Why we homeschool

This has been coming up a lot lately, both in my on-line life and in my IRL interactions.  I’m not sure why, but I figured it was as good a time as any to explain why we do what we do!

The short answer is because school isn’t a good fit for my homeschoolers.  It is a good fit for M, so she attends school.  Simple enough, no?

Now for the long answer.

I have a problem with how most institutionalized schools are run.

There, I said it. I apologize to all my teacher friends, and to my mother who is a card carrying member of the NEA, but there it is. and before anyone gets really offended, I am speaking of school as an institution, not necessarily our personal experience with school.

I don’t like the *sit still and be quiet* attitude, the emphasis on peer interaction (to the exclusion of all other) and the pressure to conform and be *normal*.  I don’t like that the schools seem to think they own our children to the extent that I must ask permission to have them out of school and then wait to see if they accept my *excuse*.  I don’t like that testing is held to be so important that schools hold pep rallies for it, focus thier teaching on the subjects that will be tested and are cutting things like band and art so as to have more time to learn math and English.  I don’t like the one size fits all education that most schools use, nor do I like the emphasis on *grade levels*.  I don’t like how they move the children around every year (to different teachers and peer groups) so no real connections can be made nor do I like being expected to accept a new teacher as the *authority* on my child when they know her 9m tops. I also don’t like things like school violence, bullying and peer pressure.  I don’t want to shelter my child from life, but school is NOT life.

And speaking of life, I want my kids to have one.  When K was in school (which she was until the end of 4th grade) she was up at 6:30, had breakfast and got on the bus at 7:30AM then got home at 4PM.  She usually had an hour or so of homework which brings us to 5PM.  Then dinner so we are at6PM.  She is a child who needs lots of sleep so bedtime was 7PM leaving her ONE HOUR of time to do something she actually wanted to do.  That’s it. If we had to do errands or had a Dr. appointment (because you know you shouldn’t make them during school hours!) that was gone too! Honestly, the way I feel now that was enough of a reason to homeschool but there was more.

K was bullied. K was teased and taunted for being different.  K felt she was *stupid* because her learning disability made it hard for her to learn like the other kids (and to be fair the school did try to help her, she just needed more).  She spent the majority of her waking hours in a place that made her miserable, didn’t really teach her efficiently and then had to bring it home with her in the form of homework.  K was beginning to change herself to *fit in* with the queen bee and wannabees culture of school.  Where was the joy?  Where was the *well rounded* education I hear so much about?  Between the trouble she was having and the fact that she literally had no time to do anything BUT school and homework she really didn’t have much of a life. There was certainly no time for extracurriculars or things like scouts or 4-H.  I know this is not true for all children, but it was for mine.

After having K home for a year, I declined to send B to kindergarden and I have never looked back.

Ah, I am sure you are saying, but don’t you have a child in school?  (I’ve actually seen people put on a sly look when they ask this, as if they’ve *got* me now Mwwwahhahah!)

Yep.  But let’s look at M’s school for a minute. 

M is in a contained classroom.  What this means is that she is with the same children and teachers year after year and is thus capable of forming real relationships with these people (and so am I, as her parent).  M is not required to take NCLB tests.  In the classroom a variety of teaching methods are used and active learning is encouraged.  Teacher student ratio is nearly 1:2 so things like bullying and teasing are pretty much non-existent and/or not tolerated.  Because it is a multi-age classroom, grade levels are not as all consuming and children are allowed to progress at their own rates.  M’s class has a cooking group, she attends play therapy, PT, OT and speech classes.  She does therapeutic horseback riding, adaptive PE and still has two recesses a day.  Her schooling is a lot different then typical schooling.  Her needs are also different and the highly structured environment of school fills them right now.  The teachers value M for who she is, not for what she *should* be.  M doesn’t have homework, her bus brings her home more quickly and she needs less sleep so she has more time to do things after school. If I could find a school that taught all kids like that I might consider sending K and B!

Maybe.

In the end it comes down to this:

I want my children to be well rested, well nourished and well rounded.  I want my children to love learning and value education for it’s own sake, not to get good grades so they can get into a good college.  I want them to have time to do what they love and to just be.  I want them to learn who they are without peers jeering at them or being pressured to be like everyone else. I want them to be passionate and creative and free. My children cannot be those things while attending school full time.

That’s why we homeschool.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by homegrowntulips on March 20, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Hear! Hear! And I have no idea why I have the huge type.

    I too will have one in school and one at home, and will be home schooling for many of the same reasons.

    It was good to read this. Thank you!!!

    Reply

  2. WOW! You have put so well into words the things that I feel but could not eloquently string together! 🙂 Especially the part about no life. The kids in my neighborhood are up at 6a to be on the bus by 6:45 (yes quarter to 7a) for school to start at 7:30 – home at 2:30 with 1-2 hours of homework (in grade 1, ya grade 1.) Most of my friends kids are in bed by 7-7:30 every night. As a Brownie co-Leader to these schoolers its really hard to add just another hour to their day so they can have a life outside. The kids are always amazed at how relaxed my dd is but also surprised that she runs with her own stuff – not being up or even interested in the latest things that 7 yr olds are into like Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus (sp?) I just cant imagine!

    Reply

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