Is HomeSchooling the Right Path?

For me it is, right now. How do I know?

This week, the baby decided nighttime sleep was overrated. As a result, my mental capacity for homeschool management waned. In this limited state, I called upon one of the overlooked benefits of schooling multiple children at home – making use of readers.

In high school and college, the local learning authorities on education told me, “if you want to really understand something, try to teach it to someone else.” This lesson gave me the boost I needed to initiate this experiment.

Unable to get my words straight that morning, I employed the help of my readers to act as teaching assistants for the day. Without me, their vocal leader, my readers learned why they should not use their music sheet as a prop while we sang the German folk tune, “Autumn Leaves.”

The eldest reader led story time at the end of our morning basket. My third-grade reader, more interested in reading independently than listening, read his history assignment on his own, answered questions orally, than went on to read the geography text to the first grader. The first-grader used her limited phonetic knowledge to read to the preschool student at nap time. The readers explained math problems, led the art discussion, and checked on each other throughout the morning. Remarkably, we finished most academic work in slightly less time than a normal day.

I was rejuvenated enough to conduct the drawing lesson, after which readers and non-readers draw for another thirty minutes before breaking for the day or finishing up their leftover lessons.

It worked

And it was a refreshing break. Throughout the day I overheard exchanges of banter, competition, comparison, help, excitement and praise over the diverse interests among my children. Sent out for recess, they have a friendship that supersedes the drama of intermittent friends because they know they are stuck with each other. We train them to work out their problems, to take the complaints to each other rather than us, to “use their words,” learn to apologize in a meaningful way, forgive, shake hands, and move on.

This hands-on education makes it possible, when needed, to pass the baton, and passing the baton teaches responsibility for the baton.

For us, it is working.

With all of life’s chaos and challenges, with sleep deprivation, personal weaknesses and imperfections, it is still working.

 It is a sign to me of the idea I have leaned on for several years now, parenting is not each individual moment, but the sum of those moments added together.

I am not defined by my bad days, and neither are you, whether with work, parenting or relationships. We are more than our individual moments, just as you are more than a bundle of traits. To know you is not just to know your favorite candle scent or coffee order, but to know what makes you tick, laugh, get offended and cool off.

When we can understand the deeper things that make us go, that is when we can begin to fully discern where is the right place for us, where we will best learn, where we will thrive and to read the bad days for what they are – simply a bad day.

What this means for you

I talk a lot about our homeschool days not because it is right for everyone, but because I found it right for us. On the path from the first inkling that we wanted to do this to four years later now that my heart is on board and fully engaged, I think there is some wisdom to be gained for other areas of life.

We may know it is the right path intellectually. Maybe not the most socially acceptable, logical or easiest path, but right for us right now. Time will tell. It either will work or it will not. If it does not work, it is okay to turn and begin a new path. When it does work, that means it’s time to celebrate.

Previously published in the weekly column, “Here’s to the Good Life!” in the Hughson Chronicle & Denair Dispatch.

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