Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Why We Do This Homeschool Thing...

Why bother with home education?

What is wrong with the public school?

Why would you do this to yourself?

I could never do that...

The decision to home educate our kids has been over 20 years in the making.  The story goes like this...

Way back when I was in University, studying to become a teacher in the college of Education I had to write a paper on the pros and cons of public, private and home education.  At that time I was completely unfamiliar with home education and probably had the same misconceptions that the majority of people do.  However, through my research and the classes I was taking I began to see how individual each of us is as a learner.  All of us have a way in which we learn best. 

I also realized that in order for a student to realize their full learning potential their learning needed to be structured to fit their learning style.  Montessori schools do a great job of this and is the basis of their education system.  I got to sub in a Montessori school for a little while and was so impressed with what I saw there.

In the process of writing that paper I was convinced that home education was a valid option and one that I would consider when I had children of my own.  My husband and I discussed it at length, prayed about it and decided it would definitely be an option sometime in the future.  It would be a long time before we needed to make any decisions about education for our kids.

I remember the day the decision hit us in the face.   I was at the local supermarket and ran into a friend who knew about our desire to home school.  Josiah was in kindergarten at the time.  I remember her looking at me and saying, kinda out of the blue, "So, why aren't you homeschooling yet?  What's stopping you?"  Of course, that got us thinking...and praying.

For the last nine years we have prayed every year over each of our kids to discern what the best mode of education should be for them that year.  Here are some of the ways God has met us in our home-education and public school decisions.

We got his heart back.

When we started home schooling Josiah we noticed that we no longer had his heart.  He was turning away from us, stuffing his disappointments and fears and becoming more withdrawn.  In spending quality and quantities of time with him each day we got it back.  We enjoy a close relationship with our introverted son to this day.  He has home-schooled for 6 years out of the 12 he's been in school so far.  He has chosen to graduate at home and will be starting grade 12 in the fall.

We noticed a learning disability.

We took our second son home when he was starting grade two.  He had had some issues in grade one but according to the teacher all was well.  However, at home he didn't seem to be able to read.  When I looked through his school papers I saw that he hadn't done much of the work and the work that was done had had a lot of 'help'.  We went to see our homeschool coordinator who also happened to be a resource teacher and asked for her help in assessing the issues at hand.  There was a process started that continued on when we moved to the community we now live in with the public school.  It is through the amazing patience of an educational assistant and the work of the resource teacher here that helped him actually learn to read.  In our opinion they were miracle workers.  His only home schooling has been parts of years, not a whole one and he has done really well in the public school system.

She could let her wings spread out and soar.

Our oldest daughter was in a French immersion school and absolutely loved it when we moved.  She was in grade one at the time.  She came into an English-speaking classroom and was actually kind of bored.  She was used to being challenged in ways that she needed to be.  She came home at the start of grade two.  She is a very quick learner and loves doing things at her own pace. She loved studying countries she was interested in and pursuing interests that you might not be able to access in a regular school day. She went back into the public school at the end of grade 5 and we realized, because she was in a combined classroom that she had already completed all the grade 6 requirements.  She was able to move ahead a year with no problems at all.  She stayed in public school for grade 7 and then asked to return home so she could study things that really interest her.

These are some of the benefits we've seen.  We don't really fit into the home school conventions because we aren't hard-core homeschoolers.  We don't fit into the public school community because we aren't 100% committed to that mode of education either.  Who knows, the son who is in the process of determining his education path for next year may end up in a private school, we don't know the answer to that yet.  We do want our children to know that they have choices in how they learn and don't need to be confined to one way of educating themselves.  I pray that they learn they are in charge of their learning and that they continue to love learning like they do now.

I hope that helps to answer some of the questions that we've encountered or perhaps helps you along the way to determining education options for your children.  I'd love to hear your responses!

1 comment:

Mandy said...

As a mom who has gone through several different homeschooling curricula options, this was a great post for me. It helps put things into perspective and remove the guilt of trying, struggling, and trying something new. I am currently looking to tailor my homeschooling to each child. We will see how next year goes! -Thanks for your email. Can't wait to get going on that;)