I once was accused of choosing to homeschool because of a desire to shelter my kids and shirk my responsibility of having them “be in this world and not of it.” At the time, I couldn’t tell if this statement stung so because it wasn’t true, or because it was. I realize now that it was both.
Yes, I do want to shelter our kids . . . at least somewhat.
Yes, I do want to preserve their innocence.
Yes, I desire to introduce them into the world gently.
While I believe in raising our kids to “be in this world and not of it,” I maintain the raising part should be preliminary. Yes, as Christians we are called to be “a light on a hill” and “the salt of the earth” but . . . might I submit, all in due time? Jesus didn’t start His ministry until He was thirty. Can’t we give our kids at least half that long —nourished by a safe, slow, sacred unfolding— before sending them off solo, expecting them to somehow navigate a culture of confusion before they’ve even half developed their minds, bodies, faith, and sense of self?
Should we not fully train up our child’s heart, soul, and mind muscles prior to the heavy expectation to stand up, stand firm, and stand out?
All that aside, none of the above arguments or statements hit on our main “why” for choosing to educate at home. The same goes for all the other questions that hound homeschooling families today (particularly on the internet). So, let me address those as well, before moving on.
- Am I an elitist? If feeling friendly toward idealism is elitist, then maybe.
- Do I think I can do a better job than the system? Frankly, yes. Yes, I do.
- Do I homeschool out of fear? You betcha! I’m half kidding. Then again, “the fear of God is the beginning of all wisdom.” While fear is not a driving force for our continued choice to homeschool, it was most certainly a factor in the initial decision to educate our children at home. After all, I was a middle school teacher before we had kids! 😆 There’s a surefire path to becoming a homeschool advocate.
Once again, however, all the above answers pale in comparison to the #1 reason why my husband and I are still committed to homeschooling for this season of our children’s lives, and why we plan to continue. While the answer itself is simple, it’s also difficult to spell out in a word or definition, and even more difficult to extrapolate into practical life. It would be much easier if I could show our answer —invite you into our home to experience the true heartbeat of Our Holistic Homeschool.
So, here’s our WHY— the main reason we choose to educate our children at home— shared in story more than definition. By the way, it’s ok if our why isn’t yours! God created more than 400,000 species of flowers for us to enjoy. Why in the world would we assume that all should bloom the same?
The Pajamaed Professor
A few mornings ago, I lay snuggled up in bed long past the hour printed on my neat and tidy schedule. Our little “Goldilocks” had come to our bed not once, but twice during the night announcing to the world, “I had a bad dweam!” There she laid, curled beside me in her safety cocoon with some sort of imagined dreamcatcher in residence exclusively over Mama and Papa’s bed. The first fingers of the gray-blue dawn danced on her halo of honey curls that spilled over Papa’s pillow. Her little warm fist reached to kiss the tip of my nose, just to ensure I was still there, and both legs draped over my torso.
I’d started to limbo myself free an hour or so earlier but had given up before putting up much of a fight. It doesn’t take much to tether me under a feather duvet on a chilly winter morning. And with our baby “Goldilocks” now four years old, I find myself extra reluctant to start the day, savoring all the sweet snuggles I can get.
I’ll always have yoga, journaling, projects, and housework to do. I won’t always have a flannelled, rosy-cheeked cherub breathing warm, wispy, dream-filled breaths beside me.
So, I just laid there, a captive of cuddles, listening to the rise and fall of her little chest, thinking about the day ahead and the days, weeks, years gone by. I can’t remember the last time the “Captain” (our seven-year-old son) came to our bed after having “a bad dweam.” I almost wish he would have a terror now and again, just so I might say to him “it’s ok, darling, it was just a dream” one more time.
That’s the worst thing about lasts; they remain strangers until they’ve vanished. Only then do you remember ever seeing them and wish you’d become friends, if for no other reason than to say goodbye.
I watched the sun slowly envelope our living room from our open bedroom door. My mind began to work over the day ahead and I imagined how late it must be, how behind I was falling on my to-do list, all the while not daring to disturb my angelic guest. The tug-of-war that is parenting.
