Thursday, July 15, 2010

Why We Homeschool - Part One

Many know they want to homeschool from the moment their children are born. Some come to that realization when their babies are very young. I even have a friend who had kids just so she could fulfill her dream of homeschooling. :) My journey took a much different path. I taught in public schools for almost a decade before I had children: pre-school special education (PPCD), first grade, second grade and third grade. I loved my years in the classroom and looked forward to when I would be back as a room parent and volunteer once my kids reached school age. We live in a great community with a wonderful school district - one of the best in the state. I never expected I would be educating my kids at home.

So how did we end up homeschooling? I could subtitle this post: What Got Us Here is Not What's Keeping Us Here! You see six years ago when we started homeschooling it was because we had a little boy with severe ADHD and "autistic tendencies". For many reasons we felt public school would not be a good fit for him until he was able to catch up a bit socially and emotionally. The main deciding factor came at four when started reading but couldn't sit still for ten seconds. If he had the perfect teacher and a class full of patient understanding kids then maybe. But I saw too many students like him and most often it didn't go that way. It's not fair to a teacher with 20 other students to have a basically one-on-one kiddo. And it's certainly not fair to a child who would academically be bored but without the necessary skills to sit still regardless. So I went into homeschooling thinking it would be for just a few years.

A digression: it is so important to me that my children love to learn, and school does not necessarily have anything to do with learning -at least in those first important years. Let me explain. The reality is a child can dislike learning but love school. Or a child can love learning but dislike school. A young child cannot make that distinction though; the two are inextricably tied together. If a child has a bad experience with a teacher, or a bully, or just isn't ready for school and ends up thinking, "I hate school!" then s/he most often resists learning. You can't separate the two in the mind of a young child. It can take years to overcome a hard year in Kinder or 1st grade. I taught many of those kids; I know. Most often they were late bloomers and weren't ready for the demands of the classroom either academically, emotionally and/or socially. And it left a bad taste in their mouths. As a teacher I tutored, rewarded, counseled with parents, encouraged and basically did everything I knew to help that child begin to love learning again. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn't. I vowed that wouldn't ever be my kid!

Back to the story. I started homeschooling not entirely thrilled but relieved that it would be only for a short time. Those years were a grace to me because they started me on a path I don't think I ever would have begun on my own. And although I got off to a slow start, I have fallen in love with educating my children at home.

When people ask us why we homeschool the answer has always been something along the lines of, "Because Thatcher has ADHD and Asperger's and public school is not a good fit for him right now." People have pretty much been satisfied with that answer. It threatened no one. But now that Haddon is school age, and Beckett right on his heels, the question has become, "Are you going to put them in school." So I find myself six years into this journey and just starting to give my reasons for why we will homeschool all our boys! And those will be in my next post.



Ali said...

"What got us here is not what is keeping us here." I agree so much! We started with so many incredible husband is still in the public schools, I spent 2 years there myself. It's thrilling to be here with my own children, so I'm glad for those reasons in the beginning, and even more thankful that God continues to show us the way...and we do love it! Thank you for sharing. I think many people will find it helpful!

dining room table said...

For me home schooling is one of the best ways to improve your all ability to do things with your own and be independent. Although it is hard to do.

Jennifer said...

Well said! I enjoyed reading these past two posts... and so needed a little homeschool boost as I look forward to the fall.

Always a delight to visit here.