I rarely write about homeschooling, even though I’m passionate about this area of our lives. Despite the world’s quick—and often ignorant –judgements on homeschooling families, I don’t want other families to feel judged or condemned from me if they choose to utilize the public or private educational vectors. Parents can parent well regardless of how they educate their kids.
That said, I do love homeschooling. Yes, you sacrifice time, energy, personal pursuits, and other aspects of life, but you gain so much exploration, learning, creativity, relationship, and discipleship growth (both in them and in the one teaching).
In homeschooling, you gain relational time: yes, it often gets filled up with extra- curricular activities, but it doesn’t have to look that way. You have options. Your kids don’t have to be in school for 8 hours with 2-hour homework sessions at night. Right now, it’s noon and my kids have completed math lessons, reading, grammar, spelling, world history, zoology, Bible time, and are now taking a break to put on their own magic/variety show (of their own initiative). I love how they have time to explore and imagine. We play games during lunch, put a puzzle together while learning Bible verses. We explore crafts, new recipes, and have random dance parties. Kids need down time so they have the chance to think, process, wonder, and create. Creative time often grows out of sessions of quiet, or even boredom.
“I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” ~ Albert Einstein
Several years ago, I read Kim John Payne’s book, Simplicity Parenting, which encourages families to find a calmer, less hectic pace of life. Be intentional about prioritizing what really matters: family dinners, bedtime rituals, consistent conversations, and play etc. It’s through play that time that kids really connect with their world: people, knowledge, and their first understanding of themselves. “For a child there is no division between playing and learning; between the things he or she does ‘just for fun’ and things that are ‘educational.’ The child learns while living and any part of living that is enjoyable is also play.” ~ Penelope Leach
Payne doesn’t advocate for reclusive habits, but for intentional involvement. Doing what is beneficial for the family, not necessarily what is “socially acceptable” and choosing to see opportunity from a different angle helps families regain a sense of security and health.
Like any loving parent, I long to give my kids opportunities, but in our culture—and especially in the homeschool realm where proving oneself is heightened—every opportunity shouldn’t be accessed. As my dad used to say, “Just because someone throws you a ball doesn’t mean you have to catch it.” I can say “no” for myself. Am I willing to say “no” for my kids too? Am I able to see different opportunities (more family time/conversations) as the best thing for their growth over multiple nights out at sports’ events, practices, and community events? Just as we take out time to rest so we can recharge and get back out into the world to ministry, so do kids need time to nurture their spirits.
Rest nurtures creativity, which nurtures activity. Activity nurtures rest, which sustains creativity. Each draws from and contributes to the other.”
― Kim John Payne, Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids
Homeschooling not only affords more relational and creative time, but it grants parents the open door for discipleship. “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 11:19 is a lot easier to implement if you spend more than 30 minutes a day with your child. Obviously, many parents intentionally teach truth to their kids, whether they homeschool or not, and some who homeschool allow other events to usurp the priority of spiritual growth. As we’ve said, “We are raising our kids for Heaven, not Harvard.” When we forgot what our ultimate purpose and place is as believers, we get sidetracked by sideline activities.
“The home is the chief school of human virtues.”
― William Ellery Channing
The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change. ~ Carl Rogers