Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Why Homeschool?

Well, that's up to you...

Why am I homeschooling? I like the weird looks I get from strangers when they say to my daughter, "why aren't you in school?" and I say, "she's homeschooled." It's a thrill.

No really, it's because I like to never shop alone for groceries and just love it when my kids scream at me for a toy...who needs solitude?

Actually, it's because I love being behind in laundry and cleaning all of the time.

No, I's because I am no good at diagramming sentences and don't remember much in the way of history, so I thought, "I should teach my kids. I'd be good at that."

OK, sorry....

Why am I really? Mostly because I fell into it. Now, I'm adopting the reasons why it's good for our family, but honestly, I looked into a gazillion private schools. I applied for transfers into the magnet schools, and even got into one of them, but then decided it wasn't right for us. We couldn't stomach the price of private school for 3 kids. The final straw was when Sophie's preschool suggested we hold her back a year before kindergarten so she could grow emotionally and socially. I thought, I'm not sending her to preschool for another year of ABC's when she's ready to read. She's a smart girl, and it's time to move on.

Her experiences in preschool weren't fun either. She still cried most of the year when I left. She was highly anxious, and struggled making friends. Her main memories are of a girl on the playground who teased her all year long saying she wasn't a girl, and saying she wasn't allowed to play with the others. At 4!! I know I can't protect her forever from pain, but 4 is a little early to just make her figure out how to deal with that level of teasing.

On top of that, Joe and I had to laugh the other day at how early sex education starts among peers. At 4, her classmates had already discussed their privates (though Sophie thought they were calling it a China), and her friends informed her that breasts were called boobies! I can only imagine what Kindergartners are discussing! Ha! Now, lest you think I live in a closet, that wasn't the real reason why we're teaching at home, as I know they will be exposed to goofy things kids say even at church. But, I'm OK with being the primary person exposing her to what she needs to know right now. And before you think I'm that awesome (I know you do), you should know I own a lot of really meaningless Barbie movies that have done nothing but teach my kids how to act like serious drama-queens. So I'm not that righteous.

So, I don't know what the answers are for every parent or child. I know a lot of homeschool families who homeschool some of their kids and public-school the others. I know a lot of very well-rounded families/children who do only public school, and their kids have a great love for God too. So, there's no one right way for everyone.

I have found some things fun about homeschooling, and am hoping that some of my beliefs about our future due to this decision are realized. For one thing, it's a blast watching my child "get-it." When their eyes light up that they know they just learned something they didn't know a moment before, I'm glad that I get to be the one who witnessed that moment.

Another thing, I was never comfortable with letting adults I barely knew, take on the responsibility of rearing my child for most of the day. I'm sure they would have done a fine job, but it felt like my job. I felt like I would be losing so much of my time with my kids. Sophie was supposed to be in school 7 1/2 hours a day at 5. That seemed like a lot of independence and dependence on others for such a young age. I couldn't get over the fact that I only have them with me for 18 short years, and the world has them for the rest of their lives. It doesn't seem like long to get all of my snuggles, and chats, and training in with them. Sigh... I just needed more.

I've heard people's concerns about homeschoolers turning out "weird." I'm thinking, Wow. Do you know how many weird kids I went to public school with...and they're still weird. (Sorry if I went to school with you, I'm sure you weren't one of the weird ones). I guess I believe I can encourage my kids to learn, I can push them to be confident, and I can teach them about life without them automatically becoming "weird." But, if you think Joe and I are "weird," then the apples probably won't fall far. :-)

It was such a relief to be homeschooling last year when Sophia was diagnosed with Diabetes. She needed so much, and I was so uncomfortable with all of the changes. I personally couldn't have trusted a nurse and teacher to know the right thing to do for her, or to notice her among the 30 other kids in the room when she just "didn't look right" and would maybe need to test. I felt like her life hung in the balance, and I was the only person who was going to take it seriously enough. Her endocrinologist thought it was great too..."Oh good," she said, "we don't have to try to educate a nurse or teacher." So, I have much peace from that standpoint.

I gave up on the idea that forcing my kids into all day social and stressful learning was the way to make them get better. I can't tell you how many people suggest that's really what they "need" to overcome anxiety. As a child who needed "to grow emotionally" according to her preschool, I feel Sophie has done just that. With the constant support at home, she's much less anxious, and more easily pushed into challenging herself in social situations. She enjoys friends, and is getting much better at just being a normal kid. (Remember, I'm not saying if your kid's in school, and anxious, that my way is the only way to fix it either...we all have to work these things out and have peace with our decisions).

In the last 2 weeks, since we've started daily school, it has been so much fun to see how crazy fast they are learning things. Jossie's writing her name, which she had no interest in doing before. They're listening to rich literature being read. They've learned about different religions and why it's important to pray for missionaries across the world. They've memorized the 10 commandments, the beginning of the ancient timeline, and they have an understanding of the first nomads. Sophie is starting to be less angry at math. She's reading so much better (in just these 2 weeks).

We're also part of a learning community called Classical Conversations. It is a one-day-a-week school where they learn an immense amount of stuff, and then go home and memorize it all week long. That's where they've learned the 10 commandments, the ancient timeline, the noun endings for Latin, the 5 kingdoms of living things, the parts of a bean, the name of the hair on a spider, how to count by 1's, 2's, 3's, and 4's. (Seriously, even my 4 year-old has it). They can tell you what a preposition is. They're in choir and drama there too. They love it! They make friends just like "normal" kids, and they listen to a fun teacher, just like "normal" kids. I've met the nicest and most "normal" moms you can imagine. No weirdos in sight!

I've had so many people say, "good for you...I just couldn't do it." I had the exact same thoughts up until the moment I decided to try, like Nope! I can't wait for her to go to school. I am NOT a teacher and we butt heads too much, that would NEVER work! I guess God has other plans sometimes, and He certainly equips us.

So, lest you think I'm too awesome again (admit it), I have not done a perfect job in my last year, and these 2 weeks. Someone loaned me a book called "Homeschooling with a meek and quiet spirit," and I have laughed out loud on a daily basis on how far I am from that. :-) But, I still am loving the experience. It's an adventure to carry this responsibility and to watch my little buds blossom. I didn't birth them knowing "I shall homeschool you into awesomeness," but I'm working on truly embracing the fact that I get this unique privilege.

Now someday, if I decide I'm failing miserably and must send my kids to school, I'm sure I'll post on that too, and we can all share a good laugh.

Until that time....

I guess I'll be prayin'


Gayla said...

Anj- you ARE awesome... and even better than awesome (in my opinion)- YOU ARE HILARIOUS!!! I LOLed so many times while I read your post. Wonderful.

Have I told you that Jack asks me all the time if I will homeschool him when he gets to middle school? I told him to pray about it and pray for God to tell me what He wants me to do. I should tell you in person about the conversation he had over lunch w/ his Unitarian friend about this! :-) Good stuff.

Love you and admire you for following God's voice!

Sonia Lopez said...

Thanks for posting your experience and thoughts... I read many of your blog posts and I love them. Love your sincere spirit, and also how well you can use words to express your thoughts and feelings so accurately... I like the way that pump looks... pink, princess and all...