Home education has been an unimaginable blessing to my family. I love everything about it! It has truly changed my life and given me a community of wonderful, caring, like-minded people (in real life and online) to journey with. But if I had to count my blessings literally, I would say that the following things are the 10 gifts that home education has given us.
1. Time – Before we started home educating, time was my enemy. My life was a daily frenzy and I felt every day was in bondage to the school system. Your mileage may vary, but I felt like I literally had NO time. It was a rush early in the morning to get everyone up, fed, dressed, and out the door. Dropping one child at the local elementary school and then another at preschool. Back home with the baby for 2 hours and then back to pick up the preschooler. Home for about 2.5 hours, then time to walk up to the school for my elementary child. Then it was homework, dinner, baths, bed….repeat. To say that homeschooling has given our family the gift of time is an understatement. We have more natural rhythms for sleeping, waking, learning, and playing.
2. Family-Centered Living – Family time was a precious commodity before home educating…all time was! We could only sneak in 30-60 minutes a day of family time during the week if we were lucky, and then what we could get on weekends (in between other obligations, chores, and time at church). Now we are done with the formal part of our day by the early afternoon (and we have casual mornings as well), so we can spend the rest of the day enjoying time together. Meals are not rushed, we have plenty of time to play games, and watch shows as a family. We have all drawn closer and it’s a blessing without measure.
3. Knowing Your Kids – Don’t get me wrong, I have always known my kids, but now I *really* know my kids. I am intimately aware of their moods, interests, abilities, and difficulties. That’s not to say that other parents are not, or that it’s not possible to know your kids that well in a traditional setting, I can only speak to my experience. Home educating naturally provided more opportunities for me to know *my* kids better.
4. Differentiated Instruction – Because I know my kids so well, I can now offer them differentiated instruction. This is the new buzz word floating around the public school scene, but homeschool parents have known all along that kids learn in different ways. We all do. I know what works for my son will not work for one of my daughters. I can still follow a philosophy of education, but tailor it to meet the needs of each child. It’s very gratifying to know that I can perfectly tailor the education of my children, not only according to interest, but by ability/disability and process.
5. Individuality – By tailoring an education for each child, I allow them the freedom to be completely unique and individual. They can pursue their passions and literally become who they want to become. I am already seeing diverging paths and interests in my kids, and I can give them the gift of being who they were created to be.
6. Creativity – Creativity is valued in our home. We seek out creative ways to learn, express what we have learned, and how to spend our time. We use all kinds of things – building with Legos, acting, exploring nature, and art – in our daily educational pursuits. I encourage my kids to think of creative solutions to problems. I encourage them to create, period, and we have the time and ability to do so.
7. Leisure – Contrary to popular belief, I am not a slave to my children’s education. I do spend a lot of time planning and a lot of time teaching…that’s true. But honestly, the daily teaching is only a little more time than I used to spend doing homework after school. If I was already re-teaching everything my kids had learned that day, why not just do the teaching to begin with? Also, I am in such a great community, I have people who are willing to watch my kids and give me a break, and I do the same for them. I have MNO opportunities galore, book clubs, and downtime at home. I am definitely blessed! My kids have down time as well. They have the gift of time, remember? We all have more time to spend doing things we enjoy.
8. Peace – Leisure time brings peace. Life in America runs at a furious pace, and we have opted out. Yes, I am busy with learning and extra-curricular activities, but the pace never feels like it did before. My entire life is graced with more peace, especially peace of mind. I know who my kids are with at all times, I know what they are learning, I know they are deeply connected to their family core. Beautiful!
9. Choice – Choosing how to educate your children is a gift, no matter what you choose. We should all be fighting together for educational choice. Home educating is just one option among many and parents need to be educated about all of their options. I am a big fan of vouchers, and charter & magnet schools. Options are always a blessing. Being able to opt out of the system…my favorite choice of all!
10. Purpose – I don’t know about all home educating parents, but this choice also gave me purpose. I feel empowered by my choice to teach my children. I feel that in choosing this path, I literally stumbled onto my destiny. I always wanted to teach, but felt discouraged as I grew older at the obstacles teachers face in the school system. I knew I would feel cheated of the opportunity to really teach. Educating my own kids has opened my heart and my mind. It’s like re-educating myself, while receiving the gift of seeing my kids “get it” day after day after day. What more could I ask for?