Grapevine and Olive Shoots

growing in grace and knowledge.

My vision and mission, or, why we chose to homeschool.

on September 11, 2014

This post is primarily my mission statement and my vision for our homeschool journey.  It’s something I need as a teacher to keep in mind as I plan and put those plans into action, and as a parent to remember on those days when I’m physically, mentally and/or emotionally drained and really would welcome 8 hours of having only one child (or none!) around the house.  Secondarily, this is addressed to those in my wider circle who are curious about homeschooling.  Consider it an education in, well, education. 🙂

I’d like to preface this by saying my reasons are just that – mine.  This post is in no way a judgment or criticism of anyone else’s parenting, faith or lifestyle.

So without further ado, here are the reasons we are homeschooling.

1. God gave us, and only us, the responsibility of raising and instructing the specific children He entrusted to our care.

God gently but consistently laid  it on my heart.  For years I swore I could never stay home with my children; that I’d go crazy if I didn’t have my own personal and professional life.  So for the Holy Spirit to nudge and whisper me into homeschooling seemed like the pendulum swinging the totally opposite direction.  But now, a few years into it, I see that there is a middle ground whereby I can both teach my girls at home and maintain my identity, and still be obedient to God.

Train up your children in the way they should go; Even when they are old they will not depart from it.  (Proverbs 22:6)

You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)

Being called to this task includes the duty to instill knowledge, obedience and love of the Lord.  To be able to be immersed in His Word every day, to have prayer as a natural and necessary part of education, and to not have our children indoctrinated in values which conflict with our faith.

2.  Educational Philosophy

I was a part of the traditional educational model for 13 years and in all that time, I learned the most (retained the most knowledge and was able to apply it practically) from the many summers my dad insisted on teaching me history and math, the performing arts world to which my mom exposed me, and the music lessons and ensembles in which I participated.  In other words, homeschooling, although we never called it by that name.  Music was my passion from a very early age and, married with my parent’s influence, is what wound up becoming my profession.  The moral of the story: one-on-one instruction + pursuing genuine interests + exposure to the arts = successful education (for me).  What I learned in 12 years of public and private school?  Um…I’ll get back to you on that.  Higher education (college and graduate school) was a whole different ball of wax as I was able to concentrate my studies on my passions and learn as quickly as I was able.

Homeschooling is remarkably efficient.  At K level, we can easily get done in 1-2 hours what takes public school 8 hours.  This allows for the entire rest of the day to play, be outside, learn home skills, do some volunteering, play, visit a friend or grandparent, go to a doctor’s appointment, participate in gymnastics or a book club, PLAY…you get the drift.  I firmly believe in Maria Montessori’s philosophy that play is a child’s work, and it is so crucial for young kids to have that opportunity.  Later on, as the kids get older, the more time they have in the day, the more they (a) learn time management and (b) can pursue independent studies in a field of interest.

Homeschooling allows for an individualized education.  I can set the pace and the curriculum according to the child, which may will change from year to year or subject to subject.  My children can pursue their interests and passions.  I know my children far better than any teacher ever will, and I can tailor their education accordingly.  I want to foster productivity, creativity and problem-solving (versus busy work, formulaic one-size-fits-all, and fill in the blank).  Mr. Fix-It is a big proponent of unschooling (although he didn’t even know the term until I matched it with what he was explaining) and I have to agree that people tend to learn better and more long-term when they are not aware they are “doing school.”  Actions (or in this case, experiences) speak louder than words.  Homeschooling allows for this modality.  Brick-and-mortar school does not.

Peanut’s personality and intelligence lend themselves perfectly to homeschooling.  She has shown signs of being gifted since she started reading at age 3 (she is now reading at a 2nd grade level at 4.5 years old).  She absolutely loves school and asks for it every single day.  I know she would be bored silly in a kindergarten classroom and this would unfortunately only perpetuate as she got older.  She is also a total Mama’s girl.  If she had resisted it might have been a different story, but as it is, homeschooling really works for her as an individual.  Ladybug is 5 months old at the time of this writing, so she doesn’t get a vote.

 3. Schedule Flexibility

Homeschooling allows for natural daily rhythms.  I am not a morning person and I detest being hurried.  I’m also a true introvert, and need time alone to recharge my batteries.  But if given the freedom to self-regulate, I am crazy productive and focused.  I was at my peak professionally when I was self-employed.  Peanut is proving to be eerily similar, although she is far more alert and receptive in the mornings so I compromise by doing our most focused schooling when Ladybug goes down for her two morning naps.

