Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why We Homeschool

I was asked by our new Family Practitioner (who is himself the father of 4 homeschooled children) the other day why we decided to homeschool. I of course struggled to articulate my carefully crafted reasons, as I usually do. This is a question I have thought long and hard about. It is not a decision that was arrived at lightly, and it came about in a far from direct manner. I have many good reasons, but for some reason I am unable to produce or at the very least articulate them when posed this question. Which got me to thinking, as I considered what I should have said later on, about writing it down so I wouldn't be tongue-tied when someone asked. I would like to be able to share my reasons not only because homeschooling is often misunderstood, but also in hopes of helping others who might be considering such a path.



Our path began actually in a discussion with our then pediatrician when my oldest Evan was just shy of 4 years old. He has always been bright and seemingly ahead for his age. He had just started his first semester of preschool through our local, small town school district. I was less than impressed with the program and teacher, and he was frankly bored in the class. This was troubling to me, as obviously I wanted both of us to like his school. I had gone to ECFE classes in the same town with both Evan and Zoie and really liked that teacher and the class. Not so with the preschool program and at that point we were looking for other options. We talked with his pediatrician about our options including Montessori, which was appealing but expensive and the closest programs were 25-30 minutes away, and early enrollment in kindergarten. We were very limited by our location and financial resources.

He did not return to the local program. In fact, we moved to another small town shortly there after which was closer to the cities. Based on how the district lines were drawn, we were actually in the district of a much larger nearby suburb which gave us access to one of the top 20 programs in the state rather than our previous one which was actually unranked. Geography, gotta love it right? We ended up, however, sending him to a once a week preschool program through the Minnesota Zoo. That program was great. He was at the on-site working farm at the zoo and learned all about it and the animals there. He loved it, we loved it and he returned to a similar program in the main body of the zoo the following fall. The only problem was that now he had completed it, both semesters.




During those two semesters I had started homeschooling with him, but didn't even realize it at first. I just wanted him to work on some things at home since he was only in the program once a week. At some point during that time I was positively introduced to the idea of homeschooling and that was when I began to consider it as an alternative. We had realized that Montessori or any type of private program was not going to be realistic for us, after some extensive research into our options. I realized that was what I wanted - OPTIONS. I wanted to be able to choose who taught my children, and really how. I realized what a lottery public school is and how in the wind you are based on your location. We love small town life, but small towns do not have access to the same state or local resources as large districts. Were we willing to sacrifice what was important in one aspect of our lives for another? Did we have to be?





The more I thought about homeschooling, the better it sounded. Sure, it wouldn't be a walk in the park but what exactly about having kids could be classified as such?? ;-) It was truly the best way to get what I wanted out of my kids' education. Choices, options, the ability to tailor their education to their unique needs - to move ahead in the areas the excelled and spend more time on the ares that they struggled, a nearly one-on-one ratio of teacher to student and lessons by the people who loved them and knew them the best. Choice about structure, schedule, environment and curriculum. No, I didn't think of all of this at first or at once. It has slowly come to me over time. Another reason I added later on that is having the FAMILY being the strongest influence in a young child's life, rather than peers. That is kind of a scary idea to me, allowing peers to rule. I am NOT trying to isolate my children from other kids, they get plenty of interaction and actives outside of the home. Peer groups are a small section of society, and not a realistic reflection of the world around them. I want my kids to grow up with a sense of their community as a WHOLE, and their peer group is a small part of that, but just a part. 




I also want them to see the world as their school and to embrace learning as a normal part of every day life, because it is a part of every day life. You don't stop learning when you walk out of a formal educational structure, in a lot of ways you start learning then - about life. I also want them to love learning, which often means an unconventional approach. Not that I don't think there is some merit to conventional education and structure, because I do. There are quite a number of homeschool co-ops and groups around the Twin Cities. They offer that freedom of choice that I love with a chance to belong to a community, experience a little bit of structure and the chance to allow someone else to teach your child a subject that may not be your area of expertise. ;-) 

So I guess if I had to sum up my reasons into one, I would say we homeschool to have CHOICES. But it is so much more than that. I think it gives us all a new perspective, it brings our family closer together and strengthens our bonds, but most importantly in provides an education that we feel is best suited to our kids, individually and gives them a measure of choice as well. Well there we go back to choice again ;-) Surely I missed 10 or 20 of my reasons, but you get the idea, right?


I would love to hear from you! What are your thoughts, ideas or questions? Do you homeschool - please tell us about it! Thanks for stopping by Green Fox Farms! :-)








2 comments:

  1. I have been giving some serious thought about homeschooling. I am still unsure, but reading your post was very insightful for me. I would love to hear more about your process. And also wondering in your thoughts right now, how long will you be homeschooling for??? preschool - middle or high school??

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    1. Shelley, Thank you! I am so glad my post was helpful! I did so much reading about others' experiences in my decision making, glad I could give back! :-) Our process is loose at best. We do a lot of art, a LOT. That is my background and all 3 of my kids love it. We have lots of workbooks that we use sometimes, we utilize a couple of educational websites, we draw from a Waldorf curriculum, and I follow my own kids lead with their interests most of all. I will try to write another post soon with more details about our processes and resources, it seems like too much to put it all here! As far as how long we plan to homeschool, I hope to do so for the duration of their schooling. We will play it by ear and do it for as long as it is working for our family.

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