The Washington Times
July 20, 2009

Washington Times Op-ed—Multiplying Time Spent with Kids

by J. Michael Smith
HSLDA President

Even though most parents and children are on summer break, it’s inevitable that parents begin thinking about the next school year. Many are eagerly anticipating the time when they can “send the kids back to school,” but others are considering whether there might be a better way to educate their children.

With the rapid growth of homeschooling and hundreds of thousands of homeschool graduates, there are now many homeschooling parents who have seen all their children graduate.

One such parent is Diane Kummer, who now works as a high school coordinator for the Home School Legal Defense Association, giving advice to parents who are homeschooling teenagers. She gives an interesting perspective on why her family chose homeschooling and how it benefited her children:

“I homeschooled both of my children from kindergarten all the way to their high school graduations, and I’m often asked why my husband and I chose to homeschool. The reasons are many, but one reason in particular stands out to me. Simply put, I homeschooled to spend time with my children.

“Time is a slippery commodity. It cannot be held. It slips and slides and then it’s gone. I understand this concept much better now that my youngest has graduated from college. I’m grateful that my family made the most of our schooling years by choosing to teach our children at home. Homeschooling allowed us time to learn and to make great discoveries together as we snuggled up with books during the morning reading hour and met some interesting characters. Other times on our morning walks around the neighborhood we collected leaves and rocks and they became the visuals for the science unit I was teaching and were later used in the afternoon art project.

“One year during grade school, we enjoyed videotaping and journaling (combining science and English!) as we watched a mother bird build a nest outside of our living room window, and we laughed together when she later kicked the last of her offspring out of the abode. In the high school years, homeschooling provided unhurried time to sort out current events in light of past history while analyzing the world through a biblical lens.

“My children and I learned more than academics from our time in the crucible of homeschooling. According to the Encarta Dictionary, a crucible is ‘a place or set of circumstances where people or things are subjected to forces that test them and often make them change.’ What a wonderful description of homeschooling! My family learned that close living and schooling environments brought out the best and worst in each of us, and that conflict—rightly handled—often resulted in productive change.

“Homeschooling provided plenty of time for our individual sins to rise to the surface, and I’m convinced that strong relationships with my grown children today are built upon years of working out disagreements. Homeschooling provided the opportunity to almost daily renew our commitment to resolving clashes and wrangling in a respectful way.

“When we take on the role of both parent and teacher, suddenly the lines between schooling, training and living are blurred and are no longer separated into neat categories. I can’t explain it, but homeschooling somehow allowed my time to be multiplied, not divided. Time spent teaching about the Great Depression suddenly morphed into a discussion on the dangers of spiraling debt, and time spent discussing the theme in The Scarlet Letter led to a conversation about the consequences of our behavior and the choices we make. …

“Why did I homeschool? I homeschooled so that I could spend lots of time with my precious children. I wanted to multiply our time together rather than divide it between home and school. … Time invested with your child is always time well spent.”

Diane’s experience is common to homeschoolers. It’s the mix of family time and one-on-one instruction that is so attractive to increasing numbers of parents. For more information on homeschooling and getting started on the right foot, visit www.youcanhomeschool.org.

Michael Smith is the president of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He may be contacted at (540)338-5600; or send email to media@hslda.org.

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