My youngest child intently worked on her story, which she assured me was going to be full of excitement. I watched with interest as her eyebrows went up and down and her lips turned up ever so slightly with delight as her plot developed. Her little fingers enthusiastically marked up several exclamation points, which she recently learned about in her studies. Finally, the finished product was ready. Her masterpiece was read aloud to me with all the action a seven-year-old could pack into her writing, with her eyes shining and body dramatically lending movement to her story. It is exciting to see children catch on to an idea and run with it. One of the greatest rewards of home schooling is the chance to witness each joy and challenge of my children's lives. Being home allows me to teach them about life as we go along-not only from a book, but by actually experiencing it.
A common reaction to home schooling (and one that you've probably heard yourself many times) goes something like this: “Home schooling? I could never do that! I would miss having my own time to fulfill my own dreams.” I am saddened when I hear these words, partially because we all have moments when we wish for more time, but also because for every one thing that I thought I needed for personal happiness, and have set aside, teaching my children has increased my joy a hundred fold. There are countless things I would miss out on if my kids were not home with me, each one a treasured blessing.
The biggest joy of my day is laughter. Indeed, I had no idea that two girls could giggle so much! Sometimes this is a hindrance to our studies, but I always try to keep it in perspective. Compared to many issues facing our school system, if laughter is my biggest problem then we are very fortunate! On any given day, I can often walk through the house and hear their laughter-often starting as high pitched giggles building up into loud shrieking. It is a balm to my own soul, for the world is not always a safe place in which to laugh, but our home is our haven.
Time is recognized as a valued commodity when our families are home together. One common thread among home schoolers is appreciation of choice. One mother puts it this way, “the ability to, when those early days of spring arrive and nobody feels like doing school anyway, drop all the bookwork and 'do school' by giving each kid his own flowerbed to prepare, buy seeds for, and tend until the flowers bloom.” Being home together allows families to make the decisions that uniquely benefit them for that season of their lives.
A wonderful perk of home schooling is the privilege of being able to adjust our schedules according to the circumstances of our life. One example of this is Lisa, a dedicated mother with terminal cancer. She has home schooled throughout her battle for health. For her, time has been the greatest blessing. Because of her choice, precious, irreplaceable moments were gained between mother and child. Would it have been easier for a sick mother to rest all day while her children were at school? Certainly. But her choice for the family provided them with an opportunity to spend more time together.
I also appreciate the opportunity to interact with my children as issues arise. Recently, out of the blue, my daughter asked, “Mommy, what did God do about whales and sharks when Noah built the ark? They were already in the water, and if Noah didn't live by water how did he get them to the ark? Did God just leave them in the water?” This type of exchange is common, and having my children home allows me to tackle their questions as they come up. When something happens in our lives we talk about it on the spot, taking advantage of the timing. I believe this makes a strong impact on their hearts and minds.
Flexibility is another of our unique advantages. I have one child that struggles with language arts. For a long time she was convinced she “couldn't” write things. Having freedom to set our own pace, we were able to slow things down to a point that I felt would benefit her. I encourage her to write from her heart, and do not call her on every grammatical detail. Instead of being in a class where her work might be judged correct/incorrect, I can look at the big picture and take time to develop the talent just below the surface. She's progressing, becoming confident in her ability, and enjoying seeing her creative work come to fruition.
I am grateful for the chance to develop my children's talents. As they grow we are able to work on their weaknesses, and more importantly, emphasize their strong points. My daughter that struggles with the basics? She is an amazing thinker. Having her home allows me to draw out that side of her, creating in her own elements. She comes up with ways of thinking things out that are mind boggling to me. Sometimes I wonder who is teaching whom!
While it is true that there are days when I would love a little more time for things I miss, I wouldn't trade one day for it. God uses this experience to not only teach my children, but to teach me. I am learning things I never knew. Not only academics, but about learning beyond our comfort zone. The chance for learning extends beyond what we plan each day, and I don't want to miss a single moment of it!
Christa Sterken is a freelance writer who feels deep gratitude for the privilege of homeschooling. Her blog address is www.christasterken.wordpress.com or you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org; she would love to hear from you!
Christa Sterken is a freelance writer who feels deep gratitude for the privilege of homeschooling. Her blog address is www.christasterken.wordpress.com; she would love to hear from you!