Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is There a Synonym for Homeschooling?

I'm beginning to hate the word homeschool. There must be another word for it. One that doesn't bring an onslaught of questions about our day, our motives, our kids socialization, our finances, the makeup of our family. One that doesn't assume that just because I'm with my kids alot that they are a burden. One that doesn't assume that I don't take care of myself or have time to myself. Sometimes I'm oversensitive about these things. Other times it just bothers the heck out of me when I know they are asking not because they are thinking about homeschool themselves but just because they are questioning whether our kids will succeed. It bothers me when they question our choices without really knowing us or knowing our kids.
Even among other homeschoolers in our State-there is always controversy about which method of homeschooling to use, unschool or curriculum or somewhere in between? Don't start a co-op because it's too much like public school and we all know what public school does to kids. We all know what homeschooling does to kids don't we? Do we use a Christian Curriculum or secular? I don't much care what you use-does it work for your family and your beliefs? Then I'm pretty sure it's working. Anything beyond that is irrelevant.
So here I am. A tad bit angry and annoyed this morning. I get this way sometimes.
We learn everyday, all day. Learning doesn't happen in a box, or at a set time during the day, for a set number of hours in one place. Learning happens through living life. Just because we don't have have a textbook in front of us, don't assume my kids aren't getting a good education. My job is to teach them where to find the answers in life and that includes their education. My job is not to fill their minds with useless facts. They probably won't be playing on Jeopardy anytime soon so I'm not really worried if they don't know why the war was fought in 1812. My nine year old can balance a check book, write out her own deposit slips and manage herself quite well at a bank or at a grocery store helping me figure out total cost, price per unit and double coupons thank you very much for your concern. No we didn't do math from a book today.

We learn everyday, all day. Don't assume my kids are not socialized. We can talk about this more after we return home from our homeschool group of 30 kids, youth group, nursing home visits, church, brownies, art class, history class, sign language, science field trips, soccer practice, playdates, theater shows, nature walks, swimming lessons and volunteer work. Have you talked with my kids? They are comfortable with babies as well as adults and can handle most any conversation if you just talk to them. Socialization isn't in our vocabulary because we live it everyday. I think we need to find a new word for that too. Socialization-blech.
Our homeschool day doesn't have a set time for bookwork although we tend to start early morning so that we can have the rest of the day free for following our own interests. Somedays we spend one hour on textbooks, somedays three hours and somedays-GASP!- we don't use any textbooks. Last year we didn't even finish a book that we started. The horror of it! Placing homeschooled kids in a "grade level" is hard. We work at our own pace and if that means working on something for six minutes or six weeks than that's what we do. We learn something and then we move on and expand on what we learned.

We learn everyday, all day. Our summers are filled with nothing, which is everything.
We fill our summers with swimming, sleeping late, sitting on the deck with some iced tea and catching up on some reading. We explore fields, and hiking trails and forests and playgrounds. We take day trips, watch flowers grow, enjoy Del's lemonade and an ice cream cone. We sit by the pond, watch our chickens and visit friends often. We explore the beaches, local farms and take advantage of free performances on the village green. We go to parades, leisure at the library and watch the hawks fly above us and the ants build a village beneath our feet. We learn everyday, all day.

We don't send our kids to daycare and I don't feel a need to send my five year old to preschool or kindergarten so he can learn to stand in line, fight off bullies or spend all day being coralled to come home and drop from exhaustion. His job is to play and learn how to learn.
We are not against public school. It's just not the right educational choice for our family. Telling us we don't support public school by not sending our kids there, is a ridiculous argument. Public school is a different philosophy than what works for our family. I don't feel a need to test my kids to understand what they understand. I don't assign bookreports or huge projects. Yet, my kids have taken it upon themselves to do these things at one time or another. I don't give out grades. If they can't tell me what they've read or discuss or expand on the concept then they probably need to reread for understanding. It's not an assignment, it's a survival skill in the real world. Ask or read until you understand.
When they ask for help it expands their understanding and helps them work through to the next thought. No-I don't know how to teach all the subjects they will need to learn. But I'm pretty innovative and together we'll find the answers.
We learn everyday, all day. Being with my kids all day is what I choose to do. I don't need to find things to keep them busy or to keep them out of my hair. I don't need to send them away when I am ill and my Lyme Disease is acting up. I do this because I love them and I want what is best for them. I cannot sit back and wait for the American public education system to change to give my kids a good education. They are only young once and I choose to be home with them as much as I can. It is a choice and I will gladly sacrifice some salary to make that happen. That also doesn't mean that I don't need time alone or time with my husband because we manage to do both. Self care and marriage care is important. I've even been known to send the kids to bed early some nights so I can have a date with my husband. It's good for kids to see parents happy and wanting to spend time together. It shows them what is important.

We learn everyday, all day. Don't assume that because we homeschool we are overprotecting our kids and making them afraid to explore the world. Hasn't it always been a parent's job to protect their kids make them feel safe? My kids like being with their parents too. A trip to the grocery store or Home depot usually involves the whole family. Not because we make them go everywhere with us but because they choose to be with us and it's fun.

We learn everyday, all day. Everything we do is part of our life. Homeschooling our kids blends into everyday life. Gardening is a family affair. We may not use a textbook that day but we explored the really cool bugs we found, learned about compost, the benefits of chicken manure, compatible plantings, moon cycles, watering, soil requirements, botanical names for plants, crop rotation and building fences and trellises. I think we're good.

We learn everyday, all day. Having kids help with chores, raising animals, cook and watch their parents try to make it all work IS learning. We chose this lifestyle for a reason. We chose it to help bring our family together, to manage our finances, to celebrate our own Faith that is in keeping with our values, and to enjoy one another and all that life has to offer. Our kids may not get to travel to foreign countries, or have the big flashy wedding, or go to the Ivy League schools or even have the big executive position in a company. I want them to do what they love and be happy doing it. We've learned to live without a lot of material things and I hope we've taught our kids what is important.

Ultimately, it's not about homeschooling, or finances or defending our choices in how we choose to live as a family. It's just about love. That's all there is.


Sherry said...

amen! :)

Sara said...

I hear you. Yes, yes, yes.

Evonne said...

Amen sister!! I echo your thoughts. I too, wish there were another name for what we do... live maybe. As a former middle school teacher, I also get asked about betraying the public school system. I tell people that what they are doing is not what I was taught was good teaching practice. I've been called a traitor. It's for my kids so be it.

Lori said...

beautifully said! :^)

Jo said...

What an awesome post! You said what many of us have probably thought tons of times over the years. I think you put it better than I ever could though. ;)