Why We Want to Homeschool

“You can’t protect him from the world forever.”

“Couldn’t he learn about Jesus at church or at home but still get an education in a public school?”

“He’s going to be a weirdo with no friends and no social life.”

“There are bullies everywhere in life, keeping him out of schools won’t stop him from encountering one.”

“He needs to have a realistic view of the world- not just a religious view.”

These are just some of the comments I receive on a regular basis from family, friends, and total strangers regarding our decision to homeschool our kids. Often people make these comments assumptively, before even asking us why we’ve made this decision.

You know what though? Our choice isn’t a religiously based one.

And I’m not trying to keep him from meeting any mean people in his life.

And I don’t plan on presenting him with an unrealistic world view centered entirely around some strange young earth theory in which Jesus fought the dinosaurs and won. {Or so I hear the story goes.}

No, our reasons for choosing homeschooling are really simple.

1. I’m concerned about the general direction public education- particularly in the state of Texas- is headed right now. Tests rule, individual thinking is discouraged, and excellent teachers are being restricted and threatened based on standardized tests. The gifted kids are taught down to, so they become bored, and the kids who need extra help are being left behind. Arts and music are dying away and being cut from programs left and right. Field trips, hands on learning, one on one instruction, and special attention paid to the needs of individual students is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Learning isn’t fun anymore, and if learning isn’t fun, then our kids will never develop a love for lifelong learning. No longer are teachers able to sneak some learning in with the fun play involving hands on crafts, building dioramas, acting out books, visiting a dinosaur exhibit, or going on scavenger hunts.  Instead, many teachers are frustrated because they’re restricted to teach straight out of the curriculum handbook, which involves worksheets and tests at every turn.

Little boys in particular aren’t allowed to be little boys anymore. No longer are they allowed to wiggle and squirm when they need to. Instead they’re pumped full of ADD meds and sent back to class as tiny zombies. Recess used to be respected as a vital part of the day, but unfortunately it’s getting the axe more and more in public school programs.

Do I blame the teachers and the principals, who work day and night away from their families to reach those kids who are slipping through the cracks? Absolutely not. I love teachers. I love those who work in schools. My husband is one of them! He views his job as a ministry, and I know his heart is in it. But unfortunately our government has too much of a hand in our education system, and our kids {and their teachers} are hurting because of it. School today is not what it was even 30 years ago.

Now, I’m not a government basher, and I’m not even really a public education basher. There are some states that are really turning things around and doing things right. I applaud them! However, currently, Texas is not one of those states that’s turning things around quickly. In fact, my high school, which was an exemplary school just a little less than a decade ago, barely made this mark this year in the state standardized test. In less than a decade since I was a student there, the quality of education has greatly declined, and I don’t believe it’s the fault of the teachers.

The way I see it, there are four things my family can do to make a change in this system.

1. Let our votes at election time reflect our opinions and frustrations.

2. Have Travis be the difference we want to see in the system.

3. Raise our kids differently, to understand education as a fun experience, and not as a mandatory experience.

4. Pray for change, for the strength of the teachers who are trying to make a difference, and for the kids who are being overlooked, dragged through, or left behind in the current system.

Which leads me to my second big reason for choosing to homeschool my kiddos:

2. I want to be a part of that learning experience with them.

Maybe that sounds selfish, that I want to be the one experiencing those discoveries with my children, but its true. I love learning, and I love the idea of passing that love onto my children. I don’t want them to become discouraged in the learning process. I want to hide the learning amidst fun. I want to encourage them to read by choosing books with topics that already interest them. I want them to learn about nature by being outside. I want to tour apple orchards, visit museums, tour college campuses, travel with Travis when he goes out of town {which he does at least half a dozen times a year}, and make learning interesting again.

