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FIRST-PERSON: Homeschooling rings our bell

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NASHVILLE (BP) – It was a tough decision.

For several weeks, my wife and I talked about it at great length. We prayed about it, sweated over it and, occasionally, I will admit, flip-flopped on it.

In the end, though, we made our choice and held firm: We decided that our two boys — Jonah (fourth grade) and Luke (first grade) — would be homeschooled this year.

Thinking about it was scary. Would the boys be able to concentrate at home? Would cabin fever set in? Would the furniture survive six months of elementary school boys at play?

Over and over, we weighed the pros and cons. Obviously, the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic played a role in our decision — not just the glaring health concerns, but also the thought that this year’s school schedule could potentially include a continuous series of stops and starts. We didn’t want that for our boys. And we felt that “virtual learning” wasn’t the best option for us.

On the other side of the coin, there are benefits to not homeschooling.

First, we love our small neighborhood public school. In the past, my boys have routinely ridden their bikes to school. My wife was a weekly volunteer, and she formed strong relationships with others at the school. Our principal is one of the good ones, consistently acting with the students’ best interest in mind. And teachers taught our children with fondness, respect and expertise.

But something still kept pulling at us to homeschool.

So, after much deliberation, discussion, research and prayer, we made the call: Homeschool.

It has been a momentous decision, especially for my wife. In the span of about 60 seconds, she took on about 20 new titles and about 200 new assignments. Not only is she the teacher, but she also now fills the roles of school nurse, nutritionist, counselor, librarian and principal. And she does ALL of this without the benefit of a teacher’s lounge. (She does, however, have a great parking spot that any teacher would envy.)

Meanwhile, there have been numerous adjustments for me, too.

On the days that I am working from home, I try to be as involved as I can. I have been given the role of P.E. teacher, and I preside over such vital courses as Nerf Hoop 101, Advanced Freeze Tag, and the always popular game of Let’s Go Get the Mail.

We are now about one full month into our journey as a homeschool family, and we are learning as we go. We have found that homeschool is a good bit like riding a mechanical bull – hang on tight for as long as you can, and try to land as gently and gracefully as possible when you get bucked off.

We have found that one of the major benefits of homeschooling is the quality time, the togetherness and the joys of simply “being there” for the good stuff.

My wife has been able to witness firsthand the classroom successes that have transpired in the past few weeks. She has been able to celebrate, in person, the very moment when Jonah nails a new spelling word or Luke latches onto a new math concept. I have been lucky enough to be there for some of those moments, too. And we’ve been able to give hugs and high fives.

Also, homeschooling has provided us with the ability to tailor the teaching patterns to meet the educational needs of our two boys. We can move at a faster or slower pace as needed.

But beyond all of this, the greatest benefit of homeschooling is that we are getting to teach the boys – in all subjects – with a biblical worldview. This, for us, is a priceless opportunity.

While many public schools are pushing Jesus out, we are talking about Him — and talking to Him — throughout the day. We are learning Bible stories, and we are teaching the boys the importance of having Christian principles and being Christ-like. We are able to teach that God our Father is in the center of everything — of history, science and the written thoughts of man. We are teaching them empathy and compassion by walking in someone else’s shoes by reading great books.

We’re utilizing some “outside” help, too. I have the wonderful fortune of being the son of a Baptist pastor, and we have incorporated my dad into our “school curriculum.” Using FaceTime, my dad is connecting with the boys to teach Bible lessons. How cool is that? Memories and wisdom they will hold onto for years to come!

We’ve also joined a Christian homeschool community group, where the boys are able to meet once a week in person for new learning through the classical model of teaching while also getting a good dose of social interaction — all with COVID precautions, of course.

For us, homeschooling has been a great choice during this season.

This is not to say that homeschool is perfect for everyone. In some situations, I am sure that homeschool isn’t even a viable option. For others, it’s simply not what they prefer to do. And I am not trying to change anyone’s mind on the topic.

I can only speak for us, the Dawsons of Donelson. And to that end, I will say that homeschooling is an adventure for our family. Teaching our children is one of our greatest responsibilities and I’m thankful we were “pushed” into taking the plunge. It’s been a good fit.

Being able to speak Godly wisdom and truth into our boys’ lives throughout the day is an investment that we believe will pay dividends for years to come. Above all else, we are delighted that the boys are “attending” a school that allows prayer, welcomes the name of Jesus and subscribes to a Christian worldview.

And for the record, the boys are getting excellent marks in Nerf Hoops 101.