We are going to homeschool. This isn’t news to a lot of people, but I thought a “we’re homeschooling” blog post was in order. You know, to make it official and everything. :)
I never thought I would do it. Although I have a great many friends who homeschool, for years I completely closed myself off to the idea, without any good reason. But what I was experiencing was that resistance that builds up more and more the closer you get to surrendering yourself to the very thing that you’ve known all along that you should do. Do you know what I’m talking about? Once I un-dug my heels, I went from “I’m not even going to think about it” to “ok, it’s a viable option that should be considered” to “actually, this looks pretty good” to “it is absolutely crystal clear that this is the right thing for our family.” Now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Are we committing to homeschooling both girls from K–12th grade? Not necessarily. Schooling is something that should be re-evaluated as the years go by. We want to make sure we’re doing the right thing for each child each year. But at the moment, I envision homeschooling for at least the younger grades.
Why are we homeschooling?
My initial reason for looking into it was this: I love being with my kids, and I don’t think our 5-year-old needs to be shipped off for seven or eight hours a day, five days a week, to learn what she needs to learn. Five years old is still little. She would be spending more of her waking hours away from her family than with it, and that is not ok with us. And that demanding of a schedule would not be good for her physically or mentally, as she is a child who needs LOTS of rest and lots of quiet time away from overstimulation. Seriously, we would never see her except on weekends. She would have to come home, go straight to her room for some “down time,” emerge for dinner, then take a bath and go to bed so she could get enough sleep to do it all again the next day.
I love being a stay-at-home mom, but I think I was expecting that when it came time for school, I would be more than ready for several hours a day to do what I wanted to do. But do you know what I want to do? Be with my kids! I love reading good books with them, making homemade pizza with them, taking them to the library, watching them learn and grow, helping them discover things. Now don’t get me wrong—I love time by myself and cannot function well without it. But right now, the primary chunk of my day needs to be with them, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Another reason to homeschool is to embrace my child’s individuality and give her the education that is right for her. For some reason, every child in the U.S.A., whether from a penthouse in Manhattan, a ranch in Wyoming, a ghetto in Los Angeles, or a suburban home in Conway, is expected to learn the same things at the same rate at the same time, regardless of ability, interests, learning style, learning rate, cultural background, home environment, or personality. However, some children whiz through a concept while others need several weeks to understand that same concept, after which time something “clicks” and they’re ready to soar ahead. Some kids learn by seeing, some by hearing, some by doing, most by some combination of those. Homeschooling will let my child learn what she needs to learn when and how she needs to learn it. (For instance, she can now read a chapter from a “chapter book” on her own and then tell us what happened. And it’s still 6 months before kindergarten would even start. I just don’t see a kindergarten classroom being the right fit for her.)
At this point I had better address one of the questions homeschooling parents get asked most often—what about socialization? Somewhere along the way, we’ve accepted the idea that the best way to socialize a 5-year-old is to sequester him in a concrete room with 29 other 5-year-olds and one adult for 35 hours a week for nine months out of the year. But do 5-year-olds really learn good social skills from other 5-year-olds? Homeschooling families have the opportunity to help their children develop even better social skills by interacting with people of all ages in the real world. As families get together with other families, kids learn how to relate to older kids, younger kids, and adults. They get to go out into society and watch their parents conduct business in various settings and even take part in those interactions where appropriate. Families can do community service together, learning how to love and serve people who are different than they are. And there is time for these things because children aren’t being pulled out of their families and out of society for such a large chunk of the day.
So there are some of our reasons. There are more, but this post is long enough, and I’m fairly certain it won’t be the last one. I suppose that from the above paragraphs, some of our goals could be summarized as follows: to strengthen the family rather than fragment it, to treat our children as individuals with an education tailored to their needs, and to prepare them for real life by living real life in the real world.
(A number of good books and conversations with friends are helping me to develop my ideas about education and what homeschooling might look like for our family. One book which I have found particularly helpful is Upgrade by Kevin Swanson, in which he discusses 10 principles that make for a successful education, such as individuality, one-on-one instruction, and life integration, to name a few.)