Friday, January 15, 2010

That's What Homeschooling Means to Me

Homeschooling means that we set our own schedule. We do things the way we want, when we want. It also means we can throw that schedule out the window any time we want and do something totally new.

Homeschooling means that we learn the things we find to be important to us. We pursue further those things that hold our interest. Of course, in the process, we find that most everything has its own importance, however small, and so we learn a lot.

Homeschooling means that we never have to worry about what other people think. If Becca has trouble with math, its OK. She can work on it without worrying about other kids putting her down. If Katy cries when she reads a touching story, she can cry without other kids making fun of her. If Jake is 4 and still hasn't learned to control his bowel movements, he can still go to "school", knowing that he is free to go to the bathroom whenever he wants - and as often as he needs to - without being ridiculed.

Homeschooling means that when the sun is warm and the sky is blue (or when the rain pours down, or the autumn winds blow, or the silent snow falls), we can heed the call of Nature. We can take our books outside to read or work, we can use the outdoors as an art project inspiration, we can take a walk, or work in the garden, or have a picnic. One thing is for sure: we won't be stuck inside an overcrowded classroom, staring longingly out the window.

Homeschooling means that we can custom-tailor our teaching to fit each child's needs. I can observe what ways my child - each individual one - learns best and provide the most productive learning environment for him or her.

Homeschooling means that I have control over what goes into my child's mind each day. Both in what is taught by teachers - no, you will NOT teach my child that the earth suddenly appeared from a 'Big Bang' or that homosexuality is a normal human function - and in what is learned from students - no profanity, disrespect, or bullying here!

Homeschooling means that when my kids are sick enough to need to be in bed, they can stay in bed, have Mom around to take care of them, and not have to worry about "getting behind" the rest of the class in their work. On the other hand, if they're just "kind of" sick, they can still get their work done without the nurse sending them home for fear they might make other kids sick.

And, of course, homeschooling means that my kids get to miss out on the strep throat and stomach viruses that spread around the pubic school.

Homeschooling means that my children get to learn the everyday things that it takes to make a house and a family work. They learn that everyone in the family needs to work to make things calm, clean, and peaceful. They learn that you help out those who are smaller or younger or weaker than you, that you do your part and the whole family comes out stronger and happier for it.

Homeschooling means that we don't have to waste our time with snow days or pointless holidays (do we REALLY need to be out of school for Columbus Day?) and therefore finish up our mandatory 36 weeks of school earlier in the year in order to enjoy the nice weather. It also means that if we decide to make some one's birthday an "official holiday" or skip work on the day of the first snow - well, that's OK, too.

Homeschooling means a thousand little things...My kids will always get a good hot lunch - of something they actually like. They'll never have to walk a mile - or more - in the dark, or the heat, or the rain - just to take an hour long bus ride to get to school. They'll never have to be afraid - of the teachers with quick tempers, or the bullies with weapons, or the judgmental looks of the "popular" crowd, or of just being able to express their own opinions. They'll always have bandages for their scrapes, Sprite for their icky tummies, a listening ear, a helping hand, and a Mom nearby who loves them no matter what.

Homeschooling means that I get to BE THERE. For everything in my children's lives, I get to be there. From the first written letter to the first broken heart, I will be there - the central figure in my children's lives. No stranger bearing the name "teacher" will revel in their triumphs, beam with pride at their accomplishments, struggle alongside them to figure out a problem or perfect a technique. I will do those things. I will be there. I will never have cause to look back on my life and wish I had spent more time, paid more attention, or offered more guidance. I will never have to be saddened over missing too much, or doing too little, or just not knowing.

Twenty years from now when my kids are grown and gone, I will be able to look back and know, without a doubt, that I did everything I possibly could to love my children, and to help them learn and grow into the wonderful people I always knew they would be.

That's what homeschooling means to me.

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