Pray when it's time to pray. Study when it's time to study.
Play when it's time to play. Show kindness to everyone you meet.
But do it all for the love of Jesus.
-Saint John Bosco-

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Why Do We Homeschool?

We are now about to finish our fourth official year of homeschooling, and our second year homeschooling two children. For many reasons, this school year has been a roller coaster. I think by mid-June, we will all have made it without too many tears and with the desire to get back on the ride in September. In fact, we have all agreed that a little homeschooling over the summer might be fun. I call that a success.

Homeschooling is hard for me to talk about with anyone who is not also a fellow homeschooler. I worry too much about hurting other people's feelings or making others feeling defensive.

At the same time, it's difficult to get to know me very well if I can't share about homeschooling with you. It is something that I am extremely passionate about.

It is my life's work.

When we first enrolled in Edmonds Heights two years ago, they asked me to write a letter about why we homeschool. (Edmonds Heights is the homeschooling resource center through the Edmonds School District. We are no longer enrolled there, but instead at the Home Education Exchange which is through the Shoreline School District.)

I was so happy to write that letter. And today I reread it. Of course, it is filled with a lot of lofty ideals, but I knew that as I wrote it. It was so refreshing to reread it today.

So, if you are interested in why we homeschool, I have shared the letter below. Rereading it now, I still believe everything I wrote. Homeschooling challenges me EVERY SINGLE DAY, but then again, so would anything worth doing. Despite the challenges and the occasional tears, I am so glad that this is what our family is called to do.

May 14, 2012

Dear Edmonds School District and Homeschooling Resource Center,

It is with pleasure that I write this letter. Homeschooling is a decision that we made right at about the same time our eldest child, Little J, was born. The idea came to me seemingly coincidentally while reading a parenting book about raising sons. The author, whom I admire, shared at the end of the book that if he could go back and do anything differently as a parent, he would homeschool. “Homeschool?” I questioned. I had never given it a thought. Intrigued, I began reading about homeschooling and the more I read, the more I was convinced that this is a fabulous fit for our family.

Why do we homeschool? What a joy to be asked this question, without needing to censor my opinion for the listener.

Simply put, we homeschool out of love for our children.

It is difficult to now elaborate on that without writing a fifty page letter. There are five main reasons that I can think of: censorship of culture, including our Christian values in our children’s education, being present for most of my children’s childhood before it is gone, instilling a genuine curiosity and love of learning in our children and creating family unity.

By censorship of culture, I mean that we want to expose our children to mainstream culture as they are ready for it. When you send your children to a public school where they are attending class with thirty other children who all have parents with different styles and approaches, this is impossible. Our children are sponges and we want to be more in control of what they do and do not soak up.

We are Catholic and our faith is a large part of our daily life. We want to be able to teach prayers, moral lessons and our Christian values as they are naturally brought up. We believe that one of our most important jobs as parents is to bring our children up in the ways of God. We can more easily and effectively do this through homeschooling.

Our eldest, Little J, is now seven years old. Those seven years have gone by so fast, as any parent would tell you. And I am going to be present for as much of our children’s childhood as possible.

Also, we are idealists. We want to raise our children to love learning! Children put through traditional school learn at a very young age that learning is boring and that anyone who enjoys it is a nerd. Reading soon becomes a chore rather than a joy. Children’s natural curiosity is stifled by the desire to be cool and popular. They are forced to learn at the same rate as all the other children, so often causing frustrated students. So much time is spent every school year repeating the same lessons in order to make sure that everyone is at the same level, causing bored students. Children in traditional school have no ability to learn about what they are actually interested in, so they often move on to college with no idea of what they would like to study and often graduate still not knowing what they would like to do. We realize that our children may not always love learning, but we do feel that they can come closer to this potential through homeschooling.

Lastly, we want to build a close family dynamic, a shelter for our children in which they feel safe and loved. We believe that we are our children’s natural teachers, chosen by God as the parents for our specific children. We have been given the specific gifts and skills needed to fulfill the needs of our children. Although I have some training as a teacher, we do not believe that this is necessary. No teacher can fulfill our children’s needs the way that we can, because no teacher knows our children the way that we do and no teacher could ever love our children the way that we do. It is that love that makes us the perfect teachers for our children.

I want to thank you for the support you are giving us. This is a journey that we are so very excited about and we appreciate all that you do to assist us with it.

Sincerely and Appreciatively,

Rebecca B
Mother of new kindergartner in 2012, Little N as well as 2nd grader, Little J

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