Sunday, September 28, 2014

On Homeschooling

We are in our seventh week of homeschooling.  I have not broadcast this information beyond those I see on a regular basis.  I wanted to get our feet under us before I had to deal with defending our decision.

I have many friends and some family members who have taught their children at home.  I've seen the appeal, but at the heart of my own disinclination to homeschool was my own selfishness.  I didn't want to have to give up the time or use the mental energy that I knew it would require of me, the introvert.

Through a chain of circumstances in July, God changed my heart toward homeschooling.  Starting with a sermon, a book and two conversations, my aversion grew into a willingness to entertain the idea and finally into actual excitement.  My teen perception of homeschooling was that it was done out of fear - fear of danger and exposure to the world.  Fear wasn't the motivation I wanted to drive my decision.  And as we each determine the education of our children, no matter what we choose, we need to understand our motivations, intentions and desires.  

As I read, thought and talked this summer, I realized that there were better reasons to homeschool.  For one, maybe my children could actually get a better education if they were taught by someone who knows them well and who can give them lots of individual attention!  So here are my positive reasons for homeschooling:

*I can teach them how to think and not just what to think.
*By following their passions, we can inspire a love of reading, learning and curiosity feeding. 
*We can use school to ignite their heart for the Lord.
*We don't have to waste their time covering material that they already know, waiting for discipline issues with other students to be resolved or by riding the bus for almost two hours a day.
*We get to read real books together.  I am not a player or a crafty mom, but I love to read and this is one great way for us to spend time together.
*We can encourage their strengths and invest time in their interests.
*We'll have time to teach them about adult life: cooking, doing laundry, balancing checkbooks, and caring for their younger siblings.
*Finally, we can strengthen family relationships through all of that time playing and problem-solving together. 

I am seeing the most benefits in my peace, their ability to play together and reading levels.  It is not easy, though contrary to popular concern, socialization is not a big issue.  The idea of public school is so ingrained into us that we believe that children learn to behave like adults by modeling on a large class of their peers.  Last I knew, apprentice electricians still learn under journeyman electricians to wire a house.  So, apprentice adults should learn how to be an adult by learning from adults.

One person said to me that my children shouldn't be homeschooled because they need to know how to function in the real world and that the trials of junior high and high school will teach them through those hard knocks.  Again, the real world is generally not a group of peers.  My husband's coworkers range from twenty years older than him to  ten years younger than him.  Wouldn't he have been better served learning and interacting with a wide age range of students in his formative years - such as a homeschool group and mentor parents or adults?

Anyway, the hard is not the social.  The hard part for me is making sure that that social does not overtake the learning!  I've had to really organize my time and days in order make time for learning and preschoolers and baby snuggling and time for myself to read and write.  Yes, I've sacrificed, but mainly time on Facebook!  Seven weeks in and it is worth it.

I know that hard times will come and that is why I've written out my list to remind myself why our family has chosen this lifestyle.  I'm sure I'll need to read it again.      

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