Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why We Homeschool

I'm having One Of Those Nights. You know what I'm talking about - the kind of night where you lie awake looking back over all the choices you've ever made and trying to decide if they were the right ones, or if you've completely screwed up your life, your kids' lives, the delicate balance of the universe itself...

If you don't know what I'm talking about, consider yourself lucky and go back to sleep.

To be perfectly honest, I don't do this often. I usually sleep like a log 5 minutes after my head hits the pillow. I don't second guess or dwell or ruminate... I just do my best all day, and go to sleep at night so that I'll be fresh and well-rested so I can do it again the next day.

And now I'm ruminating when I should be sleeping. Trying to remember the certainty we felt 6 years ago when we made the decision to homeschool instead of doing what everyone else does.

Why did we do this?

It would be a good thing to remember right now. I know there were good reasons when we made the decision to do it, and good reasons to keep us doing it for all these years.

I'm making a list, so that 1) I can relax and go to sleep and 2) I'll have something to read in case this ever happens again.

Here it is, in no particular order.

1) We wanted the kids to be themselves, think for themselves, and not feel they had to conform to fit into a group of same-age peers.

2) We liked the efficiency of it. It really doesn't take 7 hours to get a day's worth of formal learning done.

3) We liked the freedom of it. We can do our work when and how it suits us best.

4) Homeschool learning is more similar to how adults learn. There are no bells telling you when to start or stop. You can follow your interest wherever it leads you, and take all the time you need to satisfy your curiosity about the subject.

5) It has allowed us more free time to pursue other interests. The kids would not have had time for all of the activities and sports and experiences they have had if they were in school all day.

6) They can learn at their own pace. Quickly through the easy stuff, taking more time to master the harder stuff.

7) They are in mixed-age settings. They are not with the same group of same-age peers all of the time.

8) We really know the kids well and can see their strengths and weaknesses in our every day lives. (Not to say that our schooling-friends don't know their kids, of course - but we knew it would have been a real challenge with one of ours if he were in school all day.)

9) We know the kids' friends and their families. Whether they homeschool or not, most of them share our core values.

10) We have been able to ground the kids in those core values, which often differ from the mainstream, secular, consumer culture.

Okay. That feels a bit better.

I have to remind myself that rarely are decisions perfect. Either way, you gain some things and give up others. My friends who have kids in school have their own likes and dislikes about their choice. It comes down to what makes the most sense for our own family at each point in our lives, and on which path we believe God has called us to follow.

I want to stay on this one a bit longer to see where it leads.

If God wants me to switch paths somewhere down the road, I'm hoping He will make it obvious.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the 'one less traveled' by,
And that has made all the difference.
- Robert Frost

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