Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Back in the homeschool classroom: Why we teach our own

Anyone who knows me knows I homeschooled my children for 16 years and, during that time, served as newsletter editor with our homeschool group in North Carolina and later, after moving back home to Virginia, served in leadership for eleven years with PEACH -- Parent Educators of Augusta County Homes -- as newsletter editor, teen coordinator, field trip coordinator, secretary, president, and anything else that was needed.

Even though my days of teaching at home are over -- my oldest graduated from James Madison University in 2007 and my youngest will be graduating from Mary Baldwin College this May as part of the Class of 2012 -- I never lost contact with the homeschool community. I keep up with issues that concern them, government regulations that may affect them, and read articles from moms who are just beginning or in the middle of their homeschool journeys.

Today I read an article that oh-so-hit-the-nail-on-the-head. It was passed along by a homeschool mom friend who used to be in PEACH but moved a few years ago to Georgia and is still teaching at home, and was written by a Texas homeschool mom who has just begun the homeschool journey with her four children.

Out of all the questions of why and how that came from people throughout the years -- why do you homeschool? how can you stand to spend all that time with your children? how can you afford it? where do you find the patience? -- this mom answered in one of the best ways I've heard.

After writing of the days when it's difficult and she's ready to throw in the towel and call it quits, she explains why she doesn't quit:
Homeschooling “works” for our family because we make it work.  It is a priority.  A calling.  Even a conviction. Because of our commitment to homeschool, there are many other things we aren’t involved in, don’t spend our money on, don’t invest our time into.  Not because some of these “other things” are bad, but because they would rob us of these precious years to nurture and train our children.
But then this wonderfully honest, young, homeschool mom summed it up in one of the best ways I've ever seen homeschooling explained. In one short paragraph, she gave the reason we do it:
I can only homeschool my children once in my lifetime and theirs.  Now is that time.  It is up to me, and to my husband, to make these days count.  For eternity. This is why I choose to get up every morning, sit down at our dining room table, and teach my children in the best way I know how.
And that, in a nutshell, is it. We only have one chance -- take it or forever give it up. When people say, "Enjoy your kids while they're young because those years will quickly pass," they aren't kidding.

The Texas homeschool mom was far more eloquent that I could ever be -- my blunt assessment over those times of exasperation during my days of educating at home was, "Some days I wanted to pull my hair out!"

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Do I miss it? You bet I do. Do I now enjoy my time to myself and exploring what I want to do? Far more than anyone -- other than a fellow homeschool mom -- would probably understand because after spending 24/7 with my kids for all those years, it's wonderful to follow my interests. Am I grateful for the opportunity to homeschool my children? I thank God and my husband for making it possible because I had an opportunity that others may want and cannot enjoy.

I'm still learning from the homeschool moms coming behind me ... and I am happy to offer what knowledge and experience my homeschool journey can provide to them. Meanwhile, we must protect our homeschool freedoms so others can enjoy the exhilaration -- and frustrations -- of growing and teaching their own.

Picked up and linked at Everything Homeschool

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