30 December 2005

Why we homeschool

Many have asked us why we homeschool and we thought now would be an appropriate time to provide an answer. Each year we review our life situation as the new year approaches and compare it to past years.

We were very fortunate to discover homeschooling when our eldest was around 3 years old. We met another family at a talk we had organised and asked the three lovely young girls what school they attended. "We homeschool." was their simple answer. "What's that?" we cleverly responded. We then began visiting a number of homeschooling families and a homeschooling camp and figured that the children seemed to turn out pretty normal. So we gave it a go.

In the intervening years we have had time to analyse our decision and ample opportunity to use homeschool apologetics with family, friends and work acquantances. We have many clever answers to all the comments, but it all boils down to four key areas:

1. Socialisation
This is one of the most important reasons we homeschool. Once a definition of socialisation is worked out then we can determine the best way to obtain this lofty goal. We consider socialisation to be:
The process whereby a child becomes an active and productive member of society, able to function to the best of his ability and provide support and care for those around him.
Typically this is what most questioners will agree socialisation to be.
"Then," I reply, "The standard school system has failed."
We regularly join with many other homeschool families and our children are constantly exposed to the real world in a multitude of ways. They also miss out on most of the negative socialisation (such as bullying, abuse, bad crowd dynamics and so on) until they are mature enough to handle it. We compare homeschooling to a greenhouse. A gardener doesn't place seedlings in the raw harsh environment until it is strong enough to handle it. One also doesn't leave the seedling in the greenhouse for ever.
Homeschooled children are ready for the real world much younger than those in the typical school. They tend to be more mature and more innocent. The other option is immature and worldly "wise" - a very dangerous blend.
Our children also associate with other children of varying ages and are used to being in contact with adults in positions of earned trust.

2. Family
Homeschooled children are much closer to their siblings and parents. One would hope so, being together so often. The togetherness makes it imperative that each child work out relationships. You can't run away from relationship problems - both sides must work them out. This is done in a loving way with parental supervision. This tends to lead to a world view gap with other parents: "How can you stand being with them all day every day?!" to which a homeschooling parent asks, "How can you bear to be apart from them so long?"
The photo above is a good example of the family bond that develops. Our sand pit is pretty small but all six children are playing together. The eldest is teaching the youngest to put sand on the other's feet and pat it down.
Some years ago we were passing a school during one of their recesses. The school children were all outside enjoying the company of other children and playing on the fine playground equipment. "Wouldn't you like to go to school and join in with them?" I asked. "Oh no, Dad," they replied, "We wouldn't see our brothers and sisters as much, and we would have to do homework!"
Another benefit is that the children are not so tired at the end of the day. When I arrive home they are happy and run out yelling, "Dad! Dad!" and we have time to do many things other than homework.

3. Faith
Our faith is not just a belief which is separate to life. Our faith influences the very way we view the world and our relationships to those within it. We are able to say prayers at appropriate times of day, discuss issues as they arise, consider the glory of God's creation during the day and ensure that the children understand that our faith is not blind - it is a reasoned faith. If it was unable to explain the world around us in accord with logic, true science and our observations it could not be considered true. Many a time we have had the joy of launching into a long multi part discussion arising from a passage in a book or scene from a movie.

4. Education
If you have the first three areas covered, education easily follows. After all, you are teaching the children one on one and tailoring your instruction to the level of the child. The material you present is consistent over time and not changing from year to year. The examples of the parents and other siblings promote positive learning experiences. Younger children learn from their elders, and the older children learn by reviewing lessons with the younger ones. Book work is only part of the education process. Our children have learned how a house is built, how people in other countries live, how to be in business and many other experiences. If they were trapped in a school for x hours per day, plus the homework and extra curricular activities, when would they actually learn anything else?

5. Other reasons
There are lots of other reasons including flexibility, cost, curriculum choice and so on.
Plenty of studies have shown the advantages in education, socialisation and other important measures.

The bottom line after homeschooling for the last nine years or so is that we enjoy being with our children. Yes, even with the teenager!

We have some of our favourite posts on the side bar, including a menu for Homeschool and Family related postings over the last two and a half years. You can track back on our blog and see the many things in which we are involved and the experiences our children have had. This blog is a record of our adventures over the last two and a half years. Feel free to browse and comment.


Anonymous said...

"The togetherness makes it imperative that each child work out relationships." I have made this comment often. So nice to meet you here at the carnival! Blessings ~ Patricia

DavidofOz said...

This is probably one of the best things about homeschooling. We were warned that all our happiness would cease once teenage years arrived, but that is not the case at all. We have always believed that the "teenager" label is artificial, so we purposefully decided to try and raise adults and it seems to be working. It is fun having the older children participate in family life and assist in sorting out the inevitable family squabbles amicably.

Anonymous said...

I agree with all of what you've said. As a mom with a young child, I am contemplating homeschooling. I see how this works for young children when the curriculum is easy. I am amazed at parents who homeschool their teenagers, especially when the material becomes deeper. I am a lawyer and English major in college. While I am comfortable teaching my child about constitutional law, it has been a long time since I took AP physics, chemistry or calculus. I was also a Spanish major but what if my child wants to learn Japanese or German? I'll end up having to shell out big bucks to hire tutors for all of these subjects.

DavidofOz said...

The key is that your role is not to be the expert in everything. All you need to be is one page ahead for the younger ones, gradually teaching your children how to learn. Once they are in the higher grades, your role changes to that of a mentor. The child - actually young adult - becomes more self educating with you providing the right materials and guidance.
Anyway, just do one year at a time. Get involved with other homeschoolers and you will see how they do it. It's amazing how much the whole family learns as children grow in knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I came here after finding my way to the carnival. What a lovely post and I will be checking back on your blog in the future. I agree 100 percent with what you have said here and have to say, your comment about enjoying being with your children really resonates with me. I recently listened to a group of moms whose kids were going back to school talking about how they couldn't wait and that makes no sense to me at all. If they didn't want to spend time with their children, why have them in the first place. God bless!

Anonymous said...

e.c. lin, you don't need to worry about being an expert in all possible subjects to teach your child. I'm a homeschool graduate (several years ago) and we never hired tutors. We just visited the library a LOT! Each of us kids developed a bunch of interests, and did (still do) ongoing research on them. In fact, that was probably my favorite part of homeschooling--having all that time to pursue my interests. With "school" topics, it was not hard to find a book or website to help with anything Mom/Dad could not explain. Actually, my older brother basically taught me algebra. :) So go ahead and jump in!

Alice Gunther said...

All very true! Thanks for this post.