A Homeschooler's Thanksgiving List

Letters spelling thankful
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This is the week when most Americans will indulge in too much turkey and pumpkin pie as we reflect on the things for which we’re thankful. As we focus on our families’ traditions, along with the origins and traditions of the holiday itself, it’s important to remember that, as homeschooling parents, we have much for which to be thankful.

How many of the following resonate with you?

Pioneers. No, not those pioneers.

 We usually refer to them as pilgrims, anyway. I’m referring to the pioneers of homeschooling, those moms and dads who, in the '70's and 80's, were so passionate about home educating their children that they were willing to go to jail for it. These parents dealt not only with the same worries and fears that today’s homeschooling parents face, such as providing a quality education for their children, but they also faced the very real fears of having their children removed from their homes or going to jail for not having their children in school.

The pioneers of homeschooling also educated their children without the vast array of homeschool curricula available today. There were no co-ops, homeschool support groups, or classes. It was just moms and dads, educating their children and paving the way for future generations, though I’m guessing that they didn’t even realize they were doing the latter.

Their sacrifices truly are a picture of the pioneers and pilgrims that we typically think of this time of year – people who were willing to give up the comfort, safety, and familiarity of the status quo in an effort to forge a better future and a better life for their families.

I am very thankful for the pioneers of homeschooling because I am fairly certain I would not have had the passion or strength to face the possibility of jail time or losing my children.

Because of their bravery and convictions, homeschooling is now legal in all 50 states and the curriculum options and social and educational opportunities for homeschooled children are vast.

Freedoms. I am thankful for the freedom that homeschooling affords families. We are free to choose homeschooling as a legal, viable educational option. We are free to provide a quality education that doesn’t contradict our family’s worldview – whatever that worldview may be.

We have freedom in choosing the best homeschool curriculum for our family and even for each individual child. We have the freedom to set our own schedules, goals, homeschooling styles, and even graduation requirements (in most states). Those freedoms allow us to truly tailor our children’s educations to their particular needs, interests, and talents.

Flexibility. Flexibility and freedom go hand-in-hand and are often somewhat interchangeable, but when I think of flexibility in homeschooling, I think of things like being able to arrange our homeschool schedules to accommodate odd work shifts, life events, and even family vacations or being able to allow time for a child to be developmentally ready for a task or skill before I try to teach it.

Flexibility means being able to adjust our schedule to homeschool year round – or not – if doing so works better for our families. It means that we can do school on the days and times that make sense for our family, even if that changes on a regular basis.

Flexibility means being able to adjust or completely change curriculum if it’s not working for a child. It means being able to call a life skills day if attitudes or the situation dictate.

Family. I’m sure it goes without saying that we are thankful for our families. This Thanksgiving, let’s take time to let the non-teaching parent know that we are thankful for his or her support, financially and emotionally, of the time we invest in home educating our children.

Let’s also let our children know how thankful we are for them and for the opportunity to invest so fully in their lives and educations.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!