Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why do I homeschool?

Why do I homeschool? 

This is a big question. It's a question I field every week, if not every day from someone in my life. At times, I field it from well meaning strangers, at other times I field it from friends or family. The neighbors have asked, the customers at our family business have asked, my parents and my in-laws have asked. I have asked myself countless times on those weeks where it seems that nothing is progressing and all I am doing is arguing with my kids. Strangely enough, my husband does not ask. He is completely sold on the concept and even though we've only made it 5 weeks into our history curriculum in 19 weeks of school, he's sure that our kids are doing great. And he's right, of course. And yet, I struggle with my answer, as many other homeschool mommas do, because I always feel like I could do better.

I will say first that we live in an excellent school district. My kids have had many teachers and counselors that have taught them well. Our decision to pull them out of school had very little to do with the school system/district/personnel/etc. It was an internal family decision that had to do with wanting more time with my kids.

Here's my list so far: 

I homeschool because:
  1. I know my kids. 
  • My son, the middle child, is filled with anxieties. Some of those anxieties are justified; he has a life-threatening food allergy and has to be wary of everything he eats. He has had teachers and other school personnel offer him foods that would kill him if he took them, from kindergarten on. He has a soft heart. When dealing with a bully in fourth grade, he told his dad, "Dad, I just can't say those things to him. He's my friend. It would hurt his feelings and I don't want him to feel as bad as I'm feeling." This was about the kid who had been relentlessly bullying him and turning other classmates against him for 3 months.
  • My youngest daughter, the baby of three. She is smart, scary smart. We've made jokes about her taking over the world since before she could walk. In first grade, she came home one day and grabbed a book her brother was complaining about being hard to read (he was in fourth grade at the time). She opened the book and read the entire first chapter aloud, missing only two words: Massachusetts and Chatapiqua (or some equally difficult Native American originated city name). She was considered behind in reading according to her testing scores later that same week. 

2.    I work full-time and kind of odd hours. When the kids are in school, I barely get to do more
       than feed them and put them to bed. 

3.     I love seeing them learn and get excited by what they've found out. I love seeing
        the enthusiasm slowly creep back into their learning process as they figure out 
        the world is their classroom now. 

4.     Standardized testing gave my then-fourth grader an ulcer. You could walk into the 
        school and feel the tension in the building. The kids were stressed, the teachers
        were stressed, and it was hard to breathe the air in the building for that last 5 
        weeks of practice testing.

5.     I don't think the government and the school boards and the teacher's union have a
        better idea of how to deal with my children than I do. The bureaucracy should leave the
        teachers alone and let them do their job. I also don't think strangers, no
        matter how well intentioned and educated should spend more time with my 
        children than I do. 

6.     They are only small for a such a short time. I have a 23 year old and I missed so 
        much of her life by sending her to daycare and working full-time and later sending her
        to school. I don't want to make the same mistake for the younger two kids. 
        There will be plenty of time for them to experience the real world when they are    
        older and wiser and better equipped to handle it.

7.     Although we are not super religious, the right to call a party a "Christmas Party"
        as opposed to a "Winter Celebration" is important to me. I want to share the bible
        with my children as well as morality and our family beliefs. I want them to be able
        to share their belief in God and defend it in an intelligent and thought out way
        once they are out in the real world.

8.     I want them to see the merit of hard work and accomplishment as opposed to
        skirting by to do just enough because the teacher will probably bump them up 
        to a B because she knows their smart enough to get a B instead of the C- they

9.     I want to read fantastic books with my kids, traipse through the woods and draw
        pictures of butterflies and rocks, look at pond scum under a microscope, and take
        fantastic trips with my kids and call it schooling, because it is and they will learn
        so much more than just cracking open a text book for 6 hours a day!

10.   We get to call Disney World a field trip! What's not to love?

I guess these are the biggest reasons; these three wonderfully individualistic, bright, funny
and ridiculously good looking kids. Who wouldn't want to spend all their free time with this bunch?

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