Since we started homeschooling in September (really, since we started considering it in January of 2013), we have had academic excellence as one of our goals. My husband and I both did well in school, receiving Bachelor's degrees in our respective fields, and we expect our children to have the same desire and success in learning that we had. It makes sense then that I am enjoying setting catalysts before them these days to enhance their learning.
I have finally fully realized what I suspected all along: Our experience as a homeschooling family reaches well beyond academics.
A year ago my children were in public school, following the schedule and routine of a typical school day.
They would wake up and start fighting. They'd push and bicker and be anxious to leave the house so they could see their friends at school.
... Now my children wake up in the morning and hurry to each other's rooms so they can start playing before they have a chance to think about breakfast. On the rare occasion that only one is awake he sits and reads until he hears footsteps signalling a conscious sibling.
A year ago my children would trudge home from school at 3:30 pm, begging to play with their friends (the ones they just spent six hours with) and then complain at me when I reminded them that they needed to do chores/work/piano before playing with friends.
... Now my kids hurry to finish their work so that we can meet back on the couch in the afternoon to read a book together. Eventually, around 3:30 or so one of my kids might ask to play with a neighbourhood friend. I usually am able to say yes since my child already got all her work, chores, and piano done for the day.
A year ago I would have dreaded Saturdays because those were the days of trying to figure out how to keep my kids occupied without listening to them tear each other apart.
... Now I look forward to Saturdays because my kids have all day to explore the games and activities they've been planning through the week.
A year ago we had a lot less family time that we could spend talking about things that really matter.
... Now we take as much time as we need to, sometimes putting off our French lesson until tomorrow, because what really matters is this time that we have to nurture each other, right now.
A year ago I chose homeschooling, expecting academic excellence.
... Now I know that even if my children come out of this as dumb as posts, we are all better off for it!
(And I sincerely hope and expect that my children will continue to thrive academically... not be dumb as posts.)
I've said to many friends recently, and I think they are starting to get annoyed, that I am kicking myself for not doing this sooner. It is so much more work for me, and it's exhausting some days, but it has made such a huge difference in the way our family functions. We know how to love each other. We are learning to work through our problems. This makes it all worthwhile!