Friday, February 10, 2012

Why Do You Homeschool?

Yesterday my dad asked me to answer the following question in one sentence or less:
"Why do you home school?"
Why is it the only person in my life that asks me serious
questions is in no position to listen to my answers?
He was asked this question while under the ministrations of our longtime dental hygienist. She is actually pretty good at holding a conversation while jabbing you with a dental pick. Even still, Dad wasn't prepared to answer her in the time allotted.

I can see why he would like to have a ready reply for just such occurrences. Heck, even if someone isn't sticking you with metal implements while asking a question, her eyes will glaze over if your reply takes more than 45 seconds. So a good sound bite is always nice to have locked and loaded.

Problem is, I haven't been able to figure out how to sum up my reasons into one or two catchy phrases. I don't know if I want to.

So I tend to go back and forth between two answers:
  1. I'm so glad you asked! But my reasons are so many and varied that it's hard to quickly answer that question. If you'd like to go and grab some lunch or a cup of coffee with me, I would love to discuss them with you.
  2. My son entered Kindergarten able to read, but terribly inept at fine motor skills. He could never finish a craft, but would be bored during "sight word" lessons. I think learning should happen at an individual's own pace. Students should be able to sit down to a project and complete it uninterrupted, and they should not be required to sit through a subject that they've already mastered. 
And while that last reason is pretty compelling, it actually barely scratches the surface of why I choose to homeschool.

Here's some more reasons (in no particular order)
  • Kids can learn the 3 R's in just 2 or 3 hours of study per day. They should not be herded from room to room and lesson to lesson for 6 hours a day.
  • Kids need more time to play. The importance of free, unstructured play is being demonstrated in study after study.
  • Kids should not have homework. They have plenty of time to finish their lesson during the day if they were allowed to manage their time wisely. That precious and dwindling family time should not be infringed upon.
  • Children are being poorly socialized. If school is supposed to prepare them for life, then why are they confined to a room with 30 other children of the exact same age? They should be around not only children of all ages, but adults of all ages as well.
  • Children should not be assigned grades and racked and stacked against their peers.
  • Children should be allowed to perform meaningful work that matters. Not busy work that keeps them out of the way.
  • Children should be required to give back. They could easily perform valuable community service that would build up their own self esteem while strengthening community.
  • Children should be exposed to amazing things while they actually interested in them. Billy should be allowed to pursue his fascination with bugs and Sally her interest in firefighting as it develops. Not as it is arbitrarily introduced in a lesson plan.
  • Children should learn useful life skills in the appropriate settings. They should be learning to cook, garden, and perform basic household or automotive repairs. If one day they can afford to hire someone to do these things, they will at least appreciate the efforts involved and understand enough not to be taken advantage of.
Many of these things can be dismissed as hobbies or the responsibilty of the parent. But it's not happening. When are they supposed to fit that in? After soccer practice and before piano lessons?

Even if a parent wants to get more involved, she might find herself under scrutiny. Last week a friend posted on Facebook that her school was going to require a doctor's note if her child missed another day of school. Her child gets good grades and is not behind in any classes. What if she wanted to take her child out of school to visit a museum? Or see family? Why can't she have the final say in how her child spends his day?

I have so many plans for my boys. Did you know there is a foreign exchange program for kids as young as 10 that allows them to spend up to six months in Europe living with a host family and learning French, Spanish, or German through total immersion? There's also an Insititute in Maine that teaches anyone 16 or older how to build a house?

I could go on and on. But I will stop. For now.

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