Homeschooling allows for interruptions (naptimes/a bad night of sleep/illness/helping family members); fun events whenever we like (vacations/field trips/activities/play dates); escaping the rat-race and rushing around that is part and parcel of brick-and-mortar schools…in other words, total freedom from the constraints of the school district schedule and calendar.

Homeschooling allows for the possibility of resuming teaching piano and voice lessons at some point in the future if I feel led to do so and it works for our family.  If my children were in school and I were teaching lessons, I would miss interacting with them all day, and then all afternoon and evening since that’s when most lessons take place.  Which dovetails into…

4.  To spend more time with my children and nurture our relationship.

It is extremely important to both my husband and I to have one parent at home with our girls, regardless of how they are being educated.  Selfishly, I don’t want to miss out on all the firsts, “a-ha” moments, and milestones in my daughters’ lives.  And I’m willing to sacrifice, both in terms of material goods, time alone and my career, in order to make that happen.

I genuinely love to teach and am excited to learn alongside my children.  I am also both skilled and experienced in the field of education.  I’ve been teaching in some capacity for the better part of 15 years, from toddlers through adults, and feel confident about my abilities.  If I love teaching and I love my children and want to spend as much time with them as possible, it just makes sense to homeschool.

5. To guard my children’s hearts and minds

This is not about helicopter parenting; this is about nurturing and sheltering a vulnerable sapling until it is strong enough to stand on its own and withstand the elements.  No public school teacher is going to bear my children’s eternal salvation in mind, or even where they’ll be in ten years if we’re being really honest.  I don’t want them emulating the behaviors of a slew of kids their own age (apparently this is “socialization”), and I want to instill deep respect for their parents and other adults.  I want them to have excellent manners.  Before I get a ton of backlash about this, I am well aware there are traditionally schooled kids who embody all of these character traits…but I also know there are many more who don’t.  For me, depending on one hour of Sunday School to undo 40+ hours a week of worldly influence just isn’t going to cut it.

Public and private schools are increasingly dangerous: school shootings, bullying, underage drinking, drugs, crime, violence, sex, disrespect for authority.  It has been scientifically researched and proven that teenage brains are not fully connected, especially the part that governs judgment, and are most vulnerable to addiction.  I’ll let my children loose on and in the world when they are good and ready.

6.  To socialize better

Lack of socialization is the #1 argument against misconception about homeschooling.  I submit that true socialization is learning how to respectfully interact with people of all ages, races and backgrounds, and that homeschooling actually does a better job of this because we spend more time out in actual society.

Here is just one great [objective, factual] article about socialization.

And this is a great tongue-in-cheek post about making sure your kids remain weird and unsocialized. 🙂

7.  Quality/content of education

Homeschoolers consistently score better on standardized tests and have overall better academic results.  Study after study, statistic after statistic proves this fact.  Here is just one site which concisely combines the results of several independent studies and scholarly articles.

It should come as no surprise that the fine and performing arts are areas in which I want to immerse my own children, just as I was immersed by my parents.  Homeschooling allows for as much of this as I want, every day if I choose (and I do).

In addition to the academic benefits, my daughters can learn valuable life skills as an organic component of our daily schedule.  This includes home management (sewing, cooking, laundry, cleaning, meal planning, yard care, gardening, etc.), child care, personal financial management (reconciling a checking account, budgeting, insurance, tax filing, proper use of credit), job preparation, health care/first aid, volunteering/community service, spiritual disciplines, the list goes on and on.  They can also contribute to our household in preparation for their own roles as wives and mothers.

I’ve been working on this post for the better part of a month and today seems like an auspicious to finally publish.  I’m absolutely exhausted from being up 4 times last night with Ladybug, Peanut is sick with a nasty cold and I think I’m coming down with it as well, it’s 9/11 which just brings back so many horrible memories (I was at college in NYC when the attacks happened), and honestly I wish I could just curl up in bed.  But the beauty of homeschooling is that we can park ourselves on the couch and watch Word Girl and the Magic School Bus and Wild Kratts all morning and that’s learning.  Peanut just asked to “do school” despite being a mucous factory and hacking up a lung because she loves learning.  We can all take a nap together after lunch and still be way, way ahead on the learning scale.  We can spend the rainy afternoon making apple pie and in so doing, learn about math and science.

Best of all, God understands we have “off” days and is blessing our time together no matter what.  Re-reading what I’ve written above, I’m reminded of His hand in all of this.  If you’ve made it this far, thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings…and God bless you on whatever journey to which He’s called you.

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