Thursday, 12 May 2016

Why I (personally) homeschool

My 2nd and 4th daughter's playing at the playground
The other day I met a mom at the playground. She was a public school french teacher, on maternity leave, with her not-quite one-year old. We stood side-by-side, pushing our children in the swing, her with her baby, and me with my three-year-old preschooler. She noticed, since she really couldn't help it, that my other children were of obvious school age, and asked if I homeschool, to which the answer was an obvious yes.



Then she asked me why I chose to homeschool my children.


I paused, unsure of how to answer. I thought of the many statistics I know that show homeschooled children do better academically, socially and emotionally than public-schooled children. I thought of the numerous studies I've read that show homeschooled children make better college students, better community participants and are better prepared for adult life in general. But that, while great reasons to homeschool, wasn't why I decided to homeschool.

I thought of the deeply held values and convictions I have. I could say I chose this path for religious reasons, because I felt God had called me to be a homeschool parent. I could say that I believe homeschooling is the most biblically sound form of education of our children. But, again while I do believe these things and my faith is a definite part of our homeschool, I didn't choose it because of religious reasons.

I thought of the parenting philosophy I have, and the style and way I raise my children. I thought of the fact that I get to see all the firsts, that I can develop the close relationship with my children, that I am still their first and best friend. I thought of the subtle ways that I get to influence and shape their worldview, because I am their mother and their teacher. But not why I chose to homeschool.

Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I chose to homeschool, honestly, because it was easier. It was sheer laziness. I chose to homeschool because when my oldest was 3.5 yrs, and it came time to register her, I just couldn't face the thought of spending the next twenty years getting up early, making lunches, walking or driving her to school, and then picking her up again a few hours later, dealing with homework and tired kids.. it was just too much! Mostly.. it was the thought of having to get up early every day. I was 23! I'd just finished high school myself a couple of years before, and I hated getting up every day for school. I didn't want to do it again.

So I kept her home. She turned 4 that December, and had figured out reading. And I thought, hey.. this is pretty easy. Plus, I had gotten engaged that fall, and was expecting another baby, plus managing college myself, so I was pretty busy. I figured to do it one more year, then maybe register her.

And the next year, I had a new baby on the way, a toddler and I was newly separated after a horrible marital breakdown. There were so many changes, the idea of putting my oldest in school seemed to be a huge stress. By then, I was kind of getting into the swing of educating her myself, seeing the results and researching and planning curriculum. I was enjoying the work, and meeting others who liked this homeschooling thing too.

The next year, there was a toddler, and a new baby on the way, and my 2nd child's special needs were just beginning to be discovered, and homeschooling stayed the default choice. The effort into putting my daughter in public school was just too much.

The year after that, well.. it was more of the same. Only with a special needs child, public school didn't seem to have the answers to help her. Every report I heard scared me away from even considering putting my 2nd daughter in public school, and with more babies, it was just so much work. I was sleep deprived, and pregnant and.... I lived in Canada. The idea of wrapping up three small children twice a day to face Canadian winters, just to meet a bus was so unappealing. Homeschooling it was. By now, I was into middle school, and grammar, long division and ancient history wasn't as scary as babies and snowsuits.

Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
When my 5th baby came, I was in the middle of marriage breakdown and moving and a whole host of other issues. Homeschooling became the only stability my children had in the middle of their lives turning upside down. We clung to the normal-ness of our homeschool day. I was doing kindergarten and preschool with my middle children, around babies and toddlers, and my oldest was largely independent with her work, so it seemed to be working just fine. It was a relief not to disrupt our lives just to put them into public school.

Now.. we love this life. We can sleep later, we can enjoy the good weather outside, we can learn together and share our discoveries. I love how close my children are to each other. I love that I can give them hot meals every day. I love how much outside activities we can enjoy, because I don't have to manage school pick up schedules and parent-teacher conferences and IEPs and special education. I can tailor education plans to exactly where my children are skill-wise and developmentally. The freedom we have is incredible.

But ultimately, I chose to homeschooling because it was just plain easier. I honestly don't know how mothers do this traditional school thing. The costs, the time, the hassle, the school-shopping and lunch-making, the social skills (or lack of them) -- the cliques and bullies, the homework and the testing.. I shudder at the thought of them. I realize that homeschooling isn't free, and there's still lunches to be made and we'll still encounter bullies (heck -- sibling rivalry anyone?!?) but ultimately, keeping my children home and teaching them myself was and still is just easier on me.

Stickers on my youngest daughters' room wall
Why do I homeschool my children? Because I'm lazy, because I don't want to get up early, because the thought of lunches and homework and parent-teacher interviews scare me, because I can't give up my babies for that long, because I'd miss my kids too much..... Because they are my children, and it's my job to raise and teach them.  I homeschool... out of sheer selfishness.

3 comments:

  1. What a good reason, Sarah! All those secondary reasons make a lot of sense too!

    ReplyDelete
  2. And everyone asks: How do you afford to do it? What job or money do you have to be able not to work? I love the idea of homeschooling and promote it but this question keeps popping up.
    Thanks for a great post,
    Blessings,
    Janis

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a definite consideration. I'm fortunate in that not only do I work from home but my children's father is in full support of homeschooling and contributes financially. It's not easy and requires a lifestyle change but totally worth it. I'm firmly of the belief that anyone can home school.. and it's just a matter of figuring out how.

      Delete