I was thinking this morning about a phrase that I say a lot when people ask me about homeschooling.
"It's a great way to raise a family."
Sure there are benefits like more flexibility during the day and during the year. Kids can work at their own pace and they have time to follow other interests. They can get a great education in 1/2 the time and usually don't develop the peer-dependence that many traditionally educated students do--but what I didn't know when we started homeschooling was the unvarnished fact that it is a great way to raise a family.
I am looking at this from hindsight now which is not always 20/20, but I think it does give a more well rounded perspective than we had when we were actually homeschooling.
When homeschooling five kids--4 boys and 1 girl--there is a lot of living that takes place every day. Every day we were together--all day long. The proximity alone can cause stress or it can cause closeness. Everyone needs to learn to pitch in together, everyone needs to be tolerant of everyone else and the older ones need to help the younger. We had to share our rather small house with each other all. day. long. And that is not easy. It is not easy to share parents, rooms, space and every waking minute with the same people, every day.
What a great way to raise a family. What a great way to learn how to share, to learn compassion, to learn to get along. It is also the way we got to really know each other. We know each others weaknesses and strengths, we know how to push each others buttons, but also how to make each other smile.
Chad and Kari shared a section of the upstairs [a finished attic area, roughly divided into rooms without doors, without closets. The closets were in the hallway for everyone to share]. I remember when she was about eight she was trying to make a counted cross stitch bookmark for Bob for Father's Day. She was trying to finish it up the night before, but threads were tangling and she was getting very tired and on the verge of tears.
Chad was reading in his bed and he said, "It's OK Kari, I can finish it up so it will be ready for Dad tomorrow." And he did.
How many twelve year old boys would do that for their sister? He knew how important it was to her. I am not sure many brothers would even understand that because they wouldn't be so in tune with their younger sister. And, what's more, Chad can still recite all the names of the original American Girls when asked! I don't think many twenty-something men can say that! [Probably not many would admit it if they could.]
I think the bonds that were forged over cross stitch, math problems, shared read-alouds, older siblings helping younger and late nights talking and playing in their attic paradise are unbreakable. The kids are mostly grown now--with Scotty [the youngest] turning 20 next month. They get together all the time for game night, movie night, ball games, going to concerts, taking care of each others pets and on and on. Three of the guys work at the same place and all five kids get together every Friday for lunch.
We were a close family before we started to homeschool, and I know a lot of great families who don't homeschool--but I believe with all my heart that for us, homeschooling was the best way.
Photos: Top 1990, middle Chad and Kari, bottom Kari, Scotty and Chad having a story before bedtime.