Why do we Homeschool?
“Why do you homeschool?” I don’t get asked the question quite as often now as I once did, but it’s on a lot of people’s minds when they meet my children and me at Costco on a school-day afternoon. The little blue-haired ladies are the least ambiguous about it. Their motive is clear.
“What school do you go to?” they ask my 10 year old. After she informs them that she is home schooled and also attends a homeschool co-op once a week, there’s often a shadow of confusion that moves across their thin, wrinkled faces. Then they smile, “Very nice, dear.” Some shake their heads and move on, some ask questions and seem interested, others are familiar with the homeschool movement and compliment me on my choice.
It’s a far cry from when my parents made the decision to pull us out of school and folks repeatedly asked my Mom, “Why on earth would you do that? What about their socialization? They’ll be ruined.” Oh, the dreaded socialization conundrum. As if children can only be properly socialized in an institutional setting surrounded by 30 same-aged peers – because obviously, that’s the how the real world is…
I’m getting ahead of myself. So, why do my husband and I homeschool our children? The simple answer is we thought bouffant French braids and gingham dresses seemed like a good idea. Just kidding! Well, it’s certainly a loaded question and the reasons people homeschool vary more than you can imagine. In the words of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, “It’s not just for scary religious people anymore.”
I always smirk and giggle when I think about how I was “shoved” into homeschooling. In retrospect, I realize it was the Lord giving me a more than gentle nudge in the direction he wanted me to tread, but at the time I was clueless. You can read about the experience that fast and furiously catapulted us into homeschooling here. The deeper, more meaningful reasons that we began and continue to teach our children at home are a little more complex.
Okay, so maybe we are scary religious people. I think one of the first and perhaps most clichéd reasons for keeping children in the home for education is indeed, religion. I think that most people’s religious beliefs or lack thereof dictate their lifestyle and influence their parenting and discipline philosophies a great deal. It’s definitely true in our case. We want our children to grow up surrounded by people with similar morals and values. I say “people” meaning adults and children of all ages. Hordes of kids holed up with a bunch of other kids the same age creates a cesspool of confusion, bullying and pandemonium. When kids have access to and time to really communicate with people of all ages, real learning takes place.
Our belief in Christ is the cornerstone of our family and we want that expressed to our children in every way possible – including in their daily education. The scriptures, prayer and standing for something of value is woven into our everyday life and that’s the way we want it. We don’t want our kids taking part in anything that doesn’t allow them to exercise their basic rights of free speech and freedom of religion. If you’re in a place that doesn’t allow you to pray or worship in public freely, get the heck out. Whether you’re religious or not, this stuff is vitally important.
I hate to be a Debbie Downer, folks but our country is in dire straits. The leadership is corrupt and a great many citizens leaning toward being completely brainwashed, self-absorbed and out of touch with reality. Government-run public schools are inundated with parentless children gobbing on Doritos and Mountain Dew while their absentee parents “find themselves” and pursue their own interests.
Our government knowingly peddles food that’s not healthy for us, encourages a ridiculous amount of vaccines and pharmaceuticals whose efficacy and safety are questionable and is routinely sold to the highest corporate bidder on every level. All this while we worship at their feet as they and the “experts” indoctrinate and disintegrate our kids’ brains.
Why on earth would we want to send our young, impressionable little people into that hot mess? We don’t particularly want to shelter them from the ills of the world, but we sure as heck don’t want to throw them to the wolves before they’ve had a chance to learn to ride a two wheeled bike.
Our family’s political recipe is a handful of Libertarianism, a pinch of Voluntaryism with a dash of Anarchy thrown in for good measure. We think in a perfect world, parents would want to share their own political viewpoints first with their children then set them free to research, investigate and scavenge out their own personal mantra for life and politics. We want them to first know what we believe and why we’ve come to these conclusions. We want them to learn the real history of our country and world– the good, bad and ugly then form their own conclusions. The watered-down and convoluted history and politics taught in schools today is just about worthless, in our opinion. We just don’t want that for our kids.
