Why I Homeschool
by, 05-19-2013 at 08:26 PM (323 Views)
Why do I homeschool my child when I could probably get him into one of the best private schools in the state (where I used to teach), or send him to the public school? A few reasons.
First is the flexible schedule. We are not at the beck and call of the school district (and one that’s notorious for flip-flopping, at that). We are never reassigned, never have our track changed, never wonder what kind of teacher he’ll get next year, never have to call to find out why the bus didn’t come. We start school when we’re ready in the morning and dismiss when we’re done. He does not miss anything when he’s sick—though he’s sick less nowadays anyway. We go on field trips whenever we choose, and far more often than a school class can manage. There is time to read books, time to play outside, time to imagine. Time to think. Time to talk about ideas. The abundance of time is by itself reason enough for us to homeschool.
But it’s not the only reason by any means. Unlike a teacher caught between a standardized curriculum and a group of twenty-five kids, I can respect my child’s asynchronous development. For example, his math is two years ahead of his writing. My solution? Use the appropriate math book and let him dictate his answers to me. The first reading book we tried didn’t work out for us, despite its excellent reputation; I ditched it and found one we like better, and it’s working brilliantly. No science topic is off-limits because “that’s not in the book this year” and this student will never copy out spelling words he already knows ten times each. There is no academic ceiling. We do not need to hammer our square peg into a round hole.
As homeschoolers, we don’t limit friends to kids born within the one-year cutoff and living in our little section of town. Whose idea was it that we should socialize children by isolating them like that? How can you avoid messages of exclusion when that is the premise on which the institution is organized? And as much as people say school is supposed to prepare you for life, where else in life is like that? My son loves to play with other kids in small groups—not a herd—and without regard to age or gender.
Speaking of social education, a homeschooled child is less apt to have his interests belittled. Nobody is telling my kid that it’s not okay for him to like pandas and dandelions and Tchaikovsky and Mary Poppins, or that he *must* like scary movies and the latest and greatest plastic toy. He can make up his own mind, and his friends can make up theirs.
In our home, we avoid commercial messages and limit junk foods. (I about fell off my couch when I saw a teacher’s Pin about teaching kids to read via brand names. O is for Oreo? No, thank you!) We do not reward reading with pizza or selling overpriced fundraiser items with a party. When my child can read me a book, his reward will be a library card of his very own; we have a party for his birthday. We do not participate in a “nutrition program” that offers for lunch pepperoni pizza, nasty canned vegetables no one ever eats, and chocolate milk. Christmas is not about making a list of things you want from Santa. At home, my child's attention is not for sale.
My husband and I went to public schools. Thirteen years of public school, and you know what I’m really good at? Taking tests, especially standardized ones. (And this was before NCLB.) Seriously, I was never below the 90th percentile-- Iowas, CATs, PSAT, SAT, Praxis, you name it. You can guess how many employers list bubbling in the right answers as the top skill they’re looking for in new hires! So while our state mandates that the child take a test annually, we are not going to spend two months preparing for it, or six weeks wondering whether he “passed.” He’ll take it, I’ll keep a copy of the results on file as required by law, and that’s it.
You'd think I'd be the last person who would homeschool my child. My religious beliefs do not even suggest it (except that whatever I choose for him should respect his inherent worth and dignity, and there's also probably a net environmental benefit). I have a degree in education and formerly belonged to the National Council of Teachers of English. I wouldn't have wanted to be homeschooled myself, as my own mother was not at all suited to it. He's an only child. Yet here I am, unable to imagine putting my five-year-old on the bus. I'm so glad we have the option!