I’ll never forget when I took interest in the Titanic. I was in 5th grade, and I checked out every book our little library had to offer on the subject. I begged my teacher if we could learn more about it, and she got angry with me. She said exasperatedly, “No, Kat, we aren’t going to learn about the Titanic! Go sit down!” I put my head on my desk and cried. I was fascinated with the ship and couldn’t get enough of it. {And before you chuckle at me, this was years before the movie came out.} In homeschooling, such an enthusiasm would be encouraged and embraced. There would be no limit to the resources I could provide. We could build a model of the ship. Watch documentaries about the ship. Visit a museum about the ship. Read books about it. Hear personal testimonies about it. Study America in the early 1900’s at the time the ship sank. Study the lives of the people on board, which included many historical figures. You see where I’m going. It’s not just an obsession with one particular silly thing. It can branch off into reading, science, social studies, history, geography, etc. But rarely can a public school accommodate such an interest. Encouraging our childrens’ fleeting fascinations makes learning fun, and establishes that desire for lifelong learning.

3. We love the flexibility that homeschooling offers.

As I mentioned before, Travis often travels for work. He has two conventions a year that he attends, and we often go with him. When we go, we make it an effort, even as young as Little is now, to visit a children’s museum, large library, natural historical landmark, zoo, aquarium, etc. to mix learning with fun. I love that at this point, we can pick up and go with him when he’s spending time in a larger city. We can take advantage of the resources available in those larger cities while he’s off taking care of work-related business. In other words, homeschooling is flexible. It fits our family’s lifestyle.

Not only is it flexible in the sense that we can go with Travis wherever the band might take him, it is also flexible in the sense that if we need to spend some more time on a subject or breeze right on by a subject, we can. We aren’t limited to the August to May schedule of a school. We aren’t limited to Monday through Friday or from 8 to 4. He isn’t bound to learn the one state-approved curriculum that his teachers are forced to use. If I want to combine curriculum or create my own, I have the freedom to do that. If I discover that something just isn’t working for him, then I can easily adjust. A difficult topic can be approached from multiple angles to ensure that no one is left behind or discouraged.

Travis was often discouraged because he was a fast learner. He’d master a lesson, and would feel eager and excited to move forward but would become bored in class waiting for the rest of the students to catch up. There wasn’t one on one instruction, and his teacher was adamant that he not move forward. I can’t tell you how much that would frustrate me in my elementary reading classes, when we were expected to go from person to person reading the book aloud. I had long since finished the assigned novel, but would spend day after day in class listening to kids read it aloud, only to get written up by my teacher if she walked past me and noticed I was several chapters ahead. I was punished for moving on, punished for being excited about the story we were reading and wanting to read more of it.

On the flip side of things, I struggled a great deal in my 11th grade Algebra class. I couldn’t grasp the concepts taught by the teacher, who was notoriously a no-help educator. He even had a sign over his door that read, “If you have to ask for help, then ask for a schedule change.” The students around me were excited and seemed to easily grasp every concept he scribbled on the board. My hand was constantly in the air, and he constantly ignored it. I knew he was exasperated with me, and he treated me as a pain in his side. He was often unavailable for tutoring, but tutoring didn’t really help me anyway. I didn’t need extra help, I needed him to slow down in general. Since he wasn’t about to do that, I went ahead and got a schedule change into a slower paced Algebra class, where I was able to keep up and ask questions as needed.

I love discovering new things with Little, and I love watching him experience something for the first time. I love the flexibility that homeschooling brings. I love the fact that if he’s confused about a subject or certain topic, we can spend as much time as necessary and reach out to as many outside sources as we need to until he feels he’s mastered the issue.

In homeschooling, you should never say, “We’ll always homeschool,” because you might not. It’s truly one of those things you analyze every year to make sure it’s still what’s best for your kids. Their learning must come first, before any other reason you’ve chosen homeschooling. If you’ve picked it for religiously based reasons {as we have not}, then that can’t come before the quality of overall education your child is receiving.

