we're in. now what?
i posted this video a while back on facebook. it made me laugh. but really. he does bring up some good points.
sometimes there are misconceptions about homeschooling. and to be honest with you, before i did my research, i was guilty of having those same misconceptions. the biggest one was socialization (isn't that the biggest question most people ask about homeschooling?). they won't have any friends. they'll be too isolated. they'll be lonely.
once i did more research, i could see that many of the things i perceived about homeschooling (including the socialization "issue") were unfounded, and it helped solidify our decision to homeschool.
now, because i enjoy lists, instead of beautifully integrating our reasons to homeschool through out this post by way of eloquent sentences strung together seamlessly with transitional thoughts and word phrases, i will share with you our primary reasons why we're choosing the homeschool route. in list form. in no particular order.
1. flexibility. that was probably the most alluring aspect of home education for me. you are flexible in how you teach, when you teach, how long you teach, and what you teach. each child is unique. an individual. and the beauty of homeschooling is that you can teach in a way that's best suited for your child so that he/she can thrive and reach her full potential. is your child really flourishing or showing an interest in a particular area? then run with it! instead of stifling an interest because it's not according to the current curriculum (or you're running out of time), you can re-work your lesson plans to help encourage and nurture that interest. or maybe your child needs extra attention in a particular area. then take the extra time needed to help the child. there's no need to rush through, because you aren't bound to any particular deadlines. need to get away? plan a family vacation and take a break from school to get refreshed. who cares if you take "summer vacation" in the fall? perhaps a month long break taken 3 or 4 times through out the year may work better than taking a straight 3 month "summer" break. it all depends on the family, and the flexibility that homeschooling offers allows for an educational experience that's best suited for that particular family.
2. spirit led. while i wouldn't say that we chose to homeschool solely for religious reasons, the decision to homeschool was made after prayerful consideration. it wasn't something that we decided overnight, and we felt God really pulling us in this direction over time. some people might think that families that choose to homeschool made the decision because of religion or to shelter our kids. while those are important factors to consider, it was not the make or break reason for us to choose homeschooling. God calls us to be a light in this world, and how that looks like for each individual (or families) will be different. while i can see where homeschooling might prevent you from shining your light before others (families can be a light when kids are in traditional schools, allowing them to meet and come into contact with other families that come from many different backgrounds), there are many opportunities to be a light within the homeschool community as well. there are homeschool groups you can be a part of (it doesn't always have to be a religious homeschool group). the extra time you have left in the day "out of school" you can use to minister and reach out to the community around you. while we strive to keep our kids from being exposed to things that they're not developmentally and/or emotionally ready for, it is impossible to keep them from all the "bad" things in this world (take them to a mall and you'll see pictures of scantily clad ladies, head to the playground and you might see some young adults involved in some intense tonsil hockey, you might even have loud neighbors who choose to drop the f-bomb and other profanities in every.single.sentence...). i guess what i'm trying to say is that with any decision our family makes, we strive to make sure that it is the choice God wants us to make...and this includes how we educate our kids.
3. secure individuals/balanced socialization. i admit that lack of socialization was a big misconception i had about homeschoolers. i didn't understand how they were supposed to hang out with other kids their age when they're going to school at home. isn't it important to hang out with other kids their age and not spend all.day.long with their parents? after reading this book, my views on the socialization issue (if it's even an issue at all) within home education changed. a lot of the misconceptions i had about socialization as it related to homeschooled kids were addressed and clarified. while there is nothing wrong with hanging out with other kids your age, i think a more accurate representation of real world situations would be having friends of various ages. aaron and i have friends who are younger than us, older than us, and the same age as us. the beauty of intergenerational friendships is that it offers a variety of learning opportunities for each other. the wisdom of older, trusted friends are invaluable to me, and the optimism and energy that often comes with youth provides me with encouragement and a reminder not to take everything so seriously. the book states that perhaps spending more time around kids the same age for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week (which makes up the bulk of the week) with limited adult supervision (1 teacher per 20 or so students or 2-3 teachers per 2-3 grade levels during recess for example), as opposed to spending the bulk of your week with the parents (who are supposed to be the primary role models for the kids), kids will begin to depend and be shaped more and more to the views and opinions of their peers instead of their parents. now, i'm not saying that parents should brainwash their kids so that their views are exactly like your own. but the book observes that usually, the kids in the traditional school settings end up loosing more of their individuality and desire more to conform to the other kids in order to fit in and feel included. they choose to listen and follow the "wisdom" offered by kids their own age. they then tend not to take the guidance and wisdom offered by their parents as seriously for fear of being excluded among their circle of friends at school. i can totally relate to this observation. looking back, i can see where that has happened, especially through my middle and high school years. and having an oldest child who has been (and still is) in the traditional school setting for 10 years, we can see that happening in him too. we want our children to be secure and safe with who they are as individuals. but when our children spend the majority of time around other kids their age it can be challenging to encourage them to maintain their sense of individuality. obviously, every child is different. some kids won't ever be phased by what other kid think of them. but there are other children who are perhaps more sensitive or impressionable, and putting them in a traditional school setting may provide more of an emotional challenge for them. within the homeschool setting, there is plenty of time to socialize with other kids. but the kids will be of varying ages and parents are close by to help re-direct, offer assistance or counsel when there is a tough situation. children don't have to feel alone when they're encountered with a problem, because the parent(s) are easily accessible for guidance if needed. obviously, we can't always be there for our children when they encounter a conflict or difficult situation, especially when they become adults, and it is healthy for them to reconcile and solve problems on their own. but only when they are developmentally and emotionally ready to do so. that's why they're children and not adults. we cannot expect children to handle adult type situations with the same wisdom. there is so much more interesting points to discuss when it comes to the socialization aspect of homeschooling, but this post isn't really about that. whether you homeschool or not (or even if you don't have kids of your own), i highly recommend reading "the well-adjusted child" to give you a different perspective on kids and socialization.
