Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why we homeschool - a side note

I'm so often asked why I homeschool my children. I was just asked that question on Thursday by a cousin I love to pieces, who really doesn't understand why anyone would take their children away from other children. There is a myth that homeschooled kids are isolated from the rest of society, and I guess if you consider herding children into a room with 25 other children of the exact same age to be "society", that would be a correct assumption. I don't consider that to be normal society nor do I consider what happens during the school day to be socialization.

Why do we homeschool? My kids deserve it. That's the best answer I can give. Our local school didn't do a good job with my kids and they were suffering academically and emotionally. No matter how much time I spent at the school or with my kids doing homework and trying to help, it didn't do any good. I couldn't stop the body slams into the locker, I couldn't stop the nasty name calling or the picking. I couldn't stop the teachers who didn't like my kids' personalities from treating them badly. My kids had some wonderful teachers. I have many wonderful teachers in my family. But the wonderful teachers can't undo the hurt done by the teachers who forget they are teachers and take things personally. One teacher almost said the "big bad word" to my middle son, and the librarian raised her hand to hit him. One of his teachers made him suicidal, and then some man older than me followed him home from the bus stop down our private lane and threatened to hurt him. The school knew (Travis told them) and they didn't tell us. We'd had enough.

Another reason I homeschool is because, quite frankly, I do a better job of teaching. My kids get one on one attention from me. They aren't vying with two dozen others for brief moments of my time. We can have very in depth discussions about things and they can ask hundreds of questions until they know everything they want to know about something. They also have full control over how much they learn. They can learn as much as they want, and I've found that without the shackles that school put on them (short class periods and the changing of topics), their curiosity is unlimited. And none of their time is wasted on lunch breaks or recess or study hall or class changes. The hours they learn are truly hours of learning and not chunks of hopefully learning something between the time it takes them to walk the halls and then get their stuff out and then put it away again in preparation for the walk to the next class. I know some kids thrive in that environment, but my kids are a lot like me. Autodidactics really don't do well with short bursts of learning. We need to be able to delve in and study. Public schools don't allow for that.

And let's be honest. Is a classroom full of 10 year olds and one adult really representative of society? No, it isn't. Nowhere else in their lives will kids ever be required (and I really mean forced) to sit in a room with the same aged kids, having to raise their hand to go to the bathroom and not talk during the day, and worry about spit balls flying at them from behind or the bully who is waiting around the corner to bloody their noses. I hear a lot about how kids have to learn to deal with people they don't like. Yes. They do. But in a school setting, they aren't learning to deal. If the teacher doesn't like them, they have to learn to take verbal abuse and shut up about it, because they have no power. That isn't real life and I don't want my kids learning that other people have that much power over them. I want strong minded, strong willed kids who will know themselves and know when something is really wrong, they don't have to just shut up and put up with it.

My kids are awesome. They're responsible. They get along well with people of all ages. They are certainly not kept in the dark at home and never allowed out. They are smart and they are considerate. They're mature and wonderful. I wouldn't trade all of that for all the "socialization" in the world. I've been called selfish for not being willing to "fight the system from the inside" and just doing what's right for my kids and not trying to make schools better for all kids. Again, to be honest, I don't think our current school system is fixable. I don't think it will ever be right as long as teachers have to teach to a test that our darling pres couldn't pass if he had someone feeding him the answers. I know it's not the teachers' fault that they have to teach that way. They have no choice. I don't think kids should be shackled. I don't think kids should be force fed garbage that will show up once in their lives on some stupid test and never again have any meaning. If saving my children from that system is selfish, then I'm definitely selfish.


Lesa said...

Amen Sister! I wish more parents had this perspective in their hearts. Woo hoo! I am so excited to see someone who really gets it. :) ((((((((((((hugs))))))))))))

Velta said...

You Go Girl!! This was an awesome and inspiring piece. I so agree with you on this one...TFS!!

Jen G-S said...

There are TWO real-world applications for a large group of same-aged children and 1 adult:

poorly funded orphanages

and sweat shops.

Factory schooling certainly prepares children for the harsh environment and lowered expectations of either of these situations.

Kimm BT said...

What an awesome statement of encouragement!!
Kimm BT

Velta said...

I have "blog candy"...come visit :)

chelemom said...

I agree with you on so many of those issues! I am a teacher (as you know) and it IS very difficult to meet the needs of all the kids in the class. There are such diverse kids...all learning abilities....issues at home, and no help....just me. It is draining and exhausting. Don't get me wrong, I love my job and I think I do a good job, but I think everyone needs to do what they feel is best for them and their families. You are a wonderful mom and I am sure you are a phenomenal teacher too!

morningDove said...

I homeschooled and loved being with my children. I would do it again. They are now 20,22 and 26.
You go girl and love them, enjoy them and learn from them too.

Rosella said...

Thank you Michelle for sharing your insight! Now I wish I had more 'teacher' in me so that I could do this too!!