by Holly Weaver
I have to be painfully honest that the very day I was asked to write this article, I asked that very same question to my husband- “WHAT was I thinking?” It was one of those days where my foggy, sleep-deprived brain could not keep up with the clock nor my children. You know, it was the king of day your three year old wakes up, ready to start her day, just about the time your baby finally settles back to sleep after a two hour long, middle of the night nursing/dozing session. She wakes up all the other littles with her chirping and singing and dancing, spilling cheerios with every twirl until the box is emptied on the floor that I just swept and scrubbed late last night. The day hits me smack in the face before the coffee is done dripping. And I might have sighed longingly as my neighbor loaded her littles onto that yellow school bus. It was THAT kind of day. And then begins the juggling act with chores with littles, nursing, piano practices mingled with tears, math facts, reading, messy diapers, spills, almost forgotten devotions, reminders to share, to obey the first time, to speak kind words and not to yell…oops, I needed that reminder too! Racing out the door to return overdue library books and buy some bread for lunch before the baby completely melts down for a nap, only to look in the rearview mirror and realize I forgot to brush my own hair and teeth in the midst of brushing 4 other heads of long hair and checking everyone’s teeth! Some days, I just want to quit. And then later the tears I have bravely held back start to fall, slipping silently from my closed eyes, when my 5 year old prays so sweetly at lunch, thanking God for the sunshine He sent to us and for her momma who makes her lunch and that we get to spend another day together. And she asks for extra energy and patience for her momma because “she is so very tired”. I sneak a peak around this full table and my heart floods full with thankfulness for these precious, bowed little faces. We pause from our playing, fighting, learning, rushing, and noise and give thanks to a good and loving Father. And in just one simple prayer, my heart is reminded of WHY! The reason behind why I decided to try this CRAZY idea of homeschooling! I slip out of my chair and steal a peek inside the door of my spice cupboard. My list is still hanging there to remind me… and maybe it will encourage you, also-to remember to sow richly and deeply into the short time we have with our little ones. A reminder to myself of “why”.
“Why I homeschool…”
1. To teach them the Word of God
Deuteronomy 11:19 “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up… so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors.” I am not such a great morning person, and by dinner, I am worn out… so for me, having my kids home during the day allows me much more time to teach them the Word of the Lord as we play, work, learn, and even during quiet time and story times! My heart’s desire for my children is that they will grow up to love the Lord with all their hearts and follow His Word.
2. To guard their young and tender hearts
Many of my concerned colleagues have asked if I am concerned about what my kids are going to miss out on by not attending school. I am very aware of what they are missing and it is fine with me. I am OK that they are not getting sex ed. taught by a stranger before they turn double digits or learning about inappropriate or illegal things on the bus from little classmates. I am OK with my kids missing out on being bullied in kindergarten or copying wrong behavior without immediate and Biblical-based consequences. There will be plenty of years ahead, at more age-appropriate times, to be exposed to the harshness and evil of the world we live in. While it is not easy, I love that I can work through many real life issues in a Biblical way, with prayer, and through heart-to-heart discussions with my children.
3. To choose what and how learning happens.
As a mom and teacher, I know my children learn in different ways, all have different interests, and strengths and weaknesses. My son is visual and needs to see it to get it. He told me the other day that he even sees things in his mind like photos that help him remember things. My kindergartener flew through her kindergarten math curriculum and I quickly moved her into first grade math, and soon to 2nd grade math when I realized math is her strength, and she has been helping my 1st and 2nd grader with their math! More than just memorizing facts and accepting information that is handed to them, I want them to critically think, ask questions, wrestle with problems and the hard stuff, work together as a team, and discover through inquiry.
4. To allow flexibility for our family.
On a practical note, homeschooling allows us to have more family time. With my husband’s work schedule, he would be leaving for work right before the kids came home from school, and he would only see them on the weekends. This just was not OK with us, and because he is home for the morning, having our kids home allows us to spend our mornings together.
5. To spend time outside.
There is something inside me that comes alive outside. I think it may be that I feel closer to God as I see His handiwork in nature all around me. And I have passed that on to my kids. This winter, I found one of my littles outside after dinner all bundled up, painting the sunset on her easel. It took my breath away to see her soaking in the beauty of His handiwork. And so we do much learning outdoors. Learning through playing, gardening, tending to our animals, hiking, bird watching, reading on the hammock, even packing up our schoolbooks and taking school to a park on a nice day!
6. To grow up together as forever friends.
This last reason is a bit selfish. You see, I was homeschooled for the second half of my schooling. And with the many years I spent day after day with my momma and my sister… well, I realize now how every day was such a gift. And today, they are my best friends. I pray the same for my precious girls.
It’s not easy. My days are loud, messy, overwhelming, often lonely and exhausting. Nor am I a perfect mom. I lose my patience and yell, my house gets messy, I am always behind in laundry, I am never enough to do it all well. Thanks be to God, He is working on me… I am a work in progress! But at the end of the day, I am thankful we sat at the breakfast table together, shared a meal, read the Word of God and prayed. I love that we snuggled and giggled over Silverstein, spent time holding fluffy new chicks in the spring sunshine, that I was the one to wipe tears and hand out Band-Aids, drilled math facts and spelling words, baked cookies just for fun, and listened to the miracles unfold as my kids learned to read! Yes, somehow, they learned!!! And I pray this encourages all mommas, whether working or staying at home, no matter where your babies are right now, embrace the hard. Because I am learning the best parts of life are usually also the hardest. Follow your heart and pour lavishly into them, because today is a gift. And tomorrow will grow what you planted today.
Holly Weaver graduated from Oral Roberts University in 2001. She returned to her hometown in upstate New York where she began teaching, met her husband, and finished her masters degree. After teaching for ten years, she now stays at home with her 5 children and homeschools her 2nd , 1st grader, and kindergartener. She also enjoys reading, running, gardening, and pretty much doing anything else outside.