Suddenly, there he was, clockwork boy that he is. The “Captain” came striding down the hall, a true Dapper Dan donned in red flannel pajamas, book clutched in one hand swinging jauntily at his side. One boyish finger jammed firmly into the pages to hold his place as he stared steadfast ahead, his brow furrowed in imaginings.
He was a scholarly vision in the glow of a mountain sunrise. If a pair of spectacles had rested on his nose, and a pipe had peeked out of his lapel pocket, he would have been the world’s youngest professor.
The Captain was on a mission, I could tell. “Good morning, son” I greeted him as Goldilocks stretched, sighed, and blinked her eyes, a perfect picture book illustration come to life.
“Good morning” he brushed over dutifully. “Mama, did you know my new book has Erik the Red and his son Lief Erikson??” he stared at me wide-eyed, waiting for me to make the connection. Unfortunately for him, I didn’t.
“Oh, it does?” I answered vaguely, propping myself up on my pillow.
“Erik the Red and Lief Erikson!” he declared again, calling my bluff and raising his voice to help bridge the translation gap. He hates it when I’m a foreigner to his thought-life. Despite the increased volume, however, I still had nothing.
“Just like in my Odyssey audiobook!” he said, exasperated.
“Oh! That’s right!” I affirmed, emerging from my cozy coma. Goldilocks yawned.
“Yeah!” the Captain forgave me as he always does. “Lief Erikson was Erik the Red’s son, and he discovered the Americas 500 years before Columbus. 500 YEARS! If his dad hadn’t been a Viking, Lief probably wouldn’t have become an explorer; he wouldn’t have traveled and learned about God and become a Christian, and he would never have found America! And then maybe Columbus wouldn’t have found it when he did! It was colonized 700 years after Lief discovered it, 200 years after Columbus! That means that if it hadn’t been for Lief and his dad . . .” he whispered this next part for dramatic effect, “none of us maybe would even be here! Like all the wars we’ve won . . . like when we fought Germany and defeated that really horrible guy . . .”
“Hitler,” I interjected.
“Yeah! Hitler. Maybe none of that would have happened! Maybe those wars wouldn’t have been won. Maybe you and I wouldn’t be here, and the United States wouldn’t even be a country!” He leaned back on a pillow and took a much-needed breath.
“That was a lot of words, Bro-Bro.” She rolled over onto her side, groaned weakly, and pinched her eyes tight shut.
“Too much talking,” she added in a whisper. God gave me a soul sister for a daughter. Thankfully, the Captain seemed not to hear, or care. Somehow, he was far away from us now, perhaps exploring the open seas, scanning the horizon for the Americas.
“It’s all pretty amazing when you think about it,” he said softly as he stared up at the ceiling. I smiled and gazed at the planks and rafters somehow a picture before my son’s eyes. I drank in the moment. The warmth, the innocence, the sleepiness, the fervor, the contentment, the joy, the discovery.
“It really is son. It really is.”
A thought washed over me as the sun streaked across the room and lighted on the floorboards. It’s a thought that often comes to me, not every day, but faithfully it comes on its own timetable by the week or month or season. Perhaps it’s a realization, an epiphany, or merely the romantic musings of a sentimental mom. You may decide.
Whatever its name, the thought is this: if our son was enrolled in a school, none of the above would have occurred. The events that had unfolded this enchanting morning would have been swallowed in a rush of schedules. I couldn’t have slept in with Goldilocks, savoring her sweet snuggles. The Captain couldn’t have waltzed down the hall, book in hand, head full of wonderment from a morning of leisurely reading. We couldn’t have laid lazily in bed, shoulder to shoulder, marveling (and grumbling) together. The Captain wouldn’t have discovered Lief, Columbus, or the unraveling mystery that is history all on his own before ever stepping out of his bed. And Goldilocks would have had a much ruder awakening than a bedside book report.
“Oh, by the way,” the Captain interrupted my thoughts. “Did you know we believe a narwal’s tusk to actually be his tooth? And that it can grow to ten feet long? Ten feet! It’s probably the reason why they are endangered. Experts rarely see them in the Arctic.”
