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fresh books and markers: homeschool happies

Everyone loves to celebrate summer with the warm sun, barbecues, posicles, barefeet, and backyards! As we near August, our oldest is headed to kindergarten. I am looking forward to school supplies and the smell of new books! I am not in school currently, but I will always love shopping for pencils, pens, markers, and notebooks.

We are thought and prayed about what to do for school this fall, as in public, private, Christian, or homeschool. As a former homeschooler, I love this idea of school at home. First, let me give a little love to the public school people out there! My parents are public school graduates, and although all my siblings have been homeschooled at one time, they are also public school graduates. My husband is also a public school kid, and it is thanks to his computer teacher that he became a Christian in high school!

Homeschooling is not for every parent or every kid, and some may not understand exactly how it works. I want to share a bit about my homeschooling experience; what I learned and why I loved it. Sometimes homeschooling seems mysterious or weird so I want to shed some light! When I began homeschool in third grade, it was not very “cool” and homeschool had a reputation for being awkward and antisocial. You know what I mean! Now it has become more common and there are so many more options for homeschoolers out there! We can make it really fit our needs. Many are involved in extracurricular activities, church groups, and homeschool groups. Some groups offer traditional style classes throughout the week, too.

I attended a private Christian school in kindergarten through second grade. We moved farther away from the school, which had to do with the decision to homeschool, but also I was incredibly shy. After beginning school at home, this little brunette girl was taking herself to class at church by herself and gained a great amount of confidence I had been lacking. It might seem counterintuitive to homeschool a shy little human but it can provide stability to give confidence. It seems almost like taking a step back and a deep breath. A relief of pressure, if you will.

I finished at a school in Lexington, Ky., but the years of homeschooling I will not forget. I have three younger brother and sisters. We were all homeschooled one year, while the rest of the time, some were in school, some were at home. We took it year to year. At the end of each school year, we talked about what we wanted to do, looked into the school district we were in, and where we were personally.

Let me clarify that homeschool is not for everyone…or every year. Each child is unique and many factors go into deciding what is best, such as school district, personality, age, and academic needs. However, there are many benefits and lessons learned because of homeschooling.

Self-guided learning. As we aged and matured, we learned to follow lesson plans and to guide ourselves, which was a great skill in college. We learned to understand how to read for comprehension by looking at the first and last sentence of each paragraph.

Solid foundation in arithmetic and reading. Specialized attention given means the ability to make sure students really understand concepts taught. My mom knew if we were on track in a subject or if we needed more practice in an area of learning.

Personalized lessons. Homeschooling enables students to learn in the style they learn best. If a student is bodily-kinesthetic, lessons can be taught in an active manner through games and activities. For those who love visuals, colorful maps and diagrams can be provided.

Acceleration opportunities. Homeschooling allows for students to speed up to avoid boredom if needed. The opposite is also true. If a student needs more time on a concept, they are able to take more time to really solidify the skills. I had a difficult time learning money, so I remember playing “store” and “buying items” at home to provide opportunities to learn the value of each piece of money and how to give change.

Godly perspective. Curriculum can be a way for faith-based education or Biblical values can be taught through materials since the teacher, usually the parent, is in charge. Throughout the day at home, the Godly perspective can be shown using everyday situations in the ordinary stuff. This is so cool for little ones who are soaking in and enjoying learning about their world. They have excitement to learn and when they light up about God’s Word, there are no words to describe it.

Support for others. Homeschooling can provide opportunities to support others, particularly siblings, in their events and activities.

Creativity into school days. There are opportunities to serve others and visit people who are sick or shut in during traditional school hours.

Playing and running. As a counselor, I see that children learn best through PLAY! Especially for younger ones, homeschooling allows for movement, running, jumping, and playing outside. If workbooks are through, let them MOVE! This also helps develop a love for school and learning.

As we prepare for our first year of homeschool, I am a little overwhelmed thinking how this little five-year old life is dependent on me for a solid foundation of education! It is much different standing in front of the class as opposed to sitting at a desk. We are beginning to prepare for school and will be shopping for school supplies soon. We are looking forward to this fun year of learning together.

I want to encourage you homeschoolers out there to enjoy your time! It goes so quickly. Moms out there who teach at home, I send love and respect your way because it’s not an easy job! The late nights, tears, stress, and busy days are worth it!

Thank you also to all the wonderful teachers out there who give of themselves each school day to love children and teenagers, and teach beyond books. You make a difference and I support you in your work. You are a gift to each life who attends your classes. May God bless you as you prepare for another school year. May God prepare you for each valuable life who is assigned to you and I pray for relationships with each family you encounter.

If you have been a homeschool kid, what did you gain from your experience? Also, did you love the smell of your new school books (wink)?

Love, Charis

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