How did you get here?--- Remembering your reasons for homeschooling
Updated: Feb 11, 2019
When first starting out or after a long distance, it’s good to remember why we began. What were the goals and purpose for this excursion? Journeying toward an exciting vacation or just traveling the local roads on daily errands, we can get stuck in traffic or suffer an accident along the way and lose sight of the reason we set off in the first place. “What am I even doing out here in this mess?”
The homeschool journey is no different. Do we keep in mind why we started homeschooling? In the early days we may have imagined reading stories to enchanted listeners, setting out on fascinating field trips, and engaging eager learners daily. Somewhere along the way we faced inattention, boredom, and resistance from the kids (and truth told, even from mom!) Now’s a good time to remember the original vision and goals which inspired us toward homeschooling.
WHY DO PEOPLE HOMESCHOOL?
I recently followed a discussion on Facebook where moms listed the reasons they homeschool. The list was extensive, but these themes were repeated:
To provide a more individualized and higher quality education
To educate within a family’s religious or cultural framework
To remove the child from a negative situation: bullying, violence, or peer pressure
To better address the child’s learning difficulties or differences
To create a better learning environment for a child dealing with anxiety or illness
While a big picture or broad findings can be interesting, remembering our own first reasons and purpose is more inspiring and compelling. What were the reasons you decided to homeschool?
I remember when my husband and I embarked on this journey 22 years ago. This is what influenced our decision:
Having seen other families successfully homeschool. (Although I was initially horrified by the idea of homeschooling, I happened to meet several homeschooling families. After spending time with them I was impressed with these happy families and their bright, well-adjusted children.)
Having seen how negative peer experiences can damage a child’s self-esteem. (When I was twenty-something, I had a sister who was in kindergarten. I remember the look in her eyes when she told me “Amber said I was stupid.” I thought that was too heavy a load for a 5- year-old to bear.)
Having our own 5-year-old daughter. (She was like “wet cement” and we wanted to be careful about who or what made a lasting impression on her.)
My husband and I agreed that education is a very all-encompassing experience for a child. Not only the facts matter, but also the context and the framework for those facts. We purposed to have a distinctly Christian education for our children, and since we had planned for me to continue as a stay-at-home mom, and we already had 2 other children, money to pay for private schooling was not going to be available--- even if there had been a suitable one in our small town.
So for us, the value of a high-quality Christian education combined with understanding how impressionable our young daughter was and the damage negative experiences would do, led us to homeschooling. Our purpose was not only to minimize the negative, but also maximize the positive! She participated in art classes, physical education classes, music lessons, and field trips to a variety of locations. For us, participation in homeschool groups was essential. Our kids had a wide array of friends and experiences, all on what might be called a “shoe-string” budget. I remember those early years of homeschooling as joyful ones.
Of course, adding more children and more levels of learning makes life more challenging for the homeschooling mom, but these changes usually come gradually, year by year. In our homeschool so far we’ve taken 3 students from kindergarten to high school graduation and I’ve juggled preschool, elementary, middle school and high school learners, and for a season, all at once. (And it would take a lot longer than a 1000-word blog post to tell how!) But it’s the original vision--- to provide our children with a Christian education, equal or superior to the education they could receive at any other school available to us, in order to prepare them for successful adult life and vocation-- that has kept us on course.
I have revisited this original vision repeatedly over the years as I plan each school year, and as we’ve confronted problems (and I’m still confronting them!) that make me consider giving up.
WHY DO YOU HOMESCHOOL?
Nice story, right? But how does it connect to you? If you want to homeschool successfully and achieve your goals, whether you are just starting out or are years into the process, focus and reinforce your efforts by stating your reasons and the goals you are pursuing.
1. List the reasons you homeschool---
To provide and promote:
To prevent and protect from:
2. At the end of homeschooling our children will be able to---
3. Write a mission statement and use that as your compass and inspiration for
A NOTE ABOUT GOALS
Goals are targets, sometimes difficult to reach, maintain, or measure. We plan for the positive and try to prevent the negative only imperfectly, but still we try! A quick Google search will show there’s a lot of evidence that parental involvement is the best predictor of student success. In homeschooling as in parenting and all of life, perfection is impossible but excellence is achievable when we work at it each day (and some days will better than others).
It's refreshing to reminisce and remind ourselves why we've chosen this path. Please comment and let me know why you are on this journey, what pleasures you’ve experienced and what threatens to waylay you.