I am blessed to be raising a family of second-generation homeschoolers. My husband, Paul, was homeschooled as a missionary kid growing up in Korea and loved it, so we knew before we got married that we would homeschool our children.
I want to clarify from the beginning that I am a lifestyle homeschooler. For us, the choice to homeschool our children ultimately comes down to believing that it is the way we can best obey God’s command to teach our children to know Him and His world. This is not to say that every family must reach the same conclusion. It is simply to say that we have a long-term personal commitment to homeschooling and see it as far more than simply another educational option. I am sharing my thoughts with you today because I love homeschooling; I see so many benefits from it, and I want to encourage those who want to homeschool to help them succeed.
The way Paul and I are homeschooling our children is very different from the way Paul was homeschooled, but I want to tell you more about both families to show you how some of the biggest benefits of homeschooling carry across no matter what your style is.
The first family I will refer to as “Paul and his brothers.” There were four of them, born in less than four years. Paul is the oldest. They began homeschooling when they were in second through fifth grade, and their mother is an extremely well-organized, logical, math-teacher sort of person.
The second family I will refer to as “our children.” There are nine of them, born about every two years. Our oldest is twenty-two, and our youngest is six. We have always homeschooled them, and the mother in this family is not highly organized, or necessarily very logical and definitely not a math-teacher type.
There are many different styles of homeschools; this is one of the beauties of homeschooling. We can step out of the box of “what education has to look like” and tailor our children’s education to their needs.
Paul and his brothers were very much in what we often call a school-at-home setting. Homeschooling was barely even heard of in 1975 when they started, so Paul’s mom took the textbooks used by the missionary school in Korea, divided each book into 180 assignments, and that was what the boys studied. Their school began each morning at 8:30 and ended at lunch time, which was generally plenty of time for them to finish their work.
Our children, on the other hand, are growing up in what I call a relaxed homeschool. We do have textbooks, although they are from a wide variety of places, some of them unconventional. We do keep grades and make transcripts for our high school students. We are always working at improving our productivity and organization. But academics happen at all different hours of the day or evening, and we’ve been known to take two years instead of one to finish textbooks. Our younger children are often behind in math for a few years while their unusual curriculum runs its course (thankfully, they’ve all caught up just fine when they reach high school). For our younger kids, reading biographies or good historical fiction makes up most of their history curriculum. Reading magazines like Nature Friend or Creation is their science curriculum until they reach high school.
However, both families have experienced some of the great benefits of the homeschooling lifestyle in spite of the surface differences between them. Here are some of those benefits:
First and best of all, homeschooling provides greater opportunity to share with your children your love for the Lord. Paul’s parents are incredibly blessed to see not only their four sons living for the Lord but also their eighteen grandchildren, who are all homeschooled, and to see their great-granddaughters being raised by godly parents. Our children’s spiritual growth and their love for the Lord is exciting and gratifying, and we are thankful for the time we have to teach them, pray with them and encourage them in their love and obedience.
Secondly, homeschooling provides the opportunity for your family to grow close and be able to do things together. Paul and his brothers helped build their home in Korea after their house burned down. Our children were able to help build our home about seven years ago. Both our families love reading aloud together and have shared many wonderful books as families. Paul and his brothers are all capable in the kitchen, which is great at Thanksgiving. Our children, too, love cooking and baking, and we spend many hours together in the kitchen. Paul’s current job is delivering bread, and he employs each of our children on a different day to work with him, cutting down considerably on his hours, providing great work and life experience for our children and best of all, giving him the opportunity to spend hours with them each week.
Third, homeschooling provides the flexibility to work with each child’s strengths and weaknesses. Paul’s youngest brother was a late bloomer who struggled with school and reading well into high school. Although his mother was very structured in her homeschooling, she also had the wisdom and flexibility to work with Bill at his own pace, which eventually paid off. One of our children has struggled all his life with what we eventually discovered to be mercury toxicity and related health problems. This manifested itself in major behavior issues and symptoms that looked almost autistic. Many of these things we did not understand until the last two or three years, but what we did know was that Elijah needed to move along at his own pace with much patience and understanding. Thankfully for him, too, most of these struggles are now in the past.
Paul had the freedom in high school to spend hours putting together a newspaper that chronicled the summers the missionary families spent together on a mountain in Korea. One of our children spent hours and hours writing novels in high school, sent one off to Tate Publishing almost on a whim and received a contract for the book when he was seventeen.
Fourth, homeschooling works academically, in spite of our imperfections. If you wonder whether your child will be able to compete in college or the work world if he is homeschooled, I assure you that homeschooling does not have to be done perfectly to bring about amazing results academically. Paul’s brother Bill, who struggled for so many years and declared he would never go to college if it meant writing, loves writing and ended up getting his master’s degree in film, writing scripts, poetry and essays. Paul and his brothers all did well in college and all are independently employed.
Our oldest child was a fine student in high school but not outstanding, and I felt that he had plenty of gaps in his education when he graduated. Now he has graduated with honors from Covenant College in Georgia.
Our second son, the author, is in his second year of Medieval Studies at the University of Wales in the United Kingdom, and last year he had second and third year students asking for help writing essays. His education was also one that I felt was lacking in many ways, with gaps and weaknesses, but he also is doing great in the college world.
So these families who look so different at first are both examples of the multiple blessings of a lifestyle of homeschooling, of seeing all of life as an opportunity to learn, to grow and to draw closer to our Creator and of serving Him together with our children. The benefits I mentioned here: more time to share our love for the Lord, family closeness, tailoring homeschool to our children’s strengths and weaknesses and academic success are some of the wonderful reasons I am a homeschooling mom.