Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Why's of Homeschooling

I hesitate to even post this here because of the personal nature of it - because so many of these thoughts will be specific to me and my family. I have considered not putting here at all, but then I consider how important our motivations are. Motivation has so much to do with how our day to day operations bring us (or dont bring us) any degree of peace.

Why do we do what we do? What is driving those things? When we chose the more difficult way, what is reason behind it? Clarity in these things allows for proper utilization of resources, and thus a more satisfied feeling in the achievement...maybe you share some of my motivations for this life choice, or maybe by seeing mine you will find a more solid reason why you do or do not make it for yourself :)

I have been asking myself why alot pertaining to homeschooling since we started it full time this past fall. I have been searching for my reasons, clarifying for myself why I have chosen this method of educating my children. That is, aside from the obvious fact that I was homeschooled myself, which really isnt enough motivation to drive the massive amount of resources that goes to this sort of decision.

I have determined that I actually have a few whys ...

Why I love homeschooling ...

it is what I know ...that has alot to do with it, truly. I was raised a homeschooled kid, went on to a four year college, graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. It worked well for me, which I can say absolutely now that I am an adult. This life choice is one my parents made, and my mom specifically committed to up until two years ago when my youngest sibling finished out her high school years in a small private school.  It is something I am comfortable with, and I have respect for on the other side of things.

it is simple. Not easy. Simple.  It fits the goals we have for our family ..that being that we will embrace the little things, that we will live with less stress, a slower pace and an intense focus on nurturing relationships with eachother and God.  With my boys home, we can take every opportunity to explore things we love, nurture relationships that dont fit into a brick and mortor school schedule (like with our daddy who works evening shift) and take things a pace that allows us to delve into the things we get the most enjoyment from.

it allows for flexibility.  Really, this has alot to do with the "simple" things as well but I love how we are able to take things at the pace that fits our kids the best. I love how we are able to dwell on the things that need dwelt on. Be they discipline issues, emotional issues, education issues, family issues ..whatever the case may be. We are able to study space for two weeks if we want to, or rush through the letter sounds because for some reason my 4 year old knows them already. We can take more time to focus on obedience than math, or we can spend an hour reading a Magic Treehouse book from cover to cover.  We can take a morning to rest if needed, or stay up late enjoying fellowship of good friends.

we can rise to the challenge, or slow down.  I love the fact that my 6 year old is staying at pace with his potential. If we were in the school system, based on his birthday he would be just wrapping up his kindergarten year. Because we kept a pace that kept him challenged, we knocked out kindergarten and first grade this year. I know that he is being challenged to his full potential, and I really love that.

its about me. Its selfish, really, but I LOVE to see them learn new things. I love experiencing my 4 year old ask questions about a bible lesson, or hear my 6 year old make a connection about the solar system. I love hearing them repeat back things that I taught them. I love to hear my first grader belting out a made up song about the 9 planets, giving each one a distinguishing characteristic that he remembered from our lessons. I love being available when they have a question about something they saw ..I get to answer it. Which makes me feel awesome. :)

There are other why's though, too, aside from just why we do love it ...

Why I am okay with it ....

they will be a different. Sure. I know that. I think it is a no-brainer that because their life experiences will be different than the average kid their age, they naturally will be a bit different than those that have them.  But I am okay with it.  Again, I refer to my own experience as a "different" kid. I remember very well those moments when I felt out of place, when I didnt understand what they were all talking about, and when they were talking about homecoming and prom. I felt a bit left out, naturally.  I recognized that I didnt talk the same as them or think about things the same way.

I am okay with it for my own kids, though because I also knew that it was because I was different that some people were drawn to me. I understood that my differentness let me be a different kind of influence to those around me and that if I saw those differences as a blessing, and not a curse then I had a lot of potential for touching people.  All growing up I was the gal who all the misfits disclosed their secrets to. Looking back, I realize that it was because my innocence attracted them. I was in many situations where I was able to comfort a fellow jr high girl, hold the hand of a high school friend who had made bad choices, or encouraged a youth grouper to make a choice for Christ.

I know that my differentness helped me do those things. I know that because I wasnt like every other person they knew, I had a unique potential for touching them. Different isnt always bad.

And, lets face it ..I could name you 10 homeschool kids that were a bit "off" and match them with another 10 traditional schooled kids that I could say the same about ;) 

they wont be socialized. Yeah, that is the one that everyone seems to bring up. Its funny, that lately it has come up for me ALOT.  Having considered it quite a bit, I have determined this: that people are seriously concerned about their kids being socialized :)

Here is my take on it ..for whatever that is worth. The concept of socialization is about our children learning how to behave in social situations, how to manage relationships and function in the world around them. This, of course, is an important thing for children to learn. Thing is, that I think most kids do this very naturally. As long as they are exposed to children and adults on a regular basis so that they have opportunity to learn these ideas, they will naturally learn what they need to.

A child who is in a healthy family learns a TON about how to behave in every kind of relationship. They learn respect for authority, how to treat people younger than you, how to share, how to be considerate of others, how to serve others, the importance of sacrifice for the good of everyone, natural consequences...etc. I could go on and on. True, they arent learning it along with 25 other kids 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week,  but I have found that the lessons learned at home can be directly applied to a bible class full of 15 kids and a teacher just like a home with two little brothers and two parents :)

Honestly, because we are together 100% of the time we are working on socialization 100% of the time. We are constantly instructing, guiding and teaching what it means to be a considerate friend, neighbor, brother, son and member of society.

