In the past few years, I’ve noticed that questions about homeschooling have changed. People used to ask me why I homeschooled my kids. Now they ask how. I notice this because I used to be surprised when someone asked how instead of why, and now the reverse is true. Maybe it’s because we don’t have a rigorous or exciting educational program. Perhaps it’s because people see the fruit in other home educators and don’t wonder why anymore. I don’t know.
Recently someone asked why again, and it made me think. Are my reasons the same as they were back in 1990 when I went to my first homeschool conference and listened to Jessica Hulcy describe how she taught the states in geography by having her kids draw a map on the driveway. Not my style by the way. In the beginning, it was a bit reactionary. The idea of using the government school system was abhorrent to me. When you spent 10 years in private education, it’s hard to imagine sending your child off to the very schools your parents sacrificed so much to keep you out of. Kevin was amazingly gracious. I’m sure he scratched his head wondering just what was so bad with his education. After all, he had the B.S. in Computer Science. Then again, with those initials…
Anyway, after a few books like “The Survivor’s Guide to Home Schooling” and “The How and Why of Home Schooling,“ I started to have more of a yearning for what I saw in those pages. I saw less of an, “Avoid this pitfall” and more of an “embrace these ideals” kind of thing. So, when I was asked recently why I homeschool, I was surprised to discover that I didn’t have a list of negatives we were avoiding as much as a list of positives we wanted to encourage.
- They develop strong relationships– even when they don’t wanna.
- They can learn at their own pace whether accelerated or slower.
- They can major in their strengths.
- They have many more hours per day to explore new things.
- We are involved in every one of their classroom’s.
- We know the teacher intimately– her strengths, weaknesses, and how much chocolate she needs to get through a reading lesson.
- They know how to learn. Even when they don’t know a lot of information to share, they know how to learn it.
- At some point, every one of the older kids has kicked into gear and “owned” their education. Five down, four to go.
- I’ve learned so much just reviewing and helping them.
- I get to share my favorite books with kids who have never read them. It’s so COOL
Oh sure, there are a LOT of things we miss out on that we’re glad aren’t a part of our lives
- The class moving on when the kid hasn’t “got” it yet
- Spending twice as much of their waking hours away from home as here.
- Waiting for the rest of the class and boredom when you’re ready to move on
- Sex Ed (sorry, fifth graders don’t need to know how to avoid getting STD’s. I know that’s the “real world” for some kids, but thankfully it isn’t my 10 year old’s “real world.” I’d like to keep it that way)
There is more… just as there was a lot more good stuff I could have mentioned. I know there are things my kids miss out on. I have no doubt of it. However, I’m ok with that. There are things that public schooled kids miss out on that my kids get. Everything in life isn’t 100% equitable. There is always more and less. The question is, which more is more important to you and which less are you willing to live with in order to get that “most important?”
I know I could have done a better job of home educating our children. I have no doubt. I think that’s probably true of nearly every home schooled, privately schooled, and publicly schooled child. EVERYONE, no matter how wonderful and diligent they are, can do better at SOME point. But you know, I can get worked up about what I didn’t do, or I can just make a point to do it tomorrow. So they all didn’t get that little nugget. At least some did, and chances are, the others got something the youngers didn’t. That’s just called life. It’s a beautiful thing.