Whenever anyone questions me on our decision to homeschool I find myself trapped between a rock and a hard place. I believe it is right for our family and could spend hours discussing the benefits homeschooling has poured into our lives. However, at the same time I realise others have different convictions and are in a different place, therefore they may choose to view our choice to homeschool as a criticism or judgement on them. For this reason I usually hold a fairly neutral ground regarding the benefits of homeschooling and stick to, “it’s what works for us.”
Last night however lifted my heart and soul to such a degree that I fell asleep with a deep conviction that home education is what God intended for our homes, lives, communities and families.
As 2011 drew to a close one of our homeschool families decided to host a barn dance to see in the New Year. Their garden was transformed with hay bales, a bonfire and strings of lights, apricots for snacks and barn dance music filling the air as the tables began to fill with the food brought by each family to share for dinner. Jeans, flare skirts, hats, plaits and boots were the order of the night. Hugs, laughter and joy filled the air. Heel, toe, heel, toe, woops, spin around – mind my toe – off to the left we go. Change your partner, now find your own – where did he go? Heel toe, heel toe… Rain began to pour, laugh some more, shoes shed, mud galore – let’s go around more and more and more. So the evening was spent by 20 adults and 40 children ranging in age from 4 to 80 years.
Looking around I found my 4 year olds were being looked after by a 15 year old boy and my 9 year old had partnered himself in a dance with a 17 year old girl. My 5 year old son was discussing cricket with an 18 year old while my 14 year old was somewhere in the mix with her friends. None of the teens were coupled off instead they shared friends, dances and partners throughout the evening. No one was left on the side lines, no one rejected or excluded. Boys and girls were free to be themselves and not worry about appearance or expectation. Their feet covered in mud they could lean on one another and laugh and just simply be.
Age, race, status, background – nothing mattered. Ten year olds were leading dances. They had all ages arranged and listening to their clear instructions on how to find our places. And listen we did as we were instructed who to dance with and where to turn.
Shortly before midnight we broke into families and spoke about our dreams for 2012 then broke bread and prayed for each other.
What pure joy the evening was. Age groups mixing. Children and adults respecting each other. No arguing or fighting. Good healthy food. No pairing off. No cell phones in sight. Children involved only in friendships and not the complexity of relationships, seeing their parents dance and laugh and flirt with each other – seeing marriage is good.
Yes many others may have had similar evenings but there was something special about these kids. They could mix, be free, my little ones weren’t in the way. The adults could also be free to talk, dance, pray for each other and be real together. This is true family, community and life abundant about which God spoke when he said he’s given us freedom to be free.
So as we stand on the brink of 2012 I rejoice that we are free from systems, free from expectations and limitations, free from curriculums, free from social pressures, free to be and do all that God created for us to be and do. I will shout from the roof tops, “Homeschooling Rocks!” I’m so glad that as a family we’ve embarked upon this path where our children are not only able to experience true, unadulterated socialisation but they are also free to stay children longer and enjoy true, real friendships and become all that God created them to be whilst living life abundantly.