Thursday, March 26, 2015

6 Perks of Homeschooling

There are so many positive aspects of homeschooling, from various angles. In this post I have highlighted just a few.

1. Vacations in the Off Season.

Whether we are taking a field trip or a week-long vacation, homeschooling allows us to schedule our time away according to what works best for our family, rather than being locked into a predetermined time slot set by someone else. We generally visit places like museums, the zoo, library, and sometimes parks, during times when other children are in school. We've also been known to camp during the off-season, which gives us more privacy and time alone as a family to reconnect.

2. Monitoring Friendships.

Terry and I unashamedly monitor the close friendships of our children outside our home. Proverbs 13:20 says "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed." Pretty strong words of caution! Homeschooling allows us to really get acquainted with the friends of our children, as they are generally children of our (mine and Terry's) friends! And we are able to determine how much (or how little) time our children spend with their friends. The goal is that friendship should be mutually edifying and God-honoring.

3. Emotional Freedom

Our children have never experienced bullying or peer pressure. They don't worry about being laughed at if they don't know the answer. They don't compare themselves to other kids their age (which is not wise--2 Corinthians 10:12), nor do they ever worry about "fitting in"...because they always have! They are free to be all that God intends for them to be (within the boundaries of discretion and self-control) without fear of what others might think about them. And because they are secure in their identity, they have no problem getting along well with others. As most homeschooled children we've known, our children are just as comfortable in a conversation with adults as they are children their own age. They make friends easily (some more readily than others). I rarely get asked the "socialization question". But when I do, my standard answer is, "Oh, you haven't met Destiny or Samuel yet, have you?" Haha!

4. Personalized Education.

Each of our children have the unique opportunity to learn according to their interests and aptitude. Yes we want them all to be able to read, write, and solve math equations proficiently, but beyond that, some enjoy creative writing, whereas others really don't enjoy writing at all and prefer to work with their hands, instead. Some are more gifted in music and prefer to spend time practicing and honing their skill. We can also tailor how we teach academics to their individual style of learning, as well as their interests. Which I think is pretty cool! Memorizing and spouting off facts and data has never been part of our plan; rather we want to instill in our children a love of learning. Our long-term goal is to grow life-long learners!

Another aspect is that we are able to teach our children the things that are important to us: Christian principles, strong morals, family values, as well as life skills that so many children are lacking in our modern society, such as homemaking skills, gardening, and home and car maintenance and repairs.

5. Family Togetherness.

As crazy as some of our days are, I often console myself with this thought: Our seven school-age children could be attending 3 different public schools and be involved in a variety of after-school programs. That puts everything into proper perspective in my mind.

Our younger children have their moments of squabbling, of course, but for the most part, they are wonderful playmates and friends and our older girls are truly bffs.

I spend the majority of my life with these children the Lord has blessed me with and you know what? I find they are pretty enjoyable people to be around! I am growing my own best friends! 

6. Sense of Community and Support.

We were not a part of any homeschool groups until just a few years ago, and didn't really know what we were missing. We have met some really good friends through our local group and have made some wonderful memories.

Another avenue of support that we really enjoy is the annual Indiana Association of Home Educators (IAHE) homeschool convention, which happens to be this very weekend! (March 27-28, 2015). 

For the past 5 years our family has been honored to represent one of our favorite companies--Doorposts--at the annual convention. If you happen to be attending the IAHE convention at the Indiana State Fairgrounds this weekend, please stop by our booth and say hi! It is always a pleasure to meet Shoebox readers. And even more fun to get better acquainted with those whom we share common interests (such as homeschooling).  

These are just a few of the wonderful perks of teaching our children at home. What would you add to the list?


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Monday, March 23, 2015

From the Heart of a Rebel: What Mom Got Right

This post is written by my eldest daughter Amanda. If you've been around the Shoebox for very long, you might remember the highly-controversial Rebel posts that I wrote about in regards to the difficult relationship Amanda and I muddled through during her teen years. 

At my surprise 50th birthday party last summer, Amanda spoke some very edifying words about me. I've asked her to share here some of what she said for the purpose of encouraging those moms who are currently walking that path, struggling in a relationship with a rebellious child. My hope is to inspire you to stay the course; to encourage you to keep praying for your child, never giving up hope, and to continually beg the Lord to teach you how to unconditionally love your son or daughter the way they need to be loved. 

Reading these words from my daughter makes it all worth it and blesses me more than words can say...

Being a mom is not an easy job. It is I believe, the toughest and most rewarding job I will ever have. It wasn't until I had my own children that I could truly appreciate my own mom, and everything that she did for me growing up.

