I find it hard to believe that Germany (or any country for that matter) would outlaw home schooling. Not only is home education a basic human right, but it is a wonderful benefit to society. Here are some of the gifts I have discovered during my 13+ years of home schooling.
1) I will start with something many consider an optional part of our children’s education: worship. I see our relationship with God as one of the strongest motivating factors toward a good education. When we see our life as a gift and our education as a part of a vocational call from God – then learning ceases to be a mere burden and becomes something far more valuable. When our children own their worship and see their education in context of fulfilling their mission in life – it draws them toward ownership of their education too. Very motivating.
2) There is music that uplifts the soul and there is music that assaults the senses. In a home schooling environment we are able to experience many types of music and we discern carefully what music can do for as well as to us. At this point, most of my children favor classical, religious, theme music from great movies, Irish/Celtic and some types of jazz. We prefer music that draws us up. Again, very motivating even on the hardest day – especially on the hardest days.
3) I could include art with music and call it done, but there are so many art forms that I wanted to give art more room in our lives. Art is an expression of truth and beauty so it matters and stays on our list of priorities. We explore drawing with a variety of mediums. We have tried our hand at sculpturing and carving, knitting, crocheting, quilting, painting and even cooking can be considered an art form. Again, when things are made beautifully with thought and care to reflect the truth of God in our midst that does not mean it is an extra. My kids have made drawings that soothe the soul as well as blankets which warm the heart.
4) Reading is nearly at the top of the charts in our house. Everyone loves to read and everyone learns a great deal by reading. Home schooling is, by its very nature, self directed. Younger students have to have everything read to them while older students can do nearly all the reading themselves. The younger children need the on-to-one experience, while older students need to take responsibility for their assignments and learn to pace themselves. In the act of learning to read students become masters of their own fate to a large degree. They become less dependent and they move into a larger world. This is a good thing! Though parents can’t simply abdicate responsibility toward monitoring and discussing the material they read merely because their children can read.
5) “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” I hardly need to explain that. Understanding Russian history has gone a long way toward our understanding of what is happening between Russia and the Ukraine today. Knowing the history of Israel and Palestine has helped to enlighten us so we do not jump to any quick and easy judgments about who is right and who is wrong. History is a guide to our future. A wise person learns history. Of course, it is important to have more than one source for your history. There are many lopsided versions out there. Home schooling gives us the freedom to explore many views of the same periods and events in history. Very enlightening indeed.
6) Spelling and writing are not at the bottom of our list, though I must admit I struggled with spelling in school even though I to loved to write. Because of the advent of technology many schools are paying less attention to spelling and grammar rules. Handwriting has been abandoned all together. I believe this is a mistake. Though I am not a spelling or grammar purist, I do see the value in preserving the skills to spell and write clearly. Our writing often reflects our thinking. Books are being published every day that ought to have been more carefully reviewed by a professional editor. When these poor examples appear in the public, some people get the impression that even the most basic rules of proper writing can be ignored. Thus we lower our standards. In home schooling I am able to raise the bar and encourage a life long love of spelling and writing. It is a never ending process.
7) Finally, and this is not because they are last, but rather because as the kids get older I have learned to reach out for help in the areas of science and math. Science and math are two wonderful areas of study which involve a great deal of skill and information. I have hit my limits when attempting to adequately teacher higher math and science classes. Thanks to on-line programs, we have been able to maintain our home schooling environment while also exploring the wonderful worlds of algebra, geometry, computer science, biology, chemistry and other classes. The world is our classroom and we have opened our doors to a vista of learning experiences. Home schooling is anything but limiting. We have reached out and discovered an immense universe. Truly, home schooling has been a gift to my family.