This was written on April 3, 2009.
Five years ago, I had never heard of homeschooling, and I’m pretty sure I was introduced to it by a neighbor who teaches her four girls at home full-time. Then my friend Maya of Springtree Road told me she was going to homeschool her daughter, and then we had another homeschool family move in the neighborhood, and I’ve gotten to know them very well. I can’t remember my first reaction to homeschooling. Maybe I thought it was a bit crazy, or maybe I thought it was something I wouldn’t be interested in. But it didn’t take long for the idea to sink in, especially as I watched my two-year-old relish learning — at 21 months, he could identify all the letters of the alphabet correctly. He loves books, and he loves exploring. Now we’re working on the sounds of the letters, and he also knows his numbers and colors. I keep asking myself, how can I keep fostering this love of learning without pressuring him or making him lose interest?
This, I believe, is my number one reason to want to homeschool. I want to foster that love of learning. I am not against traditional school — I believe most teachers do their best to teach students. But I do think that once you put 20 or more children of the same age and different learning levels in a classroom, the teacher can only do so much. She or he has to keep moving through the curriculum whether some kids are more advanced or some need to stay behind. Occasionally the teacher has to spend the majority of her time dealing with behavioral issues. So I ask myself: if it’s possible for me to homeschool — if I’m willing and we can afford for me to stay home — why not? Why not give my children the one-on-one attention they deserve? If they are interested in a particular subject, I want them to be able to study that subject without any restraint. And what if I can build some other lessons around what they are already interested in? Surely it is common knowledge that each of us learns better when we are interested in what we are learning.
Now that I have been thinking about homeschooling for a while, I have been meeting other people who homeschool – whether in person or online. And seeing how well-adjusted, well-mannered, and bright their children are, I am more and more convinced that homeschooling is a good thing. My husband is a professor at a local community college, and he has had students in his classroom who were homeschooled. He says they are among the brightest and most willing to participate in class. They seem very well-adjusted, and furthermore, they are usually high school students taking courses for early college credit!
I would also love to homeschool so that our family can be together more and for the flexible schedule it offers. My husband has a flexible teaching schedule (at least right now), and he’s home a lot. I believe that raising our children in a homeschool atmosphere can only foster close family ties. Not to mention the children’s schedule — elementary school children have to be at school by 7:30a.m. in Georgia. On his way to work, my husband has seen small children waiting for the bus in the dark (with their parents, of course). I like getting up early, but I don’t like having to scurry around to get out the door early in the morning. Think about all the hours in the school day that are taken up by simply getting to school, from class to class or to the cafeteria, recess, etc. I would like my kids to spend that excess time at home doing things that are more productive or simply more fun!
Finally, I’d like to homeschool because I love learning. I love to read. I love to explore historical places or museums or anywhere that will expand my mind. I used to travel to other countries, and I love learning about different cultures. Not only do I think that homeschooling would be good for my kids, I think it would be wonderful to learn right along with them. And I would hope that my enthusiasm would rub off on them. I think it would. Unfortunately, I think that traditional school can have the opposite effect on children. I know that when I was in school, I was more concerned about the friends I had and the friends I wished I had, the clothes I was wearing, and the boy I liked. I didn’t do badly in school, but I could have done much better. It wasn’t until I was in college and beyond (when I could study what I wanted to study), that I became a better learner.
In my next post I will talk about other concerns and issues with homeschooling, specifically socialization, financial considerations, and what other people might think.