It’s a question that I get asked often enough that I wish I had a snappy answer. In fact, part of the reason I started this blog is because I am asked that question so much, usually by parents new to or considering homeschooling. It is not an easy question to answer; I don’t have a short answer. I’d like to start answering, though, by using an analogy.
My kids are like growing plants. When they were little sprouts, they needed most of my time and attention. Now that they have grown bigger, it is my job to keep away the weeds and pests while providing the sunshine, nourishment and other beneficial things that they need.
What is considered a weed or pest will vary by home. In my home, for example, I keep away time-consuming distractions like television and video games. I understand that other families find these things enjoyable and worthwhile or at least acceptable at certain levels, but this is the choice I have made and it is working well for us. Unhealthy relationships definitely fall into the pest category.
The sunshine and nourishment of my plant analogy include basic things like good sleep and healthy food, two necessities that I see as HUGE yet often-overlooked benefits of homeschooling (my daughter REALLY needs sleep in the morning and is still asleep when the bus goes past our house). My nosy son who was just looking over my shoulder asked me to include playing outside. He says that has ‘changed’ him the most. Healthy community connections, as well as personal safety, are worth mentioning as two more basic needs, as many children in our world struggle to just safely survive.
Other beneficial things are the things we seek from outside our home, such as good books, useful resources, helpful people, interesting activities and outings, community classes, and healthy friendships (hey, we’re not really plants here!). We are proud to be some of the most frequent users of our local library!
Healthy family relationships rank high in the ‘beneficial’ category. My relationship with my children is the foundation of my homeschooling. If, for whatever reason, my relationship with one of my children became so difficult that I felt it would improve if I did not homeschool, then I might try public school for that child. Our relationship is more important than anything else. Given our personalities, open communication, my expectations, and the way I homeschool (more on that in a later post), I don’t foresee that happening, but I think it is important to be open to the possibility. I know people that have taken this route and it has been good for the whole family.
I see there is nothing in this post about homeschooling methods or curriculum. That’s because, in my family, those things are least important. My parenting style and homeschooling style are inseparably interwoven, but that discussion goes beyond my analogy. I’ll have more to say on that later. But I wanted to start here – I like my little plant analogy. What do you think? What would you add to this?