By Tina Smith, FresnoFamily.com Webmama
Written before my official homeschooling started, but still holds true today, years after we’ve been in the trenches and are still finding our way.
This is entirely my opinion. And I do believe everyone has the right to make their own decisions for their own children. And I also do NOT believe that ALL children should be homeschooled, nor do I believe every family is capable of doing it, or should. There are children that thrive in public or private schools, and there are parents that are homeschooling that shouldn’t be. That said, here’s some of the many reasons why I personally believe in homeschooling, with all my heart and soul.
I am so excited about homeschooling! I get to continue to be with my children all day, every day, and will continue to truly know who they are and be the most influential person in their lives! Of course there will be times when we all need a break from each other, and I will plan our schedules to include things for the kids away from mom and things for mom away from kids, to help keep us all sane and appreciating each other. But the thought of being the one who gets to see the light in my children’s eyes when they “get” a concept or see something new for the first time…oh, that’s just so exciting! I am staying home with my 4 year old daughter now because I want to be the person who raises her…I want to be the biggest influence in her life…I want to be a part of every aspect of her growth…and that won’t change simply because she grows to be “school age.” If anything, that’s when even MORE exciting things will start to happen!
I am really looking forward to all the things I will get to learn with my children! There are so many subjects that I either never got a chance to learn in school myself or didn’t get adequate time on. I just LOVE learning new things…and I am looking forward to learning things right along with my kids! I am really jazzed about sharing this love of learning with my kids. The world is just full of wonderful things to learn! And they say the best way to learn about something is to teach it! I have always found that to be true!
I have always loved teaching…I love children and sharing the excitement and love of learning with them and showing them and teaching them new things…I LOVE THIS! If I sent my children to a school, someone else would be their teacher…I want it to be ME! And there are so many things that I can do with my kids to enhance their learning experiences that cannot be done in schools. I have so many ideas! I already have curriculum books and will continue to acquire more and I am forever reading all the wonderful homeschooling websites out there and learning new ideas…I can’t wait to get started!
Then there’s the whole issue of what I DON’T want them to learn…I have so many reasons why I want to homeschool, and of equal importance is the reasons I DON’T want them in school…
I was not homeschooled…I know how public and private schools work. I grew up in the military and went to way more schools than could have possibly been healthy (civilian and military schools). We moved ever year or two. In second grade I had 3 schools and 4 teachers! (That was an unusual year.) What I remember from school, the things I DON’T want for my kids, (and I think this is typical of many schools, though admittedly NOT all)…I remember not getting the personal attention I so wanted because the teachers could not possibly give it with so many students to care for. I remember having to learn subjects that didn’t interest me in the least and not getting to spend enough time, if any, on the subjects that did interest me. I remember being at the mercy of a bell and the clock. I remember having to fill in worksheets and take tests…and homework, oh god the homework. I remember taking home stacks of heavy books daily and after spending hours of burning my brain on stuff that mostly didn’t stay put in my memory during the day, then having to spend MORE hours at home at night doing more mindless exercises in cramming as many facts and concepts into my brain as possible, hoping that it would then make me have better grades and higher test scores… Oh sure, there were things that actually stuck, and I can’t say that I didn’t learn a thing in school. Of course I did. You can’t spend 13 years at something and not get something out of it! But the percentage of what I learned compared to what I could’ve learned is so low! It seems to me that there’s a reason they try to cram so much at students. So much of it doesn’t stay.
And I remember dreading having to go to school. That can’t be conducive to learning. I remember so often hating school. Not always, not every day. But so much of the time. Oh I know there are a lot of kids who LOVE school. That’s great! I wasn’t one of them…neither was my husband, or my brother or father or mother…I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head of any adult in my life that loved school…though I just told you of several off the top of my head that disliked or hated school.
And then there’s the social issues. I wasn’t unpopular as I recall…so I really can’t say I had it that bad for most of my school experience…god help all the “different” kids that got picked on daily. I didn’t really experience that much until I hit junior high…then I REALLY got a taste of it. People say this kind of stuff toughens you up and prepares you for the real world. HOW? I’d like to know how being tormented and teased and made to feel worthless daily is supposed to make you a better, stronger person. Did it work on all those kids that have lost it and shot up their classmates? How about all the people who are still dealing with self esteem issues that stem back, at least partially, to the bullying that they endured as a child in school? Why is depression such a common ailment in our country? Certainly it can’t all be blamed on the schools, but how could bullying and teasing possibly help? And here’s another thought…why in the world would it be a good thing to learn to be tough? I don’t want tough kids, I want caring, loving, sensitive and happy-with-themselves-and-the-world kids. Honestly, I don’t think you learn this at all in schools. I think there are remarkable teachers out there who do many positive things with kids, but if you’re looking at a child’s entire school career…I really feel there’s WAY more negative for my children in going to school than there is positive.
