I'm not sure when or why I started thinking about home schooling my boys.
Maybe it was the sweet teenage girl I met when my oldest was just a baby. Something about her was so genuine and interested. She conversed easily and looked me in the eye...she was home schoooled. I took note.
Maybe it was the books that we read & the early childhood experience I had, proving that sending your little ones to school when they're little isn't always beneficial. That boys especially need extra time to let their little person bloom close to home before they're put into school.
Maybe it was simply an extension of the attachment parents we'd become...it seemed to me that it was just the next natural step, teaching my kiddos at home where they could be close and I wouldn't miss out on a thing.
At any rate I would say our journey began with the birth of our first son. Moms and dads are teachers from the start. We read to our babies, held them, talked and sang to them. We coaxed and coached our toddlers into walking and babbling first words, we watched them 'read' their books and sing to their babies. We were modeling how to share, how to speak kindly, how to make a friend.
So counting each raisin and sounding out the letters in the grocery store came naturally with our 3 or4 year old. Teaching comes naturally. I remember asking myself, why should I be "relieved" of the duty of teaching my boys about book work, character, mannerisms, social life? Why should I turn over this work to someone else? This work that is so very important to me?
There was also the hope that somehow we could impart Christ and a real relationship with God to our boys in a way that they just couldn't experience anywhere else.
So we launched into preschool, my 4 year old and I. In kindergarten I seriously considered enrolling him in school. Truthfully, I felt overwhelmed. Now I had two more little boys, a three year old and a one year old. Sending Joe to school for several hours a day sounded like it would simplify life. I agonized an entire summer about what to do. At last I came to the conclusion I didn't yet want to be relieved of the duty of teaching my son. I wanted to be with him. I wanted him to be with us.
We pressed on. We moved through Kindergarten and school became a sweet rhythm to our family.
Now my youngest son is the preschooler. I have a kindergartner and a second grader, not that grades much count. They work at their own customized level. Their own customized style of school.
There is the traditional student who works text books like they're candy. He devours books and loves to bake.
I have a boy-shaped-student who would prefer to be in a tree and learns best on the fly & with hands on studies. He loves nature and begs to just hike.
And the preschool boy, well, he's a quick learner but I think what he loves the most is my time and the opportunity to learn like the big kids. He learns as they learn, sometimes more quickly.
Our days are routine; chores, school and activity or play. The boys have tons of free time and for that I'm so grateful. They get a great kid/student ratio....something like 80/20. They are involved up to their eyeballs too, music classes, art, reading group and field trips.
Our months, however, are not routine. I find that there really aren't more than two or three months a like. Change is the variable that is consistent when it comes to the seasons of school. I'm constantly trying new things to keep school fresh and interesting to all of us. But I don't mind that, it's a rhythm within itself that steps things up and keeps us loving our work, all four of us.
It is, truthfully, not always easy or fun to school at home. Some days are hard...when I'm struggling with motivation. My house will never be as clean and tidy as the other empty-all-day-homes. Finding the curriculum and social groups that best add to your students' experiences can be grueling work. Lesson planning and laundry somehow overlap leaving little time for structured planning and tasking. Having your kids at home so that you can teach them about a relationship with God goes hand in hand of allowing them to see your weaknesses & faults. They're home all the time so I have no time to hide on the bad days or wait until they leave to fall apart. The lines of home and school blur and some school days are overcome by sick kids or mom crisis. I remind myself that these, or others, are challenges that most any job or career gifts you with. I will take the challenges that come with the blessings of getting the time and experiences of learning with my kids, and all the learning I do while teaching them.
I started homeschooling the boys for the purpose of giving them an extended childhood at home. More time to build character, to learn to surf the social waves of life outside home. I continued schooling because I saw learned just how different my little ones are and how their needs are. And I started to fall in love with having them home.
Now I'd have to say that I have them home because of the rich relationships our family has. The boys have very special friendships with their brothers and I feel that my husband and I know them in a way I'd never get the chance to if they were away from home for hours a day. There are so many things I love about homeschooling, but this stands far above the rest, the sweet relationship I get to have with them. After all, they're only around for awhile.