Three is the age at which many parents choose to have their children begin pre-school, and I have been anticipating the fall of Miranda’s three-year-old year ever since she was born. I’ve generally thought that would be the earliest time at which I could pretty legitimately begin doing some school work with her, and I’ve been looking forward to that from day one. As I’ve dived into researching curriculum choices over the past few months, I’ve also taken a step back to learn more about educational philosophies and reflect on the reasons that I want to homeschool our children, and along the way, Matt and I have had a lot of good conversations, as well. All of that is growing my excitement for what I anticipate us doing over the coming years, and before we even get started, I want to record some of my thoughts here.
One of the primary reasons I’m excited to homeschool our children is so that we can make the decisions about what we feel is most important for our children to learn and then spend our time and resources prioritizing accordingly. It is important to us that our children learn about God and about our spiritual beliefs and have an opportunity to see how we try to live out those beliefs. We also want to prioritize character development – teaching empathy and compassion, personal responsibility and a good work ethic, kindness and respect. We want to train our children in living life – planning and preparing meals, evaluating when it’s most important to stick to your schedule as planned and when it might be better to adjust at a moment’s notice to deliver a meal or help a young mom with her kids or just have a day of rest.
Beyond that, academics are very important to us. As I’ve mentioned before, Matt and I are dorks. Along with that, we’re also intellectuals. He is a professor, and I graduated summa cum laude with honors from Northwestern University. Few things are more satisfying to us than an evening spent reading classic literature or discussing a challenging essay. We believe that our children’s education is, first and foremost, our responsibility. We may delegate that task to others, but we are ultimately responsible for it. And we believe that we can educate our children academically at least as well as – if not better than – anyone else could do it, so we see no reason to delegate the job to others. We’ll have small class sizes and the ability to adjust our pace as fits our students best. We’ll have passion for the material we study (most of it anyway :)). We’ll be able to answer questions as they come up and relate what we’re learning in school to the rest of life. We’ll be able to use different tools to teach our kids various concepts, depending on what works best for their learning styles.
I’m also thankful for the opportunity to continue to deepen our relationships with our children as we do school together. I truly enjoy my girls and the time I get to spend with them. I love our conversations. I am thankful that I get to be the one to answer whatever questions pop into their minds at any given moment, and I want that to continue. I think it’s going to be a blast to read more books together and to introduce new concepts to the girls, to discuss the tragedies and triumphs in human history, to challenge their assumptions and help them develop their own worldviews. I can’t wait to see the glimmers of understanding as they grasp new concepts and to help them wrestle with the harsh realities of life on this earth.
Additionally, I look forward to continuing to provide them with good social opportunities. The first concern people usually have about homeschooling is socialization. Our girls interact with so many awesome people – members of our church family, Matt’s colleagues and students, and other friends – on at least a weekly basis. I find it hard to believe that their failure to spend 8 hours a day with other small children – who act like, well, small children – is going to hinder their growth into competent members of society. It seems to me to be far more likely that they will learn how to interact well with others by spending time with our friends Chad and Jill, who come over every week for dinner, followed by guitar lessons (Chad and Matt) and Bible Study (Jill and me), than they will by spending hours each day with three-year-olds, who need to be reminded repeatedly that hitting is not appropriate and that they need to take turns and share their toys with others.
Homeschooling is going to be great 🙂 I really can’t wait to get started officially this fall.