I actually enjoy thinking back to that day… getting my first shipment of K12 homeschool curricula boxes for our daughter, 9 years ago. It almost felt like Christmas because we didn’t know what we would find inside. The children went through the boxes with delight in their eyes. Emotions of excitement and anxiety simultaneously ran through my body like a sudden chill from a draft. OK… there were plenty of mixed feelings that day because, like any new adventure, I knew it was going to be a challenge, and as the parent I was going to be at the helm of our homeschool voyage — a responsibility that seemed as mysterious as it was filled with anticipation!
Those moments seem so distant; and now, my beautiful intellectually curious daughter has finished 8th grade. I’m really not one for reflection. I rarely rest on my laurels because I’m too busy thinking about my next step. But I thought that the occasion deserved a meditation, and a celebration because we all worked so hard to come to this point. And I just wanted to step back and count out all our blessings due to homeschooling:
1) Family Closeness
I never anticipated the family getting as close as it has and I owe it, largely, to homeschooling. Yes, spending a lot of hours together helped, but I think having a shared mission for so many years naturally brings people together. I have two children, a rising 9th grader and a rising 6th grader, and I can tell you with no hesitation that I never saw two siblings that were closer. Many times when I check on them at night, I see that they’re still awake, up in each other’s rooms, talking. Oftentimes I wonder how they could not have run out of things to talk about since they’re practically with each the other whole day? Oh they have their moments of sibling rivalry, personality conflicts, and scuffles over who should get to watch what on the the TV, but their fondness for each other is never extinguished even during the worst of times. Sort of.
2) Instilling Our Values
In the age of the internet, social media, celebrity and fame worship, children are inundated with all kinds of images and ideas that run counter to our own family’s beliefs. Entertainment and celebrities have their place in society, but do you question, as I do, the maturity of a society in which Kim Kardhashian has over a million followers, while 2 in 3 Americans can’t name one Supreme Court justice? There aren’t a lot of TV shows espousing the importance of integrity, and it’s tough to live up to certain character standards when the rest of the world is saying that there are no eternal truths, or values. But I think we’re doing a pretty good job thus far because they know already that it’s better to stand alone for something you believe in than to be accepted by a peer group with no standards at all.
3) Socialization for the Real World
I’m going to bring up the “S” word. Yes, that word. Socialization. One of the reasons why we chose homeschooling for the family was because we saw the handwriting on the wall. Children in school were being socialized to mimic in not only dress, but also the attitude of their peers or risk being alienated, ostracized, or even bullied. Strangely in a country where individual rights are supposedly protected, a child’s uniqueness is viewed by other children as a detriment and a weakness often swooped down upon by a pack of preying children. If that was the kind of socialization that our children would be subjected to, then we had to pass. Being able to socialize in a school doesn’t necessarily mean that they would be able to socialize in the real world as adults. We decided that their parents would be the best model for the children. And our belief systems wouldn’t change over the years as those of their peers would.
4) Love of Learning
Still hard to determine yet if the love of learning has been instilled in my younger one, but I can see already that my daughter has a thirst for knowledge. Children are naturally curious, but having a desire and the ability to pursue a subject that is of interest is something we’ve learned had to be continually cultivated. We’ve been able to afford them opportunities to “try out” different experiences. Whether that be in the form of travel, visiting museums, taking workshops, etc. We’ve all heard by now how limited children are by the schedule of school, and also by the unprecedented amounts of homework. How lucky my children have been to learn how to integrate both work and opportunity.
5) Taking Control of One’s Life
That’s what we did. Complaining was not an option when I was growing up. Blaming and complaining hence never became my style. We assessed the situation, and saw that that homeschooling would be the best option for our family.
Even if you’ve never taught, or don’t have a college degree, you can teach your own children. You can teach them it’s important to learn despite what other children may say. You don’t need to let other people teach your children. After all, who would know the children best than their own parents?
I wanted to work outside the home and it was a huge adjustment once I decided to stay home, raise my children, and homeschool. But because I found homeschooling so meaningful, seeing my little rosebuds starting to blossom into beautiful little citizens, I realize no paid position outside the house could have been as rewarding.
And another blessing I must not leave out is that the children already know that they are so lucky to be homeschooled. Given the choice, my daughter chose to be homeschooled for her high school years too!
I don’t know who really has been blessed more by the experience, we, the parents, or the children.