Inspired by Mommycoddle, who explained her personal reasons for homeschooling, I thought I’d do the same. There are so many stereotypes and assumptions about homeschooling parents and homeschooled families that it makes sense to reaffirm why we, as individuals, choose this particular form of education.
So why do I homeschool?
- Individual flourishing I believe the public schools spend more money and time on paperwork and bureaucracy than encouraging the flourishing of children. It is the nature of the school system and education programs in our country right now which severely limits teachers’ ability to do their jobs effectively. Given the differing needs and capabilities of different students, I can give my child a better, richer, and more finely-tailored educational experience at home than he can receive at school, where resources are limited and divided.
- Non-materialistic values The public school curriculum grooms children for a materialistic, competitive hierarchy in which “success” is more highly valued than kindness, empathy, or courage. This is reflected in how we measure, grade, compare, rate, and evaluate learning in the context of schools.
- Hours of reading time I believe that reading many, many books is a critical part of early childhood education. When Max asked me yesterday if he could go lay outside in the sun and re-read Narnia books, my heart fluttered.
- Enriched socialization Rather than spend the majority of his day with children who share a birth date in the same year, Max interacts with people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. His close friendships with girls are not chilled by the sex segregation of peer groups.
- Learning how to nurture Max thinks it is normal for a big brother to change a diaper or warm some milk for his little sisters. He sweeps under the high chair when Milla makes a mess. He runs to get a band-aid and kiss for baby boo-boos. He sees nurturing and caring for others as part of a continuum in which his role is not minimized merely because he has a penis.
- A holistic approach to education Rather than slice and dice subjects and topics, carving away feelings from facts and “social studies” from art or music or math, we investigate and explore our world in a holistic manner. Everything is related, and every idea (at some end) has a human face or consequences for our shared world.
- Intellectual curiosity Education should stimulate a lifelong love for learning. Every book we read is a relationship we form with certain ideas and/or fantasies. Giving your children an unquenchable thirst for learning is a gift that makes every moment in life more rewarding– for every moment has something to teach us.
- Chasing butterflies This is what I call it when we read a book or learn something new and find ourselves thoroughly fascinated. Rather than learn a little, we can afford to take the time to explore, meander, wander, and digress through a topic. Unit studies provide wonderful tools for chasing butterflies. So do afternoons at the library. Or hours spent in the backyard. When a child wants to learn about something, I think we should encourage it by offering curricular flexibility. This is difficult for a teacher to do in the context of a large class.
- Individualized learning styles and developmental timelines Being a parent of three munchkins has taught me that each child learns, laughs, and loves differently. Respecting these differences is a crucial part of nurturing and parenting.
- Unschooling John Holt’s approach to educating children makes a lot of sense to me. By educating our children at home, we can apply educational theories and philosophies which make sense. Once you acknowledge that every educational method or pedagogy was chosen by someone who thought it was best, it seems silly to leave your child’s heart and humanity to the “experts” for safe-keeping.
- Open-mindedness We live in a small-town in Alabama, which means that “socialization” often occurs along narrow little channels too thin for my Romanian-Alabamian-American identity to squeeze through. I want my kids to be open-minded and educated about other cultures. It would make me so sad if the only aspects of their world which they could enjoy were those aspects considered to be achievements of “Western civilization”.
- Opportunity At this point in our lives, we can afford to do this. I am so grateful for an opportunity that others are not offered; I would kick myself later if I didn’t use this time to teach and raise my children.
- Part-time parenting is hard for me. I can’t be present between the lines for my kids just yet. Maybe when they are older, it won’t seem important that the majority of their day in school is spent away from me. But, right now, it means so much to have them with me. To live with them. And learn with them. To be a full-time parent.
- Meeting special needs In Max’s schooling experiences, his teachers encouraged me to have him tested for autism and ADHD. I know exactly why these diagnoses came to mind when teaching Max. He is a rolling ball of energy, ideas, and exuberance– an exuberance that is not easily unwound or calmed. Since his emotional maturity is not at the level of his intellectual ability, we can structure his schooling to accommodate this special need.
- Faith, love, and fairies Life is just too fantastic to kill all the fairies yet. I’d like to keep the fabric of Max’s spiritual world intact– to allow the fairies to thrive with the science. I think it is so funny that we “teach” creativity in schools while raising children to be young empiricists who doubt anything that is not immediately proven by their senses. No wonder love is going out of style.
- A sense of wonder Children come to our world with a natural sense of wonder. I’d like to build on this sense of wonder, rather than disable it, by spending a large portion of our schooling time outdoors, playing in nature, learning from these interactions.
- Expanded academic horizons It is very important to me that Max learn local ecology and that he adopt a hands-on approach to caring for and cultivating the ecosystem and community in which he lives. My kids often attend volunteer meetings and environmental groups with me. They learn by seeing what I do, not just hearing what I say. Little people need to learn about the local.
- Long live childhood I believe that little people who get to revel in their childhoods grow up and out to be better adults. Just as I believe holding a crying child lets them know that it is okay to seek comfort and you can count on your family to provide it. Many adults who never lingered long enough in the land of childhood will revisit it at later times which might be inconvenient for their families.
- A full heart and house Though sometimes the din and mess overwhelms me, my heart is full to the brim with my children. We work with each other and around each other; learn to respect and consider each other. I don’t have to schedule quality time because our quantity time overflows. My kids can take me for granted. And I’m fine with that. I don’t need them to long for me or miss me to know that I am a lovely lady.
- Feminism I hesitate to use a term so over-populated with different meanings, but “feminism” is what we have to describe respect for female sex and gender. Our culture is so disrespectful to women, so gloriously adept at inculcating silent self-hatred and loathing, that I prefer to keep my little people in a female-loving place (i.e. my home) until they are mature enough to see the forest from the trees and choose to tread wisely. We raise children for more than careers; we raise them for the relationships and love which bring meaning to their lives. I want my son to love pink if he so chooses and my daughters to love themselves. I don’t think the social environment of schools facilitates self-appreciation outside the context of personal achievement.
To explore the individual perspectives of other homeschooling families, check out these links: