I've decided that in the days leading up to Thanksgiving, I would like to concentrate on the blessings the Lord has given me. And the first one (to write about) is homeschooling. If you don't homeschool your children, you may not understand some of this. But, homeschooling isn't just about the schoolbooks and learning that takes place during the day, its much more.
As I have written about before, we are a blended family. Since Katie & Will have joined Amy and I for school, we have gotten closer. We are all learning everyones different personalities and "quirks". This closeness would have been harder to achieve if they had stayed in a classroom for 8 hours and then come home to do several hours of homework. During the first 2 years of our marriage, they were still attending public school and I much prefer them to be at home. We enjoy spending time together and playing & learning throughout the day.
2. Practical Skills
To my knowledge, public or private schools don't teach practical life-long skills the children need to succeed. I don't think home ec is even offered in schools. My children are learning to read & follow a recipe, canning & jelly making techniques (we are learning this together), gardening skills, lawn maintenance, house cleaning, laundry, budgeting, grocery shopping, bargain hunting, nursing (helping care for one another in times of illness or injury), accountability, scheduling, etc. How about balancing a checkbook? These are important things that they wouldn't learn anywhere else. And some of these are things that should have been emphasized more with their older brothers.
Besides just the readin', writin', and rithmetic', we are enjoying an extensive history study, learning to do different things on the computer, typing, foreign language, science labs, etc. Public school teachers have to get so much done in a certain amount of time and they have to worry about the politics of making sure "no child is left behind". That doesn't mean the children learn or understand more, it just means they can pass a test at the middle or end of the year so the school gets their state/federal funding. We buy our own books, choose our own curriculum and can work at a comfortable pace for each child. I don't worry about "new age" philosophies or "politically correct" rewritten history. We are learning about what really happened and can dig into some interesting subjects. We have children working at all different levels and they really keep each other accountable for getting the work done. We can speed through a concept they understood quickly or slow down for additional help where needed. It is totally individualized.
I love to read. I read Christian novels (usually historical or amish), magazines, how to books, magazines, & cookbooks. I have found that schools teach you how to read but not how to enjoy it. We are learning to read for information, fun, and learning. Katie said she didn't like to read until she started to homeschool. I did find out that when her classes were assigned a book, each student was told what chapter (usually 1 or 2) to read and report on to the rest of the class, they didn't have to read the rest of the book. That is such a waste. Read and savor it cover to cover! Reading is an important part of the day for all of us and its a time I really enjoy.
5. Ministry Opportunities
We have been able to participate in many Ministry type projects during the day. We have packed "parent" bags for a childrens hospital (toothpaste, toothbrushes, mints, deodorant, etc. for parents who are sent from a dr. office directly to a hospital with their children), packed shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, and shopped for toys for our churchs Christmas Store for families in need. We have also baked bread or meals and delivered them to families. And now our "Granny" ministry...whatever she needs, whenever she needs it.
We can set our own schedules. Bookwork is usually Mon-Thur, Fridays are for co-op classes, house cleaning and errands. Our school year is normally Aug.-November and Jan.-June. We take off December and July. Greg has several travel opportunities through his job and we get to pack up the schoolbooks and go with him. When we travel to Wash. DC the schoolbooks stay home and we spend hours in the Smithsonian Museums. We all have our favorite museums and love to visit the city. Greg usually plans the route and we visit President's homes, battlefields and other places on the way there and back. When Katie and Will were still in school, we made our first trip to Wash., I notified the school ahead of time, got the work and they got it done. However, when we returned, I got a "nasty" letter from the county about their absences to which I sent back a polite, firm reply. I gave them a list of every museum we had been in, every jr. ranger project they had completed, every monument we had visited, every single sight we had seen and pointed out they would not have gotten this much "education" sitting in a classroom. This was a 2 page, single spaced letter. I never heard from them again!
This is my 14th year to homeschool. I didn't realize when I started in Aug. 1996 all of the benefits of homeschooling. Its not just about education, its about all of the above and much more. It is a lifestyle of loving, learning, and caring for each other. In 5 short years, I will work myself out of a job. Maybe by then I will have some grandbabies to love on!
Biggest compliment a homeschooling Mama can receive.....Katie & Amy have both told me they want to homeschool their children! Ahhhhh, that was wonderful to hear.