Saturday, January 18, 2020

What Do Parents Get Out of Homeschooling?

What if homeschooling was just as important for parent's growth as it is their children's education?

For every time a child complains that they aren't skilled enough to do something, there are plenty of adults who encourage them to grow and in time better develop their skills.  That's what parenting is about - teaching them to learn and grow.  Why do we completely forget that reality when facing our own reality?  I'll tell you why.  Parents are tired, stressed and often caught longing for a reality (free of worry, fewer expenses, and smaller waistlines) that no longer exists.  A lot of our life is merely about survival and has zero time to worry about growth.  And yet, as children of God we are called to grow.

As most people know, we decided to homeschool our children before our oldest was even born.  It was a choice that I felt really confident in because I had experience in music, education and working with children.  I didn't love the necessary constraints of a typical public school system and was impressed by the growing homeschool community here in Oklahoma so it became a really easy decision for us.  At that time, I think the motivation to homeschool was 100% for my kids and their benefit.  The added responsibility of their education, no automatic breaks from my children and the stress of going against the grain were not things I loved or wanted in my life, but merely necessary price tags of this chosen lifestyle.

What if I told you that now, after heading down this homeschool path for 9 years, Mr. Butler and I benefit just as much as our kids?

Homeschooling has made us better parents.  Spending 6-8 hours a (week) day away from my kids - even if it is spent at work - allows me to hide a lot from my kids and they me.  Being the one who has to enforce schoolwork on a daily basis or having a continual audience or witness to my weaknesses forces me to face reality a bit more.  A good kid who rarely would argue with his teacher at school, may not hold back quite so much for his familiar parents.  That makes for a harder job on the parent, but once it is under control, you can have greater confidence in the child's learning of the lesson.  While it can hurt at first, this path keeps us accountable by insisting that I grow and that is truly a gift.

Homeschooling has given us freedom.  When we set our own schedule, we have the freedom to live life in the way that is important to us.  In most scenarios, we don't have to miss things because of bedtimes or school schedules, instead we simply adjust accordingly with naps or sleeping in the next day. When sickness or babies come into the mix, everywhere adjusts together.  We can take days/weeks off for special occasions or vacations whenever is appropriate for us.  We can create the life and space that we want to a very large degree.  Of course, we are limited by Mr. Butler's work schedule, but when he has days off like Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he can spend the day with us while we are doing school.

Homeschooling Pushes Us To Learn New Things.  When I'm not the one making the lesson plan, it is easy to check-out and let the person in charge worry about it.  While that can be nice when you have a dozen other things to do, it causes me to miss out on something that I could learn and share with my children at the same time!  As I'm choosing subjects to explore with the kids, it is only natural that my my interests are piqued and I find myself diving in further than if it was some assigned project they brought home from somewhere else.  And as we all know, learning new things is good for health and longevity not to mention part of God's design for our beautifully crafted brains.

Most of the time these blessings are available to any family, whether they homeschool or not, but it is far more difficult when other entities are determining your child's time and subject matter most of the day.  Intentional parenting and a strong family dynamic is within everyone's reach, but, like an education taylored to a child's individual needs, it's really challenging without the freedom of homeschooling.  If home educating isn't a possibility or desirable in your family, you probably didn't read this far and I'm not really writing to you.  Aside from God and His word, nothing is a perfect fit for everyone.  The person I'm really thinking about is that parent who has thought about it and been tempted by it, but then convinced themselves they couldn't do it because their child won't listen to them or they don't feel educated enough to be responsible for their the child's education.  The really cool thing about this lifestyle is that everyone is learning  here!  If you can find a video on YouTube on how to change any part on any appliance in your house or enough information on any random weed in your yard for an extensive research project, you can find the help you need if you desire to teach your kids at home.  Beyond that, there are so many blessings even for us parents that make this choice worthwhile.

If you have more specific questions about what it takes to homeschool, I was fortunate to write an article about it for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine called "Can I Pull My Child Out of Public School?"

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