In the Loving a Rebel series Mom posted here a few years ago, she shared several things that she felt she had done wrong during my childhood into my adolescence. I want to point out some of the things I believe she did right.

Coming from a split home can be a really hard thing for a child. Add to the mix two new step-parents with multiple half-siblings to follow and its easy for a child to feel replaced, or as if they were a mistake. I have seen time and time again where parents split up, and then the children that resulted from that union are stuck in the middle of a terrible war. I cannot recall one single time that I ever saw my mom and dad argue after they separated, nor do I remember a time that either parent had a bad thing to say about the other. I was never told to ask my dad for child support, or relay hateful messages of any kind, and my entire family, both dad's side, mom's, and even my step-parents all got along. It was not unusual for mom and all my brothers and sisters to spend the day at my paternal grandparents’ house. I never had to endure feeling unwanted, or that I was a mistake; the unfortunate result of a relationship that was never supposed to happen. Instead, I felt like I got to go on my own mini-vacation every other weekend, and through the summer to spend time with my dad, and especially my grandparents. I can’t imagine how hard it would be as a child to be stuck in the middle of divorced parents that can’t get along, who use their children as ammo. It’s not fair, and I am so grateful that as a child, I never had to experience this.

My mom is truly one of my best friends. When I was younger, I pushed everyone away; I did things that I was told not to do, just to get a reaction. I know that I broke my mom’s heart on numerous occasions, but no matter what I did, or said, she was always still there for me, even when all I thought I wanted was for her to just go away, because I "knew everything" and didn't need to be told how to live my life (oh the teenage years….). Flash forward a few years, and my mom is the person I always call when I am upset, when I have concerns, when I feel like life as a homeschooling stay at home mom is just too much and I just want to throw my kids in public school and go back to work. She is there for me, encouraging me and reminding me that I am just having a bad day, not a bad life. I do not claim to be a Christian, and in fact, my mom and I have very different beliefs on a lot of matters. The difference between my mom and other “Christian” people that I have encountered before, is that I do not ever feel judged by her. I am free to be myself, and I don’t ever feel like I am not good enough or pure enough or whatever. My relationships with my siblings from my mom and step-father are much the same way. They aren't sheltered from me or anything in my life, and they too accept me just the way I am. That has not always been the case with other so called Christians I have encountered, so I am thankful that my mom and I can maintain the awesome relationship that we have, despite the difference in our beliefs.
My mom raises the bar when it comes to being a role model as a mother, and as a wife. My Husband and I had a pretty rocky start to our marriage (to put it lightly). After four years and two kids I was exhausted, I was tired of fighting, and I wanted out. Now, I can only imagine as a mom, when your daughter calls you crying, spouting all the ways her husband has done her wrong, and how miserable she is, your first instinct is to tell your daughter to run, to get away from her husband, take the kids, and go find happiness elsewhere. My mom however, never did any of those things, and instead, always encouraged me to step back and see how I could make the situation different. She encouraged me to stay and fight for my marriage, and even when I didn't want to hear it, she was right. 

I could never say that she didn't understand what it was like to go through a struggling marriage, I mean, she pretty much wrote the book on struggling marriages and how to make it work. Even when things were at their worst, she still encouraged me to stay in the battle, even though I know some part of her probably wanted to smack my husband upside the head, she continued to encourage me to stay level headed, and approach our conflicts reasonably, and not let my emotions take over. If not for her example, and seeing how hard she and my step-father had fought to save their marriage, and if at any point my mom had said “you are right, there’s no hope, just give up.” I would have left my marriage. My kids would have only seen the father that they adore every other weekend, and my third child would not even be here. 

I am so very grateful that my mom provided me with the much needed encouragement that kept me fighting for my marriage, because although the first four years were nothing short of awful, the past five years have been amazing! My husband and I have a relationship that I always longed for, we have learned to operate as a team, and I cannot imagine my life without him. 

I would like to point out though, that she never encouraged me to be a "doormat", which anyone who knows me knows how that would never happen anyway. I have a bit of, let’s say, a willful spirit, and my mom knows that better than anyone. Of course our marital problems were not one sided; they were certainly not all my husband’s fault, and I am thankful that my mom was able to help me see all sides of things, rather than just taking my side and encouraging me to “fight for my rights”. 

I can only hope as I mother my own children that I can be half the mother that my mom has been to me.

Post written by my daughter, Amanda Mosier

Photo Credit: Ann Schertz Photography
Amanda, Ryan, and their three beautiful children (my grandbabies!)

Loving a Rebel Series:


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