Sunday, September 13, 2009

Why I Homeschool...

I think most homeschooling families have a "Why I Homeschool..." list. Some of them keep it on their fridge, tucked into their Bibles, on the bathroom mirror or even in their heads. Every family's list will be different, but it's very helpful - maybe even essential - to have that list to look back on when the bad days come. Here goes!

Why I Homeschool (in no particular order)...

1) I want to nurture and celebrate my children's identities.

My girls are vastly different. They are day and night, black and white, yin and yang and all that stuff! Eva is a very affectionate, loving, motherly little gal. Maddie is reserved, nervous and very much a thinker. It takes Maddie a long time to warm up to new people and situations, whereas Eva makes friends with anyone and everyone. A couple years ago, a family member got very upset when Maddie wouldn't hug her on command. When I explained that Maddie wasn't a huggy person (like her Mom), she declared that I would have to "change her".
Looking back to my own childhood, and by watching the children around me, it's very clear that the different children are ostracised. They are picked on, ignored, teased, bullied. If you want to survive in the school system, you quickly learn to tone down or discard your little quirks. You learn to deny your love of anything "uncool". You don't participate in anything that might be corny or weird, even if you love it very, very much. I love my kids for who they are, and I want them to love themselves that way, too - silly quirks and all.

2) I want to foster family relationships.

You hear it all the time, "Enjoy your little ones! Once they go to school, you've lost them." Lost them? What? And it's true.

3) I want to keep God in all the areas of their lives.

I was shocked when my niece was in Kindergarten. Their school (and we live in the Bible Belt of NB) had forbidden the teachers to say "Merry Christmas" or even talk about Jesus. It's not so much that God is picked on or spoken badly about. It's that He is ignored, pushed aside and forgotten. If God is to be the centre of our lives, then how can it be that our children will spend 30 hours per week in an environment where He is discouraged?

4) I want to avoid labels.

Nerd. Cry-baby. Jock. Teacher's Pet. Juvy. Stupid. Slut. That first year, that first month, that first week will be the basis of what my child will be for the next 12 years. Once you're slapped with a label, it's almost impossible to shake it. If you make a mistake, it will be remembered. Worse, after hearing your label every day of school, you become that label - even if it wasn't accurate at first.

5) I want to encourage my children to decide who their playmates will be regardless of age/status/sex/etc.

What I love about the families that I know who homeschool is that they are very, very different from each other. There's the mom who wears long skirts and covers her head (admit it, that's what you think of when you think homeschooling!). There's the mom who wears 4 inch stilletos and dresses like a fashion model. They're all different - and nobody cares. Our differences are valued.

6) I want to tailor my children's education according to their needs.

As a supply teacher I was very upset that some of the teachers I replaced couldn't spell or conjugate verbs to save their lives. I regularly come across teenagers and High School graduates who can't read. Homeschooling doesn't guarantee a straight A student, but it's a whole lot harder to slip through the cracks when your teacher can count her students on one hand!

7) I want to give my family the time and freedom to discover their own interests and talents according to their personalities, not current fads.

It takes a lot less time to homeschool than it does to public school. When you subract the time it takes to bus to and from school, recesses, lunch, standing in line, tranfering classes, waiting for other students to finish, busy work, etc, you can usually finish school by lunch time. That leaves most of the day to develop hobbies, take classes, play and discover!

8) I want to encourage my children to develop their leadership/decision-making skills.

A student's life is dictated by many leaders - teacher, district, government, schedule, clock, recess bells, regulations, etc. It's hard to learn how to make your own decisions when you don't have the opportunity to practice. With large groups of children, it's essential that they all follow. If they tried to follow their own paths, it would be mayhem. At home, though, it's a good thing!

9) I want to teach life skills and work ethics through volunteering and true-to-life experiences.

Homeschool is flexible. You can very easily accomodate a part-time job for your kids or volunteering. It's tough to keep a job when you've only got a limited amount of hours after school, homework, family, and extracurricular activites.

10) I want to be personally involved in my children's education.

You know when you ask kids what they learned in school today? And they say, "Nothing." I want to be able to say it's something!

Homeschooling - it's not all roses and ponies. For us, though, it's what's right.


Toad said...

My wife just read your blog to me - anyway, your article moved us both very much, thank you for sharing!
-Ryan & Melody Walsh

Pamela said...

Hi Emilie! I just found your blog through your comment left on mine. So happy to have found it and SO thrilled to know that you are a homeschooling mom! Although Charlotte is still very young, it's an option I'm considering for the future. Hope your school days are going well and I love your reasons for homeschooling. Do you get a lot of opposition? Members of my family aren't too keen on the idea.... Have a wonderful day!


Emilie said...

Thanks Ryan!

Emilie said...

Hi Pamela! Homeschooling has been in my mind since my kids were babies. It's never too soon to get prepared, I think. Opposition - it's the opposite. Most people are very supportive or at least accepting of it. The only real opposition I've had is with some family members, but again, they respect our family's decisions. I hear a lot of, "You're a brave woman!" or "I wish I could, but (insert whatever reason applies)." New Brunswick is a fabulous place to homeschool. There's a lot of support, and almost no red tape to worry about. No regrets on my end :)