We also provide opportunities for getting to know other children of different ages, working with a team, and getting instruction from authority besides mom and dad. So, I am okay with them not learning this concept the same way most of his counterparts are learning it. But be assured, many homeschooled kids are learning how to be good little social beings :)

we arent in the rat race. I am totally okay with my kids not being in school 40+ hours a week. Dont misunderstand, I am ALL about educating my children. I want them to learn as much as they can, I want them to meet the education standards of their society (at the very least) ..I want them to be educated, now and in the future.  I am okay, though, with this not being the primary task of their childhood.  I am okay with us working for 2-3 solid hours on book learning, and spending the rest of the day learning about things that they will take with them for the rest of their life. I am okay with spending more hours in our day focusing on life lessons than math lessons.  I am okay with it.

Why I dont love homeschooling ...{yes, I have some why's for that too}

there is an assumption of judgement. I remember my own parents struggling with this, being some of the only homeschoolers in a small Texas town whose very life blood was wrapped up in high school football and education.  When you chose to do something counter cultural, there is always an assumption that you are judging everyone who does not make that choice.

I truly do NOT judge anyone who do does not make this choice. I know that this lifestyle is one that is very personal and unique to a person, their goals, their resources and many other factors. To say that this is THE right choice for everyone and their choosing not to is wrong ..well, that is just silly.

Some of the best moms I know do not homeschool, are public school teachers or otherwise do not chose to education their children this way. There is no judgement there for any of them. We all have to use the resources we have to do the best job we complete the tasks God has blessed us with.

there is assumption of being a public school hater.  I had someone say something about this this week. That is one thing I dont love about homeschooling. I do not hate the public school system, and I have nothing but respect for teachers who work with all those kids every day. I think they must have a special dose of resources that I do not have because they give like I do for kids they dont even know, they are working with resources less then they really need, and they are often asked to more than is humanly possible for one person. I know many tradional school teachers that see their lives as a calling, which I can totally agree with. I also feel there is a function in society that brick and mortar schools play in the overall betterment of our society. I have made the choice I have made because of the needs of my kids, not because I hate the public schools or their teachers :)

SO ...for whatever it is worth, there are my thoughts.

Feel free to comment, just keep it positive please! :)

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  1. That is a very thorough list! You are right, this is intensely personal and hard to put out there sometimes because we are so often judged by others about these choices. Your bravery and vulnerability are a testament to the rest of us.
    I remember being very drawn to the flexibility of homeschooling when my children were still very little. We could travel on our schedule instead of the school's. We could jump up and pursue an idea with a trip to the museum or a park instead of having to fit it in after school while homework and housework piles up.
    As a trained teacher I was unhappy to realize that all the educational theory I had learned would not be practical in a classroom. Essentially, all the reasons I most wanted to be a teacher were voided by the system. So, as a homeschool mom I get to pursue my highest calling and my children get a better education because it is tailored to them, student-led for the most part and incredibly exciting filled with projects and field trips to reinforce their learning.
    It's not for everyone. It is work! For me, it is MUCH less work than a classroom of thirty kids, but it is still work. It is rewarding and exciting and completely fulfilling for all the reasons you listed above and that will get me through the hard days. "God's grace is sufficient"... Even for me!

  2. I certainly enjoyed your post. I was suprised to see some things that even I didn't know about your thoughts. OOOH we are all inside your head now-watch out!
    Anyway, having put a child in public school I agree with you about not hating the schools. Wy had great teachers! They were caring and honestly tried everything they could to work with both of us. The system is flawed and didn't allow the teachers to teach the children at the child's own pace. That is the #1 reason why
    I homeschool. Wy is still challenged everyday, and yet because we can move at his pace he does not have self confidence issues. This is great with a child who has such a meek spirit. Self conifedence is a character lesson that we can work on to build up. This is a big difference than either telling or implying to the child that they don't live up to a standard that "every other child" does.

    I also love the flexibility!! I can't say that enough. As you know we school all year. I loved that idea even before I homeschooled. My son retains so much more and for longer by doing this. Now for those who think I am crazy, we only school 4 days a week and yes we do take a vacation days. We try not to make it more than one week away from school at any given time. I love that we can school in the morning or even after dinner.
    I agree with Heather, it is not for everyone or even every child. The changes I have seen in my own children is enough to make me keep going on the days I ask myself WHY??. I feel that God led me to that decision, and it is one that I will continue to do.

  3. I share some of your motivations for homeschooling. I enjoyed your list of whys and look forward to reading more of your posts!
    I'm a new follower from Hip Homeschool Hop.

  4. Thank you for sharing! I especially love that you were homeschooled and can witness to it personally and how well it worked for you! Stopped by from the Hop :O)

  5. I enjoyed reading your take on home schooling. I think for someone as passionate about learning as you are it is just a natural fit for you to want to teach your boys. I feel the same way about teaching art in a public school. I regard all the kids as my own kids and try to educate them to the best of my ability in the short amount of time we spend daily together. There is just something about watching that "light bulb" turn on in a child's mind that is totally amazing! =)


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