Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why I Chose To Homeschool

I never thought I'd be the homeschooling type. Always admired the people who did it, but to be honest, I was looking forward to the time when all my kids would be in school. I'd daydream about the many things I'd ACTUALLY get to do.

Older people are always telling us, "Enjoy this time while your kids are young. It goes by so fast". Well this has been a hard thing for me to fully grasp I guess. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love and adore my kids, but what I'm trying to say is that I still find myself saying things like, I just want to get the pregnancy over with, can't wait to be done nursing, can't wait til he/she's done teething, crawling, walking, potty trained, ect. My attitude about motherhood isn't always where I want it to be. Sometimes it's more like WORK instead of something I truly enjoy.

I think as time goes on, I'm learning to more fully appreciate my role as a mother. I'm not sure how, maybe it's just one of those things in life where you begin to realize what you've been missing out on. My biggest fear is waking up one day and having regrets about not spending enough time with my children.

Once it's over, it's over.
So with this fear and the thought of Lily being in school ALL day next year made me realize that the time really IS going by fast and it's only going to go faster once she's gone all day, has homework, dance, soccer, piano, ect. When would I ever get that time with her? It just doesn't seem realistic in my opinion.

The thought of homeschool kept coming up. I've spent time over the past couple years entertaining the idea and researching it a bit, but fear kept me from actually making a decision. Some of my thoughts included:

What if she hates it?

I don't want to be the one solely responsible for her education...

Lily doesn't like to listen to me...

She loves school and is incredibly social. She'd hate being home all the time.

What if she misses out on important social interaction...

Everyone will think I'm weird...

We'll be the only ones in the neighborhood doing it...

Lily will be left out and won't get invited to birthday parties and playdates...

I'll never have time to myself...

It will be too stressful, especially trying to do it with more than one child...

So these thoughts kept creeping in which made me so wishy washy about the whole thing. I was just too chicken to commit to it.

I've always been the type that likes to be where the party is. And homeschooling didn't seem to be "where the party is". I think one of my biggest struggles in life is the unnecessary need to be accepted, liked, and part of the crowd. But I'm learning how to overcome that, and I think one of the best ways to overcome it, is to really DO what I feel I should do without second thought of what others will think.

So, anyway, the fear of the unknown was holding me back. I thought, well maybe I'll homeschool her for 1st or second grade since Kindergarten is only 3 hours a day. Then suddenly it happened... it was like night and day. I woke up one day and was ready to make the commitment. I just had no doubt in my mind anymore. I still had a little fear dwelling, but I KNEW this was what I needed to do.

As I've spent time researching about homeschool I've come to find out the many benefits it offers both me and my children.

First of all you can get all your school work done in about 3 hours, then the rest of the day you get to just explore, be creative, go on fun educational field trips, develop a talent, play with friends, and most importantly, be with family.

"To be creative, an individual must be free to chart his or her own course" -Ira Brodsky

I remember feeling tired and stressed out a lot back when I was in school. I never felt smart and didn't know what any of my talents were. How could I have, there was never any time to figure out what they were. I also don't remember a single thing I learned. None of it stuck in my brain. I can read, write and do basic math, but anything beyond that has been left wandering around somewhere in my brain, or maybe even found it's way out somehow.

Here is a list of some homeschooling facts that helped me make my decision.

The bold text is from, followed by my own thoughts.

*Parents have more quality time to train and influence their children.
Isn't that what we really want?

*There is opportunity for each child to receive individualized attention and instruction.
I think I would have done really well if I had more individualized attention from my teachers. But it's really not possible when you're in a class with 20 other students.

*Children develop respect for parents as teachers.
I'd hope so, since teaching our children really is our responsibility.

*Spending more time together increases family unity and closeness.
I've already seen a difference in how Oliver and Lily are getting along. There has been much less fighting. Even between Lily and I, sounds funny to say, but we are fighting less too :)

*It provides a good environment for development of confidence and independent thinking.
Now this gets me really excited. We all want our children to grow up feeling confident and to develop into the amazing person they were meant to be.

*There is enhanced communication between all age groups due to the diversified learning environment.
There are so many different classes for homeschoolers, and most of them are groups of all ages. I love that she is interacting with younger and older children as well as some her own age. I can see how this would be a good thing. She learns from the older and has the opportunity to teach the younger.

*Home-schooled students demonstrate excellent academic progress.
I've been reading a ton of books on homeschooling and each book shares the statistics on the acedemic success of homeschoolers.

*School hours are flexible to accommodate family schedules and vacations.
PERFECT, since we just bought that home in St. George. Now we can actually go when ever the heck we feel like it and stay as long as we want :)

Here are a few testimonials I found on Comes from a teenagers perspective.

"First of all, I can accomplish so much more in a day. It has been stated that every six hours of institutional school is equal to two hours of home-school; so that gives me more time to involve myself in not only academics but also Bible study, research, writing, voice lessons, piano playing, oil painting, and sports, as well as learning and using home economic skills.

Second, in answer to the question most asked of home-schoolers, "But what do you do for a social life?" I've met my best friends at our home-school support group. There are also church and sports activities where I interact with others - not only my age, but older and younger too. I feel my energies are spared the draining effect of peer pressures that I have experienced in the past in an institutional school. I have channeled that energy into learning different skills that I will be needing when I graduate and am on my way into the real world and life.

Third, we have more opportunities to take educational field trips. Over the past six years, we've taken trips to historic Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Boston, and Lexington. We've also gone on a five-week camping trip to the western United States, during which time we not only worked on our studies; but we were able to see our history and geography lessons come alive. Many never get the opportunity to see some of these things. Within our own state our family has visited the Valley Forge National Historical Park and toured Philadelphia, as well as many other fascinating places.

Fourth, a "social life" every day can be bad for children in schools. From my experience at school, I know that there are students who are the "picked-on" ones and are damaged by the social life. In home-school, not only are children spared unnecessary harassment by peers, but they have the positive advantage of learning to relate to their parents and other adults on a full-time basis. This is good because they will be spending the rest of their lives relating to adults."

I understand that homeschooling is not right for all parents and all children. People have different education goals and needs. Homeschool is what I've chosen, and I believe it will help my children learn how to study and think independently, and give them opportunities to explore their own interests at their own pace. We've been doing it for two weeks now, and already I'm feeling more fulfilled as a mother. I go to bed each night feeling so good about the day and the time I was able to spend with them. I've also really enjoyed being a part of Lily's learning. There's nothing better than seeing the excitement on her face as she's learning to read and write words.

To be continued...

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