Saturday, September 19, 2009

Reasons I'm homeschooling

(Also republishing this post)

Through our journey, I NEVER want to get preachy when talking about homeschooling. I NEVER want to state or imply that it's the right answer for everyone. I know that's not the case. I do, however, also feel that for me and my daughter, this is a no-brainer decision. Unlike a lot of people, I don't have "a" reason to homeschool Shannon. I have probably a dozen reasons, each of which are strong, but probably not enough by themselves. Together, however, they make an overwhelming case in my book.

I can list these reasons, in no particular order, each is probably post-worthy broken down. Consider this a "Cliff's Notes" version and preview of posts to come. In no particular order:

1. "Teacher" was always one of my top 3 choices of career growing up
2. I want to nurture in Shannon the "mind hunger" I remember from being little
3. Washington State and this area in particular have a strong homeschooling community
4. I believe school doesn't only happen within 4 walls between 9AM and 3PM
5. I want to KNOW, not just trust, that Shannon's getting encouragement where she excels and help when she needs
6. I've seen both the good and bad of public school teachers, and don't want to trust a lottery to find out which will mold my child
7. I'm inspired by a pair of fabulous teenagers I know who are homeschooled by their dedicated dad
8. Moms & daughters should be close
9. One of my core beliefs has always been that educating the future is society's most important task, failing to follow through myself would make me hypocritical
10. It just "feels right"
11. We're financially able to do it
12. My daughter will be able to follow through on any activity she wants and it can be worked into the day however we want
13. I flatter myself enough to think I'll be good at it
14. My friends flatter me enough to say I'd be good at it
15. "The system" works best for the average student. I don't want Shannon to be average.
16. I want flexibility to pursue subjects as the ideas flow, not merely studying "X" because it's time to study "X"
17. We travel a lot for our hobbies, which would lead to quite a few days missed in a traditional setting

That's enough for an off-the-cuff list.

Most important subject?

(The following post is being republished from almost 2 years ago. Sure, it's not the best prose, but it still holds true for me.)

When you mention you plan on homeschooling, the most common reaction is for people to express their concern that your child will not have any social outlet or friends. Why is that the very first reaction? What I'm hearing is NOT "she needs math skills" or "she'll lack in history" but is the most important subject in school recess? Bah! Others have said it better than I probably can, but I'll put my own spin on the socialization issue here.

Growing up, especially at Shannon's age, my closest friends came not from school, but from my neighborhood. My best friend across the street, and a girl further down the street both started attending private school in second grade. Sure, I got along with people in my class, invited plenty of them to my birthday parties and whatnot, but the day-to-day friendship came from the girl who did not go to school with me. By 4th grade, I had a "school best friend" and a "real best friend." My friend Audrey and I would spend more of class time giggling and passing notes, occasionally getting into trouble over it, and spending recesses inside instead of outside. Not that she was a bad influence, not that I was, but putting the two of us together encouraged the naughty in us. ;) At that time, my friend across the street was still the larger influence in my life.

It wasn't until 7th grade and I was bussed to and from school that my school friendships really began to have a larger influence on my life than my neighbor. By that point, I'd been in various drama groups (none school related), the occasional soccer team, tennis, and girl scouts. I'd spent many afternoons and evenings hanging around my stepdad's softball team, or with his teammates' children. And even then, I had more overall fun with ANY group that had kids both older and younger than I was. Sure, you gravitate to kids your own age, but to me, one of the biggest drawbacks of school is the lack of any interaction with kids outside the September to September age range that you fall into.

Being able to interact with kids your own age is limiting. Sure, you need the "pecking order" skill that seems to be the goal of throwing a bunch of kids into any social situation, but what I want to teach is how to interact with kids with DIFFERENT skills and maturity levels, not just the same. In life, that's the more useful skill, don't you think?