Last week, I got some great questions from a reader who had read about our relaxed homeschool learning. As I was typing out the answer I realized this would make a great post. A lot of people think these questions, but never ask them. Here is the comment…
“Not trying to offend in any way, but…does your decision to homeschool have anything to do with your faith? I notice that you’re teaching faith based curriculum and reading the Bible early in the day, and I was just wondering how the chidren were adjusting once they left the nest and were exposed to other walks of life. Again, I apologize if I offend, that’s not my intention.”
First, let me say, I’m pretty hard to offend. As long as someone is not being rude in their comments, I can totally take it, especially when the question is about something I feel strongly about for our family. That being said, I’m not one who believes that homschooling is the right choice for every family. What I’m sharing below is what is right for our family; you have to decide what is right for your family.
Our faith influences most of our decisions, and that includes homeschooling. Although we do use curriculum that is faith based, like Apologia science and Notgrass history, we also use curriculum that is faith “neutral”, like Teaching Textbooks and English from the Roots Up. One of our goals is to raise adults who walk closely with Christ and who become contributing members of our society. For us, homeschooling is one of the tools we have used to help reach these goals. I do think this can be accomplished without homeschooling, but it’s harder. So we’ve chosen to homeschool and have been homschooling for over 15 years. Our children have not attended a traditional school until they enroll in college. Just to give you a reference for where I’m coming from.
As far as how our older children are adjusting, I think they are adjusting well. We have two children who have graduated. Our oldest went away to college his Freshman year and lived in a dorm. There was a time of adjustment, but I think that is true for any student who leaves home, moves 8 hours away and lives in a communal setting for the first time. He did not “freak out” because of his new found freedom. Nor did beg to come home because he wasn’t ready. Instead, he found a church where he could worship and made friends with people both on campus and off. He did really well in his studies (earning several scholarships and an industry award) but he also participated in the community as a sound person for the community theater. He has since graduated from college, is married and working within his degree field.
Our second son graduated this past spring and is working at a local restaurant, taking classes at the community college and living at home while he saves money to go to his dream college which is out of state. He, too, is adjusting well to this change of seasons in his life (although his change of seasons isn’t as drastic as his older brother’s was…yet.)
Although we homeschool, we are involved in a lot of non-homeschool and non faith-based activities. All of our boys are/were involved in Scouts (so far 3 are Eagle Scouts), our daughter is very involved in our local ballet company, our older children have worked for businesses that are not owned by Christians, we participate in or local homeschool co-op and theater club, we attend a church where there are not a lot of homeschoolers and my children begin taking classes at the college when they are still in high school. These are all things my children enjoy participating in and an added benefit is that they are exposed to many different walks of life. In all of these places, my children meet and make friends with people who are different than they are. They also have the opportunity to see how choices affect, not only the person making the choices, but the rest of the family, too. My children have also not a had a problem with doing traditional school work after being raised in a pretty relaxed homeschool setting. If anything, they take their college work way more seriously than they did their homeschool work (or than I did when I was in college.)
I think the key to raising children who can adjust well is to expose them to different situations and walks of life a little at a time when they are ready – not too early, not too late. This goes for childen who are homeschooled and children who are in traditional schools. One thing I’ve noticed about homeschooled children is that most of them are comfortable around people of all ages. They don’t seem to be as boxed into grade level or age level friends as much as traditional schooled children are. Homeschooling allows a lot of time and opportunity to have friends of all ages. It’s interesting to me to see my teenagers be comfortable playing outside with our 5 year old and her friends, talking with the older people at church and hanging out with their peers. I think this is key to adjusting to the real world. In the real world we don’t get to be in contact with just those people who were born the same year as we were.
There is no guarantee that one of our children will not totally rebel once leaving our home or have a hard time adjusting to adult life. We have no control over that. What we can do, is make the best choices we can for our family based on the information we have. For us, some of those best choices are to homeschool, to share our faith with our children, and to help them develop their own relationship with Christ.
If any of you have homeschooling stories of how your children adjusted to flying the nest or ideas of how to make that transition easier, feel free to leave them in the comments.