Homeschooling is a deeply personal decision, one typically made after much discernment and thought. My good friend Sara shares why homeschooling is right for her family, and why it might be perfect for your family, too.
I first heard the term “homeschooling” when I was twelve years old. It was in the middle of a very difficult year of public school. The seventh grade brought with it all the runaway hormones of puberty and a level of introverted awkwardness that still makes me cringe just to think of it.
Homeschooling sounded like a dream come true.
Okay, it also sounded a little weird, but I would’ve gladly traded weird for the social horrors of junior high.
I don’t think my parents were quite on board with the idea. At least my suggestion was met with something along the lines of, “That’s nice, but I don’t think so.” It was never a serious consideration, so my dream of homeschooling seemed to evaporate as quickly as it had materialized.
Still, my inner Scarlett O’Hara vowed right then and there that my children would never have to endure what I’d been through in public school. There had to be a better way.
Homeschooling is Right for Our Family
When I was twelve, I couldn’t have foreseen the road ahead and how God was leading me to homeschool. He was preparing me every step of the way, though.
My husband and I went through six years of infertility and recurrent miscarriages before our first daughter was born. I had been diagnosed with several autoimmune diseases in that time, making it seem like our hopes for parenthood would never happen.
Once our daughter finally arrived, she was the center of our world. She talked at an early age, developed an enormous vocabulary by the time she was three, and was just generally a miracle in every way. It was clear that she was gifted. It was also clear that I did not want to put her on a school bus and ship her off to public school at age five.
My confession: I was afraid that public school would break her spirit. I was afraid that teachers would tell her to be quiet instead of listening to her ideas. I was afraid she would be bored and lose interest in learning. I was afraid she would be hurt the way I had been hurt in public school. In short, I was afraid.
Fear doesn’t seem like a very good reason to start homeschooling. It took me a while to realize that.
Fear might’ve been my initial reason to homeschool, but after a year of duplicating “school at home” I could no longer ignore the nagging feeling that I was missing something in this whole homeschooling thing. I was missing the freedom. The joy. The creativity and spontaneity. The love of learning that I so longed to instill in my daughter.
It was there all along, but the Lord was patient with me and let me see it in my own time. My daughter and I enjoyed our time together, of course, but I had put arbitrary guidelines on our course of study. When I learned to relax, let go of the fear, and just be there in the moment with her, I could then embrace the true freedom of homeschooling.
That’s the moment that I really knew homeschooling was right for our family. It was a revelation that dissolved my previous fears.
Over the next few years, I gave birth to two more daughters. Each a precious gift and answered prayer in her own right. The Lord confirmed to me each time that homeschooling was the right path for us. He’s confirmed that to me over and over again.
Through miscarriages and high-risk pregnancies, homeschooling was right for our family.
While moving and living in five different states in ten years, homeschooling was right for our family.
In the daily challenges and triumphs of special needs, homeschooling is right for our family.
In support of giftedness and creativity, homeschooling is right for our family.
Through entrepreneurial pursuits, homeschooling is right for our family.
In the midst of chronic illness and chronic pain, homeschooling is right for our family.
The Lord turned my fear into freedom.
Even though I was confident that homeschooling was the right choice for us, it took me some time to come to terms with the fallout of choosing something other than the standard public school avenue. I didn’t like the stares I got from nosy strangers. I didn’t like the uncomfortable questions they asked. I especially didn’t like the unsolicited advice from family and friends who thought they needed to share their spurious opinions on homeschooling. Why do people do that anyway?
We now take a relaxed, literature-rich, delight-directed approach to homeschooling. It’s exactly the kind of education I always dreamed about and I’m so blessed to share that with my daughters now.
In all of this, I have stretched and grown outside of my comfort zone. I’ve learned as much or more as I’ve taught my daughters. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
How Do You Know if Homeschooling is Right for Your Family?
In spite of my high praise of homeschooling, I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t for everyone. Parents have to make the best decisions they can with the individual circumstances they face. I support that freedom to choose the best educational method for their children. Don’t we all want the best possible outcome for our children?
Here are some signs that homeschooling might be right for your family:
- You want more time together as a family to strengthen relationships.
- You want more time for your children to pursue their interests.
- Your child is being bullied at school.
- You want your child to learn at his/her own pace.
- Your child is a night owl or has other sleep issues that don’t mesh well with a school schedule.
- Your child has asked to try homeschooling.
- Your child is gifted.
- Your child has special needs.
- Your child is highly sensitive and would learn better in a more conducive home environment. This could include both sensory or emotional sensitivity.
- Your child has chronic health issues or allergies.
- You want to guide them spiritually, not just academically.
- You want to travel more often as a family without worrying about a school schedule.
- You want to embrace learning as a lifestyle, not just compulsory.
- Public school is crushing your child’s spirit.
These are just a few reasons homeschooling might be right for your family.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this: “You homeschool? I could never do that!”
Every time I hear it, I want to say, “You send your kids to public school? I could never do that!” Not because their choice is inherently wrong or inferior, but because I know beyond a doubt that homeschooling is right for our family.
Written by: Sara Jordan Panning of Heart and Soul Homeschooling
Sara is the happy homeschooling mom of three daughters. She loves to write, design journals, and participate in other creative pursuits. She is the author of the ebook Quick Start Guide to Homeschooling Methods and has been a speaker at the Digital Homeschool Convention and Start Homeschooling Summit. Connect with Sara on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter.