Homeschooling: Dare to Reimagine Education

family home education Aug 20, 2023
Homeschooling: Dare to Reimagine Education

“Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”

– 1 Peter 4:10 


 

Introduction

Many people make the incorrect assumption that homeschooling is simply about location: traditional school done in the privacy of your own home. Some families may do this, but the vast majority of parents who choose to home educate don’t spend their days doing six hours of classes in a homemade classroom. Instead, they make their schooling work for them, reimagining the structure, flow, and style that so often are characteristic of the education process. 

Standards can be adjusted, requirements altered, and the schedule flexible. Some days may be longer, some weeks may be shorter, curriculums can be added to or skipped over, and breaks can be at completely different times. A family may follow a year-round approach rather than the typical September through June model, and schedule in breaks around a new baby, a family vacation, or planned periods of rest. No two families look the same, and homeschooling gives parents an opportunity to break the rules of what school is “supposed to look like,” reimagining what education could look like for their children. 

*Please note that each state handles home education requirements differently. No matter how you choose to school your children, make sure you are abiding by your state’s laws.

 

Self-Paced

Just as no two families are the same, no two children are carbon copies of each other when it comes to learning. Some kids come flying out the gate, reading before kindergarten and soaking up information like little sponges. Other children struggle deeply, either due to immaturity, learning disabilities, or simply being late bloomers. Homeschooling offers a tremendous benefit for all children, and that is the ability for kids to work at their own pace.

Children who struggle with one or more subjects can slow down and review, without feeling as though they’re behind their peers. This is especially important in the little years, when things like reading are often pushed onto kids at younger and younger ages. Some children - despite a teacher’s best efforts - don’t master the mechanics of reading until they’re in second or third grade, and this can do a lot of damage to how the child views their own intelligence. On the flip side, a child that grasps concepts quickly can leap ahead in school and start reading more advanced books or working on more difficult math concepts as soon as they’re ready. Sometimes a child who struggles in reading may be a whiz at math, and so slowing them down where necessary while also letting them advance where they can is a great way to highlight strengths and aptitudes.

Letting children self-pace also allows them to understand the helpfulness of goal-setting. When they’re small, parents can guide them through this process. As kids grow and take more ownership of their education, they can take the lead. Our older children completely set their own goals now, but our youngest still likes us to help. One thing that has surprised us is how aggressive some of these goals can be! Our son set a much more lofty goal for himself in math than we would have recommended, but he was determined to aim high and he reached his goal! Our kids are more capable than we know.

 

Interest-Led

While the school day in a typical classroom lasts approximately six hours, homeschooling can take much less time. This isn’t because children are learning less (in fact, the opposite is true!), but because so much time in school is spent on transitions and waiting for everyone to be ready to move onto the next subject. What takes six hours in a classroom could easily be covered in less than half that time at home, leaving a significant amount of free time available for children to pursue things that especially interest them.

Technology is a big bonus here. Online courses or personal video calls can be a great way to provide inexpensive lessons about all kinds of things that can be individualized for your child. And if in-person instruction is needed, parents aren’t forced to use up the precious two hours between school and dinner to rush everyone to their activities. Our daughter Leah took piano for years, but later was interested in learning to play the harp after seeing Catherine Haygood onstage. She now takes harp lessons in the afternoon when school is still in session for most kids, and we are able to be home in time to make dinner without any rushing around.

 

Child-Specific Learning Styles

Learning styles can drastically influence how well a child is able to grasp information that is given to them. Your visual learner may have thrived with a reading program that your auditory learner can’t stand: different kids, different brains, different processing. 

We encourage you to switch things up for your children if they are struggling. They might not actually have an issue with the subject itself, but the delivery system. We have a friend whose oldest daughter was a very kinesthetic learner as a young child. She thrived with a black-and-white math program that was straightforward and had lots of variety. When her sister started the same program two years later, she started struggling. This was surprising to their mother, because she had never struggled with pre-K math. After doing some research, she realized that her younger daughter was a highly visual learner like herself, and needed color to help differentiate math concepts. She switched curriculums and immediately, the struggle was gone and the little girl started flying through her new workbook.

 

A Family Schedule, Not a School Schedule

Educating children at home means that rather than bending your family life around school, your school bends around your family life. You get to decide what is emphasized in academics and how much time is spent on each subject and activity. We encourage you to look over your family’s vision and values to make sure that your schedule reflects those in a way that satisfies you.

Having a flexible schedule is one of the best things you can do, in our opinion. We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t have a rhythm to your day, just that you don’t want it to be rigid. Flexibility allows for creativity, spontaneity, and adaptability, which is vital to maintaining a balanced school and home life. When everyone comes down with the flu, friends pop by without warning, or a family vacation opportunity comes up unexpectedly, it’s reassuring to know that your educational plans will bend and flex, rather than shatter and fall apart.

 

Learning Outside the Home

Experiences are tremendous learning opportunities. Family vacations, camps, and field trips can all be utilized in your homeschool when they support your family vision and are intriguing to the members of your family. We sent Cole to a space camp this year because he is interested in aerospace engineering, and our entire family traveled to Indonesia on a volunteer trip in 2022. Both of these experiences were highly educational for our family, even if they weren’t strictly academic.

 

Conclusion

Choosing to homeschool gives families the opportunity to educate their children in a way that is uniquely designed around them. Forty years ago, the resources for this kind of education were severely limited, but this isn’t the case anymore. On the contrary, there are so many options that it can be a bit overwhelming to know where to start! Talking with experienced homeschoolers whose lives you’d like to emulate is a great place to start, but do know that you will put your own spin on things as you figure out what works for your specific family. It will take trial and error, so don’t be afraid to try something new if a curriculum or method isn’t working out. Like many things, homeschooling is a journey…and a fun one at that!

 

Key Points

  • Homeschooling gives you the freedom to help your children discover their interests and use their God-given gifts and abilities.
  • The flexibility of homeschooling allows you to live a life more consistent with your family’s vision and values.

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