Today as I watched some young kids waiting on the side of the road for our local school bus, I started thinking about the reasons I choose a home-school lifestyle for our family.
I come from a background that is strongly enmeshed in the public school systems. I am the product of three generations of public school teachers. Because of my prejudice, my children had a great deal of negative experiences before I even considered taking them out of government schools and beginning this wonderful adventure of home-based education.
I was so timid taking my first steps into this home-school world. I want to share some of the surprising and gratifying lessons home-schooling has taught me.
- Education is a lifelong endeavor. The main reason I was reluctant to home-school was my own insecurities. I knew my weaknesses. I thought the “experts” at public school were somehow better qualified to teach my children. I held onto this belief even with all the evidence that my child was “falling through the cracks.” When I woke up I realized that I had the motivation to teach my children and that was more valuable to them than pedagogy. I became a lifelong learner. I may not be trained on the latest fad in education, (I have been around enough to see a lot of education reform come and go.) but I know each of my children's learning styles and personalities. I know their passions and quirks. I also know how to help them learn how to learn (and hopefully inspire them to love learning). I have personally been inspired to continue cultivating my mind and expanding my education. My example and our children's participation has changed the culture of our home. We do not “do school” we are living-learning and teaching one another. Learning is a hobby and we devote long enjoyable hours to it.
- Healthy socialization is important: In my childhood all my friends and social experiences revolved around public schools. Because I did not know any better, I felt like that was the only way to train a child with essential social skills. From this warped perspective I thought It was perfectly normal for an adolescent to refrain from having intelligent conversations with adults about their lives. I thought it was normal to awkwardly exclude those who were different. I thought it was normal for youth to feel tremendous conformity with their peers. All this was “normal” in my experiences in public schools but maladaptive for real life. I now define socialization as: The skills needed to effectively communicate, resolve conflict, feel empathy and compassion for others, and problem solving skills including team work. I am impressed with the socialization skills my home-schooled children exhibit. I have thoughtfully and deliberately focused on social skills. They have a full and vibrate social life and have learned skills I did not develop until adulthood. I wish I could have enjoyed the social lives my children have.
- Home-schooling is a rich and rewarding experience for a family. I did not begin homeschooling to improve our family life. The laughter and bonding that are such an important part of our family now came as a huge surprise to me. When we began homeschooling we started reading together and this led to “inside jokes” based on our reading. We started writing together and this led to a game of sneaking onto each other's computers and adding funny arbitrary words like “fuzzy bunny slippers” and waiting in expectation for it to be discovered. Math, history, social studies all came to life in our home. The dinner conversations have been raised to a higher level and became so much more fun. The older kids' studies are interesting and exciting for the younger. They can't wait to learn. The family dynamics, while not perfect are so much better than before. I never expected it because I was public schooled and did not know better.