Thursday, July 29, 2010

One Year Down, Twelve Years To Go Part 2 (For The First Child Anyway!)

In my first post about home schooling, I shared with you our families experience as we took the plunge and home schooled Emma for her Kindergarten year. Now, almost a full year later, our fmily is about to embark on home schooling first grade and it feels like old hat. A perfect fit for our family and the lifestyle that we desire. Today I want to share with you why we have chosen to home school our kids.

There was a time in my life when I thought what some of you might possibly be thinking. Home school families are freaks! Ha! I grew up in a rather well-to-do suburb of Houston, TX. Everyone that I knew went to public schools where the parking lots were filled with Porsches and fancy trucks, etc.... that belonged to the students. In Sugar Land it was all about status. All of the public schools competed against one another, and which school you attended determined your status at everything else in the community. NOBODY home schooled. Except for the Mormons. Seriously. Home schoolers were nerds. They had no life. I first learned about a family similar to mine beginning to home school their children when I started the sixth grade. Our preachers wife started home schooling their children, and that was all it took for me to want to get in on that action. By mid semester my mom agreed and she pulled me out after Christmas. Unfortunately, I think it was a bit too late for me to start that endeavor. I was not interested in taking instruction from my mom (sorry, Mom), and we never got involved in any co-ops or groups and I became very lonely. I spent more time trying to get out of doing work, than it would have actually taken me to do the assignments. By the middle of seventh grade I was enrolled in a private school where I remained until I graduated. But the idea of home schooling stayed with me.

After Ben and I began having children, and each year took us closer to making an education choice for our kids, I would think about home schooling. In no way do I think that home schooling is the only right way to do things. I know several families that do both public and private school, and there are several of those families that I respect. For me, it simply started with the fact that I wanted to be with my children. It was always on my mind how fleeting their childhoods are. We only get so much time with our laugh with them, mold them, teach them. Why would I want to send them to someone else to do that for 7 to 8 hours a day? It just did not sit well with me. I wanted to be the one they laughed with. I wanted to be the one who molded them. I wanted to be their teacher.

The things that kept me from jumping in whole heartedly in the beginning? Well, selfish reasons, for starters. If I chose to home school, I would never get a break. No going back to bed after the bus came, no running errands in peace, no visits at coffee shops with friends. I didn't know if I was willing to give all of those aspects of life up. I also worried about all of the social aspects of home schooling that people always ask about. What if my kids had no friends? What if they were social outcasts and developmentally behind other kids their age because we chose to home school? I was also sad when I thought about the fact that they would miss out on class parties and plays. I was sad they would not get little Valentines from friends. I was sad they would never experience Home Coming. But you know what I realized? Nothing of what I was afraid they would miss out on was about educational things. It was all about parties ad having "fun". Things that I can barely remember being important to my own childhood now that I am an adult.

I remember clearly the day that I made up my mind to home school our kids. It was about eleven in the morning on a Tuesday. Everyone on campus was at school, and I looked out the window and saw our neighbor boy (who is home schooled) out riding his bike, already finished with his lessons for the day. He had his legs kicked out to the sides, was screeching with delight, and had a look of pure joy on his face. I thought to myself, this is what childhood is all about. No worries or stresses that come with the confines of a classroom. Just being able to learn and explore. Being able to be a KID.

I firmly believe that God "led" us to this tiny town in the midst of corn fields, for this stage of our lives, for a reason. I loved the school that Ben taught at and the preschool they had that Emma attended when we first moved here. Had it not shut down (which at the time we were very devesdated about) I know I would have sent my children there. It was a school filled with loving, Christ centered teachers. Daddy was there to know what was going on. It was on our property. It was the easy choice for educating our kids. A good choice for us even. But had it not shut down, I would not have gotten to experience this, the very BEST choice. For our family, that is. Now my children are not just a number that need my attention at the end of each school day. They are my day.

And you know what the funny thing is? After all of that worry, I do not feel like we are missing out on a single thing. If I want to crawl back into bed after I send the big kids off to school, my babies get to crawl back in with me. If I want to meet friends for lunch, the kids go with me. And have no fear. They still got plenty of Valentines from the neighborhood kids :). Sometimes I even wish we were a little more lonely... just kidding! My children have plenty of friends. They have neighborhood friends, church friends, home school friends, and dance friends. Best of all they have each other. I love the fact that they are each others very best friends and play mates.

I LOVE home schooling my kids. I LOVE that when they have questions about life or learning that I am the one who is filling their heads with the answers. I LOVE that they have no stresses or worries, and that they are free to just be kids. I LOVE that their daddy and I are the greatest human influences in their lives at this point, and I LOVE that I have the time to spend with them each day, shaping their hearts for the future. Some people believe that home schooled kids are too sheltered, and that they will go hog wild when they graduate and are finally on their own to make life decisions. While I do not believe my kids are too sheltered (they live with the epitomy of the world), that might in fact happen. My kids might go "crazy" at college or at any other time in their lives, really. On the other hand, perhaps they might be so strong in their faith and in their family relationships, that they might have the strength to stand strong and firm in the midst of a world that is full of temptation. I believe that as parents it is our job to trust God with our kids hearts and lives. To do the very BEST that we can for them with the resources that we have been given. That is all any of us can do, really.

I know that there are some people who will never agree with our decision to home school, including some of our own family members. That is okay with me. These are simply our thoughts on why we have made this choice for our family. It was a decision we made after much prayer and consideration and we have not looked back. It has been a complete and absolute JOY. When Ben and I are empty nesters we do not want to look back and regret that we did not spend enough time with our kids. That we let someone else have control of their hearts and minds during the most formative years of their lives. We only want the BEST for them, as does any parent. And we believe this is BEST for us. Here is to another great year of growing and learning together as a family!

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