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31 reasons why we love homeschooling and I must choose only one? Impossible. Give me one reason why you love life. Education is a life. Homeschooling is a lifestyle. After going on 17 years, it is a part of who we are. Our journey has shaped who we are as persons and as a family. And even though the official end of our homeschooling journey is coming into view, as our youngest is entering high school this fall, our homeschooling days will shape our future and our children’s future. Our lifestyle of learning will not vanish into thin air when we hand our son his diploma in four years!
When we felt the calling to homeschool, no one we knew homeschooled. This was in the late 1990’s, and homeschool wasn’t legal in all 50 states until 1993! So I prayed. And talked to people and researched. And through my searching for answers, I found a philosophy of education that sparked understanding in my mind and gave me a foundation on which to build my own education and my children’s: A Charlotte Mason Education where we learn that Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life. And I found modern-day mentors like Sally Clarkson. And God put me in the path of a sweet young woman who was contemplating the same things in her heart, and we talked it out together. And with all of this, I could form a vision for our home.
As I started planning to ‘start school’ I imagined that I would learn more in order to pass my ‘vast amounts of newly discovered wisdom and knowledge and understanding’ over to my children. And when they were little, that is what it felt like sometimes. But I soon realized that most little children just innately have that ‘joy of discovery’. And I saw that the joy of discovery, and willingness to learn, is a flame that must be fed with slow burning fuel that generates thought and understanding, not green wood that burst into flame then burns up fast and is gone. This is where the generous feast of ideas from living books helped us to fuel our flame with yule logs and not sappy pine.
And very soon I saw that no matter how excited I was about a nugget of wisdom to share with my children or no matter how much I desired them to learn this or that if they didn’t have the desire (or the will to learn) all of my efforts were of no consequence. They needed to learn to direct their own will to good, they needed to WANT to learn and grow as Jesus did, in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.
The journey of educating my youngest children began with all of the responsibility on our shoulders as parents. But as they grew and matured and understood more and more of the Way of the Will, they gradually took on more of the responsibility. When they were older and nearing adulthood, I provided them with the resources, tools, and atmosphere needed for a rich education. And I am still here to advise them and instruct them spiritually when needed or to help them find the tools for academic instruction if something is found lacking. But ultimately, the responsibility and the joy of learning is all their own to cherish.
(I feel that I should interject here and tell our family dynamics, to ward off any confusion. As I am writing I find myself switching between present and past tense because of where we are on this journey! We have five children, the two oldest are now married with children. They were at public school for a time, then when we were able they were schooled at home. Then we moved to a tiny little town with a small community public school around the corner, and the boys decided to attend high school there. The third, and our first to homeschool k-12, is a young adult still living at home attending college, and although she is officially not enrolled in our homeschool anymore she continues to learn at home! The fourth is a young adult about to graduate from homeschool high school in two months. And the baby is 14 and will begin homeschooling high school this fall.)
There are many parts of our homeschooling lifestyle that just fill me with happiness. The most wonderful part is that I am learning along with them! We read books together. We pursue interests together when they line up accordingly. We discuss ideas together. We compare and balance what we are discovering against the Word of God. They share my joy when I discover a new bird in our yard, although they are not as naturalist-minded as their momma. And I sit, and listen intently and for the purpose of understanding when they tell me about the inner workings of a computer, and military tactic details of WWII battles, and how many grams of protein should be consumed in a day when you lift weights (this coming from my only daughter, by the way!) even though those topics are not my choice of interests. We all get excited when we ‘make a connection’, that is something we are currently pursuing seems to connect with something from previous studies and discoveries.
And all of this discussion, time, attention to details, and observing that goes on in our day to day lives, it builds a strong relationship between us all. I notice when my children are sad, hurt, confused, angry, excited, or just plain out goofy! and it is wonderful! I have been able to watch them go through the stages and trials of growing up, and I have been able to pray and ask God for wisdom over every little bend and turn in their growing up. And I have been able to ‘let go’ by degrees as they grow and mature and they are getting to know themselves as individuals and adults, in addition to being one in a family. And they have been able to watch their parents when we stumble and fail and how we turn to God and keep walking together. They see my weaknesses just as I see theirs, they see my strengths just as I see theirs. And we learn to show grace to one another, to build one another up and not tear down. And we learn to ask forgiveness, a lot, and to see each other’s hearts not just each other’s actions. Oh! it is a roller coaster sometimes! But it is an amazing ride if you dare.
All of my children have hobbies and interest that will be with them throughout their lives, some we share with one another, and some are individual hobbies. With the help of our precious neighbor, I was able to teach my daughter how to sew, as my mother taught me. And she was able to put many hours into learning that craft and was sewing herself a 1950’s wardrobe from vintage patterns when she was very young. My boys have learned the basics of a sewing machine, although none of them took to the handicraft. They pursued other handicrafts, like cooking and mechanics. The point is, they have had ample opportunity to learn how to work with their hands and not ONLY read about their interest in books or watch documentaries. They have had chances to pursue interests because they had the time. There is a pleasing and delicate balance needed for work, play, and study. Through the many opportunities God has put in our path, we have been able to learn that truth and to develop good habits for keeping that balance. And we have learned that we can more easily lose good habits that to build them up, so they are something to be protected! When we were tied to an outside of our home schedule (such as a public school schedule) it was much more difficult to achieve.
These and many other things are what I love about homeschooling. But what I love most about homeschooling is that it is a life long adventure if it builds the joy of learning in the heart of a person, and doesn’t end when we hand them a diploma. I see my children as lifelong learners, and as long as God wills it to be so, I plan to never stop being a student myself!
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Hilda Rebecca Manriquez is an old soul who likes vintage clothes, classic movies, reading and smelling old books, learning the old crafts of homemaking, kissing baby feet, talking to the birds, and having a cat asleep on her lap. Snuggled in North Carolina between the majestic mountains and the glorious sea, she has homeschooled her children for a very long time and is now co-schooling her grandchildren.