Monday, December 14, 2015

Why Homeschooling Rocks For Our Family

There have been so many times over the past few years that I've been thankful we homeschool our children. Today I thought I'd share a few of the reasons that homeschooling ROCKS for our family. 

We declare our own holidays.
Making our own schedule is one of my favorite things about home schooling. We generally start our school year during the heat of summer so we can enjoy plenty of time off in the spring and fall. That's also when we take our family vacations so the weather's great and we don't have to deal with lines or crowds. 

Our field trips rock!
While other kids were cooped up in school, we have climbed a mountain, competed in homeschool olympic days, taken water survival lessons, visited the zoo, a horse ranch, an alpaca ranch, the lake, museums, parks, and pumpkin patches, ridden trains, toured the fire station and Auntie Ann's Pretzels, dug for crystals, gone fishing, hunted crawdads and caught butterflies. Sometimes we join other home schoolers for field trips, sometimes we go as a family, and sometimes it's just me and the kids. One time we took a three-family vacation with a couple of our favorite homeschooling friends at the start of the school year and our kids had the run of an entire huge castle all to ourselves. 

Little ones learn alongside older siblings. 
The other day I asked my 7-year-old what country captured Judah and took the Jews into captivity. When he hesitated, my 4-year-old piped up and said "Babylon." I mean, you have to admit that's cool. He then requested some play dough and went on playing while I did a history lesson with his big brother. Those ears are listening, and picking up more than I realize sometimes! 

We give the precious gift of SLEEP! 
Have you heard that studies show most kids get up too early and go to bed too late, resulting in chronic sleep deprivation? This is proven to affect their school performance, not to mention their mood and behavior.* 

I hardly ever wake our kids up in the morning. They get up when they've rested long enough. I wonder if this could possibly be a contributing factor to why homeschooled kids score an average of 37 percentile points higher than the national average on standardized tests. I don't know, but it sure doesn't hurt. Plus, we can enjoy a leisurely breakfast together at 8:30am, which is a lot more desirable to all of us than a rushed one at 6:45. (I appreciate this all the more after the occasional late evening, like birthday parties or gospel meetings.) Kids are just more likable when they're well-rested. And who am I kidding? So are moms.  

We have unrushed mornings.
I admit that I'm not a morning person, but I have to say, it's nice to not be rushing kids out the door every day. I'm not cramming food down their throat and scooting them out the door, yanking younger siblings (especially babies) out of bed so we can rush to school and sit in a long school drop-off line. 

We have no school drop off lines.
Apparently there are a lot of woes to school drop-off lines. I didn't realize this until I heard some friends ranting about the feisty, annoying parents who cut each other in line, hold up the line, or generally cause annoyance to every other vehicle around them. Who knew? 

Brothers make the best sort of buddies!
My boys get plenty of play time together, every day. I'm not pretending they get along perfectly, but they do enjoy playing together. A lot. I love that they love that. I mean, when you're an adult, who is more likely to still be significant in your life? That kid who used to sit next to you in second grade (who more than likely was annoyed by your little brother and made you think it wasn't cool to play with him), or your sibling who you spent your entire childhood building a relationship with? 

Our Co-Ops Rock.
We are fortunate in that there are a good amount of home schoolers in our area. We've joined groups for field trips and we've met up with other local homeschoolers at the park. But our favorite group is a small one that I started with two of my best friends who also happen to homeschool and have kids around my kids' ages. We meet every other week and do hands-on projects (that coordinate with our history studies), experiments (that go along with our science studies), and art. It's been great for our kids and for the moms. 

Our kids learn things that are true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely.
Our kindergarten year is spent exploring the wonders of God's magnificent creation through Science and nature. We begin our study of world history in first grade, learning from the triumphs and failures of the past and making sense of the world around us. We also read lots of quality literature, and we do picture studies, learning about great artists and seeing their masterpieces. We recently added character & habit training into the mix, and it is wonderful! No objectionable material here.

The best way to learn about life is by living it alongside someone you love.  
Life is filled with teaching moments, and the best ones usually come when you didn't plan them. Since we spend our days together, those moments come up around me rather than a stranger or someone who has an entirely different worldview than I do. We have had unplanned conversations about everything from terrorism to the beauty of creation to the wisdom of God's design for marriage and the family. The majority of these conversations took place during school hours and I can't help but think of what different answers they'd get if they were in school. 

You have to admit that homeschooling ROCKS! We wouldn't trade it for anything. 

*For more info, check out Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. It really impressed me with the physical need children have for sleep. 

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