The short answer: we are crazy. 🙂
The long answer:
Inevitably, when we are out or about somewhere, the question always comes up from an adult to my 5-year-old, “Where do you go to school?” (Probably because my daughter is always trying to find someone to tell our life story to). To which her reply is always exasperated, “I don’t goooo to school, I’m homeschoooooooled,” accompanied by a little sigh full of attitude and sass, which I KNOW doesn’t come from me.
Almost always, the eyes go straight to me, with a little curiosity and a hint of judgment. I know because I was once in their shoes. To me, homeschoolers were weird. They wore denim jumpers, had a busload of children, and were painfully awkward. I had come from a completely public education background, became a public educator and the homeschoolers I encountered were either all of the above or were many grade levels behind.
Five years later, we are embarking on year 2 of this homeschooling adventure, I am an education specialist for homeschool families and Tim is the president of the charter school board where I work and Mackenzie is enrolled…How did we get here??!
1. We like her and like to be around her and vice versa.
Yes, some days, it would be easier to send her away for 6 hours and get work done, get a manicure and do some housework, but to have her here is better than having 30 hours a week to worry about what she’s doing, how she’s doing, who she’s coming in contact with and what they are feeding her in the cafeteria. Most days, I don’t mind the incessant chatter, questions, interruptions so that I can see the latest Lego tower. We have the freedom to take her to San Diego for the week if one of us has a work conference or taking Fridays to spend as family field trip days. Our only child and she’s already growing up way faster than I wanted. I want to spend as much time with her as possible.
2. We don’t really care about socialization…well, we do, but not the way you think.
The MOST often asked question of any homeschooling family (and the first one our parents asked when we told them about our decision to homeschool), what about socialization? We are not concerned with socializing her to a group of children that will either a) reject her or b) accept her and teach her how to be mean to the latter group. I want to be the primary influence on my daughter, not a group of first graders. I saw one of my former fourth-grade students a few months ago. In the fourth grade, she was quiet, sweet, mousy and smart. When I saw her again, just having barely graduated high school, she was rebellious, confident (which is good), had a major attitude and was disrespectful. I would be curious to see how that transformation occurred and with whom.
I’ve been in the classroom, I’ve seen some interesting children. Some of them I wouldn’t want her to socialize with. Mackenzie can carry on a conversation with younger children, older children, adults, and elderly people. I think she’s got a good foundation for becoming a functioning member of society. And, lest you think we lock her in a cage, she has lots of interaction with other children even in the classroom setting twice a week. If there’s still an issue when she is an adult, we’ll pay for therapy.
3. She would get bored in a regular school setting.
I know, I know, all parents think their kid is a genius. Well, ours is a genius. So there.
Okay, okay. She isn’t a Harvard bound at age 12 type of genius, but she’s bright and catches on quickly. When I was in the classroom, the bright ones were great. And they were sweet and were always done ahead of everyone else, which meant they spent most of the school day sitting, bored, or helping me file papers, while I was busy helping the students that don’t catch on as quickly.
By homeschooling, I’m not wasting any time. We are in “school” 3 hours a day and we have time to explore, play, and discover. And I have someone helping me with laundry…
4. We can tailor her education to her strengths and interests, specializing her education and help her become a more well-rounded individual.
This year we are reading together, Homer’s Odyssey. Yes, my five-year-old. I’ve never read it. I read books like the Sweet Valley High Series and “The Dollhouse Murders.” Mackenzie has listened to Little Women, Little House in the Big Woods, Anne of Green Gables, Charlotte’s Web and a bunch of other classics rich with vocabulary. She’s already smarter than I am.
5. Learning is FUN (and hands-on)
The best teacher I ever had was Mr. Peters in the third grade. Mr. Peters made everything fun. That year, I learned about commerce by starting and managing my own store in the “community” (our classroom). I remember a boy bringing in pinball machines and video games–his store was an arcade. I learned about government by having our classroom set up like a democracy with a full election, campaigning and voting. I learned about the judicial system by “going to trial” in front of a “judge” and hearing arguments from lawyers.” We went on field trips and experienced education. Sadly, there isn’t time to do anything anymore but learn all the concepts in the book so we can get good test scores and there is no budget for field trips. In a traditional school, if I showed interest in a certain topic of study, we would cover it and move on. My natural curiosity was stymied because there were time constraints and 33 other students that wanted to go to recess instead.
I love that we can use the entire year to learn about Astronomy, take field trips to the Observatory, and make mobiles of the solar system. We have the freedom to go places in the community and learn about stuff hands-on and not only through books. In a few years, we will visit as many of the 21 missions as possible.
Homeschooling is not for everyone and I certainly hope you don’t think this blog post was intended to say one way is right or wrong. I’ll get off my soapbox now and let you ask some questions if you’d like in the comments section. This post was actually intended to show off my little first grader on her first day of school. I’m not sure when she changed from a toddler to a kid…Mackenzie always says that I’m “alarious.”
I’m glad someone finds me funny.