I smiled again. Oh, how much I learn from our children. How they alter the way I see the world, even while just snuggling in bed. It’s almost as if I never truly began to grow up until witnessing the miracle of my own children doing it.
I had forgotten that Lief had discovered the Americas 500 years before Columbus. And I never knew he was the son of a Viking, or a Christian. I didn’t know that a narwhal’s tusk was his tooth! Or that it was ten feet long. Ten feet! And none of these lessons had anything to do with me. There’s a humbling thought. I could take no credit other than having allowed myself to be lazy and lend a willing ear.
The truth is that we’re all enrolled in Our Holistic Homeschool. The books we read feed all of our minds and souls in different ways. Our unit studies expand our worldviews and inspire different explorations. Being together shapes and blesses us each uniquely. Goldilocks thrives from a safe, nurturing home environment where she gets to be little and isn’t expected to be in tow every day. The Captain thrives in a sort of hygge university environment with free access to books, activities, and an always present sounding board (Mama!) for all his thoughts and dreams.
And then there’s me. I’m gaining as much from homeschooling as our children are. I am no more their teacher than they are mine. I reap the rewards of witnessing the unfolding of every spark and discovery. I get to feed my own curiosities while I feed our children’s. I get to see the beauty of the world unfold even as I point it out to them, and then see it reflected even more beautifully in their eyes. How blessed I am to have this sacred, precious privilege. For that’s what it is. Even with all the laundry, dishes, noise, and exhaustion, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’m deeply thankful that my family is not financially dependent on me, and my heart goes out to mamas who don’t have the choice to homeschool even if they want it more than anything.
Each of us —my children and me (and even Papa when he’s home)— all derive a different benefit from the deep, daily connections we share cultivated over books, nature, tea, snuggles, games, conversation, art, music.
All of this is wholly dependent on one thing— a gentle, protective (yes, I admit it) canopy arching over our days, providing the only resource we need to leisurely enjoy an arboretum of beauty, wisdom, and creativity.
If someone were to accuse me now of homeschooling our kids in order to shelter them or shield them from the world, their words would no longer cause any sting. I was a brand-new homeschooling mom at the time and hadn’t had time to really flesh out our family purpose or melody. Today, my rebuttal would be calm and confident, partially because I realize now that other’s criticisms usually have very little do with the one under attack, and partially because I’ve become deeply anchored in the vast and ever-growing root structure of our WHY.
Have you figured out what our #1 reason for homeschooling is?
It’s the gift of time. Mine, theirs, and ours— a gift that provides lavishly for everything we value and care to cultivate.
Time, a mercy and a joy, is the bedrock of holistic education.
Time to read freely,
sail with Vikings,
travel to ancient China,
explore an Arctic tundra,
and talk to a pig.
Time to play hooky on a Tuesday—
meet up with friends,
go to the lake,
take a hike,
or play a board game.
Time to talk about God,
heaven, hopes, holidays, hummingbirds.
Time to rest, ask, wrestle, play.
Time to pretend,
to take the space couch to the moon,
build a Lego robot,
and live a lifetime in a dollhouse.
Time for tea, picnics, forts,
and midday bubble baths.
Time to whistle while you work,
and husk tomatillos.
Time to be bored, sick, ecstatic,
long-winded (guilty), and disappointed.
Time to simply be.
Time for puzzles, paint, poetry, play dough.
Time to garden,
to poke seeds into sunny soil,
weed, water, munch,
and breathe in the chamomile blossoms.
Time to wonder, discover, plan, dream.
Time to make pancakes with Grandma,
stir the stew,
and lick the spoon.
Time to journal, sketch, string beads,
collect rocks, dance, sing.
Time to tell tales, listen, laugh,
pray, whisper, smile.
Time to catch grasshoppers,
and dig for worms.
Time to sleep in when needed—
to snuggle, scratch backs,
stretch, and yawn.
Time to sit by the fire,
and savor the sunset.
Time to sigh and say . . .
“it’s all pretty amazing when you think about it.”
Thanks ever so much for reading our WHY today! I hope you’ll share yours, as well! Comment below 🙂
Love ~Our Holistic Homeschool~