We actually plan on working with our schools to create some kind of system where hopefully he could still participate in band or art or other music classes if he wanted to. In my hometown, the school system allows for inclusion of homeschooled kids in upper level courses that parents don’t feel equipped to teach, or in extracurricular classes that students might want to participate in. Knowing that we have such options available to us, the socialization aspect just kind of makes me laugh. He isn’t enrolled in a daycare now, but he gets plenty of socialization when we get together with other friends around town or when he goes to church. We’ve started talking about possibly enrolling him in some other activities such as tumbling, swimming lessons, or t-ball in the coming year as he gets older so he can start to learn team-building skills. Often people would be surprised at the amount of socialization homeschooled kids receive.

I purchased my first set of curriculum yesterday, and I’m so excited for it to arrive in the mail. I don’t see any point in teaching itty bitties as young as Little Bug the ins and outs of phonetics or sentence structure, but we’ll begin the preschool curriculum this fall with simple lessons in the four seasons, colors, shapes, and nature. I’m excited to start our lessons together and to give him his first taste of “school.”

I don’t judge any parent who chooses to place their child in public or private school one bit. In a few years, we may decide that public school is what’s best for Little, and that would be fine too. Right now though, I want to be the one laying those fundamentals for him to build on. I want him to associate learning with hands on fun, plenty of play and imagination, and a sense of curiosity about the world around him. I also want to instill in him some strong character building skills to help him for the rest of his life. I believe lessons about honesty, steadfastness, persistence, compassion, helpfulness, etc. should start in the home anyway, and I look forward to really instilling that in him in the next few years.

Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, and it may not end up being the perfect thing for us years down the road, but right now, it is. I really just wanted to clear up any misgivings or misconceptions people might have when they hear that we want to homeschool. You might be surprised to know that the reasons families choose homeschooling aren’t always based on religious convictions or a fear of the world around them 😉

Kat

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13 Comments

Filed under Learning at Home

13 responses to “Why We Want to Homeschool

  1. As you know, I have worked in both a psychologist’s office and psychiatrist’s office and both of these men said that a lot of “ADHD” patients are really males who have been asked to behave in a way that is contrary to nature, and that letting them run and jump and ‘be boys’ would be healthier for them physically, emotionally and mentally. I agree with them.

    Also, at the Honors College, we find that our home schooled children perform just as well or better than our public educated students. The one-on-one educated geared to their learning styles is a plus, and socialization issues are addressed by parents who home-school through home-school organizations, little leagues, community activities and churches.

    Lack of competition for an educator’s attention, lack of fear from bullies, and other things also are a major plus for home schooling.

    In a study of 16,000 home school children and their SAT scores, they performed better, in language and math, than 77% of the population of public schools, and 80% of home schooled students performed above the national average on the test.

    I support quality public education, but the idea that it is better than home schooling is not correct, per the research data.

  2. Keadie

    I am an inspired teacher who knows her stuff because it is a passion. I have a love for teaching, and I have never been able to get my foot in the door of a public high school. I graduated at the top of my class, but there were no internship slots for me in my area’s public schools because one university had them assigned to their own students. There were also so many uninspired tenured teachers that there were few jobs available. So, I taught alternative high schoolers hands-on interdisciplinary science-history at a private school. I now prefer alternative kids who need “unschooling”. Every one of my students in my ground-breaking anthropology, archaeology, and natural history class went to college, except for one who passed away. These were kids who were expelled, harassed, intimidated, or acted out because their learning styles did not conform to the average, and no one would help them properly.

    When the private school’s funds ran out, there was no position for me. I am a behavioral health worker for children now. My own children did not graduate with their public high school classes even though they come from a strong academic background. Despite everything that we’ve done outside of school, their teachers and their teaching methods traumatized them to the point of their desperation to escape. They’re doing much better now.

    You go, Homeschoolers! Dare to dream the dream! Write the music! Invent the tool! Question the stagnant! You are the true shakers and movers who make a difference in the world.

