Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hey, that's not why I homeschool!

Homeschoolers are fundamentalist Christians, wearing ankle-length skirts and long, outdated hair. They have tons of kids (the more the better!), and they have few friends. Homeschooling parents want to shelter their kids from a long list of evils in the world. They hate the school system. And if you don't homeschool, then when they smile at you, it's an Oh, bless your heart; I hope your kids turn out okay, but they probably won't smile.


Homeschoolers are radical freethinkers who want their kids to take the lead in all areas of education. If that means a whole semester of staring at a dead ladybug, fantastic! (Except that they wouldn't use the word "semester" since that implies forcing potentially unwanted structure on the child.) They choose to "unschool," and they believe that the school system is deeply flawed because it ties up students with unnecessary rules and restrictions.

Do either of those fit your view of homeschoolers? Or do you have a slightly different stereotype in your head?

I'll admit, I am a homeschooler, and I still have stereotypes in my head of what "other" homeschoolers are like! But one thing I've learned in this process is that people homeschool for many different reasons, and we certainly can't all be lumped into one category. So below are a few reasons that I homeschool...and a few reasons that don't fit me at all.

Reasons I Homeschool
  • My overarching reason, which pretty much sums it up for me, is that I want more time with my kids. I like that I can work so much with them on character and behavioral issues. And I'm finding I enjoy them so much more than I used to.
  • I like being able to include our family's religious beliefs in our schooling. I don't want or expect that from the public school system, and it's a treat to be able to offer it at home.
  • It's fun! I love taking educational field trips and pursuing interesting topics together. I love going to the library when few others are there. I even enjoy taking them to the grocery store with me during the day.
  • I like the creative aspect of homeschooling--pulling together various resources, and creating my own.
Reasons I DON'T Have for Homeschooling
  • I don't homeschool because I think the public school system is evil. In fact, we have a great school system, and we had a great experience when Chickie went to our local school for kindergarten. I think public school is one of the cornerstones of our society, and I'm glad to pay property taxes to support it. There's a very good chance that sooner or later our kids will switch to public school.
  • I don't homeschool because I have deep concerns about the curriculum my kids would be taught at school. I love that experts have come up with good standards for the public schools, and I use those to guide my homeschooling too. I believe that Christian beliefs can coincide with contemporary, mainstream scientific teachings (such as evolution.)
  • I don't homeschool because I think that kids need absolute freedom in what they learn. Many "unschooling" families have well-educated kids, but it's not a method that I'm attracted to. I'm organized with what I teach. I am trying to find a balance between making sure they learn what they should be learning, and letting them have enough freedom to pursue their own interests. (That part is hard!)
  • I don't homeschool because I believe school is too unsafe for kids. It's not perfectly safe, but neither is homeschooling. (My kids spend a heck of a lot of time driving around with me when they'd otherwise be in school, and I know cars aren't the safest place for any of us to be.)
Homeschooling families fall on all places on all sorts of spectrums (or spectra)! Usually we're just normal families who have made a decision that feels right. In my case, it's a decision I very frequently reevaluate. As long as we continue doing it, I hope we keep enjoying it as we are now!


mdf356 said...

Just yesterday my wife met a woman who moved to Cupertino (very expensive housing) since the public schools were supposed to be good. They were good for public school, I guess, but still pretty disappointing. She's now homeschooling but still having to pay a Cupertino-level mortgage.

We do homeschool because public school has turned into complete nonsense. Reading about things like kids forbidden to do cartwheels at recess. Or having gym only 1 day a week since it's not on the NCLB tests so funding was cut.

Megan Fletcher said...

Great post Beth. Thanks for sharing. I imagine if I were in a position to choose to explore homeschooling right now, I might also --and for almost the same reasons you mentioned.