Category: Beautiful Family
Created on Monday, 19 September 2011 21:33
What is homeschooling all about?
“A recent survey, by the Department of Education, found that about 85% of homeschooling parents were concerned about the environment of public schools. This ranged worries about safety from bullies, to gangs, to drugs, and so on. A second major reason, for 72% of the parents, was a desire to provide religious or moral instruction. The third major reason, 68%, was dissatisfaction with academic instruction at public schools.” - source
So homeschooling is a way for parents to better control what their children learn, who they interact with, and tailor their academic curriculum to maximize their performance.
Caveat: There are certainly times and circumstances where a child is much better off at home. And depending on the school district, the family situation, the child, the school environment, and a myriad of other personal and specific reasons – homeschooling may be the clear best method. Life events may influence decisions, and sometimes we all find ourselves doing things we didn’t think we could or would. But you do it. And you try to make it work. And life goes on.
Thankfully, we have no issues with the environment or the academic program of the school. And our children are doing well in school, so we have the luxury of choice. And the way I see it, the school actually *enhances* our moral and ethical instruction by providing real life practice situations to discuss and evaluate. We value this opportunity to teach our children how to interact with all sorts of people (even bullies) and how to resist peer-pressure and deal with the “bad elements” while they are still under our “protective wings” (sorta).
School allows them to “practice” the life skills we’re trying to instill, and deal with people whose value system may disagree with, or otherwise contradict our own – just like in real life. School-yard situations become lead-points for interactive discussions and decision making opportunities. Being away from me at school allows my children to discover themselves in my absence, while still “safe” in my presence. Offers the opportunity to investigate a world (albeit a small sliver) in its wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful) glory, with me in the background ready to offer a word of advice, or a nod of understanding. I cannot recreate these life learning opportunities from my kitchen table. And they are important lessons to learn.
But the home-schooling ‘tailored curriculum’ concept was intriguing.
I LOVE the idea of enhancing my child’s *life* education in a more methodical fashion (with lessons, and points of focus). I agree that the family bonding created by these activities can only be accomplished by spending this time together…growing, learning, and interacting. And, of course as a mother, I have an internal sense of obligation to spend *some* time teaching my own children…stuff. So, I decided to add a pseudo-homeschooling sentiment into the lives of my public school attending children.
It started with summer vacation – a low stakes time where *anything* I do is better than doing nothing. I wanted to focus on “fun” educational activities that exposed them to NEW opportunities (things that they would otherwise NOT experience through the school). I wanted the activities to be worth the effort – meaning, if the kid happened to enjoy the activity, or had undiscovered natural talent, there was the opportunity for further development. I wanted a diversity of activities. I wanted each child to have their *own* activity. I wanted the various activities to fit into a category: fine art, performing art, sport, life skills, and health education. And I wanted some history, politics, social and spiritual consciousness mixed in for good measure. I wanted sincere and memorable family interaction, and I wanted to incorporate some travel and sight-seeing using the world as our classroom.
I spent hours/days/weeks in late Spring scouring our local accommodations for educational, child-friendly activities that fit my various criteria. Emailing ranch owners who teach children to care for and ride horses. Photography classes, learning to type, canvas painting, yoga, scrapbooking, swimming instruction, basketball camps, book clubs. We “took a week off” to be with visiting family…and had a fabulous stay-cation learning how to be good hosts and learning all about hospitality. We ate at nice restaurants and learned about etiquette and proper manners. We planned an extremely busy road trip were we saw many national monuments, various cities, and practiced our social skills by interacting with pubic officials and politicians. All the while reading books and flash-cards along the way to help solidify and add perspective to the journey.
And it was *difficult* planning this summer curriculum. It was time-consuming to execute this program. But it was rewarding, because the kids actually *learned* EXTRA stuff…and saw things they otherwise wouldn’t have. And by the time summer was winding down, I was ready for a “break.” And the kids going back to school offered the perfect opportunity for me a break.
And I realized (again) that home-schooling was just too big of project for me. But I also realized that, I could ADD TO their education…and I could pick and choose all things NOT math, spelling, reading, and writing. My supplementation could include music, art, sports, education about health and fitness. We could plant organic gardens together, care for animals, learn to sew.
I could spend time actually teaching them how to properly clean the house, wash clothes, read food labels, and prepare simple nutritious meals. I can teach them about relationships (those relationships that begin with school friends) and help them navigate the social nuances of school yard life that will extrapolate into work-place life.
If they go to school I am free to pontificate their lives, and create afterschool and weekend learning opportunities that I would not be able to do if I were busy teaching the basics all day. I could relax and take care of myself, and be fully available to teach them my supplemental curriculum.
The kids spend about 35 hours/week in school. And they spend about 63 hours/week sleeping. Of the total 168 hours in the week, that leaves 70 waking hours every week to execute my curriculum.
70 hours a week to do with them what I want. And this is *in addition to* the excellent instruction my local public school teacher imparts during her time with them. Whereas, if everything relied on me (alone), I’d be spent after doing the basic 35 hours of academic curriculum (for 3 children at 3 different levels). And they would certainly “miss out” on all of my awesomely fantastic tailored homeschooled curriculum activities overflowing with learning opportunities that NOW supplement school…
Suddenly, it was all crystal clear: I did not have to pull them out of school to home-school. There’s plenty of time to home-school my children, after they come home from school (and on weekends, vacations, and holidays). And by creating a supplemental tailored curriculum for them to implement, my children will get the very best I have to offer (especially as sane and happy Mom).