    • Thanks, Kead, it’s so encouraging to hear positives from those on the inside of the education field. I hesitated at first to tell other teachers that we’ve decided to homeschool, but I quickly discovered that nearly every single teacher we’ve mentioned our homeschooling plan to {except for one very burned out and bitter educator who doesn’t like ANYTHING} has had nothing but encouraging things to say. Since Travis is a teacher, we obviously have a lot of public school teacher friends, and they all encourage the idea of one on one education for a child. Like I said, we’ll do it until it’s apparent he needs something else, and then we’ll re-analyze our plans and shift our focus. If that means private or public school, we’ll go that route. It’s so important to me at this point to lay the proper fundamentals for him right now, though.

      Thanks again for the word of support! You rock!

  3. You know what, as long as one is thinking about their child and not on what is convenient it’s all good.

    I know you know this Kat, but for me and my family private school (or homeschooling) is a MUST unless one isn’t going to go by the teachings of our church or is willing to have miserable kiddos. As a Seventh-Day Adventist, we try not to do “normal” or “work-related” or “competitiveness” during the Sabbath hours which are sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. Now being from TX you know when Football games are and when the action is….Friday nights. So enrolling my child in a private school from my denomination is important to me because I want a) a good education with Religion classes and prayer built into the day and b) my child to have happy memories with friends growing up instead of remembering all the games/sports activities they missed out on growing up.

    Everyone is entitled to have a reason for what they choose what they choose no defense necessary. The only point to consider? Are you doing it for yourself or because you think it’s best for your child.

    • You are right, Dannie, and I tried to emphasize that at the end of the post. It’s incredibly important to do what’s best for the child. If a parent chooses to homeschool and realizes that they don’t possess the skills to properly educate their child, then they should look into tutoring or homeschooling co-op groups. The next step would be maybe finding a smaller school such as a private school if they really wanted their child to be in a smaller school setting. And I don’t knock parents at all for choosing their schooling for religious reasons, I just wanted to really stress that that is not the reason we’ve selected homeschooling. Mostly because I’ve received a lot of questions from family and friends about our reasoning.

      I think if you choose to homeschool, you need to make sure that it’s working. If not, you need to change it. What’s best for the child should always be top priority. I have no idea if we’ll discover Little is gifted or delayed or average as a student, but I think with homeschooling, it doesn’t matter. A child who isn’t scrambling to keep up doesn’t have to worry about being “delayed,” because he or she can get the help (through tutoring or resource help or various therapies) and the one on one attention they need without any problems. A child who is far ahead of his class doesn’t have to worry about getting in trouble for reading ahead or for acting out in boredom, because the lessons are customizable to their skill level. But again, if it ever looks like this isn’t working for him, or it isn’t helping him blossom in the ways I hope it will, we’ll always readily move on to plan B.

      I certainly admire your desire to instill in your daughter a foundation rooted in faith. In fact, the curriculum I purchased and want to start LB on as soon as possible is a Christian based curriculum, which includes Scripture study and Bible-based character building lessons. While that isn’t the very basis of our desire to choose homeschooling, I certainly look forward to exploring the Bible stories with him and watching as he learns about Jesus and how he should interact with the world around him. We aren’t in a position right now to afford private school, and so homeschooling is nice in that it’s affordable for us, but at the same time allows us to teach him the faith-based lessons we would want him to learn in a private school setting.

      I’ve written a novel, but I just wanted to second the things you said, and to encourage other parents regardless of your choices for your kids- public, private, or homeschool- to do what’s best for your child and allows them to thrive the most.

