My Favorite Thing About Homeschooling

There is something about homeschooling, something great, that I don’t think gets mentioned enough. Its almost like a great secret that homeschooling moms know, and that others outside of this community are in the dark on. I want to fill you in.

Because here’s the great thing about home education: its as much for mom (or dad!) as it is for the kids.

Let me explain.

Exhibit A. We use a really excellent math curriculum, and teaching my kids in this way is also teaching me to see math in a different way too. I’m learning basic number sense that if taught to me in school, never really sunk in. I’m learning how to do basic addition in my head. I’m ashamed to admit this is something I never really got before. But now that I’m learning to see numbers in a different way, its starting to make sense. And I’m making connections about math that seem common sense, but I had never thought of before. For example, did you know that the root word for cent is latin for 100? Hence century = 100 years, percentage = a part of a whole usually expressed as 100, and the roman numeral for 100 = C. Homeschooling is giving me a chance to redeem my own education. Maybe the only reason I’ve never seen myself as a “mathy” person is just because I wasn’t taught to think about numbers in the right way.

Working on one of the geometry lessons in his math book.

Exhibit B. When we first began homeschooling, I tried very hard to be Charlotte Mason-y. (You can read about that here.) Although that method of home educating didn’t stick, at least one of her ideas did take root. Because of Charlotte Mason’s emphasis on nature study as the only science in the early years, I’ve grown to appreciate the importance of learning about the natural world around us in a way that I didn’t value or even think about before. Taking my kids on nature walks awoke within me an interest in outdoor learning, nature journaling, and nature study that I didn’t even know was there. Nature study is still not our best subject, but I love going outdoors (its so good for the soul) and learing along side my kids. Few things have brought me as much joy this past year as identifying the birds that visit our yard, or looking up the wildflowers we find on our outdoor adventures. Nature study has awoken new interests in me that I might not otherwise have discovered.

Examining a bird’s nest we found on our most recent adventure to Writing-on-Stone Provinical Park.
My camera roll is filled with picures like this! Darkroot Shootingstar, Elks Lakes PP.

Exhibit D. Last spring our family visited Yosemite National Park, and while there I stepped into an Ansel Adams museum/gift shop. I immediately fell in love with his black and white depictions of the park and wanted to learn more about him. So this school year we’ve spent (are still spending) an entire term learning about Ansel Adams. We study calendar prints of his photos and we’ve read a picture book biography of him. Porter is learning basic photography after I gave him an old camera, taught him the rule of thirds and how to operate it, and told him to take pictures of nature that inspired him, just like Ansel Adams did. Its been so much fun. Did you know that Ansel Adams was homeschooled? He didn’t do well in school, always getting in trouble, and so his father took him out, hired a turor, got him music lessons, and then let him spend as much time outside exploring as possible. Did you also know that Ansel Adams first decided, on a trip to the Canadian Rockies (Jasper? I think?) that this is what he wanted to do: photograph places like this. We did the same thing at the beginning of the year with Fred Rogers, after I read his autobiography. I became so fascinated with him as a person that I found a children’s autobiography on him, bought a book of his songs turned to poems, and then we had a “Mr. Rogers Day” once a week while we read about him and then watched an old episode of one of his shows.

Porter practising his photography skills while in Elks Lakes PP.

Julie Bogart calls this “awesome adulting.” Awesome adulting is all about reveling in the benefits of being an adult: having the time and resources to actually pursue the things we are interested in. Learning doesn’t end when we graduate from school, and maybe some of our best learning happens when we truly embrace and are passionate enough about something to immerse ourselves in it. When we homeschool and pursue our own continuing education, this does two amazing things for our kids. First, we are modelling life-long learing, so that they understand that learning is a “lifetime habit and a source of joy” (Julie Bogart). And second, we can take our kids on this learning journey along with us. We can infuse our homeschool with things we ourselves are passionate about and interested in. This is so soul- filling, and in my experience is essential for preventing burn-out.

This is why I love homeschooling so much. Because its such a rich lifestyle of learning together. Sometimes I’m learning, sometimes I’m teaching. Sometimes my kids are learning, sometimes my kids are teaching me. We are all learning and benefiting from home education, but sometimes I think I’m learning the most of all.

{If you haven’t already clicked the above “Awesome Adulting” link to Julie’s article, please take the time to do so. She also talks about this in her book, The Brave Learner, and on her podcast, A Bravewriters Life in Brief. I can highly recommend both of these for the homeschooling parent or the homeschool- curious.}

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