This final chapter is a revelation of the fruits, some anticipated, some unexpected, that we have experienced in the past seven years of homeschooling. While every family who chooses to educate in this form has an experience entirely their own, I hope that you will find at least a few of our reflections encouraging - especially if you are considering the homeschool pathway.
1. As the primary educator in our home, I speak with great emphasis when I say that it has been a PRIVILEGE and a JOY to be a part of my children's formation and growth, intellectually, spiritually, physically and socially. It really is a gift to be the person who gets to see how your child learns, how they think, process life and information, solve problems and how they are even, at times, amazed and inspired by what they are learning.
3. Educating at home lends itself toward a great deal of conversation based teaching and learning. Our daily activities inside and out of the classroom present opportunities for discussion about the how, when, why and what's of the world around us. One-on-one discussions with the kids helps me to gauge (outside of a test or worksheet) what they know and don't know, and how their understanding of subject matter is coming along. This is so much fun for me - it's like a little window into their minds. I love knowing what's going on in there!
4. Tagging on to #3, I can personally see what each of my child's learning styles, strengths and weaknesses are, and make changes to my teaching style accordingly. The boys are primarily visual and kinesthetic learners. Knowing this allows me to maximize their learning potential by preparing my teaching methods accordingly.
6. Many people have commented to me over the years that I am homeschooling to "shelter"my kids. You know what? To a certain degree, they are right. It's not the singular reason for homeschooling as much as it is a gift of homeschooling. You get to be the PRIMARY educator. I, as their teacher see my children as a whole person. I'm not just serving their intellect, but their souls as well. If I get to be the one who guides them in their character and faith formation, especially during the formative years, then yes, they are going to be sheltered from many things - things that have no business being a part of a young child's upbringing.
8. I get to decide what my kids learn and when - this includes sex education and drugs and alcohol education. (Parents often think that others, not they themselves, know what's best for their child. They give up the credit and the responsibility for deciding themselves much too easily.) Every year I print out the state's list of standards for each grade. These standards are met or exceeded every year - BUT, I get to decide how it gets done. I am not bound by someone else's textbook or testing requirements. I have the freedom, as their parent, (one that is taken seriously) to design the curriculum each year, one that maximizes their own personal interests and learning styles.
10. Finally, and I will end here, or else this list may go on forever: the relationships that are being built within the home are strong and fruitful. Yes, our kids have friends and plenty of time to socialize with others. But, the nature of working together with a common goal (education of the child) is that communication and relationships between siblings and parents are strengthened, unified and loving. Those positive relational characteristics translate outside of our home. When the boys are being instructed by other adults, taking lessons or playing sports, their willingness to listen and to behave respectfully toward others is a result of the formation they have received at home.
I will never regret this time that I've had with my children. Is it perfect? Nope. Are my kids perfect? Close. (Ha! Just kidding!) Yes, it is a sacrifice to choose this path of learning for my children, but no great sacrifice comes without its rewards, and I wanted to share those rewards with you, in hopes that you might find them encouraging and inspiring.