      • Another reason people may look down on homeschooling in general may also come from the media (much like your adoption and media post). I watch the channel TLC’s ‘What not to Wear’ with Stacy and Clinton and love that show because being the tomboy that I was growing up, I like their clothing advice and they are actually into middle of the road modesty too (no cleavage like show girls, skirts and dresses to the knee, one can wear a cami under a v-neck if you feel it’s too low etc.)
        Well their little 28 year old on the show last night, happened to be a frumpy gal and happened to be homeschooled…which she even said that because of that, she didn’t pay attention to what looked good on her, her parents bought her clothes…so it didn’t matter if they were the right size or something. Just what the public wants to know in order to generalize! Oh well, I thought of your post when I was watching the show last night!

  4. Cimarron

    This is exactly what aaron and I have been discussing. Plus, with us headed overseas to a mission field in the next few years, it seems pointless to start them in public school just to pull them right back out. Poor Emma is bored in pre-k right now bc she is so far ahead of the rest of them. That’s what happens when parents take an interest and invest quality time in their chikdrens education and not just expect a teacher to do it for them.

    • I didn’t realize you guys felt called to the mission field! That’s so awesome! Yeah, I don’t want our kids to be bored or to fall behind. I want to nurture their education at whatever level they may fall, and not try to force them into a one size fits all box. You’re absolutely right about the mission field though, it would most likely be better to homeschool if you’re going to be serving somewhere. That’s really awesome, I’ll certainly be praying for you guys. Any idea where you might be feeling called?

  5. Kat, will you send me some good websites for curriculum? And I’d love to see what you ordered when it comes in!

    Carole

    • I absolutely will, Carole. I ordered the Alpha Omega preschool pack, which is highly rated. In fact, I went ahead and ordered a book from Amazon yesterday called 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum: Choosing the Right Curriculum and Approach for Your Child’s Learning Style and when it comes in, I’ll let you look over it too. I’m hoping it’ll provide a good resource for supplemental curriculum as we get deeper into this.

  6. Damaris

    I am a SAHM to 4 princesses and would love to homeschool. My oldest two are in 1st and 2nd grade. They both have very high grades and my 1st grader is in a bilingual program and gifted and talented. Hubby sees this as school is working. I don’t feel the same way. When I pick them up from school, I hear how my daughters dislike each other. They speak and treat each other like the girls in the movie “mean girls.” I don’t like that. I didn’t send them to school so they could learn how to make each other feel miserable! I want them home, but the bilingual program is great. When I told my oldest that I was going to homeschool she cried because she wouldn’t have friends. To some extent that would be true. My husband wants kids to be in extracurricular activities, but he doesn’t want to pay too much, take kids, or watch games. When he does, he becomes one of “those” parents. He will yell and scream if they don’t kick the ball or whatever. Anyway, that really is the big reason I keep them in school, because hubby said so. Sorry for the rant. Guess I needed to vent along with comment. We live in TX also and my oldestis already scared that she’s going to fail the staar test (new TAKS test.)

    • No apology necessary. You can vent away. The choice to homeschool is a personal one and for some families a difficult one. I would find out if there is a bilingual program through homeschooling (because there are some amazing language programs for home learning) that might fit your homeschooling style. If there is one child who really doesn’t want to learn at home, then you could continue to send her to school while trying homeschooling with one or two of your other children who are interested in the benefits. Perhaps the child who is concerned about the state tests could benefit from being home more than the one who really doesn’t want to leave her school lifestyle, if that makes sense. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. It takes a lot of commitment and work, and it isn’t right for every child or every family, but for some, they thrive at home. Best of luck to you. Feel free to vent any time 🙂

  7. You are commeI found your blog today and I enjoy it. I am a teacher and former administrator. I am also an adoptive mom. My baby will be three in January. I never would consider home schooling but now that I am a parent I am reconsidering. My child is very bright. At 32 months she is starting to read, write and can count to 30. She can count items accurately to 12 or more. It seems like it will be such a waste of her time to sit in classroom all day. I teach fulltime and my partner stays at home with her. She was in daycare for 2 years. It was a good daycare but she cried every day when I took her there. Like you, we made a choice to live on one income and I don’t regret it. I look forward to reading more of your story.

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