November is a time when we pause in America to count our blessings and give thanks. On Veteran’s Day, we give thanks for those who sacrifice to keep us safe and free. Then, on Thanksgiving, we thank God for our freedoms and bounty.
One thing that our family is very thankful for is homeschooling–and it isn’t just because I so greatly dislike having to pack lunches for my children! After a decade of schooling our children at home, we can see the blessings far out weight the struggles.Homeschooling is a challenge and a great deal of work, but we are so thankful that we can provide this for our family
We Are Thankful We Can Teach How They Learn
Since we are in charge of our children’s education, we can adapt our teaching style, materials, and pace so that every child learns without getting frustrated and without falling behind.
All children are unique, their school experience should be, too. No one knows a child’s strength and weaknesses as well as a parent. By homeschooling, we are able to give our children exactly what they need so they can learn what they must.
Learning challenges are not disabling when they can be addressed head on in a personalized way. We have dealt with our share of challenges. Every child has a weakness that can seem insurmountable at times.
Like I tell my children, we all have things we need work hard to achieve and improvements we need to strive to accomplish. Some of my children’s challenges have been harder to overcome than others.
A couple would be considered disabilities in the public school arena. However, with patience, personal attention, and perseverance they have not become roadblocks. There have been times that it took us two school years to complete a textbook, and other times that we finished two grade levels in one year.
In our “school,” grade levels are irrelevant. I only assign them for things we do outside of our home. At the end of the year, I have peace knowing that my children didn’t just get through the material, they actually mastered it. They haven’t just survived another year of academic rigors, they have thrived.
We Are Thankful We Can Change
There is no need to go through an entire year or even an entire school career doing what doesn’t work for each child. If your math curriculum isn’t working, find a new one, take a month off to supplement and review, add resources to make it work–the sky is the limit to the possibilities.
I was a public school teacher and college professor before I started homeschooling. One of my favorite side jobs was writing creative curriculum for school districts and my own students. It is still something I enjoy as a homeschool mom.
However, every child is different. (See above!) None of my children have completed exactly the same lesson plans at exactly the same point in their education. One year, I changed my son’s math program three times.
There was a time when I used every phonics teaching tool I could get my hands on, and sometimes have thrown the book out the window to create my own when the prepackaged ones didn’t work. We have taken months off of math instruction to review the basic facts and repeated lessons of spelling until we got it right.
I often think of the curriculum I once wrote for three school districts. I invested a whole lot of love, sweat, and tears into it to get it just right. I wanted it to be flexible and creative, I wanted it to reach as many children as possible.
However, with so many children, there is no way that it met everyone’s needs. So, I am thankful that my own children’s lesson plans are a structured, yet fluid, expression of what they need. It is one of the ways I show my love to them and nurture their growth.
We Are Thankful for Family Time
Even with homeschooling, it can be hard to get time with everyone together because of different schedules, however at least if Dad is working until 8 PM, the children can stay up to see him because they don’t have to be up for the bus by 6:45AM.
Adapt your school schedule to give you the most opportunity for time together–early breakfast, late dinner, long lunch, school on Saturday instead of Wednesday, all are possible with homeschooling. Family is the heart of our faith and the building block of society.
We need to invest in family time more than fancy electronics and new football uniforms. Homeschooling allows siblings to spend quality time together, parents to read to their children no matter their work schedule, and memories to be made everyday, not just on winter recess and summer vacation.
We are thankful that despite all the changes and challenges our family has faced over the years, we have the flexibility to create schedules that work best for us without compromising our children’s education.
We Are Thankful for More Sleep, Play, and Nutritious Foods
As schools across the country are cutting recess, shortening lunch, and stretching school days into the very early morning hours, my children are getting more of what their growing bodies need.
I can remember as a teenager leaving and returning from school in the dark for months on end. Our school day started much too early for most of us, and activities, practice, and meetings stretched into the night–often ending well after 10 pm.
There were many times that I opened my notebooks praying that my homework was done because I was so tired, I couldn’t remember if I had completed it. While my involvement in so many activities was wonderful and a true source of joy for me, my health paid the price.
Still living in the same town, our high school now begins even earlier, with students being picked up by the bus as early as 6 AM. A longer school days has also pushed after school activities and sports further into the evening and night.
A recent decision to increase the focus on academics has moved both science labs, and instrumental lessons into the already shortened lunch periods. I wonder how these children are functioning for so many hours on such little sleep, without mental breaks, and now without lunch a number of days each week (Seems impossible to take a tuba lesson and eat a sandwich at the same time!).
I am thankful that my children, while on a general schedule, can sleep until a reasonable hour, and catch up on sleep when life becomes too hectic.
Our meals may not always be five-star dining, but they eat three square meals a day and can snack if needed in between. Also, they will never miss eating because they have to use the restroom during their 15 minutes of lunch.
More and more studies are showing the need for recreation, physical activity, and unstructured recess throughout the day. Homeschooling allows children to be children. Yes, we spend several hours a day on academics, but my children also get time to play, explore outdoors, and just take a little break from their studies.
We Are Thankful for the Power of Knowledge
We all want what is best for our children. For us, a strong grounding in the faith and a solid education are at the top of our list of what we consider the best.
None of us can predict the future and all of us feel that we could do better. However, by homeschooling our children, we know exactly what they know and what they need to improve.
There is no guessing about how much they have mastered. No waiting with baited breath for report cards to tell us if Susie is doing well or not. If the skills aren’t mastered, we don’t move on. In the end, we have peace of mind knowing we are giving our kids the best academic experience we can instead of hoping someone else will.
There are times that I have been asked if I am concerned about gaps in their education since we don’t have “proper oversight” to ensure that everything is getting done and they are exactly on grade level.
When it comes down to it, every education has gaps because none of us are perfect. There is always more to learn, always subjects that teachers are better able to teach or more excited to share.
The difference is, that when I sit down and look at what my children have studied over the year, how they have grown in every subject, and what they still need to know–I am the one that can see if gaps exist and, LORD willing, I can find a way to close them coming year.
Homeschooling allows for constant observation, adaptation, and education. There are no bells that mark the end of a subject; no hard, fast calendar we must follow.
We are blessed to have the freedom to give our best so our children can succeed in this world, and, we pray, in their journey to Heaven.