Love of Learning
When my parents took me out of public school at the beginning of 4th grade, I was already jaded about learning. Early in the year, my math teacher sent me up to the board to do a long division problem which I was stumped on. She told me to stand there until I figured it out and proceeded to change out of her heels into running shoes, prop her feet on her desk, pop an Aspirin and doze off. I stood there mortified for what seemed like an eternity until it was time to go to another class.
This and many other experiences had already sucked the love of learning right out of my little nine year old self. At a time when I should have been an excited little sponge, I was a withered old lady just trying to make it through my fourth grade day.
There’s a difference between memorizing and learning. We want our little nuggets to be fascinated by all the world has to offer and be excited about learning. Poet William Butler Yeats said it best, “Education Is Not the Filling of a Pail, But the Lighting of a Fire”. So often, public schools focus on testing, memorizing and indoctrinating rather than lighting that fire and fostering a love of learning.
As parents we’re here to provide opportunities and provisions for learning. After that, merely guiding them in their quest for knowledge is sufficient. No “pail filling” necessary.
You’re asking yourself, what in the world does pop culture have to do with homeschooling? Well, we think a whole lot. First, I have to say that I detest pop culture. I have a terrible fascination with it, but I don’t like it. It’s one big ball of money, greed, narcissism and sex. It’s a waste of time and energy and I just feel sorry for the people who are enslaved to it. Fashion, beauty, wealth, social networking, stuff. It makes up some people’s entire existence.
I overhear people discussing it and I just shake my head. All that matters is the new pair of seven inch spiked heels they bought or the new purse they’re financing on their credit card. The new car that costs as much as my house, the new boobs or getting into the best preschool which costs as much as we make annually for a year of tuition. I just don’t get it. That’s not happiness, it’s not success and it’s not what matters when you die.
Granted, I come from a very humble background and there was never much emphasis put on “stuff”. The focus was on family and learning to be happy with what you have. I’m so glad I was raised this way. But I do remember those days before my parents took us out of school being a little different. I had dreams about owning a Swatch watch, Tretorn shoes and tiny, pink Guess purse. I was enamored and obsessed. Once in class, I was embarrassed because I couldn’t name all the New Kids on the Block from memory. (I studied hard and memorized them, though. And yes, I can still recite them from memory!) I also begged to be Madonna for Halloween one year (ala cone bra).
Kids just want to be accepted and when you pack thirty or more of them together all day, every day, they’re going to affect one another. Usually, the biggest and loudest of the bunch is going to do the most “affecting”. Unfortunately for our families, the focus is usually on pop culture and everything sordid and worthless in our society. I remember routinely shocking the color right out of my Mom by asking her what “so and so meant when he said this or that”. Once it involved lawn mowers and female anatomy. Don’t ask.
We, as parents want to be the biggest example to our children. We want to do our best to model good behavior and teach them morals and values. We want to influence them in the most positive ways possible, teach them what we think matters in the world and then let them methodically be exposed to the more repugnant parts of our society. We know it’s going to happen and we know it’s not good. We’re not attempting to shelter them from it or mislead them about the real world. We just prefer to ease them into our world of greed, commercialism and sensationalism a little more slowly. Maybe let them grow and mature a little, pick up a little common sense and experience, then be introduced to society at large.
In the end…
I’m a Type A micromanager. I generally operate under the mantra of “If you want something done well, do it yourself”. I think this applies for education and child-rearing in general. I love them most, their best interest in my number one concern and I just don’t trust anyone else to do it right. No one will lovingly teach and care for my children the way I will. I’m insanely imperfect and I make mistakes every day, but I’m their mother and I think that makes me the most qualified person to educate my children.
When it’s all said and done, we homeschool because we want our kids with us. We brought them here because we wanted them and want them to be productive members of society. We think safe at home with us is the best place for them. We seek out opportunities for them to learn, interact and socialize outside our house, but home is where their heart is. It’s where their story began, it’s where the people are that love them more than anything else. We work diligently to make sure home represents safety, security, respect and comfort. And that, my friends, is where true learning takes place.
So, in a very large and wordy nutshell, this is why we homeschool.
Image of book courtesy of jannoon028/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net