I believe that there is a distinct difference between homeschooling and simply bringing the school into your home. When I first started homeschooling, I was very much into the excitement of bringing the school into my home. I loved school, especially the beginning of the new year with all that new stuff. I wanted my daughter to feel that same excitement, except in our home, not in another building. The things I required of that poor kindergartner, just because I wanted to play school again! As children were added to our school, I still persisted in that school in the home mentality. I do tend to have a very, lets call it structured, personality, so all those workbooks just seemed to fit well. Then the time came when I had too many students and too many workbooks to keep track of. It was then I realized that I was simply a traffic cop, not a teacher. I realized that I needed to make a change in my philosophy and it was at that time that I think I really began to experience homeschooling. You might be wondering what I mean by this. What I mean is that I started to take a less structured approach to learning. We now do a lot more of our work together in a group. We tackle a topic together and then each child will take off in a direction suitable for their age. We read aloud together, we discuss things more. In short, we are having a lot more fun and actually learning - and remembering - things. (Although don't get me wrong, I still do use a few workbooks and I think that they do have a place in homeschooling.)
At first this was a very hard shift for me mentally. I no longer had all that tangible evidence that my children were learning something, or so I thought. What I reallized was that most of them really weren't learning, or at least remembering, all that much. They were simply completing workbook after workbook - some of them through many tears. I still have moments of insecurity when I wonder if my children are really hitting all those important benchmarks that society dictates. Are they on track with their peers in reading and writing? Are they as smart as all of the other kids sitting in all of the classrooms around the country? It is moments like this when I have to step back and ask myself a question that I of course read somewhere else, but can't remember where: Are you educating for Harvard or Heaven? It is sometimes hard to keep that focus when you look around at what other people's children are doing or when you get caught up in what society is telling you your children should be doing. I think that by following the homeschooling way we can take the time to focus more on Heaven. I also think that now my children are learning how to learn, and having a more enjoyable time doing it. Maybe they won't remember everything we talk about, but if I can teach them that learning is fun, then I think they will be okay. Since my shift in mentality we have had a much more joyful homeschool, so I have to believe that God is leading us down the right track, no matter what society might be trying to tell me.