Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is Homeschooling Hard?

Okay, a couple of weeks ago, I was waiting for something in the car in the parking lot at the grocery store ("there's a frog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea...") and I started writing this blog post.  I'm typing it here without editing because I was feeling very passionate about homeschooling at that moment and I'm afraid it will lose something if I edit it. So keep in mind that it is probably not great writing but it most certainly comes from the heart...

Today at the checkout stand at the grocery store I mentioned to the cashier that I homeschool my kids.  She asked me, "Is homeschooling hard?"  I said, "It depends on the day..." and we went on to chat a little more about homeschooling in general as she went on ringing up my groceries. 

Later, I got to thinking about that question -- Is homeschooling hard?  And my answer is, "Heck, yeah!  It's the hardest thing I've ever done."  Does that mean it's not worthwhile?  No way!  It's also the most rewarding thing I've every done.

I'm sure you can imagine all of the hard parts about homeschooling -- hours of planning, choosing just the right curricula, coaxing reluctant scholars into being enthusiastic scholars, wondering if they are learning enough, wondering if they are learning at all, convincing loving but skeptical family members and friends that you haven't completely lost your mind (and wondering if they're right)... the list goes on and on.

But the rewards are immensely greater than the sacrifices.

I have six children, four of whom are school-aged.  I have never experienced the teary goodbye with my 5-year-old on the first day of school.  The only bullies my kids have had to deal with were neighborhood ones.  None of them have ever been "behind" or "ahead" of the class -- each of them is the class.  No school lunches, long bus rides, cranky teachers (except Mom), or separation of church and school. 

In history, we learn where the Native Americans really came from, the scriptures are history books, not just a collection of stories with a moral.  We learn that God created us, we are his children, and not one person on this earth ever descended from apes.  We learn about the Mormon migration right along with the California gold rush and we know that the pilgrims were thanking God, not the Indians, at the first Thanksgiving feast.  We are able to add eternal truths to all of the other subjects we study (particularly science), and gospel study is a school subject for us -- not just something for Sunday meetings.

But the rewards don't all belong to the children. (Although I benefit from the above as much as they.)  Do your remember the joy and excitement you felt when your child took his first step?  Imagine experiencing that feeling when he realizes that all of those letters on the page combine to make words, which make sentences and paragraphs and stories, which open whole new worlds!  There is one moment, you know, when it clicks in their minds and if you watch carefully, you might see it.

It's not just reading either -- how about that math concept she's been struggling with and all of a sudden -- "Oh my gosh, Mom, I get it now!"  And it's not just in academics.  What about when their pretend play is based on stories (not textbook chapters) they've read in history?  They're not playing "war," but "American Revolution."  Mummies are no longer scary Halloween creatures but the ultimate dissection project!

There's nothing that fills my heart more than looking out the back window and seeing my 13-year-old daughter sitting on the trampoline with her 1-year-old sister on her lap and all of the other kids jumping around them... or watching them all playing board games or building with legos together (while trying to keep the baby occupied enough to not make a mess of things). 

Instead of worrying about my kids being overscheduled with sports, homework, music and dance lessons, and other activities, I sometimes wonder if they are underscheduled.  After all, they only have their church activities once a week and have friends over once in a while.  We eat dinner together every day and (oh, my gosh!) lunch and dinner too. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, yes, homeschooling is hard (though not impossible) but isn't everything really worth doing difficult?  I've often told people, "I can't send my kids to public school -- I'd miss them too much!"  In my mind, that would be harder than homeschooling.

(I'm not trying to convince anyone else with this post to start homeschooling.  My hope is that others can better understand why I chose this method of education for my children.)


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