The day our realtor led us up the steps and onto the front porch, I fell in love. My husband and I hadn’t even stepped inside, but I already knew this was the house for us. Five weeks later, when we received the house keys, I was overjoyed! We immediately got to work turning this beautiful house in the home that would provide the perfect backdrop to the events of our lives: birthday parties, holiday celebrations, dinner parties, playdates, and later, homeschooling.
In time, we succeeded in making our home a wonderfully comfortable place for our family of five. However, when it came to homeschooling I found we weren’t enjoying our home as much as we should have been. Instead of teaching from the comfort of our happy, kid-friendly home, we were crammed into our minivan as I chauferred my children all over the county for a variety of homeschool activities.
Two sets of instrumental lessons, a weekly orchestra practice, various homeschool sports, an abundance of library programs, regular co-op classes, and a semester of enrichment classes kept us on the road and outside of our home for several hours each day. Something told me this wasn’t the way, but I pushed the nagging voice aside and soon grew accustomed to communicating with my girls via the rearview mirror. Even worse, I began to change into an cranky, rushed, anxious homeschooling mom. It wasn’t a pretty sight.
Over the summer, I had time to review our schedule. I decided it was much too full, so I made a commitment to keep this school year’s educational activities inside our home. I’ll be honest, our schedule isn’t quite as home centered as I’d like it to be, but we’re definitely home more often than we were last school year. And…we’re all loving it! We’re spending more time at home and all of us have noticed the many benefits of doing so.
- We accomplish more. We don’t waste time due to travel. Everything we need to school is here at home, so we simply move from one room to another to gather our materials. At home, the girls are more focused and they finish lessons and projects more quickly and accurately. We can be more productive because there are fewer distractions at home.
- We’re much more relaxed. The pressure of “Where do we have to be next?” doesn’t exist. We stay within the budget because we’re not paying for extracurricular activities and additional fuel costs. In addition, we’re able to get comfortable at home and I do mean comfortable. In our pajamas (sometimes). On the comfy couch. In front of the fireplace. Learning is a much more enjoyable experience when done from the comfort of home.
- We get to enjoy our home. We stocked our home with lots of great educational games, books, and toys. When we were on the road or spending hours at a homeschool activity, we rarely got to enjoy those things. Now that we’re spending more time at home, the girls can play Candyland with their younger sister or lounge in the recliner while listening to a book on CD. One of the things we most enjoy about our home this time of year is snuggling up on our couch and homeschooling by our fireplace and under the warmth of cozy blankets. I read books aloud and the girls work in a comfortable atmosphere.
- Our home runs more smoothly. Since we’re spending more time at home, I’m able to tend to the day to day homemaking responsibilities. I can prepare meals while the girls work at the kitchen table. They can help me clean up throughout the day so that our schooling areas are more organized and so that my husband comes home to relatively neat home. In addition, if home repairs need to be scheduled, I’m here to escort the service provider into our home.
- We have more time to bond. We’re spending more time together and that lends itself to more quality time. As I teach and as the girls work, we’re talking to one another, sharing with one another, encouraging, one another, and enjoying one another.
Now, having noted the many benefits of staying home to school, how does one do such?
- Let go of the Martha Stewart mentality. I used to think that before we could really school well, our home had to be in tip top condition. Do we need to maintain a certain level of organization so that we can easily find our schooling materials? Yes. Does the house need to be spic and span from top to bottom in order for us to homeschool? No. I’ve learned that if I keep waiting for the house to be in pristine condition, I’ll never be ready to homeschool. We keep up with what we can, but we accept and happily school in the environment God has blessed us with.
- Be willing to say no. This is a HUGE battle for me because I want to help. However, if I’m running all over town to help in the church and community but am not schooling my own children, my priorities are misplaced and I’m not really doing what God has called me to do. There are so many good things for us to enjoy, but not everything is good for us.
- Stop chasing trends. Trends in education are constantly changing, but we don’t have to keep up with them all. Like fashion, educational trends often run in cycles. What’s new will likely become old and what is old will likely become new. This is why it’s important to allow God to guide our home study. He will show us what we need to teach and how we need to teach it. God’s guidance helps us teach exactly what our children need to know, no matter what the current trend.
We sometimes think that in order to give our children a quality education, we need to seek resources outside of our homes. This is not true. God has given us children to rear and a heart for homeschooling. We know the best place for our children to learn is at home. Let’s make a serious effort to get back to the basics and enjoy the home in homeschooling.