When I quietly mentioned recently that we are going back to homeschooling this next year, a few people wondered how we came to our decision. And since I process by writing anyway, I thought I’d write down our reasons.
The benefit I enjoy most to homeschooling is the freedom it provides. We can start school when we want; no need to rush out the door at ridiculous o’clock. We can take breaks in October or April, thus leaving town when the weather here leaves something to be desired anyway, and often enjoy the benefit of fewer crowds and lower vacation prices during off seasons.
Kyle and I can both work from anywhere, so why not do so? We can pack up the kids, do road schooling, and learn from experience and places and new people and new things. I love traveling for work, but I hate leaving the family—this way, they can go with me more often. Not being able to leave town when we wanted drove me absolutely crazy last year when we were in traditional school.
I wish I remember where I read this recently, because I’d link to it—but a few weeks ago I read a simple sentence in a blog post that sealed the deal for me to homeschool this year. She said, “I discovered that I didn’t have more time by sending our kids to school like I thought I would.” Yes, that.
That’s exactly how I felt last year—all the waking up early and lunch making and scooting out the door and running around like chickens with our heads cut off, and then coming home and dealing with homework and extracurriculars and then decent bedtimes because we have to wake up early to do it all again… it was the complete antithesis of how we want to live.
If we’re going to be busy—and I’d rather not be—but if we are, I’d at least want to be busy doing things I enjoy, like learning alongside my kids, or spending time with other homeschool families, or writing in the cracks and crevices of my day. Not recycling the mountain of papers sent home from the school and running to the store to grab carrot sticks because it’s our turn to bring snack to class again.
If my kids are going to spend six-plus hours a day not at home, five days per week, I want it to be because they’re doing something amazing. And while I loved our kids’ teachers, I found that by the end of the year, our kids honestly didn’t learn all that much. At least, not enough to warrant the approximately one-thousand hours they spent at school.
I know from experience that my kids can learn so much in such a short amount of time—we are usually done by lunch or soon thereafter when we homeschool. Then they have the rest of the day to play, explore, read, or wander, all of which is continual, nonstop learning as well.
While my kids are doing school, I want them to learn from quality books, I want them to solidly learn the foundations of times tables and skip counting, I want them to learn how to really write well and diagram sentences, and I want them to learn history in the general order that it happened. If we had a local school that taught these things, I’d probably be all over it. I haven’t found it in town here yet.
My daughter’s second grade teacher said it last year, and I concur: she is a really strong writer. I want to cultivate this skill in her and help her further a love for the written word. With homeschooling, we can devote more time to writing and writing well. She can also learn how to blog, because she wants to, and bake bread to learn about fractions, and have more energy to do her chores, and read quality chapter books. We can slow down and spend more time reviewing math, because that is her weaker subject.
My son might very well be labeled “difficult” if he were in traditional school this next year. He’s one of the sweetest boys I know, but he cannot. sit. still. At dinner, he takes a bite of his food and then has to stand next to his chair in order to dance in a circle like he’s Irish dancing. He performs karate moves on you as an expression of love. When we watch a movie, he somersaults on the couch, usually impaling a family member in the eye.
He’s a wiggle worm, and he learns best when he’s moving. With homeschool, we can work on skip counting while he jumps on the trampoline, or listen to a history lesson while he’s busting a move to the song playing in his head. And all the while, he’s listening.
Last but not least, we can have a Dad Day of homeschool, which gives the kids time with Kyle and me time to get a lot of work done. They’ll take advantage of the amazing wonder of central Oregon by studying earth science together, going on field trips to the lava rocks, river beds, mountains, glacier-fed lakes, and caves. No reason to study the human body for a third year in a row.
There’s a palpable irony that the biggest qualm people cite with homeschooling is a potential lack of socialization. I sincerely felt like we were far more “socialized” when we homeschooled than last year in traditional school. I made friends with fellow homeschooling moms, the kids had more free time to play and explore with other kids (as opposed to sitting quietly next to them in desks), and they could spend more time with people of different ages. Not 17 other 7 and 8-year-olds for the majority of their day.
Since summer break, I feel like I’ve rediscovered my daughter, part of whom went missing sometime last school year. She’d come home from school with a bit of an attitude we didn’t like, along with talk about just… twaddle. Who liked who on the playground, which boys in class were cute, why Justin Bieber is amazing, who has their own iPod and why doesn’t she (yep, at 8). I’m not saying the kids have to constantly discuss the merits the Greek city-states or the beauty of adverbs, but it was just getting ridiculous. My daughter is easily impressionable, for better or worse, so I like the idea of surrounding her with goodness while she’s still young.
When we homeschool, we have so much more time for playdates and time at the park and field trips with other homeschool families. We socialize so much more.
Next year, we will be traveling around the world, so we’ll obviously be homeschooling then (or more accurately, worldschooling). I want to prep us well for that year, both with a solid re-acquaintance with homeschooling and with, well, trip prep. We can learn geography as we plan our journey, math as we tweak our budget and make reservations, reading as we explore the history of the places we want to visit, and life skills as we model by example how to prepare for a major trip.
I’m not opposed to school, and we’ll probably go again sometime in the future. But for now, I feel at complete peace that we’re meant to homeschool this next year, and I couldn’t be more excited to learn alongside my kids.
A few posts (and a video) I love about homeschooling:
- 5 things I hate about homeschooling (and how I deal with them), by Jamie of Simple Homeschool
- 5 things I love about homeschooling (and how I embrace them), also by Jamie
- 6 homeschooling misconceptions erased, a guest post by Laura Grace Weldon at Simple Homeschool
- Why we homeschool, by my friend Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles
- Why I homeschool, by The Pioneer Woman
- Why my kindergartner will stay home for school, on The New York Times
- How to start homeschooling: see things differently, by Penelope Trunk
- And of course, How schools kill creativity, by Sir Ken Robinson, the most popular TED talk of all time