The Ups and Downs of Homeschooling Pt. 1

February 13th, 2007

Homeschooling Rocks

Believe it or not, I got a scholarship many moons ago to become a teacher. I wanted to teach art to children with learning and/physical disabilities. I felt that I had something to offer in the way of creativity and wanted to share that with children. God had a different plan for me. He wanted me to teach – just not a classroom full of children.

When I became pregnant, my husband mentioned homeschooling. Honestly, I had never really heard about it, much less wanted to do it. I stopped going to college in order to support my family with a marketing career. Besides, there were subjects that I wasn’t very strong in (i.e. higher math, chemistry, physics, music). How could I teach my own child? My husband convinced me to investigate the possibility. We have never looked back.

To tell you that I was unsure about my abilities in the beginning is an understatement. There are SO MANY different types of curriculum out on the market. Pre-packaged programs, umbrella schools, unschooling, etc. It boggles the mind! homeschool nature

We tried different things here and there and found that the “traditional” schooling didn’t work for us. It bored us to tears. I found that being eclectic in our books really worked. Hands-on teaching inspires both of us.

As we are approaching our 7th year of homeschooling, I am starting to “get the hang of things”. However, I doubt my abilities every now and then. When I need a pat-on-the-back moment, I seem to get them from the least expected places. Someone will say that my child displayed courtesy, or patience, or unexpected intelligence. When I hear that, I am better. I know that we have made the right decision.

When we have been out in public during school hours, we often encounter people that want to know “why we aren’t in school”. Some people think that “school” has to take place in a classroom with a stuffy textbook. Why is that? Sure, books are very important. Do they have to be stuffy textbooks though? Homeschooling offers learning OUTSIDE the classroom. Learning can take place: By interacting with adults at the bank or post office, taking care of an ill relative, discussing likes/dislikes with the local librarian, mowing a neighbors lawn, helping out at the local church fund raiser or food pantry, making a meal from scratch, or learning a foreign language from a retired professor.

The downside of homeschooling for me is the occasional unfriendly attitudes that we receive. That can be hard on the spirit at times. Teachers, in particular, can be non-receptive to us when we mention homeschooling. I believe that they feel that homeschoolers are saying that they aren’t doing a good job. That isn’t so.

As I grew up, the majority of my teachers were just there to get a paycheck. They didn’t do anything special in the way of teaching. They drank their coffee, read their paper, and daydreamed while assigning the class to read umpteen pages in a boring book. The teachers that REALLY made a difference were the creative ones. The ones that went the extra mile. Those that had gumption and inspired students to push themselves. THOSE are the teachers I remember fondly.

I believe that most teachers today are not allowed to be creative. They have to teach in a way that the students pass their government tests. The schools make more money and look good. However, where does that leave the teacher that wants to inspire? Can they really use their talents to teach? If the children want to explore a subject further, are they allowed to or is there a set schedule of items that need to be covered before going home?

THAT is why we homeschool. We want the flexibility to be creative. If we want to learn about the Revolutionary War (as an example), we can make a whole unit study on the subject. We can study what people wore, where they were from, what they ate, how they lived, why people were fighting, spiritual beliefs, what music they played, who was prominent at the time, etc.

Homeschooling allows us the freedom to explore. We can learn the basics (reading, writing, math, etc.), but we can do SO MUCH more. I know that the teachers that made an impression on me allowed me to “think outside the box”.

For all the teachers reading this, please don’t think that homeschoolers dislike you or think badly of you. We don’t. We just want to be able to explore more of our world than the four classroom walls allow. Our world is a classroom. We have so much to learn.

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