SummaryI will never lose my love of learning new things. Through my decision to homeschool, God’s grace has intervened in a way I can only now fully appreciate.
As a homeschooling mom for 20 years, I realized from the very beginning the many benefits of homeschooling my three children.
My husband and I were able to spend many more hours with each child, watching them grow academically and spiritually. We were able to spend more time together as a family.
We were able to take our vacations during the off-season when costs were cheaper. We were even able to sleep late on weekdays if we desired.
Now as I come close to the end of my homeschooling career, I have discovered another benefit of homeschooling that I had never really thought about. Strangely, unlike the other benefits that homeschooling has provided our family, this gift was given solely to me. By homeschooling my children, I have been blessed with an additional educational degree (granted, self-imposed) in lifelong learning.
When I chose to homeschool, I was forced, in a sense, to learn about things that I was not interested in as a child. In order to help my children write a book report, I had to read good literature, such as The Black Tulip, that I would not have personally chosen to read. History, a subject I found boring as a young student, came alive with deeper meaning regarding its political and social implications for society. Homeschooling has helped widen my scope of my learning while allowing me to better appreciate things I had shunned in the past.
I have also, of course, learned many new things during our homeschooling journey. Often, I found myself delving deeper into the subjects I was teaching my children, my curiosity driving me to understand more about platypuses, the battle of Gettysburg, and when to capitalize words such as “bible” (not capitalized in this case!).
The Christian Response
Often, I did not choose the new things I learned; they chose me. Instead of choosing to read a book to learn a particular subject, I learned various new things in a spontaneous way. I was constantly hit with a barrage of questions from children seeking knowledge. Sometimes I did not have the answers. When it arrived, the Internet was my best friend.
I have also solidified my knowledge in some subjects. In school, I naturally understood grammar and sentence structure. I did not require much formal teaching from my public school teachers. I enjoyed playing around with words to make the English language sound lovely. I loved the art of writing.
I started teaching my children grammar with the assumption that because I could write proficiently, I knew everything about English grammar. I was wrong. I discovered this the day I came face to face with sentence diagramming.
Diagramming was a foreign language to me. This was not taught in the public school I attended. Since I had survived thus far without this skill, I did not understand why diagramming was important to learn.
Together with my children, I attempted to tackle this daunting task. I have since learned the purpose of this exercise in analytical thinking. Seton’s strong grammar program in conjunction with teaching grammar to my children has helped me to be a stronger writer and communicator.
Building Confidence and Perseverance
Homeschooling has given me the courage to persevere in my shortcomings. I always enjoyed English and writing in school; however, math was a very different animal. By eighth grade, I had convinced myself that I could not succeed in math. The thought of “word problems” would raise my anxiety level. Also, I always wondered how letters could live together in a mathematical world that I only associated with numbers?
Today, I am teaching Algebra 1 to my daughter and I get it! Admittedly, I am still a little shaky with math beyond Algebra 1, but I now have the confidence that if I applied myself to those disciplines (and had the time!), I could conquer them as well. If I had not homeschooled my daughters, I may have never made this confidence-boosting discovery.
Reading literature along with my children has also turned out to be a great and surprising pleasure in my homeschooling life. While other moms with children in traditional classrooms were reading the latest books on the best-seller list, I was revisiting such classic literature as Little House in the Big Woods and The Scarlet Letter (which, by the way, I detested in 11th grade and enjoyed as an adult).
Rereading classic novels as an adult has provided insight that I missed when reading these books as a child. I find humor and sorrow where I missed it before.
I even feel compassion for those who did not revisit such wonderful novels as Charlotte’s Web and Anne of Green Gables as adults (which as a side note, will become part of Seton’s Reading curriculum this year).
As a child, it is difficult to understand what exactly defines good children’s literature. As an adult, I realize that good children’s literature is partially defined by the fact that I can still fully appreciate the value of the book as an adult.
As I enter my senior years, I realize how much homeschooling my children helped to “exercise my brain” (which, despite what this phrase implies, is not a muscle, but an organ). I would not replace all of the crossword and sudoku puzzles in the world with the “exercise” homeschooling has provided my mind. I can only hope that this “exercise” will help with all of the “senior moments” I meet as I journey on to the next stage of my life.
Most importantly, through homeschooling my children, I have a much better understanding of my Catholic faith. As a child of the early 1970s, I received very little formal faith formation.
Growing up in Baltimore, I thought the Baltimore Catechism was just one of many Catholic books written for each major city in America. I had never even seen the Baltimore Catechism until I began homeschooling with Seton.
Homeschooling helped me to truly learn the Catholic faith as I guided each child through their catechism and religious training. For this blessing, I will forever be thankful to God.
An Extra Bonus
As a schoolgirl, I was one of those children who loved learning for learning’s sake. With the maturity that adulthood brings, the materials that I learned in early life have taken on deeper meaning as I have revisited them while homeschooling my children, and the new knowledge I have gained is an extra bonus.
Because homeschooling has continued to fuel my desire for knowledge, I know I will never lose my love of learning new things. Through my decision to homeschool, God’s grace has intervened in a way I can only now fully appreciate.
I hope to play a role in homeschooling my future grandchildren so that I may pass on this honorary degree of lifetime learning given to me by God’s blessings.