Two months ago, I decided to homeschool my son, who is 4. Here in Ontario, he was registered to attend Junior Kindergarten (JK). And, I was never the kind of mum who wanted to homeschool her children! I used to count the seconds until JK would begin.
The only way to describe the internal shift that’s taken place in my heart is a “sea change.”
Let’s be honest: I would never have considered homeschooling as a viable option for our family if it weren’t for the COVID-19 pandemic. But now, after spending countless hours researching, reading, talking with other homeschool mums, observing my children, and taking steps to organize our home and life, I can confidently say: I now consider homeschooling not just a viable option, but a very beautiful and desirable one, for our family.
When I first started on this journey, I phoned up a friend who I deeply admire, who has homeschooled her two children from the beginning. She gave me wonderful advice, and many reading and research recommendations. She also recommended, since many homeschooling pedagogies don’t promote “formal” or intensely academic lessons before the age of 6, that I spend the next couple of years reading for myself, so that I can figure out exactly how and why we homeschool.
So far, I have poked through Montessori philosophies, the Charlotte Mason method, unschooling, world schooling, and the amazing Ambleside Online curriculum; I’ve connected with other homeschooling families on Instagram, and looked up many, many books. And while I hope to share many of my discoveries here along the way, the central lesson I’ve gleaned so far is this:
Homeschooling is not “school at home.” Homeschool is a lifestyle.
And for me, that lifestyle seeks to raise up children of character, faith, curiosity, and love.
Education should not consist of dumping information into the empty receptacle of a child’s mind. Rather, education should be conducted in a way that recognizes a child as first and foremost, a whole person. A person with his own personality, her own gifts, and their own desires and will. And, I believe that God has a unique purpose for each child committed to my care. My task, as parent and educator, is to observe my child, to discover more deeply who they have been created to be, and to help as much as I can to develop their innate personhood. I hope, with God’s help, they will mature into adults with a broad vision of the world and their place in it.
Through all of this, I keep the words of Darrell Johnson, one of my dear professor’s at Regent College, in the forefront of my mind: “Deep and lasting culture change takes about five years. Be patient.”
We need every drop of grace as we experiment with curriculum, daily rhythms, habit formation, and pedagogies. I observe and take note of what works for our whole family. I notice what piques my son’s interest, what sparks my daughter’s delight. I am trying (!) to set achievable goals, and then I ratchet my expectations even further down. And then I pour on grace upon grace.
This vast ocean of homeschooling that has been opened up to me has effected a sea change in my heart. I delight in my children daily (and let’s be honest, get driven crazy by them daily, too!). It has struck me just how wonderful my children are – curious, joyful, exuberant, outgoing, and excited about EVERYTHING! In the last two months, I’ve had time to notice how deeply attached our children are to my husband and I. You would think that living on top of each other all day, every day, as we have been during this pandemic, we’d be tired of each other. No! Even after a day of snarking at each other, my children still pile on top of me whenever I sit down and open a book.
Homeschooling is already showing me how to look beyond simply educating a child’s mind. Homeschooling my children allows us to fully live life together, for the love of and to the glory of God.
So while there will be much more to say about the practical nature of our days, I have these overarching hopes for our homeschool time together:
- That we learn to love and respect each other in practical and tangible ways, and stitch together an interconnected and love-filled family culture.
- That we connect with people from all over the world – in person, online, and in books – and be formed into better humans because of it.
- And, that as we discover the wonders of creation, and delight in God’s brilliant designs, we will deepen our faithfulness, and widen our dependence upon God.
Would you like to know what our homeschooling days entail, in practical terms? Stay tuned for my post on How We’re Homeschooling This Year!