A friend asked me the other night what I like about home schooling.
To be honest, I was in a rather cynical and melancholy mood at that moment, and I think I replied something like, "I don't always LIKE home schooling, even though I've done it for 20 years and I have written books and blogs about it." The past few years have been particularly challenging for me. That's not necessarily because of home schooling, but the ups and downs of life have certainly has affected my level of enthusiasm and patience in that area. We continue to home school (while also sending one to public school) because that's what some of our children need.
What I struggle with most is keeping my kids on track so that their homework assignments can be turned in on Monday at our co-op classes. Some of them aren't as independent as I would like. While I love to plan lessons (especially for my English class) I don't like the follow-up of grading my own children's work. I don't like to nag, but I do it anyway. Blech. And I don't like explaining something to one of my kids -- like how to do a math problem -- and then watch them get frustrated with me that I am not explaining it clearly enough, when the real problem is they aren't listening with an open mind. What they think they know is getting in the way of what they need to know. I guess we're all that way. Oh, and when two or three of my children suddenly need me to help them at the same time. And they can't seem to find anything else productive to do while they wait so they either waste time, or worse yet, start distracting someone else. Yeah, conflicts suck the life out of me.
So that's what I DON'T LIKE about home schooling.
But I didn't tell her what I LIKE about home schooling, and there is plenty.
I like reading with my kids, no matter how old they are. Books are simple. You open and read. Nothing terribly complicated about that. They impart a lot of information quite effectively and efficiently. Books are also profound, changing us, sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes dramatically, even more as I experience them with my kids. Books shape me as I: Read. Reflect. Respond.
I saw this sign in our library's used bookstore yesterday and asked if I could buy it. They said no because I guess other patrons need the same inspiration: "Books are apt to be lifelong friends. While being read they stir our imagination, emotions & intellect. When finished they serve as reminders not only of the stories they told but of who we once were & who we have become."
I like seeing my kids get it - finally. There has always been this jaw-dropping experience when they take off with reading. It might be at age 4 or closer to age 7, but it is stunning. One minute they are laboring to read the word hat and it seems like I blink my eyes and they're blazing through real books.
I like impromptu. There is so much flexibility with home schooling either to learn something just because it interests you or because a teachable moment pops up and you want to strike while the iron is hot. Yesterday, on a worksheet about proper nouns, my daughter had to supply a specific name for ice cream. I suggested Baskin-Robbins, but she didn't know what that was. Poor deprived child. We almost never go out for ice cream. Later in the afternoon, only she and her next older brother were home, so I took them out to Baskin-Robbins for ice cream, paying a whopping $2.49 per scoop. I explained to them that we usually buy ice cream at the store because you can get a half gallon for less than that. That was our economics lesson for the day. Sweet. :-) (See Sunday Sundae.)
Those are just three things I LIKE about home schooling. I don't have a lot of time to write right now, because I need to get along with me school day. However, many years ago, while I was writing The Real Life Home School Mom, I compiled the following list:
- nurture a lifetime love of learning in a natural, affirming atmosphere
- grow in unity as we spend time learning with and about each other
- watch our children blossom and know that we played a major role
- refresh our own knowledge of school subjects
- direct the education and upbringing of our children (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
- present issues in the context of our family's values and beliefs
- select and customize effective methods and curriculum for each child
- give individual attention so each child can work at his or her own level
- weave school subjects together logically and creatively
- delve deeper into fascinating topics, while cutting out busy work
- let our children pursue personally motivating interests and projects
- find out what truly works for our children with learning disabilities
- protect our children from physical dangers rampant on school campuses
- reduce peer pressure and competition, while offering positive training and opportunities for socialization
- set our own daily and yearly schedules
- train our children in the work ethic and responsible living
- stay in touch with our child's environment
- deal with problems promptly in accordance with family policies
- teach children to make wise choices and set solid standards for excellence using the Bible, good literature, and mature adults as resources.
Nonetheless, If you'd like to read the whole book free on-line, here's the link! The Real Life Home School Mom 2011 Edition by Virginia Knowles