I seem to have entered into a new phase of unconventionalism (so what if its not a word? just roll with it).
It started when I was pregnant and was seen by a midwife and chose natural birth. Then when I exclusively breastfed … and well, you get the picture. We eventually ended up venturing out into this crazy homesteading thing… and we’ve pretty much been labeled hippies at this point. I’m cool with it.
And now, we’re approaching a new frontier. Homeschooling. Possibly the most outrageous decision we’ve made yet. Yes, my dear first born and I are trailblazing together in a world hellbent on convention.
Lately every turn I make someone is asking about it. Sometimes I just skirt by the questions because honestly, I just wanna check out of this store with my groceries and get back home! Sometimes though I say that we’re homeschooling, and I get a myriad of reactions. Mostly positive, but several times I’ve been regaled with all the ‘social benefits’ of public school… If the question is simply “Is she in school?” (likely code for, why is this child out in town during school hours?), I just say “no” and watch this perfect stranger squirm a bit. I’m so ornery sometimes!
But today I feel like breaking it down a little. I do have a blog after all! So, why on earth would we choose to homeschool??
There are oh so many reasons. I could really write an entire post on each reason…but y’all would probably tire of that! So I’ve tried to narrow it down to just five main reasons. It was hard, but I did it. So here goes!
Homeschooling provides an environment where individuality, creativity, and imagination can flourish! Children’s personalities aren’t fully developed until age 7 or 8. By homeschooling we can let their personalities develop in a safe harbor. We can give them the opportunity to grow and learn in an environment where their imaginations are allowed and encouraged to grow exponentially. Because here’s the thing – my kids are pretty amazing, and if they can be afforded that type of freedom to become who they really are and pursue their passions and interests, well, watch out world, unthinkably cool stuff is going to happen!
Homeschooling allows the process of education and learning to be completely individualized to the child. If you asked 10 homeschooling families how they homeschool, I guarantee you’d get 10 highly varied answers. It’s one of the beauties of homeschooling! This helps ensure that each child gets the opportunity to learn in a way that comes naturally to them. As parents we feel its our job to figure that out, and we most definitely feel we are the most qualified to do that.
Similarly, homeschooling can be flexible. If a method or style or curriculum isn’t working, we can toss it for something better suited for our children and family situation. And homeschooling families aren’t bound by the traditional school schedule, so we can plan family vacations in off seasons when things are less crowded and less expensive! We can even incorporate vacations as extended field trips…trust me – I remember writing essays after coming home from a vacation to Colonial Williamsburg;)
4. Real Life Experience/Skills
Homeschooling allows children to gain a much more well rounded education and life experience. Real life does not consist of ever being in a room or working with only people your same age. Real life and real working environments have people of all ages, and homeschooling provides that type of learning environment. Children learn with siblings of different ages, kids in homeschool co-ops of different ages, and they go through the flow of the homeschooling parent’s daily life where there are many interactions with people of all ages. If that’s not a valuable experience, I must be confused! Beyond this, homeschooling can fully integrate life skills such as cooking, money management, gardening, car repairs, animal husbandry, home maintenance, household management, etc. These types of classes have been almost completely removed from traditional public schools, and I really feel like “on the job” learning is better anyway. Life isn’t segmented into subject areas, it’s all mingled up together in a big mess! Right? So learning naturally in the course of day-to-day life, but doing it right alongside a parent, well, that just seems so much more valuable to me.
I could go into the numbers here and break down how much family time or even just free time kids get in public school, but I’ll just leave at this…the average American student is spending more time away from their family then with their family…by a considerable amount. And that just isn’t okay with me. Our goal is to raise and guide a complete person. Not just someone who can do their times tables and win spelling bees. Homeschooling provides a way for our family to be together more often and studies have shown that makes a big difference in the trajectory of a child’s life – both academically and otherwise. Beyond just the day-to-day extra family time we have because we homeschool, we can allow them time to do nothing. You heard me, nothing. In a world that glorifies busyness, time to do nothing is precious. Especially to a growing child. Everyone needs time to take a break and just be. It has a powerful way of re-energizing you and some of your most creative thinking can happen during times like that. I feel it’s powerful, and needed.
I could seriously go on and on. This topic is vast, but these are the biggest reasons behind our family’s radical choice to homeschool. In truth I don’t think it’s as radical as it was 20 or 30 years ago, but I think there is still a lot of confusion out there about it. So my hope here is to dispel some of the confusion in a way I just can’t in the check out line at Trader Joe’s!
And just to be clear – I do not think homeschooling is for everyone. I respect that every family has it’s own set of unique circumstances and opinions. But I have received some curiosity about our choice and I just want to address that here on this ol’ blog of mine.
So. Do you homeschool? Have you thought about it? Share in the comments below!