|My 2nd and 4th daughter's playing at the playground|
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|
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|
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|