When I first started mentioning that we were considering homeschooling our kids, I can’t tell you how many scoffed at the idea or tried to talk us out of it. People have VERY strong opinions on homeschooling… including those who have zero experience with it! I’ve been warned to make sure my children remain properly socialized, I’ve been asked about our (presumably very conservative) religious leanings, and I’ve had people with kids in public school take offense that we were considering removing ours. Our personal choice to home school is just that – it’s a personal choice. Our kids are happy, healthy, and they’re learning a lot, developing crucial skills, and growing as people. THAT’S WHAT MATTERS. I do not need to justify our choice to anyone; however I will explain why we made this choice as I feel it will resonate with many other parents.
Neither of our children (hell, nobody in our family) fits into the neat “normal” box that society demands. We have always found teachers and staff very caring, but there were simply not enough educators to go around. Once our son entered middle school, he was handed an iPad as an “educational tool” and spent a tremendous amount of class time switching around different apps for digital projects. We worried about how much actual learning was taking place. Our daughter was already being picked on for her appearance in the first grade. Both kids were doing well academically according to grades, standardized tests, and report cards, however we had concerns about the reliability of these metrics. Additionally, our son was having significant struggles socially and behaviorally, and there were simply not enough resources to ensure that he wouldn’t fall through the cracks.
Also, budget cuts mean that mainstream public school is seriously lacking in arts, music, physical education, and other critical classes that help develop our children into well-rounded young adults. (Remember home ec and industrial technology?) The district had millions to spend on iPads, but apparently not enough money to invest in the very people – teachers – who are tasked with imbuing the next generation with the knowledge and skills required to be proper functioning adults. Don’t even get me started with how incredibly wrong it is to send marketing emails from Apple to my child’s public school email!
Of course at the end of the day, the responsibility really falls on parents to raise their children – we cannot expect the school to do it for us. Many parents are not only juggling both working full-time outside the home, but also extra-curricular activities in an effort to fill these competency gaps. While we participated in some extra-curriculars, our kids suffered from lack of down-time and the freedom to be just kids. We are very fortunate to be able to make the choice for our kids to step back, simplify our life, and invest in their learning full-time.
So why is homeschooling a good choice for us?
Our kids learn at their own pace. If one of the kids encounters a difficult math concept, we can take the time to understand it before we move on to the next topic. Conversely, if a subject is easy, we can review it quickly and keep moving. This limits busywork and keeps learning interesting, and focuses on knowledge and skill mastery.
Individual attention has made a world of difference for our kids’ learning. Through home school I can take the time to individually work with them to ensure they’re understanding the material.
Less screen time
No more staring at a school iPad for hours at a time! Both our kids prefer learning the “old fashioned way” — paper and pencil, instruction and hands-on activities, and reading from an actual book. Through home school, we can accommodate that. Of course we still use technology quite a bit, but screen time is limited to certain school projects (PowerPoint presentations are a favorite at our house) and fun.
The beauty of home school is that we can immediately incorporate everything we’re learning to the real world. While studying geometry, we used a quadrant to estimate the height of various trees around our property. I tied gardening concepts into our life science curriculum. We practice fractions while baking. While planting corn kernels this spring, we discussed the cultural significance of corn in Aztec and Maya cultures and how they selectively bred teosinte to produce the maize we know today. The possibilities are endless and learning never stops.
Freedom to pursue interests
With our schedule being so flexible, we are now free to participate in a wide variety of activities off the property. We attend educational workshops and activities at our local library often, we participate in 4-H, we go on field trips that tie into what we’re currently studying, and we connect with other home school families. Home school is very popular in our area!
These are just a few of the reasons why we’ve gone the home school route. As I’ll discuss in later posts, the transition was anything but smooth and the learning curve, for me, was huge, but so far it’s been worth it!