Before my children were of school age, if you were to ask me about homeschooling I would conjure images of an over-tired, disheveled, post-hippie woman wearing a denim skirt and Birkenstocks (I pretty much just described myself, sans denim skirt). I had not one clue about homeschooling or that I would one day be homeschooling my own tribe.
My boys started off in traditional public school just like the majority of homeschooled kids do. We all have our own stories as to what led to our decisions to forego traditional education, all which we are more than eager to share when asked. However, this post is not to talk about what I find wrong in public schools. Instead, I am going to tell you what I LOVE about homeschooling.
Ah, the dreaded socialization. You’ll often see those unaccustomed to home education clutching their pearls and exclaiming, “but what about the children?!” They envision these pale, starved for sunlight creatures desperate for peer interaction. Staring bleakly out of barred windows while the outside world carries on without them. Socially inept and awkwardly fumbling through life. But in reality, it is exactly the opposite.
Socialization in the true sense of the word means:
A continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and skills appropriate to his or her social position.
These days, it’s hard to “socialize” when you are confined to a chair in a four-walled room for seven hours a day. When drop off and pick up consists of a round-about where parents never mingle. Where even parent-teacher conferences are held via automated technology.
Here in Sarasota County there is a wealth of homeschooling groups that offer a plethora of activities. From park outings and trips to cooperatives and group buys and everything in between. We are a melting pot of secular and non-secular families who radically un-school, classical school, school at home, road school or mix it all up. We have families of all ages, races and backgrounds. Without the traditional confines of public institutions they are free to explore each other and their environment. Without fear of judgement, bullying or teacher reprimands.
We are still working on the whole “socially awkward” thing though…
I am a firm believer that information is best retained when you have a genuine interest in the subject. For example, if your child can’t for the life of him get a grasp on fractions, but has an interest in baking, you can use that to your advantage. Maybe they don’t bake? I bet they like pizza — and those pies are divided into fractions!
Even as an adult I have a hard time swallowing information that is forced upon me, but I am a sponge when it is something that excites me. Rigorous rote memorization is not necessarily retaining information. It’s just regurgitation.
When we give our children the reigns to pursue their own interests we are telling them we trust their decisions and that they have some control over their lives. Learning is supposed to be natural. Trust that your child will acquire all of the information they need. We are here to guide them and nourish their passions.
I love the fact that I get to participate in almost every area of my children’s lives. While I am far from a “helicopter parent” (you’ll often find me deep in conversation on park days while my children are in the wind) there is a sense of security having them under your wing 24/7.
When they were in public school it was always such a stressful time for us. We’d start our day in a frenzy, rushing out of the door in the morning, fighting Sarasota traffic, waiting in the horrendous car line (that is a blog post all in itself), battling over homework, cooking dinner, showers, bed. We were never able to slow down and just….be.
There was a time when I would lay down at night and feel like I didn’t know my own children. Now their voices fill my dreams.
I get to learn, too.
One of the best things about homeschooling is that I am learning right along with them. Just recently we did a month long unit study on Ancient Egypt. We learned about the unification of North and South Egypt. Currency. Cuisine. Indigenous plants, people and animals. That sparked an interest in other countries and geography. That curiosity leads to more and more discovery and a drive to learn. My main goal in this endeavor is to raise self sufficient men. I find that there is a glaring lack of life skills taught in public institutions, even right up into college. Why were never taught to balance a check book? Why is that not a thing?
I am and always will be bad at math. It’s kind of my thing.
It’s a cruel world out there, folks. While I encourage not living in fear based on “what if’s”, some scary stuff has gone down in public schools recently. Two words that spike my blood pressure:
While bullying is a hot topic as well, that is something that has always been, and probably will always be so you’re bound to encounter it somewhere in life. I just frequently tell my tribe, “Not everyone has to like you.”
I am happy (as is my bank account) that my children don’t feel the compulsion to keep up with latest trends in fashion or technology. There is no mockery when it comes to wearing hand-me-downs (or next to nothing at all when it comes to my crew, the savages). You’ll often find my children draped (that’s a word I use a lot to describe them) over a chair reading a book, in the backyard mixing vinegar and baking soda or outside exploring.
We have no boundaries.
No standardized tests.
No dress code.
No car lines.
The world is our classroom.