November is the traditional time of year for giving thanks to God for all of our blessings during the course of the year, but any day is a great day for giving thanks for homeschooling. After eight years of homeschooling, I have many reasons to be thankful.
1) The Chance to Share our Catholic Faith on a Daily Basis with My Children
All Catholics are called to share the faith with their children, but with a traditional school schedule and extracurricular activities, life can get very busy and the opportunities for passing on the faith can end up limited to the weekend.
With homeschooling, I get to see my children for a good part of every day. We have the opportunity to pray together. I can also make sure that they have a solid faith foundation that includes, but is not limited to, religion class. As topics come up in science, literature, or history, I can include the Catholic viewpoint. For example, this year my teenage sons are studying biology. I’m incorporating one bioethics issue a month into our curriculum for us to explore from a Catholic perspective.
Also, while my children are far from sheltered and interact several times a week with both public and privately educated students, they aren’t spending six (or more) hours a day with their heads being filled with outside influences. A Catholic environment is their primary environment and that means a great deal to me.
2) The Ability to Customize an Education
Both of my older children have learning challenges. Homeschooling has provided the opportunity to customize their education to best meet their learning styles. We have been able to move at the pace they need and to make accommodations without having to deal with the school bureaucracy. We don’t have to wait for an IEP meeting; we can try a new approach when the old one isn’t working.
3) The Chance to Enjoy my Children as They Grow Up
When my older children were small, they went to traditional school. They came back in the afternoon tired and cranky. We then had to deal with homework (the worse part of the day) and getting them fed, to sports practice, and to bed at a reasonable hour, only to have to struggle with them in the morning to get them up and ready for school. For my oldest son, that often involved actually picking him up out of bed.
Homeschooling isn’t perfect and we still have our struggles, but it has meant that school doesn’t get the best version of them, while I am left with the tired, cranky leftovers. I get to see them throughout the day. There is time to have many positive interactions in the course of a day. We have the opportunity to spend time together talking, reading, going for a walk, cooking, or playing a game. Whatever my children might hold against me in my parenting (and I freely admit I have my faults), they won’t be able to say that I didn’t spend time with them or that we didn’t have fun together. That means a lot to me.
4) The Gift of Time
Homeschooling takes less time than traditional school. The ability to work one-on-one with each student means that you can target instruction on areas of difficulty while moving quickly over concepts that are grasped easily. There is also no need for the administrative tasks and waiting for others that take up so much of a school day.
As a result, children have more time to explore their own interests. Younger children have more time to play, create, and imagine. Older children and teens can begin to figure out what they want to do with their lives and focus on those areas of interest. Both age groups can take part in outside activities without the stress of coming home to a pile of homework.
5) The Ability to Get Enough Sleep
School-aged children need about 10 hours of sleep a night and teens require 9 – 10 hours. If a child needs to get up at six a.m. to get ready for school, he or she needs to be in bed at eight p.m. A teen would need to be in bed by 9 p.m. in order to get a full night’s sleep. How many teenagers do you know who go to bed at nine o’clock? Sleep-deprivation is a huge problem for teens. Lack of sleep impacts adults as well. The ability to get up at seven or eight a.m. is a great blessing. As homeschoolers, we can make sure that most nights everyone, including Mom , gets enough sleep (for info on why sleep is important to you, read more here).
6) The Gift of Wonderful Friends
Through our local Catholic homeschool group, both my children and I have made some amazing friends. I’m so thankful to have a community of women to learn and pray with. We support and encourage each other on both the good and bad days. My children have developed lasting friendships as well, not only with others their own age, but with those older and younger.