A note from Jamie: We’re halfway through our month in England, and you can catch up with all our adventures over on Steady Mom. A special highlight this past week was visiting Charlotte and Emily Bronte’s home! I’m enjoying some of the best advantages of homeschooling at the moment, which brought to mind this post. It originally published on March 7, 2011.
Six years ago, after I became a mother for the first time, I began getting to know other mothers in the community where we lived.
A few of these seasoned moms homeschooled their kids. Back then, I didn’t know anything about homeschooling. Like many, I thought it seemed just a little…different. Odd. Strange.
Most of the time when I overheard these women talking about their educational choice, and why they were doing it, the reasons seemed to have one thing in common.
Can you guess what it was?
It wasn’t always spelled out like that. Sometimes it sounded more like this:
- Have you seen the state of public schools recently?
- My kids might get involved with the wrong crowd.
- My kids might be influenced in a negative way.
- My kids might be teased and bullied.
- My kids might be abused.
- You never know when they’ll be another school shooting.
- My kids might not get the attention they need.
Fear. It’s a bad motivator and a worse master. It’s not strong enough to see you through the long haul of homeschooling–the ups, the downs, the daily challenges. (By the way, fear is also the worst reason to send your kids to traditional school–as in the fear of homeschooling and taking full responsibility for your kids’ education.)
Fear is just simply bad news.
At times I could see the point behind what these homeschooling friends were saying. But I didn’t want to make decisions in my life based on fear. I decided to look into homeschooling, to see if it had anything else to offer.
And then I was blown away.
Why had no one ever told me about how incredible this could be? How it could offer such a unique and amazing education for my children? Forget fear, this was plain and simple a wonderful opportunity–an adventure we could embark on as a family.
I made a list of my own motivations. Why was our family doing this?
Here are some of the reasons:
- Belief that individualized education is better than institutionalized education
- Freedom for our children to progress at their own pace, without being labeled as either slow or gifted
- Freedom for our children to pursue their own passions and interests and enjoy “self-directed” learning
- Belief that this is what God wants for our family at this time
- Freedom to bring an international focus to our family’s education
- Belief that thinking independently is of greater value than learning to “perform,” and a more valuable skill to have in the “real world”
- Promotes a strong sense of family relationships, provides enough time for individualized attention for all the children
- As a mother, no one is more committed to my children’s success than I am.
I wrote this list so I could focus on homeschooling’s benefits, its opportunities, its blessings.
I wrote it to reread on difficult days–days when I question, days when I doubt.
Days when I fear.
Our children’s emotions feed off the atmosphere we create in our home. If we create a culture of fear, we feed them fear. If we create a culture of confidence, we feed them confidence.
Which do you want to provide the nourishment for their souls?
I recently came across this quote in the excellent book, Simplicity Parenting. The words, by journalist Ellen Goodman, ring so true that I find myself considering them regularly:
“The central struggle of parenthood is to let our hopes for our children outweigh our fears.”
May we have the courage to banish fear from the doorways of our minds, our hearts, and our homeschools.