One of the toughest decisions we as parents make for our young children is their education.
Will we send them to public school?
Since our child was born in August, should we hold them back a year?
Can we afford private school?
What about homeschool? Is that a viable option for our family?
If you are considering homeschooling and are looking for a fresh perspective, say hello to the fabulous Jessica Beard, who invites you to “Live Simply. Live Empowered.” via her site, Five Things.
Take it away, Jess!
In the beginning of the homeschool journey we began six years ago, I thought homeschooling was all about curriculum, academics, and figuring out ways to keep the little ones occupied so we could get all of our school done.
I have tried many different curriculums and schedules and have realized that, for our family, homeschooling is more about connecting to my children’s hearts than how many worksheets we can complete in a day. Our kids are only ours for such a short time, and they have their whole life ahead of them to learn whatever they want. We only have such a short time to connect with them and build lasting relationships while they are in our home. It is my job to teach them how to learn, and if I can even just teach them to read, I’m fairly confident that with a library card they will have the capability to learn whatever they want!
I have found that the best way to connect with my kids through homeschooling is reading books together. Reading books together has been part of our family culture for a long time. My husband has been reading hearty, delicious books to the kids every night for years, but it wasn’t until this past year that I realized the value of reading aloud for school, and how it would create a new level of community in our home. I used to have my oldest daughter read mostly on her own and ask her some questions about what she read. I couldn’t imagine wrangling everyone to sit down for five minutes to read out loud. It worked, but we were missing so much.
Last fall, I was praying about how to better connect to my kids in that season and I felt the Lord speak so clearly to me that we needed to read more books together. At first, I just pictured myself sitting on the couch under a pile of kids with a stack of picture books. That would have been fine, but the first book we intentionally read together was called Because of Win-Dixie by Kate DiCamillio. This book covered some hard themes and lead to some deep conversations. Throughout the day, we would talk about Win Dixie, Opal, and all the other characters in the story. It was great to have something to talk to the kids about that we both enjoyed, and they didn’t even know they were learning and processing through life lessons.
From there, we read The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw. It went along with our study on Ancient Egypt, and the kids loved that we had a story they could connect to that went along with all the facts they were learning. It really helped them to remember more of the details of that time period and gave them an appreciation for some of the luxuries they get to live with today - like a bed to sleep in and warm meals every day. Ranofer, the protagonist of the story, lives a pretty tough life and walks through many difficulties. Reading these books out loud together was even impactful for my littlest ones who could participate in the conversations that the books led to. Being able to have deep conversations with your kids does not come easily, but books with strong content help to guide your conversations.
When I felt the Lord leading me to read books together, I couldn’t have imagined the bond it would form in our family. We of course still do our math, science, and other subjects, but everyone looks forward to when it’s time to read aloud. I’ve also found that the kids are open to listening to a book that they would never pick up and read on their own. Sometimes I’ll let them help pick a book out, but often times I’ll just start reading and watch each kid wander into the room because they are drawn to the story.
The world can give our kids academics, but it can’t teach our kids family connection. When you are stuck in a rut with schooling and it seems like you’ve hit a brick wall, pull out a good book. It’s so good for all of your hearts and makes learning so enjoyable. Reading aloud together as a family has been a real treasure for our homeschooling, and if you haven’t yet, I hope that you will give it a try!
For more on connecting with your kids check out this article: https://fivethings.life/2017/09/17/how-to-make-your-kids-feel-loved-like-a-boss/
Jess Beard is homeschooling mom who runs the must-read Five Things, which is all about empowering others to find out what they were made for and learning to save your yeses for what is truly important to you. When we know what our yes is, it gives us the courage to say no when something doesn't fit. You can also connect with her on the Five Things Facebook page.