One of the greatest and oft-touted benefits to homeschooling is the flexibility it provides. In fact, I myself praised the freedom to set our own pace in a previous post. It’s undeniably a great advantage of the homeschool lifestyle, and also one of the more obvious ones. However, during my parenting career, I’ve learned of quite a few more subtle benefits to homeschooling.
One of my favorite and happiest discoveries is the simple pleasure of creating our own society within the four walls of our home.
This discovery dawned on me gradually. At first, I noticed how fun it was to have another person around all the time, even a non-talkative baby. The challenge of new motherhood expanded my horizons greatly as I grappled with new systems for managing my responsibilities. Eventually, though, the isolation of staying at home all day long after having enjoyed an active career and bustling social life began to pall. I found that I missed interacting with adults throughout the day, and I even found the hectic pace of life boring in a way.
For me, one solution at that time was to start a little play group with a few other new moms. We would take turns hosting lunch in our homes, so we could visit every week and let the kids play. This group was a lifesaver for the first couple years of motherhood, as I adjusted to my new life at home and worked on forging my new sense of identity.
As my friends and I began to have second and even third babies, though, we found that our weekly lunch dates became less about socializing with friends and more about refereeing the children, who now significantly outnumbered the adults. Gradually we stopped meeting every week as the logistics simply became too unwieldy. Even though my circle of friends moved on in life (with most of us eventually moving away from the area), our play group provided a wonderful support during a trying time of life, and I always look back on that time with fondness and appreciation.
By the time our play group disbanded, I had my hands full with three little girls. Far from being overwhelmed with the chaos of three people going in three different directions, though, I found to my delight that the two older girls had become fast friends. I loved listening in on their little earnest conversations and watching how they cared for their youngest sister. Their games and discussions lacked maturity, of course, but they rarely failed to entertain. And I quickly passed from being an amused bystander to an active participant. We began having thoughtful exchanges, and I had the pleasure of coaching and mentoring them as their worldview developed. There were still lectures and instructions, of course, but the interactions gradually became less and less one-sided.
Now that my oldest is about to turn ten years old, I have a house full of young people simply bursting with energy, ideas, and creativity. We have achieved our own critical mass of social interaction. I still do crave outside company at times, of course, but the tenor of my everyday life is far from bleak. Some days are indeed challenging and overwhelming, and some are simply boring. After all, children can be tiresome and boring sometimes. But so could the career I might alternatively have. I suspect I would have good days and bad days in that hypothetical life, as well.
As my children grow toward adulthood, I can’t wait to see how their personalities and friendships will mature. This cultivation of a civilized society was a long time coming—and in many ways it’s still a work in progress—but the payoff has been tremendous.
I can forgo the wealth and cares
Of life with quiet piety
But ’tis a sad state of affairs
To lose the pleasures of society
Photo Credit: First photo taken by Alexandru Tudorache, graphic design by Charity Klicka; second, third, and fourth photos taken by Rose Focht, edited by Charity Klicka.