Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Why We Homeschool

new chalkboard!

Like many other home educators, I come from a past in which I spoke things aloud like, "I think homeschooling is wonderful, but I believe in public education, and I'll send my kids to school." I remember wanting to be homeschooled myself, but when I started to think about what I wanted our family life to be like, taking our children to school was part of that fantasy. And then we actually had a kid in our family, and that changed everything that I thought about school. Homeschool was what she needed, and so it's what we did. Now I've been drinking the homeschool Kool-aid for three years, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Like most people, we have multiple reasons for choosing the type of schooling we did, and for choosing to keep doing it year after year. I'd say there are four main reasons we prefer to home educate, with about a million more little reasons that make it just right for us right now.

These are our four big reasons:

1. Flexibility - I know that some people see this as a weak reason, but it's one of the things I like best about homeschooling. We can decide when to start and end our term. We can adjust our daily schedule to suit our needs and preferences. We can travel and learn on the go, or we can do extra work before we leave so we can do real life learning and ditch the curriculum while we are away from home. We don't have to plan trips according to a school calendar, and if there's anything we want to do that doesn't fit with our normal day's work, we can adjust to make it fit. We can also change curriculum mid year if something isn't working, and we can even take time off from a subject if I feel it would be better for her to practice it in real life situations to cement her skills.

2. Customized Learning - Different kids learn in different ways, at different paces, and by home educating, I can meet Z where she is instead of having her review material she already knows well or move on to new material if she hasn't grasped a concept very well. We don't have to adhere to grade level standards, and so she is able to work ahead in some subjects while taking her time with others. We have also been able to choose a curriculum that works well for her learning style and incorporates non-academic things we'd like to teach her.

3. More Time Together - Because of the aforementioned flexibility, we can allow our kids to stay up later than we would if they were in school, thus giving us plenty of family time together in the evening. We can have dinner together and hang out for a little while afterwards. Sometimes we play board games, and Z has a regular Minecraft date with J each week. During the day, we've got lots of time for mom/daughter stuff, and Z and E's sibling relationship has flourished with lots of time together to play, to argue, to work it out, and to just be near one another.

4. Z Likes It - There have been a few times that Z has asked to go to school, and we have explored that option and decided as a family that homeschool was still the best choice. When she was littler, she really didn't understand the implications of going to school, and so we had to make the best choice for her at that time. However, now she is getting older and reasons things out well, and her conclusion is that she much prefers homeschool. If she would like to go to school at some point in the future, we would not be opposed to her trying it out, but I'm really pleased that she is happy with home education right now. We intend to continue for as long as she prefers it and it works well for us as a family.

Just a note - I know that lots of people are big fans of preschool and may be wondering why I didn't mention E in this post. I may write more about this later, but the short answer is that what E needs to be successful academically in the future is stuff that we already do for her as we are parenting her. So she's learning, but we don't do anything formal at this age.

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