It’s back-to-school time and the hysteria has begun!
Children are getting new backpacks, schools are sending out school supply lists, and parents are scouring stores for the best possible deals. Don’t forget “Meet the Teacher” night and “Kindergarten Round-Up!”
Facebook will soon be filled with dozens of back-to-school photos of cute kids in new clothes posing on the front stoop, waiting for the big yellow bus. Yes, “back-to-school” hysteria is in the air. For a lot of America, these rites of passage earmark the transition of busy hot summer days into fall’s more gentle pace as many ease back into the cadence of a school routine.
But what does “back-to-school” look like for a homeschooling family? Because homeschooling is such a personal endeavor, the beginning of the school year will look different for every family.
Back-to-school similarities and differences
There is a sameness of sorts for us all – like our traditional school counterparts, we also shop for deals on school supplies. We may even buy some back to school clothing, even those of us who allow our children to wear the traditional homeschooling uniform – pajamas.
We all know plenty of homeschooling families that post those ubiquitous front porch “back-to-school” photos on their Facebook feed, though it may be a bit anti-climactic to pose for such a momentous occasion to simply just walk back inside.
For homeschoolers, there is no “first day” back that fits us all. We don’t all start our school year at the same time. Some homeschool families closely follow the calendar of their local school district or co-op, some start as early as July 1 while others may not start until after Labor Day. There’s also the option to school year-round.
As homeschoolers, you know all too well that home education doesn’t only happen when we open our school books – or when we officially go “back-to-school.” Learning at home doesn’t just have to happen between the ringing of the school bells, but instead takes place in the entire ebb and flow of your family’s life.
We don’t all homeschool for the same reasons. Some have chosen homeschooling because of academic quality. Maybe there is a special needs child or a struggling learner whose needs are being met at home. Others might homeschool to ensure a Christian curriculum is taught.
Possibly the ability to go deeper in certain areas of study is your motivation. Or, you have the ability to travel, endearingly called “roamschooling!”
Why choose homeschooling?
There will be a variety of answers as to why families have chosen this journey. Our methods may not be the same, but we’re still on the same path. You have not walked through a chapter of your homeschooling journey that another family hasn’t already gone through.
In choosing to homeschool, we didn’t simply trade rows of desks for the kitchen table or the big yellow bus for a white minivan.
The biggest difference between homeschoolers and traditional schools is not merely a difference of location. Or even how we start our year. It’s our vastly different philosophy of education that is the biggest distinction.
Though there does not need to be uniformity in the homeschool community, there ought to be unity. These “back-to-school” days should be a time when we can be confident with our own homeschooling choices while at the same time support and encourage other homeschooling families that look and think differently from us.
Even though our answers to the when, what, and why of homeschooling will vary, we should all agree that we are seeking to teach more than just the mind of our children. We are also aiming for their heart!
It’s not simply teaching our children so they can be college-ready with minds full of information. We are teaching them so that they can be life-ready, with hearts full of hope and truth.
How we accomplish this will look different for every family. I encourage you to be confident in your personal decisions as to when you start your homeschooling year, what you plan to teach, and why you are doing it. But let’s be unified in this – to feed the minds of our children while also teaching their hearts. How we each accomplish this is up to every family.
We’ve been known to tell people that “365 days…24/7…our children are learning. And on occasion, we use books.”
That truly is the beauty of home education. As parents, we know our kids better than anyone, and we can tailor their education to fit who God made them to be, and what God desires them to do in life.
While the excitement of “back-to-school” fun is infectious, remember that the lessons within your homeschool didn’t end just because your school year did. A lot of life was lived and learned in the moments spent together this summer.
Even if you didn’t open a book or teach a lesson, your kids were learning. Again, the beauty of home education.
Enjoy this “back-to-school” season, and may God bless you as you strive to home educate your children.
And for those of you who feel that you are missing out on some of the “back-to-school” festivities that traditional schools enjoy, feel free to sign up as a Room Mother at the Gelatt Institute for Advanced Home Education. We would gladly accept a year’s supply of holiday-themed treats.