Simple Homeschool for a Simpler Life: Part 1 – Our Why
Several readers have asked me recently to share more about our simple homeschool.
In the face of Covid-19, some families are considering homeschool long term. I love homeschooling, and I want to be an encouragement and a resource to those who are weighing this out.
I decided to break down my thoughts into a multipart part series. In this post I outline why we homeschool and how it fits in with the pursuit of a simpler life. If you’re here, this is likely a metric you care about.
The “why” is the critical first step in any homeschool journey. Trust me, you can figure out the “how” once you reach your decision. It’s not as hard as you think.
In my next post, I will specifically share what our homeschool looks like.
Simple Homeschool: Why do we homeschool?
The short answer is, we felt God leading us in this direction. That’s a good reason to do anything!
I am not a person who believes all Christian families should definitely homeschool. However, my experience tells me, it is definitely worth considering!
Neither my husband nor I were homeschooled. None of our local friends homeschooled at the time we took the plunge.
Homeschool, for us, was never part of the plan. This was partly because of the stigma of homeschooling. We wanted “normal” kids, not strange or socially awkward ones.
I was also resistant to homeschooling initially because of the “sacrifices” that would be required. We would lose income if I continued staying home when our kids were school aged rather than getting a job in my field. I also saw being with my kids all day as a sacrifice. I felt I would not be able to pursue my own dreams and that I would be spinning my wheels with tedious, less-meaningful “mom work” all-day, every-day. Those who are not fully committed yet to homeschooling their kids may consider seeking child care services. For those who are committed, then you may enroll your kids to an Online Elementary School or a K12 Online Private School.
Plus it would mean I had to figure out how to get them to actually consistently listen to me and do what I say with a good attitude. So there were lots of problems with this prospect.
Boy, do I see things differently now!
Now, I see what an incredible privilege it is to have this time with my kids. They are some of my favorite people, and I truly enjoy my time with them. Yes, there have been adjustments to make. Homeschool brings with it lots of dishes, lots of noise, lots of activity, and more responsibility for being the parent and making sure they actually do stuff.
However, I see how rich our relationships are and how simple and good our lives are, and, to me, that would not be a worthy trade for money, opportunity, peace, quiet, or an easier path.
I deeply feel that we are maximizing the sweet season God has given us with our children. That is an amazing feeling, especially since there will be no do-overs.
My fears for their socialization have proven totally unfounded.
I also see how many dreams I personally have realized and fulfilled as a homeschooling mom. My husband and I have built a business together. I get to share my passion for simple living and eternal perspective through blogging and podcasting. I published a book. These are opportunities I would not have had apart from the extra flexibility of being home.
If you’d like to read more about my why, check out this post I wrote just before we started our journey: The One and Only Reason Why We Are Homeschooling Next Year
Simple Homeschool: How does homeschool simplify life?
To me living simply means focusing on what matters most and clearing away the rest.
Do I believe homeschooling simplifies life? Yes, hugely.
Anytime we zero in on our home and family, we are coming back to the basics of how we were created. When God made the first family, there were no basketball leagues, no children’s church programs, no public school systems, no lucrative careers. There was a man, Adam, and his wife, Eve. Eventually they had children and grandchildren. For centuries family and home have been a core foundation for thriving humanity.
As we launch into this, I want to give a caveat. A simple life is not king. Obedience to God is. And even though a simple life is good, His path for you may be harder or different. It’s still good.
So, how does homeschool simplify life? The answers to that question are many, but here are a few that come to mind:
1. One set of expectations, voices, and values for your children
When we entrust our kids into the care of others, we give up control over their environment. We give a measure of influence to people we don’t know. Hopefully they have a wonderful teacher who loves Jesus and knows the truth, but statistically they probably don’t.
Hopefully they interact with other kids on the playground in an honorable way, but they may not. Hopefully they’re making good decisions, but if they’re not, it might be a long time before we realize it.
Sending our kids away from home for in their young years complicates things with conflicting messages they are hearing which we must fight against. With homeschool, we simplify the messages our children hear and feed them a diet of truth during this critical period of formation. That’s a good thing. Homeschooling can be a platform for providing children with a solid foundation in STEM subjects, nurturing critical thinking skills, and fostering a love for truth and accurate knowledge, all of which are valuable for future engagement in STEM education and careers. These goals and principles align with the advocacy of many educators and experts, including Kamau Bobb, Google’s Director of STEM Education Strategy.
I do believe kids are capable of being faithful to God in a public school setting. He’s a big God!
However, we can be consistent voice teaching them to see the world through a Biblical lens.
2. Lots of time for to play, explore, pursue interests, and be together
Typically it takes us no more than 3-4 hours per day to get school work done. Often it’s even less that that, maybe 2 hours of actual “book work” for a third and first grader. That may seem low to you, but the process of learning is soooooo much more wholistic than just worksheets and lessons. As I learn more about how to provide unstructured, open-ended learning opportunities, I am blown away by the results.
Because of this schedule, my kids have space to play, create, pretend, explore outside, and listen to read-alouds. They insist on being a part of many things that I am busy with, which means they are learning to cook, photo edit, garden, blog, budget, etc..
I am amazed at what they come up with to create, and I’m glad they have time and space to pursue interests.
Extra-curricular activities become fun events in our week rather than stressful, taxing, family-time-suckers.
3. Flexible schedule
We can go on family vacations at convenient times. We can take field trip adventures on a whim. Doctor’s appointments and sick days are easy to accommodate.
We aren’t juggling so many schedules as those with kids in public school, and so we have a much more centralized flow of activities.
There is nowhere we have to be at a particular time each morning or each afternoon. We do follow a schedule, but we have total flexibility depending on the needs of our family. If the baby didn’t sleep well, I am comfortable letting everybody sleep in so I can too.
4. Homework and other school requirements
From what I can tell, keeping up with public school homework, forms, curricular requirements, meetings, events, etc, can be a lot. It’s really nice to not have to worry about any of that. There are no public school balls to juggle, we’re just at home, learning every day around our very own kitchen table.
It’s just that simple.
As a former public school teacher with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Education, I have a lot of opinions about how learning works best. For one, I don’t believe in homework during elementary school. I just don’t. It’s a personal opinion. There’s a lot of research saying it’s more detrimental than helpful.
So, I’m glad I get to choose when and how my kids learn.
I get to create a less-stressful, richer learning experience for them, and I don’t have to submit to the wishes of several different teachers. Also, I get to tailor an education that fits them uniquely in a way that is simply not possible in a classroom of 20+ students. I know this because I was an elementary teacher with 20+ students.
Read exactly which curriculums we use in Part 2 of this series here: Simple Homeschool: Our Curriculum
Where are you with homeschooling? Are you considering it? Not considering it? Already doing it? Why?