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This was the question a parent at Adam’s music class asked me tonight. I was set a little off guard by it because I didn’t just sit down and decide. It’s almost like it has been part of me always. Of course, it hasn’t been.
My first introduction to homeschooling was in college. I noticed there were some kids walking around the music department in the middle of the day. I wondered why they weren’t in school. Later I met their mom and found out they homeschooled. This was in the mid to late 80’s when homeschooling was still illegal in many states. Interestingly, I think that was the last time I ever wondered why kids were out of school in the daytime.
A few weeks later the kids in the music preparatory program gave a concert the same night as the college choirs. I saw that these homeschooled kids were leaders in their group. They were confident and mature. They made an impression.
I didn’t get married until I was 33. Through my years of singleness I spent time watching families and taking mental notes about what worked and what didn’t. Some of these families were homeschoolers. I guess during that time the homeschooling seeds were planted. By the time I met my husband homeschooling was an assumption, not an option. The same was true for my husband who observed his brother’s children being homeschooled.
Our son is 6 and we have thought about it more in depth the last few years. There’s a lot to think about. I probably won’t be able to recall all of my reasons for homeschooling, but here are the ones my mind thinks are important right now.
A lot of time is wasted in school. It has to be wasted because of the nature of dealing with large groups of people. It’s just common sense. So much more can be accomplished in a smaller amount of time if you don’t have to work in a system designed to maintain order in the group.
- I Have a Boy
It just doesn’t seem like the best idea to sit my physically active little boy in a desk and tell him to be quiet. I just feel boys–especially young ones–are supposed to jump, play, build things and learn with their bodies.
- Educational Philosophy of Schools
Generally speaking, I think most of the focus of the American education system is on kids spurting out facts and passing tests. They don’t teach kids how to think for themselves and to use those facts to draw conclusions.
- Too Busy, Too Young
I think there is a fallacy in our society that if we put kids in school earlier they will do better. I believe that just puts them on a treadmill that very often leads to burnout and squelches the desire to learn. Many studies show that kids have an advantage at first, but by 3rd or 4th grade they are even with their peers who started later.
- Natural Learning
Kids start out as natural learners. They soak everything in. I think this continues as they grow and I think homeschooling nurtures that curiosity the best.In homeschooling kids can learn things in the context of a real life scenario. For example, learning to use the scissors to work toward a goal or project is so much better than cutting on a dotted line of a worksheet. The driving motivation for each of those scenarios are completely different. One sparks internal motivation and the other is just checking a task off a list.
- Academic Advantages
An in-depth study was released recently that showed homeschoolers tested 37 percentage points higher on in testing than public school students. This was looking at a wide variety of criteria and utilized 15 different testing services. It’s an interesting read http://www.hslda.org/docs/study/ray2009/default.asp
That’s the start of an answer anyway. It’s always growing and changing just like a kid, just like a family. God gave us lives in families and in communities. That’s his design and I want to live it the best I can. I think homeschooling provides that. Maybe that’s the real reason behind it all–living life to its fullest.
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