Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Learning that is Unique to Home Education - Part 1

Home educating a family is hard work and many times quite challenging.  While the rewards are high, the discouraging moments can be quite lonely.  Yes, we have home school groups, co-ops, online mentoring,  hundreds of books, either at the library or on our own shelves, at our disposal, and our spouses to lean on, but the day-to-day responsibility of teaching our children can weigh heavily on the parent who is most responsible for the learning. 

I have four children and the oldest is in college.  In a few months my daughter will also move on to college, and when I headed out on this home schooling journey I never considered the things that my children would learn outside of the normal school courses, i.e. math, writing, spelling etc.  Today we are taking our youngest to the hospital for an MRI scan.  She has had vision issues for the last two years and it has been recommended that we have her wee brain scanned to make sure that this problem is not related to any abnormalities. 

As you can imagine I am worried, but this time of dealing with her situation has reminded me of the benefits of home education and the unique opportunities it offers.  My children are here with her everyday, rather than parceled off in their own classes and schools, as determined by the year of their birth. I have to believe that this makes her feel more loved as she worries about her looming procedure.

Here are the other character traits I've seen develop in our family through this trying time:

Compassionate - She has been a little stressed about this scan.  She knows that she will be rolled into a large machine that makes loud noises, where she will be required to lie perfectly still.  She has not cried in expectation of this event or showed obvious signs of anxiety.  What she has done is been rather testy and the smallest thing sets her off into a tantrum.  Her brother, who is four years older than her and her closest sibling in age, asked me yesterday, "What is wrong with her? She has been so difficult recently!"  I believe that being at home has taught my children to be compassionate and think about what may be causing someone distress, rather than just lashing out in response.

Nurturing - Her older sister is a master soother.  She is perceptive and at 18 years of age she can read when her loved ones are hurting better than anyone I know.  The greatest part of her though is not in knowing when another is hurting, but her ability to find small gestures that will improve their mood.  Yesterday, she bathed her little sister and then painted each of her toe and finger nails to look like strawberries.  This was not an easy task, and more than once she looked as if she was going to pull her hair out.  Would she have had the time for this if she were a senior in high school at a traditional school?  I think not.  I am not even sure that this sweet caring and nurturing nature would have developed to this level had she been under the constant demands of high school.
I have discovered that it is during these most difficult times in a family, that the best lessons are taught to our children.  In our eleven years of home education we have learned many.  In the following days I will detail these events and offer examples of how good character was developed in our children, as a result.
I love the ah-ha moments when a child learns to read or grasps a difficult math concept, but in retrospect it is these character developing crisis when my children grew the most.  Furthermore, I believe they were the learning moments they would never had experienced if we all went our separate ways each morning - to classes determined by age and our individual jobs.  And this makes all the trials and exhaustion of home education worth while.
Coming up tomorrow on Hammock Home School - Give Away Thursday.  Link up your favorite give aways and enter the drawings of those that you wish to win.
Friday on Hammock Home School - Link Up Party - Use my writing prompts to write a post and link it up, or add any home school life moment of your own.

To read part 2 - click here.

Savannah McQueen is the author of Hammock Tracks which includes Savannah's Savory Bites - dedicated to recipes and cooking with simple ingredients, Hammock Track Tales - a photographic journal of our life on the hammock, and Hammock Home School - includes editorials, book reviews, and educational link posts.  You can follow Savannah on Twitter and Facebook.

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