Me? Well, we would have had a first day of kindergarten today...except that we didn't. Instead, we "started" school a couple of weeks ago when we wrote the number one on a calendar date to ensure that we get in the 180 days that our state requires of homeschooling families. We have been looking forward to beginning this adventure for years. We have homeschoolers on both sides of our family. Our daughter's cousins all home school, and we spent last year researching and thinking about how we wanted to do this. We are ready - or as ready as we can be right now. And we are convinced that this is the best choice for our family.
But seeing all those cute pictures did make me rethink all of that again. I have fond memories of my public school days. My daughter will have entirely different kinds of memories. Are we right and wise in choosing this for her? Are we depriving her of something special?
Well, in one sense, yes, because saying "yes" to homeschooling means saying "no" to the fun of traditional school - as any choice does. But as I muse on the beginning of this school year, I have been remembering the reasons we chose this road, and I am excited again about what lies ahead.
Here are the top five gifts that I believe homeschooling will give us this year and that I am celebrating as we start on this road:
- The gift of time. We will be able to accomplish our academic activities within a couple of hours, leaving the rest of the day available for time together as a family, for my children to pursue other interests, to participate in activities together. Things that would otherwise need to be done in the late afternoon or evening can be done in daytime hours. Time that would be spent in the carpool line or on the bus can be spent doing other things.
- The gift of flexibility. My daughter is already a lover of numbers, and I am looking forward to seeing how much she will learn this year in math. But I am also excited that should she need more time to master something, she will have it. We can move quickly or slowly according to her needs. We also have flexibility in our schedule - to work on academics in the morning, afternoon, or evening depending on our needs as a family. I will work with her on some things, and other things my husband will teach, and we can do that when he is home from work. We can also schedule family vacations when it works for us and not according to the traditional school schedule, as long as we are getting our required days in.
- The gift of influence. No matter how involved I would be with my daughter's education in a traditional school setting, my influence would be much more limited than it is when I can choose the curriculum, knowing what will fit my daughter's personality, strengths, and weaknesses. Furthermore, in the time we spend together I will not only get to teach, but I will have the opportunity to disciple her at every turn, to continue to help her develop her character as we integrate biblical truth into every aspect of her education.
- The gift of community. We have chosen to use the Classical Conversations curriculum this year and to join a local CC community where, once a week, we gather with other homeschooling families. Our children are grouped with others their age to practice memory work with the help of a parent-tutor, to participate in art and science projects, and to play together. I am already seeing that this will be a supportive community not only for my daughter, but for our entire family, and I am excited to get to know them this year. We are also part of other communities - church, MOPS, American Heritage Girls - that are supportive of homeschooling families and where our children will build friendships (so much for problems with socialization!).
- The gift of choice. There are so many educational choices open to parents today, and within the world of homeschooling, there are a dizzying number of choices - for curriculum; approaches; "homeschool days" in our local museums, zoo, and YMCA; communities to belong to; resources available through technology. There is no "one way" to home school, just as there is no "one way" to educate our children.
I am thankful that in our country and in our state, we have the freedom to choose what seems best for our family at this time. Right now, that means homeschooling, and while my daughter will have a very different kindergarten year than some of her peers, I am so excited about what the next ten months hold!
What gifts does the 2013-2014 school hold for your family??