There’s just so many reasons why I want to homeschool…of course I will also throw in that I don’t want my kids exposed to things that are commonplace in schools like: foul language, sexual harassment (even in elementary schools!), physical violence, bullying, substance abuse, racism, sexism, classism, materialism, kids that come from dysfunctional homes that have SO many issues to expose my children to, and disrespect for authority. And not all teachers should be teachers. Yes, there are some WONDERFUL teachers out there, and I have great respect for them! They have one of the toughest jobs in the world, second only to mothering! But there’s some pretty horrendous teachers out there as well…and they can be SO damaging to developing little people. How many of us can tell horror stories, of our own or someone else’s, of some nasty horrible thing a teacher did that we remember vividly. I had a 7th grade social studies teacher that used to tell us that if “they” had just left Hitler alone that he would have “gotten rid of” all the bad people in the world! When I was in 3rd grade I got in trouble for talking to a friend during class and got sent to the corner where I was forgotten for well over an hour! I was humiliated and heartbroken. Not conducive to learning nor feeling good about yourself. When I was substituting in a local public school a few years ago I witnessed a teacher SCREAMING in a student’s face (maybe 7 or 8 year old). I don’t care if that child is the devil incarnate, there’s NO excuse for doing something so degrading and nasty to a child. Teachers have a hard job, no doubt…but these sorts of things are not at all uncommon and parents of children who attend school are not around to witness this nor are they always to hear about it. Kids don’t always tell their parents all that happens in school.
I won’t go any further into the reasons I don’t want my kids in school…I’m not trying to badmouth schools here. I’m just sharing my thoughts, and what makes me feel so strongly about homeschooling. I want the people in my life who question my reasons to homeschool to know my feelings…and hopefully understand that I’m not going into this lightly. This isn’t some whim of mine. I’ve been researching and reading and learning and talking and exploring these possibilities for years before I even got married. When someone asks me why I would want to homeschool, I want them to know that this is VERY important to me and why. I’ve even started to surround myself with homeschooling families. Thank heavens we live in a city that has a fairly large homeschooling population! My kids will be surrounded by other homeschoolers (and non) and will always have people in their lives of all ages. And I want others to be part of their homeschooling…I want their Daddy and grandparents to also teach them things. I want them to learn the value of learning from so many different people. I want so much!
I am not against kids learning in groups…I don’t think its as positive as people say it is…but I also don’t think its bad, per se. I do believe in mixed ages though. I don’t think having kids grouped by age is necessarily a good thing. Life doesn’t work that way. School is the only time in anyone’s life that they are in a large group the same age! There is so much to learn from other ages, though. There are so many studies out there showing how positive mixing ages is…I’ve seen it! I used to work at a private school that had very small classes and the ages were mixed with up to 3 different grades. Children learned at their own level and were very much involved in their education. And they helped each other! This is how I plan to homeschool.
I believe in a mix of “unschooling” and waldorf education and reggio emilia and montessori and enki and so many different techniques and ideas that I will discover along the way and come up with myself…I’m very eclectic. I will personalize for each of my children.
I will teach them to love learning and we will take it day by day and revel in the wonder of life. And some days we’ll stay in our PJs!!! I want my children to not have the stress of waking to a buzzer every day and rushing to get dressed, eat and get out the door at a specific time…and running from thing to thing all day…I want them to be able to be children, and learn things in a relaxed setting. In an environment that is set up in a way to be enriching and beautiful! I think things like color and shape and texture and sound are so vital to healthy living. I want my children to learn appreciation of nature and natural things and visit the wild on a regular basis. I want music to be a crucial part of their daily living, including learning instruments when they are ready. And I want to learn to play some instruments with them and for them. I want to learn guitar to sing with my children and to beat tribal rhythms on conga and bongo drums… I want art to be an ever constant thing in their lives…I want my kids to paint daily and sculpt and create things with stuff lying around the house. I want them to grow up learning how to sew and knit and crochet (boys too!) and woodwork (girls too!) and any other craft their heart desires. I want them be exposed to other cultures through books and music and art and food and people. I want my children to explore their spirituality right along with me and learn that god is everywhere and in all of us and can be physically felt in natural things. I want our home to be a place that just feels so good…to be, to do, to live, to laugh, to love…I want it to be warm and uncluttered and beautiful to look at and have a feeling of comfort to all who enter, and especially for those of us living there…I want my children to grow up with “smell memories” of baking bread and cookies and homemade soups and stews and holiday treats that will forever take them back to happy childhood memories and a feeling of love that surrounds them forever. I want all of this and more. This is homeschooling to me…this is life. Because homeschooling is more than just learning your abcs or how to do long division or the elements present in water. Homeschooling is instilling a lifelong love of learning and learning how to LIVE. Something that so many of us are still trying to learn as adults.