Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Everything you wanted to know about our homeschooling, but were afraid to ask.

Sue, have you turned weird?

(My brother actually asked.) I mean, homeschooling is either for women with long, straight hair who refuse to let their ankles show or women with long, wild hair who strap Birkenstocks around their ankles. Right?

While I hate to place myself into a box, there’s a rapidly growing segment of the population who homeschool their children because they know it is best for their children. Free love and Bible thumping aside.

So why do you homeschool?

This is probably the hardest question to answer, simply because the reasons are numerous and I could drone on about it for hours. But since you asked:
  1. I can give my children one-on-one attention. Classroom teachers perform amazing work and I don’t discount their efforts. What they cannot do is focus their efforts on my child and only my child — all day, every day. One-on-one tutoring is simply more effective.
  2. No one loves my children as much as I do. Again, classroom teachers each have gifts, and I know they count a love for children among them. However, only my husband and I share the same deep and abiding love for our girls that drives us to educate them as entire little persons every day. I’m not attempting to raise children who are good at math, good at reading, good with science, good at music. While all those would be nice and we work hard at each every day, we are raising our children to be good people. Period.
  3. I’m selfish. I was there when each of my girls took their first steps and said their first words. I will continue to be there as each reads her first book, counts to 100, learns to spell M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-I. I’d hate to miss it.
  4. It’s my responsibility. I didn’t send my girls off to day care for someone else to raise part of the day. I will not send them off for someone else to educate when I am able to do it myself. I’m the first to admit that homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Not everyone could do it. Not everyone is living in the right situation to make it feasible. I am. So I will.
  5. My children deserve normal socialization. Every single homeschooler I have ever met is sick of the whole socialization question. Let me explain. Many people see my super-outgoing 5-year-old (who wanted to invite 26 of her closest friends to her birthday party) and say that while she won’t have a problem with socialization, those other homeschoolers will have trouble. They’re wrong. Sure, there are a few people who live secluded in the deep woods and like it that way, but all the homeschoolers I know are normal people, active in their communities. Their kids play soccer. They join 4-H clubs. They swim. They play at the park. They use the library. They play with other kids. They have normal conversations with adults and other children nearly every day as they go about their business. That’s what I call socialization. What I don’t need is for my 5-year-old to be socialized a great part of the day primarily by two dozen other 5-year-olds. And if I were going to force socialization upon my child, it certainly wouldn't be to assimilate and maintain the status quo.

Are you qualified to homeschool?

I don’t have a teaching degree. So sorry, I know nothing about classroom management. I couldn’t gain order in a classroom full of kids for anything. Nor could I teach much to two dozen children at a time.

But I do have the skills, desire and resources to teach my own children. If I end up with more than 24 of them, that may change. For now, I’m good.

My husband points out that he and I have each fully mastered the skills typically learned in Kindergarten. And 1st grade, and 2nd grade, probably with 100% competency up to at least 6th grade.

I’m a doer. Give me a challenge and I can probably find a way to meet it. I have never been so motivated to do anything as to teach my own children.

Won’t they miss out on the normal school opportunities?

Yes, that is why I plan to do what this couple proposed. This piece called “Homeschooling Family Finds Ways to Adapt to a Public School ‘Socialization’ Program” was in the fall 2005 Kolbe Little Home Journal:

“When my wife and I mention we are strongly considering homeschooling our children, we are without fail asked, ‘But what about socialization?’ Fortunately, we found a way our kids can receive the same socialization that government schools provide. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I will personally corner my son in the bathroom, give him a wedgie and take his lunch money. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my wife will make sure to tease our children for not being in the ‘in’ crowd, taking special care to poke fun at any physical abnormalities. Fridays will be ‘Fad and Peer Pressure Day.’ We will all compete to see who has the coolest toys, the most expensive clothes, and the loudest, fastest, and most dangerous car. Every day, my wife and I will adhere to a routine of cursing and swearing in the hall and mentioning our weekend exploits with alcohol and immorality ... . And we have asked them to report us to the authorities in the event we mention faith, religion, or try to bring up morals and values.”

Really, won’t they miss some of the things that public school children get to do?

The prom and varsity sports are the least of our family’s concerns. Our children are still little and, seriously, our priorities are something entirely different at this point. Our girls get so many opportunities that some other children do not. If their priorities change over time, their schooling will change, as well.

You suck at math. How are you going to teach Addy and Dori trigonometry if you can’t even define it?

You’re right. I could never give a lecture about advanced math concepts. That’s why I’m working so hard now to raise independent learners. Rather than squash their desire to learn, our brand of homeschooling is all about fostering a love of learning.

No comments: