Friday, March 06, 2009

You Home School!? Why? Part 1

I know some people are wondering or have wondered, why do they home school? I've wondered this about some families too. Some people are surprised to find out that we home school our children. We seem so "normal." Normal? That reaction always amuses me. What is the point of home schooling?

Home schooling families face all sorts of questions, judgments and negative reactions. I had one lady actually question me in a tone of disgust about my decision to home school. She took my home schooling as a blunt insult to her local public schools. I think this was the first face to face confrontation I had about my choice to homeschool. I've had other reactions but this one happened when I was attempting to do school bus driving. Yes I did to an be a bus driver, let me explain, at the time I was a single parent mother trying to make things work. I was an independent Graphic Designer and thought that bus driving would supplement my income. I had a dear friend that helped me with the job. It works for her family and I would have loved to see her daily but it just didn't work out. I had another friend speak some sense into me that I needed to settle down, and rest in what the Lord was giving me. I was paranoid at what was going to happen to our lives. God gave me a talent and I needed to use it. If I did I could continue to home school the children. My primary focus was my children.

See I've always home schooled them. When I became a single parent I didn't want to drastically change their lives. Yes I know "Kids are resilient" but why put them through the unnecessary stress? While I was being interviewed the lady asked me why did I home school. She said, "What? Why do you home school? You don't like the district? They have some great teachers." This lady had an abrasive personality that didn't not intimidate me. I felt confident in our homeschooling. I replied to her in a confident presence and calm tone saying, "We have just homeschooled since day 1 and I never looked into the districts when we moved here. I figured since homeschooling was working why change it?" She seemed rather surprised by my answer and reaction of respect towards her. I think that is why I got the job. Again it didn't work out because I wasn't following the Lord. I was seeking solutions to my paranoia and wasn't hearing what the Lord wanted me to do. During that troubled time in our lives, I had many people telling me different things. One would tell me I needed to put them in public school and go to work, another would tell me I needed to slow down and listen to the Lord, another telling me I could do this and not to worry etc. Lots of good and bad advice. God got my attention and gave me a peace.

I see no point in jumping into an heated argument about homeschooling vs. Public school. Yes we all have our reasons. Some are extreme on both sides and some aren't. I'm not one of those extreme people. Well I can be on other topics but when it comes to the choice of homeschooling I see no point in arguing about personal decisions. Home schooling families face ridicule from those that don't understand or agree with it. The media makes us look like weirdos any chance they get with reporting extreme cases. Despite what the negative media reports or opinions of others, home schoolers excel in great ways. I do feel that I've made the best choice for my children as well as others have to make the best choice for theirs.

Do I feel everyone home school? No! I don't believe so. Some are not able, some are not willing, some are flat out against it. Some think we are weirdo's corrupting the system. I'm ok with being thought of as weird, I've always been an off beat kind of person. I like that about me. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. It's one of God's gift to us. I appreciate it. Who wants to be in a world full of clones thinking the same things!? So no I don't feel that it is in everyone's ability to home school. I feel if you try and it's not for your family you can do no good to your children. You have to be lead and dedicated to it. It's a lifestyle change that needs to be taken seriously. Those families you find out about in the news are extreme cases. Those are extreme cases of homeschooling gone wrong, just as there are extreme cases of parenting gone wrong when children are in public schools. The simple fact that we have a Department of Child Protective Service speaks volumes about parenting gone wrong in any choice of schooling. Again the choice to home school is a lifestyle that should be taken seriously.

Do I feel better than people who send their kids to public schools? No! Why should I? I was a public schooled child. Ok maybe I shouldn't use me as an example (lol). I know many parents whom I respect in a great way that have their children in public schools. I do not feel that our family is better than them at all. People are individuals and have talents that we don't share. I don't feel that any one is better than because we all excel in different areas in life. If their children are thriving and learning then it works.

Do I feel like I can do a better job that the experienced teachers? Yes, and No. Here's why... I can not do a better job than a teacher who has been trained to teach a room full of children. In no way would I want to do such a thing or think that I could. I feel that teachers who care (there are some wacko ones, as well as wacko parents) do a phenomenal job. I feel that they are wonderful people who do extraordinary jobs. They have the position to make a positive or negative impact that last a life time for children. I've had teachers like that. Some will never be forgotten. Wow what a position to be in! That to me is a position of greatness and honor. Teachers have to deal with many different personalities and issues on a daily basis. They have to deal with the good and the bad from both the students and the parents. They have to teach in that environment. Would I be able to do that? No, because I don't have the ability or desire to teach a classroom of students. I have the ability and desire to teach my own. I feel that I can give my children a great education because we can focus on just them. The benefits of homeschooling are unlimited. We can give them an education that is individualized, and at their own pace. They have no chance of slipping through the cracks or having to play "catch up". When they are not getting something we stay on that subject until they get it. We don't have to keep up with the other students. If they get it immediately we can move on to other things. I can't teach a room full but I can teach my few. It takes dedication and time. It does require attention and involvement.

So why did I choose to home school? Because I feel the Lord lead me to do so. Yes, there are those days that I question if I should due to the attitudes and the mood of they day. Ultimately we come back to the same answer, yes we should continue to home school. It is working, the kids are learning. We have regular days of learning, we have great days the kids do well, and we have bad days of kids who don't want to go to school or do anything but sleep in and play. The challenges are there but do we give up? No we keep going. Each day is different in how it plays out. Homeschooling works for us.

Don't you feel like they need to get out of the house!? Um, Yes and I do too! Homeschooling can trigger a image of kids being kept at home all the time. This image is false. We homeschoolers don't stay in the house all the time. That would drive us crazy! Some people feel as though we homeschoolers are depriving our children of a "social life." No, I can account for my family and the families I know that home school and most of the children are very social. Mine are, in fact more outgoing than I am. I met some of my good friends from my children making friends with theirs. Another take on this is looking at the environment. Socializing isn't limited in homeschooling as it is in public schools. When we homeschoolers are out and about in the store, or on a field trip we have to teach our children to speak and interact with all walks of life. We may see a person with a disability, it lends an opportunity to interact with the person. No they are not a science experiment, they are a human being that deserves respect and that is a lesson. We may see an adult acting out at a return center, that is a lesson in how not to behave. When we have been out and about I've been questioned by others asking, "Why aren't my children in school?" Some do it nicely by asking the kids, "No school today?" LOL and they reply, "Yes." I had one lady rudely questioning me while we were walking out of a store about the children being in school. Her reason was, "I was just checking." We respectfully smiled and went on. We do have positve reactions of people being curious. Once we were checking out at the grocery store and a lady commented about our son's mohawk hairstyle. She said, "I don't think those are allowed in schools." I said, "Well we home school so it is in ours." She and the Store Manager bagging the groceries had a flood of questions I could hardly answer quick enough. They felt it was great and just wanted to know more. We have to train our children how to react responsibly in any social situation. There are many examples of how we homeschoolers are in fact at an advantage in socialization. No we don't just stay in the house. Do the public children just stay in the building? ;).

Aren't keeping your kids from experiencing the benefits of public school such as Prom, Yearbooks, Sports and Graduation? No. I have great memories of public school. I keep in touch with many friends from that time. You can make friends for a life time. Homeschooling is no different. There are many home school organizations that have Proms, Yearbooks, Sports and Graduation. Some homeschooling children have been asked to public school proms. Again it's not a limited environment. It is only as limited as we make it. Our kids have music lessons (band), acting lessons (drama club), and sports. Our home school group has a yearbook too.

What about getting them used to peer pressure? How will they survive with out being subjected to that? Some parents think the experience of peer pressure is good. I don't see the point of it. Some struggle in public schools as all kids do at some point. Some have more pressure than others. We all have to deal with helping our children through pressures in life. Even homeschoolers experience peer pressure. Mine have experienced it already. We will experience stress in life, unwanted situations and unfortunate sadness in life no matter what your schooling choice is. We have heard, "Well so and so's parents let them..." "Well so and so has one.." Our kids have felt the need to keep up with the other kids, ours have been made fun of, insulted and all sorts of other mean things children do to each other. So the peer pressure will come, it doesn't matter what school they are in. We all have the responsibility as parents to help our children deal with life's unfortunate events.

So why did I home school? Because I found this is what God has me to do. He's worked it out and we will continue to follow his lead. If he says it's time to put them in school outside the home then we will do that. Until then homeschooling it is.


Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

This post blessed me. We have 6 daughters. My husband had one when we married (15). Together we have a 14, twin 13's, a two year old, and a 10 month old. The teenagers have always attended public school and I have always been a very involoved parent and full time homemaker. I really enjoyed public school in the early years but things began to change in the past couple of years. For the sake of stability, our teenagers will finish and graduate from school, but our littles will be homeschooled.

Not many people have received our decision to homeschool very well. Your post was a great read because it emphasizes the fact that each family must decide what will work for them. And you also put to rest the socialization myth.

I am glad I found you.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry that it has been so hard for you. You must be close to having her by now since we are in the first day of July. I am excited for you to see your new sweetness.

Guess what? I am finally pregnant. After four years, I am finally pregnant. I am soo excited. I told hubby, teasingly, that we need to work a little faster (like it has been in our control-NOT) before I am too old. I will be 42 going on 43 when this one is born. I do hope we can still beat the odds with another one or two. God is fulfilling my hearts desire for a large family. The more the merrier. I love having lots of children around me.


Tawanna said...

Terry I'm glad this post blessed you! We as families have a lot of responsibilities. We can't satisfy all those we don't have obligations to. People will always have an opinion but the great thing is, there opinion isn't law and we don't have to conform to others beliefs in the way we should bring up our families. God made us all different and we should always value that. So since he made us all different we will all function differently. It will be a wonderful thing when we can respect one another in that way! Be blessed and live in the joy God leads you to.

Michelle wow!! Congratulations on your pregnancy! How wonderful! Yes my due date is the 26th of July. She's going to be here this month. We are all so excited about it! Congrats to you and your family!