It’s all homeschool all the time! How was your first day? Ours was significantly better than last years; which may or may not be due to the copious amounts of frozen yogurt that were consumed. I also allowed them to check out several comic books (Superman from the 40s!) at the library, which I usually try to limit when school is in session. Our afternoon was capped off by me leading them all into the grocery store to pick up dinner. I never shop with all the kids, as most of the other shoppers could probably tell. Think “sailors on leave”. Thankfully, it wasn’t crowded and we made it home without me yelling at everyone. (Yes, this is still me I’m writing about. I’m like a big teddy bear when I’m full of fro yo.)
Our first day back reminded me of all the reasons I love homeschooling and why, despite the days of wanting to crawl under the computer desk and hide, we persevere. So in the spirit of the week, my five favorite reasons for homeschooling.
- We learn cool stuff together. I like learning with my kids and exploring topics together. We’ve picked out subjects, books and materials that will help them not only learn about the world and it’s history, but hopefully see how it all ties together. We don’t teach to get a perfect grade on a test or because the state mandates a set curriculum. We learn until a skill is mastered and the larger picture is made clear. We go off on tangents and can stay there for as long as we want. I enjoy learning and I hope the kids pick that up.
- Less peer influence. While my kids, especially my oldest daughter is starting to want to emulate her friends more, and understand “why can’t I do X like so and so”, her peers do not dictate all her likes, dislikes and fashion sense. She never thinks less of herself or her family because we don’t have a big fancy house, video game system, brand name clothes, etc. I often joke about my children’s fashion sense, but in all honesty, it’s great. They’re developing into who they are meant to be without conforming to trends or bowing to peer pressure, which too often starts very early in elementary school. As a kid growing up, I desperately wanted to fit in and was always bullied and an outsider. It wasn’t until I accepted myself and realized I was fine being me that I achieved happiness. My kids are already there and hopefully, as they enter their teenage years, it stays that way.
- Flexible schedule. We can school year round, which I love (you forget a lot less math in one month than three), visit museums and take field trips during the week and vacation in the off-season to save money. The kids also get lots of free time during the day to play, run around, read and pursue their own interests.
- Learning is tailored to their needs. I see first hand what works with each child and can adjust their program as necessary. There are no labels or tracks. Each year, or trimester, we can change-up to see what works. My children all believe they are capable of learning and achieving whatever future goals they want. And I can address problems without creating a stigma; for example Edie received speech therapy for several months to help with a lisp and she never felt insecure about doing so.
- We’re a close family. All my kids get along and play together. My kids want to do things with Tony and I, and ask us for advice. As I entered my teenage years, it became my gut reaction to questions everything my parents suggested and I accepted the counsel of friends and teachers as gospel. I want my kids to most importantly think for themselves, but respect their parents and elders and realize that, with experience comes wisdom. Too much popular media pits parents against their children, and so often places a lone teen protagonist speaking out against some problem that older people either refuse to accept or change. When the teen overcomes that obstacle alone, all the adults must bow their heads in defeat. That is not reality, and I hope homeschooling and a close family bond helps my kids to see that. We are here to help them achieve greatness, not be an obstacle.
I’ve learned that homeschooling is not for everyone, however as our family begins its seventh year of homeschooling (eight if you count PreK), I see the fruit it bears for us and would never want to choose otherwise. Hopefully, today will go just as smoothly without the frozen yogurt.