My Journey Toward Homeschooling
The day had come. My daughter’s first day of kindergarten had finally arrived. While all the other school-aged children in our neighborhood lined up to get on the yellow bus that stopped in front of our house, we had chosen to keep our trusting, chubby-cheeked 5-year-old at home.
Courtesy of the Koons Family
I WASN’T YET
THAT IT WAS WORTH
ALL THE WORK.
I had spent many months questioning this decision. Not because I didn’t think
it was ultimately the best thing for my daughter, but because I wasn’t yet fully
convinced that it was worth all the work. With three children under age 5, my plate already felt very full. It was hard to imagine how I would squeeze it in some days. And I did not want to be a half-hearted homeschooler.
My parents started homeschooling me
a week before I was supposed to start
3rd grade, after meeting another homeschooling family on a camping trip. My husband Kevin was also homeschooled
from an early age. We have had several years to mull over our own decision to homeschool. From the moment our first daughter was born—actually, probably from the moment we started dating—we knew that homeschooling was something we most likely wanted for our family.
As a second-generation homeschooler, I especially wrestled with making homeschooling my own conviction and not something to do simply because my parents did. While I love and respect my parents, I felt I needed to look at every option and decide for myself what educational option was best for me and my own family.
After nearly a year of thinking intentionally about this, here are my key reasons for homeschooling my children:
1. Kevin has always been excited about homeschooling and has convinced me that I can do it—learning together as a family and passing on a love for learning is a wonderful thing and a way of life.
2. I read a lot of books about how children should learn and have established my own philosophy of education. I did a lot of research and we have chosen a program to help us homeschool in a classical style. I am now convinced that my children will get the best academic education possible. (I have listed near the end of this article some books that I found helpful.)
3. I saw firsthand the benefits of preschooling my daughter Meredith at home. There were many times I would have loved to ship her off to preschool (they are tough years and not my favorite), but we worked through all of that. I am very pleased with her character development. We worked hard together and I am now benefitting from this. The “terrible twos” and “whiny threes” are over. I really enjoy her company and am glad for the extra time we have together.
4. I do not feel that evenings and weekends are enough time to develop my children into the young adults I want them to become. Education is about much more than academics. I want more time to continue to mold my children’s character. I do not want to have to rush to get them off to the school bus every day. I have noticed that midmornings are often the time when we have the most conversations about life, faith, and other things that really matter. If we weren’t homeschooling, those crucial conversations would never take place. Or they would take place with another adult helping to shape my children’s worldview.
Courtesy of the Koons Family
Kevin, holding baby Sophia, engages Clara in a teachable moment.
IF WE WEREN’T
WOULD NEVER TAKE
5. I want to travel with my children during the school year. I want my children to have many hands-on learning experiences. I love how flexible homeschooling is and that we are not restricted to a traditional school calendar.
6. I want to be able to work out discipline issues together in a real-life family setting so my children can learn to serve and love each other. It would be easier to brush over things and go our separate ways for the day, but in the end it is more fruitful and God-honoring to work out our differences.
7. I want my children to have the bonding experience of learning together as a family, with lots of family read-aloud time. I want them to love learning and love books and am excited to be able to model this for them.
Here are some of the top books that contributed to, and helped guide, my thinking through the decision to homeschool:
• 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum by Cathy Duffy is a great starting point. It briefly summarizes the various philosophies of education. It is also a good curriculum reference.
• Educating the WholeHearted Child by Sally Clarkson is also a good general book on homeschooling that is both practical and inspirational.
• A Charlotte Mason Education by Catherine Levison helps explain more about the Charlotte Mason approach to education.
• The best two books I read on implementing a classical-style home education program are The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education by Leigh Bortins and The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn is also a good reference book and I really appreciated what the authors had to say about “10 Things Children Should Learn Before Age 10.”
In addition to doing a lot of reading
and trying to decide what I believe
about educating my own children, I sought out a support group with like-minded families. During particularly hard weeks, it is great encouragement to meet with other moms and know that they will help hold me accountable for my week’s goals.
Homeschooling may not be the easiest choice or the path of least resistance. But now, whenever I see that yellow bus stopped in front of my house each morning to pick up the neighbor kids, I’m grateful for the time that I have with my own children and the daily opportunities that homeschooling provides to shape their hearts and minds.
|About the author
Amy Koons is a second-generation homeschooler, married to Kevin Koons, with three daughters ages 6, 4, and 1. She currently lives in Zionsville, Indiana. She loves reading, cooking, and going on random adventures with her family. She blogs at www.Kevin-Amy.blogspot.com.