traveling spouse, or special needs with your children, you can adjust your schedule and the family’s daily routine when you’re homeschooling.
Early last year I experienced a health crisis that made it hard for me to function fully every day, and it lasted for several months. I can’t imagine what life would’ve been like for us if I had to wake up early every morning and race the kids to and from school and activities while dealing with these challenges, especially as much as my husband travels. I’m so thankful that I was able to homeschool throughout this difficult time, because I could work with my girls at times when I had energy and strength and rest when necessary.
3) Family: I was blessed to be working from home since the time my girls were born: full time, part time, and self employed. At first I was glad to have more time to work when my elder two girls were in school and I just had one toddler to manage.
However, I was starting to realize that our family life was being consumed by the busyness of school: the daily commute, after-school activities, PTA, fundraisers, etc. Once dinner dishes were loaded and baths were taken, there was little time for quality family conversation & interaction. My husband’s busy travel schedule made it even harder to spend time together when the girls weren’t in school. I felt like my time with them was flying by and I hardly knew them.
Homeschooling doesn’t just give us more time together, it also eliminates all those extras that kept us running from one thing to the next. Yes, we do participate in enrichment & co-op activities, but the pace is different and the whole family is usually involved.
Some parents worry that spending so much time together would drive them nuts — and at times, it’s true! However, I wouldn’t trade in those crazy days for the relationship I have with my girls now, and that they have with each other. I am not gifted with superior patience: It’s something I have to pray for every day. I believe the Lord equips those He calls, so I trust Him for help in this department.
4) Fun: Do you remember being so excited for those few & far between field trips and special projects when you were in school? When you’re homeschooling, learning can be fun all the time!
I’m not talking about catering everything to your child’s wishes just to please them. There are subjects and learning exercises that may never be considered “fun” that are still important. However, even math can be fun when you step away from the textbooks and worksheets. Your children don’t have to wait until their school provides a lab to experiment when you can do it anytime at home.
My 7th grader recently challenged me on the importance of geometry, and I showed her how using geometric formulas helped us plan out & purchase supplies for outdoor garden. Cook & bake with fractions. Go for a nature walk in your neighborhood and gather inspiration for art, science, and writing.
One of my favorite moments is seeing my girls come up with projects on their own. They’ve developed a love of learning, and they often choose to work on a creative project during their free time. I love seeing them think outside the box, with curious minds that are always on the lookout to learn something new.
5) Faith: Last but not least is the opportunity to keep God at the center of our home, including education. As my sister Rosanna shared on Monday, the choices for faith-based curriculum are expanse. We love using Trail Guide to Learning, which is unit studies with a biblical worldview. Reading living books instead of committee-written textbooks gives us an opportunity to learn through the real-life experiences of others.
When we started homeschooling, I felt a little concerned about what others might think about a God-centered education. However, I’m realizing more and more when I see what’s going on in our schools that NO education is neutral: In fact, our public system is stretching so far to be “accepting” of all beliefs at the expense of biblical values. Everything BUT the Bible is acceptable in public schools. If you think it’s not that bad, a google search of national news will be revealing. It’s no surprise that more than two-thirds of Christian teens leave the church after high school when they spend the majority of their day learning that there’s no place for God in “real” history and science, just to name a few.
It’s our goal to teach our children diligently, as God instructs in Deuteronomy 6:5-7, and if we have the freedom to do that at home, with curriculum that we choose, and in an environment that doesn’t exclude faith, why not? Yes, we sacrifice personal time, a two-income budget, and more in order to homeschool, but I’m willing do to whatever it takes to train my children in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). I’m working for their reward in heaven, not on earth.
I’m so grateful that I can pass on the legacy of homeschooling to my daughters, and it’s my prayer that they will still be able to do the same someday if they choose to.
What are you most thankful for in your homeschooling journey? When times are tough, what are the things that help you refocus on your mission and goals? I’d love to know what drives you to press on in homeschooling: Share in the comments below!