Apr 16, 2006

The Evolution of My Homeschooling Philosophy

When I first began this homeschool journey eleven years ago, I was mostly concerned about protecting my daughter from the bullies in school who kicked her and hit her every day; about the teacher in her public school who informed me that she would not have time for my daughter that year because she had to spend all her time disciplining certain boys in the class whose fathers were high-ranking military officials; and about the extremely low academic standards that frustrated me even in kindergarten.

As I continued homeschooling, and as I grew in my walk with the Lord, my reasons for homeschooling changed and grew and became personal convictions. I learned to truly love learning for the first time in my life, and had a great desire to pass on a love of learning, a lifetime of learning, to my children. Someone introduced us to living books from the very beginning, and I am very grateful for such an enjoyable start even to this day. We learned how subjects that used to be dreaded were now so much fun!

Gradually, I realized that homeschooling is more than just school at home. I began to realize that training my children in every aspect of life was something I could do, something I should do, and something I loved doing! We have learned how to function in every day life, cooking, cleaning, car maintenance, lawn care and gardening. We learned every detail of moving and setting up a home, including organization, house painting, repairs, and deep cleaning. We learned how to set up a library, build a chain-link fence, and as many things as I can possibly fit into each day. But most of all, we learned about living our life by God's Word. How should we act in this situation? What should we wear? How should we spend our time, money, etc.? What does the Bible say about _____? Homeschooling is preparing my children for the rest of their lives.

That began to evolve into the realization that all of life can be "homeschool." I learned how to identify, and eventually use, teachable moments. We learned about character through the examples of others' behaviors, some good, some not so good, and from the books we read and the movies we see. We learned that we can learn something from every small experience in life. I learned that the best way to teach is through real life. We learn early math through going shopping or doubling a recipe. We learn science through taking a walk and considering God's creation. I learned about exponential learning, how doing something hands-on, or seeing a museum exhibit, or how a live experience greatly increased the amount of learning taking place vs. reading about that same subject. Field trips took on tremendous importance!

Along the way somewhere, I realized that homeschooling should be fun! I determined that I wanted to pass on the joy of learning so that my children would not only have pleasant memories of learning opportunities while they are growing up, but that they will delight in learning for the rest of their lives. We enjoy great books, we put on the music while we have fun working around the house, we dance to the Lord together, we exercise together, we laugh together! What a joy it is to learn together!

During this whole venture, God quietly began showing me that homeschooling was really His plan for families. We are told to diligently talk about the things of the Lord to our children when we sit in our house, take a walk, when we sit or lie down and get up. That's a lot of time! I am so grateful that God put a desire to homeschool in my heart before He gave me a conviction about it. I am grateful that my children always saw a mother who homeschooled them because she wanted to and not because she had to.

Now we come to the latest revelation for why I continue to homeschool. In this last year, the main thing God has been teaching me in my walk with Him is how important relationships are. In fact, I think NOTHING is more important than relationships. God left us here on earth, upon our profession of Christ, not just for one reason - to glorify God and serve Him forever - but for a second important reason - people! Jesus told us to love God first, and then love others. One of the reasons I homeschool is to teach my children to love God more than anything else! But another huge reason I homeschool is to have that relationship with my children!

I LOVE being with my children! I love working with my children. I love reading to my children. I love going on field trips with my children. I love going to the symphony, to the park, to the museum, even on errands, with my children! I love just talking with my children. Everytime we are together, we are working on our relationship, whether for good or for bad. What an opportunity homeschooling is to work on relationship: relationship with God and relationship with family. Even relationships with other families are afforded many oppotunities to grow as well. Life is not about me; it is about God, and others, namely my husband and my children.

While there are many altruistic reasons for homeschooling, when I discovered that relationship-development with my children was God-ordained, I could then enjoy homeschooling even that much more. I so look forward to spending each and every day with the precious children God has allowed me to raise and homeschool. What an awesome privilege and delight!

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