Sunday, January 13, 2013

My Top 5 Joys of Homeschooling

These two cuties are the biggest reason.

In my last post, I talked about my fears of homeschooling. This post, however, will focus on things I absolutely adore about homeschooling. These are the real reasons that I'm led to make such a decision for our family.

Just yesterday, some moms were talking about the school here at our military housing installation. It's a small elementary school, with grades K-3. It has a fantastic reputation and many families love it. I want everyone to know that the school here has virtually nothing to do with my wanting to homeschool. Sure, it would be nice to have a smorgasbord of schools to pick from, but when it comes down to it, homeschooling just feels like the best fit for my girls right now.

 So, here is why I absolutely adore homeschooling:

1. Watching them learn.

If you have kids, you will totally know what I mean when I say there are times that you can actually see the little wheels turning. It is amazing to be teaching your child something, trying to get them to understand, and all of a sudden you see it "click." Their eyes light up, a lightbulb turns on in their brain, and they completely understand.

One of the best things recently has been watching my oldest learn to read. It's absolutely amazing to watch her read words that I didn't think she would know. She gets so excited! And it makes me so proud of her and excited for what's to come. I feel like the whole world will open to hear when she starts reading on her own.

I love that I get to experience a lot of those learning moments with her. I LOVE that I play such a role in her learning. It's just fabulous. There's not much else I can really say.

2. Tailoring everything to their individual needs.

My oldest daughter is four years old, but she is currently working on a relaxed first-grade curriculum. One of the big reasons I want to homeschool her is because she is so quickly moving from one concept to the next. She already knows many things that would be taught in Kindergarten. And though I know she would probably love going to school, having a classroom, and having a teacher, I don't want her learning to "stall" because she's a little ahead.

By homeschooling, I can go at her pace - whether it's fast or slow. Just the other day, she was getting frustrated because she got ONE math problem wrong (she's a bit of a perfectionist... oy.) and instead of forcing her to do it when she asked to stop and go play, I just let her leave it alone for a while. She always comes back to it because she wants to try again. But sometimes, she needs to just leave it for a while and calm down.

3. The freedom.

We are in Japan and my husband is in the military. There are times when he is gone for weeks at at time. During those times, it's incredibly nice to be homeschooling. If we want to go visit him a foreign port, we can take time off. If he takes leave and we want to explore Japan, we can take time off. If we want to go back to the states for two weeks in the middle of the school year, we can take time off.

If my girls are early risers, we can do some homeschooling early in the day. If they sleep late, or are sick, or need naps, we can homeschool whenever it fits in the schedule. If we'd rather go to a museum to learn about something, we can leave the books behind and head out into the real world. It's great to have our own schedule and have so much flexibility, especially while living in a foreign country.

4. The play time.

Does anyone else feel like kids don't play much anymore? There are so many tv shows, iPads, LeapPads, extracurricular activities, private lessons, etc., that kids are spending less and less time doing imaginary play. It may not sound important to you, but I want my kids to be able to play as long as possible.

We've been reading the "Little House" series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and there are days where my girls spend 2-3 hours playing together, pretending they are living on the prairie. They pretend their playroom is a log cabin, they hide food from Indians, they chase away bears, wolves and black panthers with their Nerf guns, they build houses with the couch cushions, pretend they have scarlet fever, and are in-character virtually all day. It's amazing to see their imaginations working on overdrive and to watch them work together to play well.

Will they be doing so much playing when they have to leave early for school in the morning and get back in time to go to an after-school class, have dinner and get ready for bed? I'm not so sure. Forgive me for wanting to let them play just a little bit longer.

5. My own education.

I loved school as a child. And I always did well. But I don't remember half of what I learned! Homeschooling is allowing me to learn alongside my kids. I don't know as much about animals as I thought I did. There is whole world in outer-space that I was missing out on. And don't even get me started on all the childhood classics I never read.

Things that never interested me before, are now interesting because my kids want to know about them. They get so excited to learn new things that it's often contagious. Would you believe that I never read any books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and now we're on our fourth? Reading to my kids each night isn't another chore, but something I look forward to because I enjoy the books with them.

There is also a much more personal component in that I have a little more time and flexibility available to pursue my own interests. If I hadn't stayed at home with my children the last few years, I highly doubt I would be able to cook as well as I do, that I would know how to thread a sewing machine, or that I would have a reading list so long. I want my kids to see the value in life-long learning, and I have to be a prime example of that.

Homeschooling may not always be the best fit for our family, and I'm not so adamant about it that I wouldn't change it if I thought something else would work better. Right now, however, we are in such a good place. Our days together have a wonderful rhythm and I sincerely enjoy spending every day with my kids. 

And if I didn't, you can be sure I'd be the first one at the Kindergarten sign-ups this fall.

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