Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Finally - A Non-Homeschooling Mom Gets It!

I usually get frustrated reading articles about homeschooling written by people who don't homeschool. All too often those articles are full of stereotypes and false assumptions, and the authors really don't have a realistic view about homeschooling.

But today I came across a refreshing change in this post entitled "Reconsidering Homeschooling," on the blog called Losses and Gains. The author is a mom who has never homeschooled, in spite of being a former elementary school teacher with a Masters in Teaching, because she never felt she and her older son would be able to get along. But she has a little girl, a 3-year-old, and she's thinking about homeschooling her. And rather than listening to all the garbage, she's thought realistically about why many of us do choose to homeschool. Here's what she thinks:

I have realized that a lot of what drives families to homeschool is the desire to choose. To choose what you believe to be best for your child, to choose what works best for you, and to choose what works well for your family. I see the flexibility homeschooling families have in planning vacations and I envy that. I see the ease with which activities are planned because studies can be worked in and around each child's individual schedule. I see the way a child's unique interests and learning style can be explored and enhanced by a thoughtful, individualized curriculum. And I can't help but wonder too if homeschooling mother's like me who abhor messy, three dimensional projects just don't do them? Wouldn't that be great? No more book report mobiles hanging from a wire hanger. No more diaromas or trioramas. No more clay landscapes perforated with sticks and twigs. No more paper mache, glue guns and midnight runs to Office Max. Heaven.

Here is a lady who gets it. One of the strongest motivations for homeschooling, for many of us, is the freedom to choose what is best - for our children and for our families. That's why different homeschoolers function so very differently, and why homeschool conventions are filled with hundreds of different curriculum options - because we value choice! Some families like to work through basic textbooks and be done, leaving them lots of free time or even the possibility of accelerating education and getting through college young. Others really enjoy the messy craft projects (UGH! - And she's right; we don't do them - at least not very often!). :) My family happens to love reading aloud together; we do LOTS of that in our homeschool. We also value breadth and depth in education, so we don't accelerate - instead, we do lots of "extras," and study topics to whatever depth we choose together. If we want to spend weeks on ancient Egypt, fine; we don't have to rush through so we can get through a textbook with someone else's ideas about what's important for kids to do. We also value social interaction, so my kids go to a homeschool enrichment program all day one day a week, and to a co-op another afternoon every other week, not to mention swim team (3X/week) and weekly church, club, and youth group meetings.

One reason so many homeschooling parents fight government intervention is that we have mostly chosen to homeschool because it gives us choices. Requiring us to have school district approval would mean our choices would be limited to what someone else thinks is best for our kids, someone else who barely even KNOWS our kids!

Lori goes on to say that she is sending her kids to a new school next year.

The New School is a K-12 school so if the boys are there, there is no reason we wouldn't enroll her there as well. No reason other than it is kind of far away from our house and it would mean putting a little 5 year old on a school bus for almost 2 hours each day. Which is why I have begun toying with the idea that maybe I would keep her home for a few years. Maybe just one or two.

I don't blame her a bit. Two hours on a school bus every day would be difficult for me as an adult - I can only imagine how tough it would be for a five-year-old! The trip home, after a long day at school, would be exhausting. I had a similar reaction when I realized our school bus took an hour each way, every day, to get the kids to school and home again - and our school is only 15 minutes from our house! Our first graders were leaving the house at 7:45 and getting home at 4:30! When I saw that, I was very glad I homeschooled. (This next year, my older daughter would have to leave at 6:45 and get home at 3:30, while my younger would leave at 7:45 and get home at 4:30. Then they'd have swim team or club meetings after that, plus homework - how would they even have time for dinner, let alone any time to be a kid? No thanks - I'll stick with homeschooling!)

Anyway, I was very impressed with Lori's post. I hope she does decide to homeschool Pumpkin - she may be surprised to find it's more fun (and more work, too) than she ever thought it could be. :)


Ami said...

Found your blog through Google alert.

Yesterday, I unsubscribed to all my homeschooling email lists... so I guess I'll have to add some blogs to read.

I'll be sending my 15 year old who has never been to school... to high school this year. Her choice.

I'm adding your blog to my reader... I will now have to live vicariously through other homeschooling moms.


Marcy Muser said...


I'm glad you found me! :) And thank you for the kind words.

I think I understand a bit of how you feel sending your daughter to school. My own girls don't want to go to school yet, but their dad keeps talking about how when they get to high school age, we'll need to send them so they'll have opportunities they don't have at home. I'm not sure I disagree - my older daughter in particular has some amazing talents in music and drama, and she deserves the chance to try out some bigger productions than she can through our homeschool enrichment program - but the thought of sending her to school makes me sad. When she was little, I homeschooled her for her sake (and sometimes just had to endure) - now she has become such a joy to be with that I dread the day she leaves!

Thanks again for stopping by.

Lori said...

Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad my post was taken in the positive spirit it was intended. If there is one thing I can't stand it is when we take issues of parental choice and turn them into polarizing tests of parental "goodness." There are those on both sides who can't help but attack the other viewpoint because otherwise they don't know how to defend their own position. If it is possible to be a good parent while choosing either traditional school or homeschool, then how is a person to know what is right?!? But parenting and life were never intended to be so simple and black and white.

I did want to clarify one thing. My post was intended to be a bit humorous in places and so some things were exaggerated. My reasons for not considering homeschooling for my older son were not really because I couldn't imagine we could "get along" but because I knew how much he needed me to be "just Mom." I realize that homeschooling doesn't mean a mother needs to be a teacher in the traditional sense, but at the time it was hard for me to envision how he would learn anything at home when he was so resistant to any kind of instruction from me.

Looking back, now armed with much more information, maybe there was a way we could have made it work. But, truthfully, my children have loved school and most of the outcomes of traditional schooling have been positive for us. However, we have sent them to a small, Catholic school and so our experience is not exactly the norm.

Anyway, thanks for all of your insight. I have enjoyed learning more about homeschooling through your blog and some of the other comments I received. It is definitely something I will continue to consider for my daughter.

Ana said...

I can totally relate to everything you and Lori have written. I too am a former teacher with all of the credentials...blah blah blah - yet we made the choice to home school our little girl for many of the same reasons you both listed. Number one reason...freedom to choose!

She still has a way to go before she's ready for any formal instruction - but hey, I think homeschooling starts at birth!

shay said...

I followed you over here from you post on Lori's blog.

What an interesting blog. I'm going to take time to read more.

We also homeschool because it offers us choices and flexibility.

It's such an amazing adventure!