When my kids were born, I elected to stay home with them because I truly believed that it was best for all of us. I loved watching them be able to wake up on their own without rushing to fill them with food and shove them in the car only to hurry myself off to another job.
We spent mornings after breakfast cuddled on the couch, reading and talking. We also were outside much of the time: watching ants crawl, collecting potato bugs, and finding all kinds of shapes in the clouds.
The kids were so curious about everything around them that naturally we began to research different topics. They wanted to know why it rained and what happened to the puddles. Their deep desire to know and understand was only matched by their wonder at God’s world.
As it grew time to enroll them in school, I knew that I didn’t want to miss this time together. Sending the kids to school meant that the hours we typically enjoy reading and playing outside, would be replaced with the kids sitting in classrooms or on a bus. By choosing to homeschool, we were able to keep enjoying the small things that were really what made being a family enjoyable and fun: reading great books, enjoying time outside, and lots of free time for play.
Reading Great Books
As homeschoolers we are able to bypass traditional textbooks and worksheets in favor of “real books.” The kids actively ask to read and love the books off the “homeschool shelf.” We spend hours cuddled together just the way we did before our school years started. The freedom to use a literature rich curriculum like Sonlight has protected the time we treasure sharing books. All that reading also results in hours of my kids engaging in imaginative play. Every stuffed animal in the house has tried on Cinderella’s glass slipper, been bandaged James Herriot style, and starred in a nativity scene.
Enjoying Time Outside
Rather than rushing through a chaotic “get to school on time” morning routine, my kids are often outside before breakfast. Yes, sometimes in their pajamas. While many neighborhood children are riding the bus, we are reading the bible on the front porch. As children attending the local school sit with their teacher in a classroom, we find other ways to learn outside.
- We hone our math skills on a picnic blanket at the park.
- We pour over countless books in our backyard.
- We hike and walk, often stopping to share fun facts we find in our science books.
- We explore the weather and seasons simply by opening the backdoor.
- We recite poetry and sing bible verses while swinging on the swings.
- When the weather is nice, we spend the entire day learning and playing outside.
Free Time For Play
Increasing amounts of research show that the continued loss of unstructured play and overemphasis on testing requirements are causing dire consequences for our school children— including a negative impact on academic performance. At our home, time for free play is abundantly available. We don’t spend hours of our day preparing for and taking standardized tests. No one has to sit quietly or wait in line while lunch is prepared. We don’t need to find busy work to stay out of trouble while others finish their school work.
My kids spend all their downtime with access to a big backyard and several open-ended toys like blocks and crayons. They have the freedom to talk to and engage with their siblings, other family members, friends, and community members all day long. Games of tag, hide and seek, and “made up games” too numerous to name punctuate our days.
The school bus for our neighborhood runs at 7:00 a.m. and returns at approximately 4:00 p.m.
During those nine hours of “school time,” our kids get an extra hour of sleep, complete all their chores and schoolwork, eat, and play outside. No homework awaits them in the evening; they’ve gotten all of that done during the school day. My little ones continue to hear great books read aloud, play outdoors every day, and have loads of time for unstructured play. Homeschooling has protected our time to treasure these little things that matter most to our family.
Erika is living a life she never saw coming and couldn’t be happier. As a veterinarian turned homeschooling Mom (and a proud Sonlight Curriculum ambassador), she is loving learning with her three kids. She enjoys sharing her homeschool journey and connecting with other Moms at Pray Species.