Homeschooling is becoming more accepted and popular in our country. And yet I still hear mothers tell me time and time again, “I wish I could homeschool, I just don’t think I could do it”. Many don’t feel qualified because they aren’t teachers themselves. But you don’t need fancy degrees or certain accomplishments to homeschool your children. All you need is love and a desire to do the best you can for your children.
There are many reasons we chose to homeschool our children. The ability to tailor each of our children’s education individually, considering learning readiness, strengths and gender differences and providing for learning that is not “one size fits all”. The reason of freedom; allowing them a wild and free childhood, with many hours outdoors free from homework and learning free of stress, and to provide for an environment free from bullying, peer pressure and comparing. But among the many valuable reasons we chose to homeschool, more time with my children is the reason I treasure the most. Time is one word that captures many of the reasons for homeschooling our children. Homeschooling has the amazing ability of slowing time.
Time. We all want more of it; there never seems to be enough. Always there is this rushing to get everything done and our children grow up before our eyes. I hear so often from older mothers, “Enjoy these years, because they are gone before you know it.” Homeschooling stops the rush and slows time.
Children nowadays have about 180 school days a year and are in school an average of 6 hours a day. That adds up to a total of, at the very least, 1080 hours a year that they are away from home and their family during the happiest hours of their day. Most come home tired and cranky with homework yet to do and lessons still to practice, and family time is given the “leftovers” of everyone’s day.
Homeschooling gives an extra 1080 hours a year together. That extra time together benefits our family in many ways. Spending time together allows for closer relationships to develop. We are able to spend the best hours, the freshest hours, of our days together. There is no frantic rushing around in the morning, getting dressed, throwing lunches together and eating breakfast on the run. Instead of feeling frantic and rushed, most of our days are flexible and relaxed, and yet ironically, productive and full of learning.
Siblings are allowed the time and the opportunity to know each other better. They are allowed moments together that never would have been had we not made the decision to homeschool. These moments, this time, forms tight bonds and memories that will last a lifetime.
Another benefit of the time spent each day with my children, is that I am able to not only teach but also to influence our children in our personal family values, in our faith, in their character development, life skills and work ethic. Me, their mama, who loves them like no other in this world. Me, a mama who can often be impatient, unorganized and overwhelmed. Homeschooling stretches and changes me into a mother who realizes her imperfections and need of grace.
I hear so often from mothers that they would like to homeschool but they don’t know how. The idea of homeschooling can often be overwhelming, as it was for me, but it doesn’t have to be. Homeschooling can be simple and fun, something you grow into over time and with experience.
“We’re not trying to do school at home, we are trying to homeschool. These are two entirely different propositions. We’re not trying to replicate the time, style, or content of the classroom. Rather we’re trying to cultivate a lifestyle of learning in which learning takes place from morning until bedtime 7-days each week. The “formal” portion of each teaching day is just the tip of the iceberg” (Steve and Jane Lambert).
Since most of us have been “schooled” we have this idea of what homeschooling should look like, how it should be. But it doesn’t have to be that way, it shouldn’t be that way when our children are young. Homeschooling should be simple, making the teaching and the learning easy and fun. School is robbing our children of their childhood and instead replacing it with the stress, the burdens, and the anxiety of adulthood. There is a way to teach our children responsibility and accountability and a “lifestyle of learning” while allowing them a childhood that is wild and free.
Raymond Moore in his book, Better Late Than Early has said this, “When can the child’s ability to see, hear and touch be effectively coordinated? Some scientists suggest that these abilities develop most rapidly between the ages of 5 and 7 and reach a point of efficient functioning around age 10 or 11. At this age, the various aspects of a child’s development have reached a level of maturity and integration that make learning relatively easy” (p.64-65). …If one waits a few months until the child is ready for these experiences, he will have developed the necessary coordination to learn these tasks without any instruction and with little or no pressure. And he is far less likely to develop anxieties and frustrations in the process. Premature teaching often results not only in damage to the child, but also in an enormous amount of wasted effort by parents and teachers who feel compelled to teach skills or facts too early” (p.78). Understanding this has taken enormous pressure off of me to force and push learning. It has eased my guilt when my children aren’t performing up to the world’s standards. I understand now that they need time to develop individually, and so I wait until they are ready to learn. As our children age and are ready, a more formal learning time of the three R’s, reading, writing, and arithmetic, will have it’s place within our day.
Homeschooling looks different for each family but the how of homeschooling when children are young is simple.
- Teach them character development and responsibility while learning to be helpful with chores, or your “dailys”.
- Teach them life skills as they learn alongside you, their mother.
- Look for opportunities of service for others within the family, within the community, and within the world.
- Surround them with classical music and the masters of art and poetry.
- Read, read, and then read some more, exposing them to quality literature that expands their mind. Reading opens up opportunities to explore and visit a variety of places and times and allows them an abundance of experiences from their safe place of home.
- Allow time for them to play on their own and pursue their own interests. “Play is the highest form of research” (Albert Einstein). And make time to play with them.
- Encourage and join them in going outside and exploring the beauty of nature. Plant a garden together.
- Allow time for nature journaling; drawing and identifying allows one to see and to learn in detail about the world we live in.
“The question is not, — how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education — but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?” (Charlotte Mason).
Allow yourself as a mother, to grow into homeschooling. Homeschooling is a process, a changing, a growing, a learning, a journey. If you are interested in homeschooling, I encourage you to read up on it and educate yourself. There are many amazing books that have been written about homeschooling, but I have listed the books that have had a tremendous impact in the journey of home educating our children. The list of books below can be overwhelming, but just start reading them slowly, one at a time. The first five authors instilled a desire to homeschool and the last three authors showed me how.
Susan Schaeffer Macaulay: For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
Gladys Hunt: Honey for a Child’s Heart
Sally Clarkson: The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity and The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children
Raymond Moore: Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child’s Education and Home Grown Kids
Marie Winn: The Plug-In Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life
Elaine Cooper: When Children Love to Learn
Chris and Ellyn Davis: I Saw the Angel in the Marble and I carved the Angel in the Marble
Clay Clarkson: Educating the WholeHearted Child
You can do it, Mama. You will grow into it. You don’t need to be an expert; just be a mother who wants to spend time with her children, a mother who wants them to learn from the one who knows and loves them the most.