“Home Is Behind, The World Ahead” – J.R.R Tolkien
Brothers - Caleb's Highschool graduation
In this season of Thanksgiving when I consider what it is that I am most thankful for, it has to be our decision to homeschool our children.
Our eldest son was in 5th grade when we decided to pull our kids out of school. This was not a decision that we made lightly. There were many factors which we had to consider and sacrifices we knew would have to be made. However, at the end of the day we felt the pros outweighed the cons, and so I became a homeschool mom of three – a 5th grader, 2nd grader, and preschooler.
Two years ago, we graduated our youngest and essentially became empty nesters. Home is indeed behind and the world ahead as the two youngest pursue their studies and the eldest pursues a career in law enforcement. But, when I look at the amazing young adults that they have become, I still feel that it was the best decision we ever made.
If you live on a farm and circumstances allow you to homeschool your kids, I encourage you to do it! There are so many character development and life skill learning opportunities in the every day tasks we take for granted. In our home, we limited screen time and encouraged our children to pursue hobbies, read books, and play outside. The imaginative games they came up with kept us entertained and, on occasion, a little concerned - from putting on a circus performance, complete with a trapeze artist (swinging from a rope attached to the rafters) and clowns, to archery competitions where they shot flaming reeds at a target. Hobbies ranged from novel writing and movie making – we’ll never forget the epic adventures of “Thunder in the Shed” – to goat breeding and building a skateboard from scratch. As a family we loved visiting the National Parks together, taking our vacations when schools were in session so that we could avoid the crowds and enjoy hiking and biking in relative solitude.
Of course, it wasn’t all fun and games. We also required every family member to contribute to daily chores (from grocery shopping and cooking, to feeding the chickens, mucking out stalls, and milking goats) and there were more traditional lessons in Math and English Language. But on the whole, we had the freedom to make learning fun and engaging.
One of our favorite years was when we studied ancient history. While studying Ancient Rome, we created and set up a museum with exhibits in our living room. We then invited friends over for a “museum tour” with our knowledgeable “curators.’ Afterwards we enjoyed a Roman banquet in the garden and had a gladiator contest with sword fighting. In our study on Ancient Japan we dressed in kimonos and hosted a traditional Japanese tea party under our pagoda. The list is endless, and if you ask our children to this day, they can still tell you an amazing amount about these fascinating cultures.
We were also fortunate to belong to a homeschool community which provided unique learning opportunities. In high school the boys studied Anatomy with a homeschool dad who was a Surgeon and Chemistry with an Engineer. Our homeschool community also met weekly for “park days” and “beach days” and provided opportunities for our kids to dabble in the arts. They learned piano and guitar, studied art with a dad who was an artist, and – in one of our most unforgettable memories – participated in an epic production of Les Misérables that the community put on as a fundraiser to help rescue sex trafficked girls.
Homeschooling allowed us to make memories with our kids that we would never have been able to had they spent 7 hours a day at school. These memories are the thread that tightly binds our family together. We are close-knit, not only in our relationship with our kids as parents, but in their relationship with one another as siblings.
Our daughter is my best girlfriend - we’re always planning adventures and setting off on spur of the moment road trips together. Our middle son and his wife live on a cottage on the farm and continue to work alongside us as he finishes college. (I love that instead of losing a son, we have gained another daughter!) Our eldest lives in California and is too far away for regular visits, however we talk once a week on the phone and see him at least twice a year.
There are so many ways we could have invested our time and finances. But at the end of the day we recognized how fleeting the time we had with our children was and chose to invest in our relationship with them. The world may be ahead, but our hope is that home will always be the place they come back to. This is the legacy we have endeavored to build for our family, a legacy that will impact generations.
Snapshots of a homeschool life