As a former public school teacher, I had presumed all along that I would enroll my kids in a brick and mortar school in the fall of their fifth birthday. I hadn’t really given any thought to homeshooling – at least not consciously. As the kids grew older, somewhere along the line, what had been a little whisper in the back of my mind grew ever louder. I began to wonder if there wasn’t a better way.
My daughter came to me and said, “I want to learn Chinese.”
My son stated, “I want to be like Bach!”
How can I encourage the passions of my children if they are obligated to attend school 180 days of the year? The little thought in the back of my mind telling me to through modern convention out the window and educate my children at home was now the only voice I could hear.
We started homeschooling nearly 10 years ago. My daughter’s friends were showing off their new laptop lunch bags. Their mothers could talk about nothing other than what school they had enrolled their child and the new school outfits they had purchased.
With the exception of one of my husband’s colleagues whose children were in high school, I didn’t know anyone who was homeschooling. I began our journey alone. I had been blogging for a few years already about the trials and tribulations of marathon training. Coincidentally, one of the marathon running bloggers I followed had recently graduated her youngest from homeschool high school. Her family’s story and her words of encouragement were just what I needed to take the leap of faith.
I thereby began a homeschool blog in hopes of connecting with others. In addition, I wanted a way to document all that we were learning and to share our successes – and failures – with our extended family. Back then I wrote a post detailing Why I Want to Homeschool. Delightfully, the reasons I listed then are the same today.
1. Spend more time together as a family. We have certainly been able to connect more regularly. We are not tied to a school schedule and can accompany their dad when he has out of town business. Most recently, we enjoyed a day in San Francisco that provided us with lessons in both local and world history.
2. Allow children time to learn subjects not usually taught in their school. While there is a Mandarin immersion school where we presently live, Mandarin was not an option when we first began our journey. The time we have been able to devote to language studies far surpasses what would have been possible otherwise. Here’s a peak at one of our early lessons, I Like Fruit.
3. Allow children to learn at their own pace, not too slow or too fast. We school year round and as such we continue moving forward as their skills improve. They both excel at math and reading presently, but were both late readers.
4. Spend a lot of time out-of-doors. Nature study was a weekly part of our curriculum in the early days. Though our science curriculum is more in-depth now, we continue to incorporate time outdoors and regularly journal our nature observations. One of our most memorable outings each year is our annual ladybug hike.
5. Children learn life skills in a natural way. I’ve encouraged my kids to take part in household chores and cook since they were little. They love to prepare new dishes – often Chinese dishes they’ve learned from their Mandarin teacher. My son has even begun to market his skills at detailing cars to earn money for his dream of purchasing a baby grand piano.
6. Children will be more willing to take risks and be creative
7. Children will not learn to “fit into society,” but will, instead, value morality and love more than status and money. There have been many occasions whereby adults will inquire whether we homeschool. Upon my affirmation they always reply, “I thought so. Most kids today don’t communicate with adults like yours do. You’ve done a great job.” My kids know they are different. They are proud to be able to recite historical events or passages from Shakespeare. They can even recognize other children who homeschool in group settings.
8. Field trips can be directly tied into the child’s own curriculum.
9. Volunteer service activities can be included in the family’s regular schedule. My son is passionate about music and volunteers regularly to play the piano at a local retirement home. My daughter, on the other hand, is encouraged to do her part to improve the environment and is collaborating with resource biologists to study the impact of invasive turtles.
10. Scheduling can be flexible, allowing travel during less expensive and less crowded off-peak times. We love to travel and we’ve been fortunate to see some pretty amazing places in the world. We make travel a priority in our home. I have just recently begun to share anecdotes and tales of our traveling adventures. Hop over to read about our trips to Scandinavia, China, and most recently South America (Ecuador and Peru).
11. Testing is optional.
12. A more relaxed, less hectic lifestyle is possible.
13. Most definitely, it is fun.
We’re aren’t alone. Visit iHomeschool Network’s Why We Chose to Homeschool linkup to read more.