Thursday, April 14, 2011

Why Choose Homeschooling

Why Choose Homeschooling?

Because this is the first post on my new homeschool blog, it made sense to begin with the question of why I chose homeschooling in the first place. Homeschooling is unconventional, and I am too in many ways, but I don’t exactly fit the stereotype of a homeschool mom. For example, I don’t have goats, regularly bake bread for my family, tend an enormous garden, or even own a denim jumper. And most notably, I only have three children.  Even though there are families who are closer to fitting that image, and I actually admire those families very much, homeschoolers have broken away from the archetype, particularly in recent years.

There are many reasons to homeschool. For some, it is a choice that allows them to provide a religious education or moral instruction. Some wish to protect their children from the potential dangers of the public school environment. Others desire to customize an educational program to fit the academic abilities and learning styles of their children. Homeschooling allows families who travel a lot or who have an unusual work schedule to spend more time together. Many children with special needs benefit from the one-on-one interaction that homeschooling allows. There are additional reasons why people educate their children at home and the above list is a mere sampling of them. Regardless of the motivation, there are more than a few parents choosing to home educate. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education reported that 1.5 million American children were homeschooled in 2007. Although the reasons for homeschooling may be vastly different among those of us doing it, we all agree that the right of parents to teach their children at home should be vehemently defended and preserved. But I digress…that is another post for another day.

As I reflect on my personal reasons for homeschooling, I realize that God opened my heart to it very early on. Rewind to the year 2000, which was when I first experienced the love, thrill, delight, and yes, extreme fatigue, of motherhood. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to stay at home to raise my children. I have attempted to enter the workforce on a part-time basis a few times since my first child was born, but every time I went off to work, my heart remained at home. I eventually ended up leaving each position in order to be where my heart was. So from the beginning, I felt an overwhelming desire to care for my child full-time. I believe that homeschooling was born in my heart as a natural extension of that desire.

As my daughter grew a bit older, my nephew reached kindergarten age and his parents decided to homeschool him. I was so intrigued and happy about their decision. Never once did I worry that my nephew wouldn’t be properly socialized or that he would fail to make it in life in some other way. In fact, my innermost thoughts were, “I wish I could do that too.” My husband and I had already discussed our plans for our daughter’s schooling and we completely agreed that we wanted her to have a Christian education. Our plan, even though I was inwardly nurturing a desire to homeschool, was for me to return to work when she went to kindergarten in order to help pay for private school. It seemed like a reasonable plan. However, in 2003, along came our second baby girl! Thus, we would still have a child at home needing my care when it was time to send our oldest to kindergarten. We began to contemplate and discuss our options and I prayed fervently that the Lord would open my husband’s heart to homeschooling.

Meanwhile, as our older daughter was growing into a little girl that would soon be old enough to attend school, we had some concerns about her development and maturity level. Those concerns turned out to be the catalyst that opened my husband’s heart to homeschooling. He was afraid that she would not do well in a traditional classroom setting. Thankfully, we no longer have concerns over our daughter’s development and I know that God used our worries to bring Greg and I to a place of agreement.  In 2005, when our third child was born, our decision had already been made. The following month I began my life as a homeschool mom.

Over five years have passed since then and I have absolutely no regrets. I am still doing what I believe to be best for my children. My husband is now completely sold on homeschooling and he encourages me every day. For me, it is important to look back at where I began and to take notice of how far God has brought me. He has been with me through every step of the homeschooling journey and I know that He will continue to offer me help, hope, and encouragement throughout its entirety.

I would be delighted to hear about how and why YOU began homeschooling. Please feel free to post in the comments section below or to e-mail me because I would love to read your story.