Monday, February 18, 2008

Another One of the Many, Many Benefits of Homeschooling

Seven years ago, when I was making the decision to homeschool or not, I did lots and lots of research. Madison attended 4-year-old pre-K at a local Christian school, and at the end of that year, I realized that I could have very easily taught her everything she had learned that year. I had also been reading about how we as parents teach our children up to the age of 4 or 5 and then often fall for the lie that we’re no longer capable of teaching them anything academically after that point. I don’t remember where I was reading this, but I was encouraged enough by the arguments against the lie that I was ready to listen and give some thought to homeschooling.

Another book I read during this time also encouraged me. I can’t remember the title exactly, but I think it was something like, "Should I Homeschool?" Pretty simple and straight to the point. I think I still have it down in my basement in a storage container, but I really don’t want to go dig through all that right now. This book had several good points, but one point in particular stood out to me. It was/is as follows:

"Children who are homeschooled early on and later enter a public or private school setting are often leaders among their peers." That statement was not the deciding factor in our choice to begin homeschooling, but I have to admit I liked the sound of that.

In recent days, I’ve actually seen that statement come to fruition as far as our oldest is concerned, and it is so hard to believe. (I had never really thought that would be the case with her as when she was younger it was all we could do to get her to look at anyone while they were speaking to her much less actually speak any words! After years of training her to at least look people in the eyes and smile if she can’t think of anything to say, she finally appears comfortable around adults.) During the time that she couldn’t play basketball because of her injured wrist, I made the comment to my husband (who was helping coach the team) that they appeared to have a third coach now. You could hear her from the bench cheering for her teammates and giving added instruction on what play or specific press they were supposed to be doing. When teammates returned to the bench, she would give them the congratulatory slap of the hand. When she got to play at the end of the season, she continued to behave in similar fashion on and off the court. What a blessing it has been to see these qualities being formed in her young life and to see her being an encourager to others. I’ve noticed it in other areas also, but I think we’ve been so consumed with basketball the past few weeks that this is where I’ve noticed it the most.

Did homeschooling play a part in this? In her case, I certainly think it did. I know there are leaders in a school environment who have never homeschooled, but I don’t think she would be who she is today had we chosen public school for her. She hasn’t had to face the ridicule, bullying, teasing, etc. that often occurs in that environment – especially among girls (we have friends in public school, so we know how horrible it can be.) Some children do great at ignoring those situations and handling them in a positive way, but with her personality, I’m not sure that would have been the case with her. We’ve often heard the comment that they’re going to have to face these situations sooner or later, so you might as well go ahead and let them experience it, i.e. "see what the real world is like." I completely disagree with that ridiculous statement. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to be home with her and her sisters all these years and train them in regards to their behavior (this is ongoing as we speak). By no means are they invincible, and they can still get their feelings hurt by friends at times, but I praise God that they haven’t had to deal with it as much as they would have if we weren’t homeschooling. They’re not perfect either and may have at times hurt their friends’ feelings. I may not have caught it every time, but it’s great to be in a position where I can catch it and use those situations for teachable moments and training in proper behavior.

I’m so thankful for this privilege of being able to teach and train my children at home. Lord willing, we never intend for them to do anything else. We’re in this for the long haul as long as God allows, and I pray that He does. And it’s not only Madison in whom I’ve seen these qualities. Cari is showing some leadership qualities as well. And then there’s Amelia. Sometimes she forgets that she is only two years old and tries to run the whole household….but that has nothing to do with homeschooling!

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