I have a confession to make. I spent most of the week before public school started fantasizing about sending my kids back to public school. I was feeling tired and worn out after a busy summer, and the lure of spending my days alone, in my clean, quiet house was almost more than I could take. Of course, once I took a moment to really think about how I feel about public education, I knew there was no sending them back. Unfortunately, that knowledge didn’t do much to change my attitude. In the midst of all my self-pity, I managed to drag our family to homeschool park day. I sat there and visited, discussed up-coming plans, new curriculums and books while the kids ran and played. Enjoying a beautiful summer day with friends helped clear away my bad attitude and reminded me of how much I love this lifestyle: the freedom, the love of learning, the joy of new discoveries and the incredible blessing of time with my children.
I went home with renewed commitment and a grateful heart. Over the next few days I started noticing all the amazing things that are part of our lives because of homeschooling. I knew there would be more hard days ahead (there always are!) so I made a list of my favorite things about homeschooling. That way I will be ready the next time my commitment wavers.
1. Time to pursue passions and develop talents. People look at me funny when I say one of the hardest things about homeschooling is dealing with all the creative energy. However, sometimes being peppered with questions about everything from chemistry to robotics while fielding requests for assistance with writing, art, math, the piano, guitar and the sewing machine (all at the same time) can be a little overwhelming! Really though, I love seeing their enthusiasm for life and their intense interests in so many different things. I love the sound of music and eager voices that fills our home. 2. Family closeness. I’ve had so many mothers tell me they could never homeschool because their kids would kill each other. That always makes me sad. I wish they could see how tight-knit homeschooling families are. My children truly love to be together. We spend hours and hours working and playing together, which has created relationships in our home that are better than any relationships outside the home. What a blessing to be best friends with the people we will spend eternity with!
3. Time to explore. Last week we spent a Tuesday morning exploring some caves near our home. As we climbed over boulders and shimmied down chutes I thought of all those children sitting in school. I was so gratefully to literally be able to learn “outside the box”.
4. Greater opportunities to study the gospel. Last week I found my 8 year old daughter asleep, long after bedtime, in the chair in her room. Her scriptures lay open on her lap. My children love to study the scriptures, hold devotional and family home evening, and memorize Articles of Faith. There are many wonderful parents outside the homeschool community who do these things, but I know it is much easier to instill a love of the gospel when children are not pressed for time and sleep. 5. Freedom to develop a sense of self. When my children were young I worried that they would have a hard time developing their own personalities. I feared that spending so much time together would make them all alike. Boy was I wrong! Rather than encouraging conformity, homeschooling has allowed them the freedom to be whoever they want to be. My oldest loves art, science, and swimming. His younger brother loves computers, biking, cooking and the electric guitar. I really have never seen two siblings with more diverse interests.
6. Opportunities to learn real life skills. Reading, math and history are all important things to know, but every homeschool mom knows that some of the greatest lessons are learned “outside of the classroom”. Taking care of a home and garden, caring for young children, shopping smart, and knowing how to access resources in the community – these are all incredibly valuable skills that blossom when we educate our children at home.
It’s true that homeschooling is not for the faint of heart. It can be a lot of hard work. Fortunately, even the hard days are full of amazing blessings!