This time we are doing it with our children's education. I heard that gasp.
We have decided after much deliberation, investigation, and introspection to switch to educating our kids full time at home....rather than a conventional classroom.
Why ,you ask ,would we do such a shocking, unusual, drastic thing?
Well, that is what I'm going to try to put into words. I know most people around us will think we are mentally insane, negligent or too brave for our own good. They might be right. Time will tell. That being said...
I was not home schooled myself.
None of my close-by friends or any of my own large extended family home schools or was home schooled (to my knowledge).
No one in my church home schools.
10 years ago I think I knew of one or two stereotypical home-schooled families but that was it. We live in a small rural community with out clubs or co-ops to meet other home schooling families.
When Aili began Kindgarten we entertained the idea of homeschooling. I was probably 50/50 at that point. She began kindergarten in public school and has done very well over the past 4 years. When we left for Mexico last winter we pulled our kids out of school packed up their public school books and taught them in our trailer. That served as a catalyst and realization that we can do this. It is possible.
In recent years I have met more and more of my mommy peers who educate their children themselves. I am usually surprised that they seem so normal (and even cool.) The typical home school stereotype has definitely been broken with many of this generations parents. It seems there are now more and more skinny jean wearing, iphone tapping, soccer moms who have decided to invest themselves, their time, and their resources into strengthening their family and equipping their kids for adulthood. It's a big decision, one that we are committed to, but also one we will play by ear as the years go by. What's best for our kids in the next couple years may not be whats best for them 4 years from now.
The following are NOT reasons why we are switching to homeschooling:
1. I want to fit in with the people who think wearing pioneer dresses and tiny bonnets makes God like them more.
2. I have superior knowledge and intelligence. I'm smarter than their public school teachers and I'm a whiz kid at calculus and chemistry.
3. I have brilliant kids. (sometimes they hide it well behind the nose picking)
4. I want to raise my kids in a hermetically sealed and sanitized Christian bubble.
5. I hope to raise socially awkward kids who wear slacks 3 inches too short, scratch their dandruff and avoid all eye contact. I want to start using the word "slacks" in sentences more often.
6. We hate public schools. (on the contrary, for the most part, we had a really good experience in our 4 years of public school...they had very caring and invested teachers)
7. We think that homeschooling is the only responsible, natural, or God ordained type of education for all kids. (It's an individual choice out of many "good" options and not suitable for all families).
8. I want to have hyper control over everything my child thinks, feels, and experiences.
9. I'm an armpit hair braiding hippy or a psychotic legalist.
10. I want to start sewing matching denim jumpers for me and my daughter.
11. I have a dream of giving birth to 16 children who all perform in our musical travelling show and whose names all start with the letter K.
These are some of the reasons we are switching from our rural public school to teach our kids at home.
1. Time is short. The years I have with my children, influencing, equiping and helping to shape their character is going by quickly. The end of these formative years is in sight. From the time our children are born we, as parents ,are (generally speaking)the main influence, support and teachers in our children's lives...it seems natural that our role crosses over into other aspects of learning as well. I don't want to look back and feel one bit of regret that somehow I wasted years, days or even hours of our time together.
2. I like who my kids are when they aren't in school all day. We got a taste of our school-less kids last winter in Mexico and over this summer. It is a stark and definate contrast to the children who we rush out the door in the morning and who come back home grumpy, tired, snarky, lippy and looking for a fight (they bring home the school pecking order). I don't want whats left over of my children after school, activities, homework is finished. Effective parenting isn't about "quality time" but quantity time. It's in the quantity time that kids open up their hearts to us and share whats on their minds. That is where those teachable moments are hidden.
3. Roman is an outside the box learner. He is bright, imaginative and insatiably curious about the world around him. He LOVES to learn. However he hates to do it sitting in a desk holding a pencil to a paper (which he will still have to do briefly each day). It has been next to impossible for him to absorb any information in a distracting classroom setting. I believe that true education is about learning and fostering a love of learning that will last a lifetime...not programming my kid to conform to a classroom setting. School for him has been painfully frustrating for everyone involved. It has negatively effected his self esteem, confidence and desire to learn anything. In contrast he will sit for hours while I read to him about any topic from light refraction to Ancient history. Right now we are reading through the classics Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. He absorbs the information like a sponge...even if he stands on his head while I read. We have all kinds of classic novels, children encyclopedias, and educational books piled up waiting to be discovered...and a world waiting to be explored. That's learning.
4. I hate early morning rush. Enough said.
5. I love the flexibility that homeschooling offers. We don't follow anyone else's schedule or rules. We make our own. If we want to spend the winter in Mexico , we will. If we want to take a 3 day trip in the middle of the week we can. If we want to make popcorn and watch Little House on the Prairie and call it history class we will.
6. I want my children to thrive, not only survive, their years of schooling.
7. It is a more efficient way to learn. Our "bookwork" time will probably only take a couple hours at most. After that comes reading together as a family, educational games, and learning by living. They have a lot more time in the day for things like music lessons, discovering hobbies, reading, sports, volunteering, and just being kids. Because they have so much more time in the day for diverse activity and experiences, I think it will make them well rounded adults.
8. They can work ahead in subjects that they excel in and can work at their own pace in subjects that are more challenging for them. (This is ideal for Roman who loves to learn, is good at math...but is a full grade level behind in reading.) They won't get left behind, fall through the cracks or be held back in areas they want to move faster in. If a topic interests them they have the time, freedom and encouragement to follow their natural curiosity and study it.
9. No more packed lunches. I hate packing school lunches.
Well I need to go now but I'm sure I'll come up with a reason number 10...or even 15 as the school year goes by. It should be quite an adventure.