I'm fairly certain, for good or bad, Cohen is definitely a different person than he would be if he were not homeschooled. What surprises me, is how much I've change because of it.
I look at every moment as a teaching moment. As a parent, we probably all do this to a certain extent, hopefully. Prior to committing to homeschool Cohen this year, I really looked at our experiences as fun. I always asked myself, “How can we have fun with this?” Now the question in my mind is, “How can we have fun learning about this?” For example, Cohen decided recently that he wants to be a Knight when he grows up. This is a very noble profession, and highly unlikely. Since he’s interested in this topic, I decided to take a break from reading about the Spanish Conquistadors and early American Explorers and picked out a few books from our library about knights. We’ve read stories about the Sword in the Stone, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and lots of other fun Knight tales, such as…
Instead of just dismissing his infatuation with Knights, we learned about their significance in history. It was a lot of fun, but had I not been homeschooling Cohen, I’m certain we would have never dove that deep off into tales about Knights.
I appreciate the hard work of all my teachers. Trying to get a child to sit still long enough to have them remember something is a tough job! Add 25+ kids to the mix, and I imagine it’s near impossible. Sometimes, in the middle of a lesson, sometimes Cohen just has to get up and dance, shake, wiggle, or sing.
My son has such an interesting personality and learning style. He loves music, so anything you can put to song, he will remember it. We have counted to 30 everyday for weeks, and he still can’t do it, but ask him about the Byzantine Empire and he can tell you all about it. I’m baffled how teachers can do this with 25+ little personalities. I have a greater appreciation for the teaching profession in general, because they have to deal with the red tape, legal issues, parents, administration and time constraints that I don’t have to deal with when I teach my child at home.
I understand why preschool/elementary school setting is important, but I also understand why it's important for me to be his first teacher. There are definitely benefits to a traditional school setting. There are also huge advantages to homeschooling. I believe had I not homeschooled, I would not have understood the importance of being his first teacher. As mentioned before, school teachers have lots of kids with lots of different learning styles in their classrooms. I cannot send my child to a school and expect the teacher to fully train him on each and every educational, social, and spiritual matter. I am and will always be his teacher (whether we homeschool or not) and it is my responsibility as his parent to make sure he understands the things being taught at school. It is also my top responsibly to teach my son about Christ and His love for us. This will never be the job of his school teacher.
I think this is the main problem with the public school system. Over the years, as a society, we have decided it is the school or the teachers job to train our child. How can a teacher that has 25+ children in her classroom possibly teach my child how to open doors for ladies, or to say “please” or “thank you.” How can I expect my child to treat his teacher and classmates with respect, when I require none of that at home? How can I expect my child to sit still and listen to the teacher, when I’m not teaching him to be respectful, quiet and sit still during “Big Church”?
I can clearly see how I'm having an impact on his life. One of the most rewarding things about being a parent is that you get to mold this little person into the person they will become. Forcing my child to obey the first time may not be a big deal when I’m asking him to clean up his toys, but if I don’t make him obey now, what’s he going to do when I give him a curfew and keys to my car? We as parents have a huge responsibility to train our children so that they can become productive members of society. If I teach my child that everything in life will work out the way he wants and he will never be unhappy, I’m disobeying God. I should be giving my child small doses of real life experiences in ways that he can understand and respond, NOW, so that in years to come he has a good grasp on how he should behave.
After spending nearly everyday with this amazing little boy, I find that it’s very selfish of me to allow him to get away with the little things or not hold him responsible for his actions. It’s easy for me to dismiss it. Who enjoys disciplining their child? Not me! And I think had I not homeschooled, I could have easily overlooked the little things he does to disobey or disrespect me by simply saying “I only have __ hours a day with him, so I’m not going to punish him during that time.” It is not our job as parents to make life easy on our children. It is our job to train them to do what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” –Philippians 4:8
It's made me a better parent. Homeschooling Cohen has definitely made me a better parent. I have studied him for the last year. His learning style, his interests, his hobbies, what makes him happy, what makes him sad, and what makes Cohen, well, Cohen. Had I not invested this year in homeschooling, I wouldn’t know all these things. By knowing and understanding my child’s behaviors, I have a better grasp on how to parent him. I’m far from perfect! I make lots of mistakes! But I like to think that because I’ve spent this year with him, I will have a better relationship with him for many, many years to come.