More reasons to homeschool
Through Tammy’s blog, I found a post from a non-homeschooler, which (to her credit) was not crazy-anti-homeschooling. She just, as honestly as she knew, presented her perceived pros and cons to homeschooling, and asked others to weigh in. All of her responders are (so far) homeschoolers, and most did a really admirable job of presenting what real homeschooling looks like.
I particularly like Tammy’s response. If nothing else, please scroll down and read it. As ever, she is so well-balanced in her presentation. Bright girl, that. 😛
Even though I feel like I’m finally hitting my homeschooling stride, here in our 6th year, it’s still so encouraging to read posts and comments that are pro-homeschooling. Sometimes someone says something that I just really needed to hear that day. Or, maybe they bring up a positive point that I had never even considered. So, whether you’re considering homeschooling, or whether you’re an old pro, I strongly encourage you to read the post on Susan’s blog.
I’ll post my own comment here. It’s not really well-organized; I was just responding to her concerns in a semi-random order.
We’re in our 6th year of homeschooling; three of my four children are homeschooled. I really hope we’re able to continue for the “long haul,” through high school, though I initially simply set out to teach my children to read before they started “real” school. That first year, not only did my 5yo learn to read, my 3yo did, too. It wasn’t a walk in the park — tears were shed by everyone, I think, except the 3yo — but it was successful. That first year really made me start to question the environment of “normal” schools. If I had such a simple time of it, why are hundreds of thousands of children struggling and failing in public schools? My experience (only one year, and two children at that point) showed that it just wasn’t that hard!
After a great deal of thought on that subject, I think it just boils down to the fact that there’s a LOT going on in traditional classrooms other than teaching and learning. When one simplifies the process, one can fit in a whole lot of learning into a much shorter school day, and everyone can have a more productive, pleasant time of it.
That said, I think successful homeschoolers know their limits. My second child has a learning disorder which also affects his motor skills. So, we have him under the continuing care of a developmental pediatrician, and I have him in occupational therapy. Both his doc and his OT are highly supportive of me hs’ing; we have all seen tremendous strides in Grant’s abilities.
My oldest son loves baseball. Well, that’s simple: we got him into Little League. He’s only 10 right now, but I checked into it, and he *can* play on our local public high school team, when he’s of that age.
There are other examples I could give, but it boils down to doing MOST of our activities and learning at home, but calling in support when that is the wisest option.
There are some anti-society, anti-public-anything, isolationist homeschoolers. But, I think most of us are simply trying to do the best for our children, and have seen that their little lives flourish within a homeschooled environment.
As far as teaching what you don’t know/aren’t good at: Well, the good news is that most homeschoolers start with Kindergarten. There isn’t much in K that any mom can’t do successfully. Then, you move on to 1st grade, of course, and so on. IOW, you, as the mother/teacher, have the opportunity to learn right along with your children. In my book, that’s one of the perks of hs’ing; my education doesn’t end, either. BUT, sometimes, you have to know your limits, there, too. Like last year, I gave up a foreign language after only 8 or 9 weeks because it was just too much; I couldn’t do it. So, this year, I got the DVD. So, the DVD teacher is teaching my oldest a foreign language that I do not know, and all I do, basically, is just check up on his work.
As a homeschooling mom, I can choose — and my kids can choose — what my kids participate in. Team sports? Through a city or other league. Art? At home, or classes through an art store or community center. High school biology? Try a co-op or a DVD series. Chasing eachother on the playground? What about your church’s kids’ programs, or simply the park, or the play area at Burger King?
Most of my kids’ friends are not homeschooled, and we get invited to a lot of functions at other schools — band concerts, high school basketball games, etc. There are a LOT of ways to “make up for” the things that you may fear they won’t get to experience.
OTOH, you also avoid a lot of the cr@p associated with public (and other) schools. I mean, I went to a Christian school, yet dealt with fifth graders bringing a bottle of alcohol to school, 7th graders losing their virginity, 10th graders getting arrested for drug offenses…
To address a few other issues you mention: If you’re not organized — there are TONS of ready-made curricula which already have the lesson plans made out for you.
If you’re not patient — well, you can learn. Also, I think you’ll find that once your child(ren) are at home, they’re more pleasant, and they will likely enjoy homeschooling. IOW, the experience won’t require saintly patience from you.
Also… there are some “haggard” moms who are stressed out and seem to be tremendously disorganized. But, the good news is that education lasts 13+ years. That’s a long time to iron out difficulties and learn how to make schooling at home work for one’s family. I know I’m MUCH more organized now than when I started, six years ago. Sometimes, it just takes a bit to get the bugs worked out, and to find out what style of hs’ing is successful for both the kids and the mom.
I don’t pressure others to homeschool. I don’t even imply it, because I don’t think it. It’s a huge commitment, and not to be taken lightly, and NOT to be coerced into. I know a few hs’ing families, but most of our friends and all of our extended family “regular” school. If someone is interested in hs’ing, I will offer all the assistance and input they want, but I have never pressured anyone to homeschool.
I try to take the perceived pressure off others, too. A single mother from my oldest son’s baseball team and I were watching a game together. At hand, we each also had another son. She asked me how old my son was. “He’s eight,” I replied. Then, she remarked, sort of to her other son, sort of to me, “Wow. An 8yo with a giant vocabulary. Must be because he’s homeschooled.” I said, “Well, he actually has a really odd learning disability where his language skills are through the roof, but there are other areas in which he struggles.”
I don’t want to paint myself (or other hs’ers) as better-than-thou, smarter-than-thou, or whatever. It just works for us, and we’re all happy with it.