I have been wanting to write a post for a while on why we chose to homeschool. I decided now is as good a time as ever, since we have been very busy with school the last couple of weeks, and yet my camera has not made an appearance to show what we've been doing.
Let me start out by saying that I am a public school graduate, as is my husband. I went through all 12 years in a public school, save Kindergarden - I attended a private school for that one year. I had some AMAZING teachers, and some that just didn't cut it. I had wonderful elementary teachers that I still remember by name and occasionally see them around town - it's always nice to see them and get to say hello, even introduce my children if they are with me. I had some very effective, great teachers throughout junior high and high school, and then there were some that you could tell only taught because that was the simplest degree that they could get through college with - the easiest decision, or some (like my 10th grade Math Teacher) who were a coach and had to fall back on their Math major to be able to teach a class during the day, when what they really enjoyed was the coaching they did in the afternoons and on Friday night. So I would be lying if I were to say that there are no good teachers in public schools - I know some that are wonderful, as well, and truly enjoy doing what they do.
However, when we started having children, the Lord started showing me just how important our roles as parents are to our children. That is where the decision to homeschool started - not with the desire to give an extraordinary education, but the desire to raise up Godly girls and boys, to one day become Godly men and women.
Now I am sure that you are wondering what that has to do with homeschooling your children, but I believe it has everything to do with it.
Psalm 127:3 and 4 says - "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are the children of the youth."
A heritage can be defined as something that has been handed down to you from others. My #1 goal as a mother is to hand down a Godly heritage to my children. To speak of, teach, and demonstrate God's love and salvation through daily life. But how can I do that, when I send them away for 7-9 hours a day (that is allowing for after school functions, etc, as they get older). A child in public school leaves home, generally, by 7:30, and won't get home until about 3:30. And as they get older, if they are involved in any after school functions, that can be as late as 4:30 - 5:00. But supposing they do get home by 3:30 - that means they have been gone for 8 hours of the day, and will only spend half that time with the family before having to go to bed. How can I possibly 'train up the child in the way he should go' (Proverbs 22:6), if he is only around me for half of the day? Especially when you consider that in those four hours they are at home, there is possibly homework to do, dinner to cook, and showers to take before they get in bed. When do I get the chance to sit with them? Read to them, or hear their heart? Before I go further - I am not saying it is impossible to do all these things when your child is in public school. I am just trying to highlight the missed opportunities that I would have, should I choose to send them to school each day.
God gave these children to my husband and I - to train up, raise up, and prepare for the world they will have to live in. I heard it best by a woman who was asked if she was sheltering her children. That can cover many different areas, and I won't go into all of them (although I agree with sheltering children to a point, giving them time to be ready to learn some hard lessons). She was asked how she would respond to someone who said that she was sheltering her children. Her answer - "I would say that it is wise to shelter a young plant. You would not put it out to try to grow in a harsh environment, but rather take care of it, shelter it, and give it good roots in order to ensure it's strength and ability to survive". I believe that we must be ever watchful of what goes in or children's minds, for it is the gateway to the heart. I have a righteous desire to give my children a good foundation in ALL things, both educational, and spiritual, and for reasons that I don't have to explain, that just can't happen in a public school. There are other options, of course - private school, christian school - but those were financially out of the option, and regardless - I still felt the calling to homeschool.
So. armed with God's call, and a desire to do the best I could, we embarked on our homeschool journey when Little Mama was four years old. Because of birthdays being the way they are, three of my children would have started school almost a year later than most of the other children - three have Sep. birthdays. I decided that I didn't want an age limit that I was used to deciding when I would start them, or what grade they would be in. So I started teaching them when I felt they were ready, and if they weren't ready to 'move on' to the next grade level, I kept them right where they were. For example, Little Mama started preschool at 4 and moved on the next year, whereas Hoss started at 4, and spent 1 1/2 years at the preschool level, and then moved up to the 'Kindergarten' level.
So that is why we homeschool. I do want to give them the very best educational opportunities that I possibly can, and devote a GREAT deal of time to doing all I can to be prepared to teach them all I can (you have to be careful about all this, though! Read my post here about keeping your time balanced as a homeschool mother). However, my focus isn't on raising genius', but raising children who love to learn, and are ready to live for the Lord and stand for what is right, no matter what others are doing.
WHY I CHOSE MONTESSORI
I also thought I would include why I decided to use Montessori. This part will be a little shorter - I promise!!! As most of you that have read my posts probably already know, we started out very traditional-based in my approach to teaching. The thought of 'hands-on' seemed wonderful, and yet out of my reach. I had no idea where to start with that, so I just didn't try. That sounds pretty pathetic - I know - but the Lord met me right where I was and everything was fine. We homeschooled four years that way, using books that I got from anywhere and everywhere. My husband was concerned about many things with homeschooling - I was definitely the one to push reassurances that it would be okay, and I honestly think he still worries sometimes, but don't we all? When Little Mama's first test scores came back from the state last week, and we saw first hand how well she was doing, it was a comforting relief to both of us! Back to where I was - I have used many different resources. I have gotten MANY great printables (FREE!) from DLTK and ABC teach has free printables, as well as many other places that I can't recall now for it has been so long since I have used them. If you are reading this and aren't interested in Montessori, but are interested in free printables - who isn't??? - a few good places to go are Free Homeschool Deals, Homeschool Giveaways, and once again, I have to recommend Deb at Living Montessori Now, because she has a daily free printable on her LMN facebook page. I try to use free printables whenever I can, even in using Montessori, because I knew that I wanted to be as less of a financial strain as possible. Not because my children aren't worth investing money in, but because I wanted to be a blessing to my husband. That often times means more work on my part, or using my imagination and stretching it to re-create materials or teach them in a different way, so that I can get less expensive materials/tools in which to teach.
For the rest of the story on why I chose Montessori, you can read my posts here and here to read how I came to love Montessori, and why it has become so useful in trying to not only help my children learn easier, be together in what we are doing, but also to LOVE it!
And now you know why we homeschool! I hope this has encouraged someone that may be debating whether to homeschool, or just starting out, or someone in the trenches just as we are and may possibly be re-evaluating why they are homeschooling, as well. Don't give up - don't get discouraged because things aren't always going right - they never will always go perfectly, but if we handle that in stride, it will teach our children to do the same! There are many supporters of homeschooling that can be found and can encourage all of us on our own personal journeys!