Not long ago I wrote about why we began homeschooling. During the last few weeks, as our home life has been tossed hither and yon by various unexpected events, I have been reminded anew of why we continue to do so. Having previously promised a post on that very topic, I herewith offer the first of several outlining our reasons for embracing this way of life.
One of the common responses I receive when I tell people that we homeschool goes something like this: "Oh, I could never do that. You must be so organized! How do you manage to work part-time and run your house and teach your children, too?"
Yet as a parent who has had the experience both of homeschooling my children and of having them attend an institutional school, my reaction to those who do the latter is that I don't know how they do it. During the two years that my oldest child was a full-time student in a church school, I felt completely overwhelmed by the challenge of managing all the competing demands upon our family schedule. That feeling was exacerbated by the fact that my husband is a full-time church worker. As a church musician, he works many nights as well as Saturdays and Sundays; thus, his day off is Tuesday. What this meant when my son was in school is that he rarely saw his father. Family meals were exceedingly hard to come by, and when we managed them, they usually consisted of Dad showing up just in time to have a quick bite of supper before returning to church for this or that meeting or rehearsal. Moreover, it seemed to me that even though the school had possession of my son for seven hours per day, five days a week, it always wanted more. There were projects to complete, parent/teacher nights to attend, and homework to finish. My days had to be structured around getting my son to and from school. Whenever there was a conflict between school and family, it was usually family accommodating the demands of the school rather than vice versa. It all added up to our family getting lost in the shuffle and ultimately led to my feeling resentful and frustrated that our lives did not seem to be our own.
Now that we homeschool, family life has regained its rightful position as the focus of our daily existence. We start our days together with a family devotion before everyone goes about their various activities. On days that we are unable to have supper together as a family, the fact that the kids are home means we often manage to have breakfast or lunch together instead. When my husband is home on Tuesday, the children are able to benefit from and enjoy his presence. When life becomes complicated, as it did two weeks ago when my mother was seriously injured in a car accident, we can put school on hold while we tend to much more important concerns (and the children are around to make meaningful contributions). If a new baby comes home from the hospital, his or her siblings are there to share in those precious first days rather than sitting in a classroom missing out on a time that can never be recaptured. We take vacations when we want to, not when the school schedule says we can. If company is coming, housecleaning becomes much easier because there are many more hands on deck to share in the work! And because we homeschool, we have more hours to spend together as a family, resulting in a deeper understanding of and appreciation for one another and overall stronger family relationships. Rather than being peer-dependent, my children are family-dependent, and their closest and most valued relationships are the ones they have with their parents and siblings.
We have decided that homeschooling is the best way to serve the needs of our family. Next time I'll write about why we think it's also the best way to serve the needs of the individuals within that family.