Saturday, June 28, 2008

One of the Signs of Homeschooling - Lots of Books

What you see at the left is a badly taken photo (I took it with my phone) of a stack of books that I just returned to the local library. Under normal circumstances this is not my duty, but since my family drove to New York State on Thursday, the job of returning the books fell to me.

My wife, my mother, and my three kids are spending about two weeks up north. First, they will hang out at my uncle's cabin on Seneca Lake, and then they will visit with Alice's parents near Adirondack Park. I could have gone with them, but I decided to remain here to focus on my new ministry at Chevis Oaks Baptist Church.

When I first saw the stack of books pictured above, I was a bit shocked. However, I then began to think about just how much our children read. Caroline (age 14), Mary (11), and Bobby (9) seem to almost always have a book in their hands. They read about a wide range of topics. Beyond the books they read for school, they spend quite a bit of time simply reading for pleasure. While the girls tend to read quite a bit of historical fiction, Bobby's focus is more on knights, castles, and various adventures.

For whatever reason, when I was a child I did not enjoy reading very much. I'm not sure why this is. Part of the blame probably stems from the structure of the school system. When you have to read books that everyone else is reading because it is part of the school's required curriculum, you end up reading a lot of stories that don't seem interesting at all. Also, when reading = homework, it's not very fun.

Homeschooling naturally lends itself to a love of reading. This happens for several reasons. First, reading takes place at home, where life is more comfortable and less stressful than the institutional school setting. Our kids can read while sitting on their beds if they want to. Second, the books we choose for their curriculum are books we know they will be interested in. Our kids don't have to be squeezed into some sort of pre-selected state or county curriculum. Third, because our kids like the books they have to read for school, they want to read more books outside of school. These are the ones that come from and get returned to the library all the time.

When I arrived at college, the reading load almost overwhelmed me at the beginning. I would generally try to get through the day by reading as few pages as possible (that all changed at seminary). Since Caroline, who was in 9th grade this past school year, was required to read 50-70 pages each day for school, and then chose to read many more simply for pleasure, the reading load in college will not be much of a challenge.

Our kids aren't out of the ordinary. This is fairly typical for kids educated at home.

I'm hoping that all three kids carry their love of reading throughout their lives. There is no reason to think they won't, for which I am very pleased. The main reason I'm happy about this is that God has revealed Himself to us primarily through the bible. As you know, the bible is a literary work. When we approach it that way, and read it regularly, we get to know God better and better. This is what I want for my kids more than anything else.

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