4. natural. the homeschooling choice fits into the other pieces of our lives so effortlessly (like i said in no. 2...we felt God pulling us in this direction and he had prepared the way for us to homeschool years before we made the decision). we have a flow in our home. a rhythm. a balance. choosing to homeschool for us did not disrupt that already established balance. while there are days when i feel a little overwhelmed, or unmotivated, or both (i think that's normal for anyone to feel), homeschooling fits very well into the ebb and flow of our home, and the kids are happy (and i'm not pulling out my hair) and thriving.
5. no standards. the topic of standards, or more specifically standardized testings in schools has been a sore spot for me for many years. i have seen first-hand how standardized testings can negatively affect students, teachers and schools as a whole. i have seen how the results of standardized tests have affected the amount of funding a school receives so that the teachers there are struggling to find a balance in helping their kids succeed without compromising the quality of education they provide. i've seen some teachers give up and just teach to the test. i've seen schools cut arts programs in order to allow more time to teach the "more important" academics. now, mind you, i'm not against taking tests, and i understand that a test can be a way to assess where a student is at in their studies. but tests should be used as a tool, not the deciding factor on how a student ranks compared to other students or how a school ranks compared to other schools. you can present "tests" in many different ways. it doesn't always have to be the traditional-sit quietly-eyes on your own paper-timed kind of tests. children are unique individuals. not all kids are going to be successful in taking a seated, written-type of test. if the dmv can test your driving skills by actually having you drive your car instead of merely testing your knowledge of driving through questions on a piece of paper, then why can't students in schools be offered those same options when it comes to getting "tested" on things that they've learned. i could probably say more about my beef with standardized testings, but i'll stop myself there. i'm thankful that when you choose to home educate you do have the option to by-pass the standardized testings and submit a portfolio for each of your homeschooled children. less stressful for the child. and less stressful for me.
6. real life. this point kind of goes back to no. 3. if they're not spending 5 days a week for 6 hours a day at school, then they have that time at home to interact with each other. that might sound like a time bomb waiting to explode, but from my personal observation i think the little ones are really getting to know each other. going back to that ebb and flow in our home...i see that during the day. they are starting to figure each other out and they're starting to figure out how to balance things out with each other. yes, i might be home with them all day, but i don't jump in and intervene each time i have a conflict (isn't that like real life?). i think those are valuable interpersonal skills they're developing. not only that, but i think they're also developing their sense of personal space and knowing when and how to communicate their needs for time alone or time with others. as they get older (and if we homeschool all the way up to high school), they will have more time to experience real living since their school time isn't going to take up the whole day. the flexibility homeschooling offers can allow them to gain work experience (paid or unpaid), and really being out there in the community to see practically how things work without over-filling their schedules. i also think they will really have a handle on the home management aspect of living (such as personal finance/money management, laundry, home maintenance, food and nutrition, etc.), since they will have had the chance to develop and master that fully at home without the additional burden of making sure school work is done (since home-related work/chores can count as schooling).
i have to mention that my intent in writing this post is not to make anyone who sends their kids to traditional/conventional schools feel bad or guilty. your child's education is your choice to make. it's no different than if one family chooses to send their kids to a private school while another chooses to send their kids to public school. we are choosing to send our kids home for school. the big thing is being informed before making your decision. the choice you make about your child's education should be one that best fits your family's lifestyle. God designed and created each of us as unique individuals, and as a family no two are going to be the same. likewise your choices as a family in matters of education, parenting style, nutrition, activities, etc. may look different from other families. and that's ok.
the greatest thing we strive for as a family is to serve and glorify God with all that we do. our choice to home educate is simply a practical way we can do that as a family.