Free to Learn: The High School Years of a Home Schooler
- Friday, December 09, 2011
"No school today?" The familiar question is asked by a nurse whom I meet in the elevator. I smile and patiently begin to explain yet again, "Actually, I’m homeschooled, so I can study extra on some days and then volunteer here at the hospital!"
"Oh, really? That’s great!" she replies, and we step off the elevator for our separate ways.
Yes, it is great to be homeschooled. I wish I had time to tell her more about all the ways I have been blessed through homeschooling. The sacrifices and difficulties my parents bore to give "the gift of homeschooling" to my brother Daniel and me has resulted in benefits and opportunities which probably even they did not imagine at the beginning. Primarily, homeschooling has facilitated our personal relationships, educational opportunities, and love of learning.
One of the greatest blessings has been the way in which we were protected from the confusion of a godless worldview in the years when we did not have the understanding and biblical grounding to combat it. Instead of being swept away with the crowd, we can truly stand as lights in the world, bringing the message of salvation through Jesus Christ to those around us. Moreover, our relationships at home have deepened, giving us a wonderful home life. We really enjoy learning together, working together, and just being together! Although this is really due to the grace of God in giving us the Bible’s pattern for the family, homeschooling has played a large part in drawing us so close to one another. Instead of being scattered among a variety of classes and activities at school, we get to do so much together!
That’s not to say we don’t have plenty of "outside" involvement. In fact, homeschooling has enhanced, rather than stymied, our social life and learning opportunities, for we are not bound by a school’s schedule. We can take advantage of chances to interact with people of all ages, and participate in many different activities! These opportunities range from leading a children’s Bible club to taking care of my uncle’s dairy farm for a couple of weeks while he and his wife went on vacation! My brother has been able to learn useful skills, such as carpentry, mechanics, laying tile, and building stone walls, as he helps various acquaintances on their projects. While we may not necessarily use these skills in a vocation, who knows when they may come in handy?
The Most Valuable Gift of Homeschooling: A Natural Love of Learning
Through the variety and flexibility of homeschooling, we have gained a true love for learning and an ability to learn on our own in the ways we find most effective. Although I consider this one of the most valuable things I have gained from my homeschooling experience, we did not discover it right away. Until about the time I began high school, Mom had done most of the organizing and planning of our schoolwork. We were undoubtedly getting a good education, and even enjoying much of the experience, but we had not entered into the full delight of homeschooling. Mom was doing an admirable job, but she was sometimes burdened and discouraged as she tried to make us learn. Then, she and Dad decided that the time had come to let us start taking the reins of our education more firmly. Mom and Dad took the role of general overseers, making sure we were driving in the right direction, but Daniel and I were increasingly given the freedom to choose our own specific routes.
Our homeschooling took on a new dimension! Though we were still learning the foundational subjects, Daniel and I began to focus on areas of our talents and interests. It was really thrilling! The freedom we were given resulted in the creation of our own routines and goals. We were basically on our own, studying when and where we chose. Whether I took my book to the trampoline outside, sprawled on my bed to study, or left the book on the shelf while I worked in the garden, I enjoyed being in charge of my learning. An amazing thing happened! Rather than slacking off on the subjects I didn’t enjoy, I worked at them with more perseverance than before, because I myself had decided that the learning would be useful, instead of Mom making me do it. I had not resented Mom’s supervision previously, and I still did not, yet it felt good to know that I was responsible for directing my own path. I knew I was being prepared for life in a deeper way than book learning—I was learning how to learn.
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