Back from a long hiatus–brought on by preparing for, going on, and recovering from vacation–I’m here to bring you the third and final installment of this three-part series on my love of homeschooling. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2!
Want to know yet another thing I love about homeschooling? The freedom. Weekday open house at the Public Works Department? We were there, learning how wastewater is treated and being coached on how to operate the various pieces of heavy machinery used around town. Picture-perfect day? We packed a picnic and went wading in the creek, chasing minnows and catching a few tadpoles to take home and observe. Kids want to learn to sew? Hey, that’s a worthwhile skill, so we headed to a hobby store for some fabric and designed our own simple project in our ample free time—though we could have easily counted it as “work.” Oldest obsessed with writing stories and wants to make them into books? I set him free in a word-processing document on the computer and let him discover what those red and green wiggly lines mean, how to change his font, why typing “4” when searching for an image to insert will also give you a picture of the food pyramid. We have time to pursue our interests, to follow our own rabbit trails, and to make room for those times when the best thing is to throw the plan out the window for the day and embrace whatever surprise has come our way.
It’s not just academics, either. Is your kid in a growth spurt, suddenly eating double portions of everything? At home, you can easily offer more to fill that ravenous stomach. Is your child a picky eater, or so social he’s likely to forget to eat? At home, you can ensure balanced intake for his growing body. No need to come up with lunches that won’t leak or go bad, no need to worry about your kid hiding her yogurt because the other kids will tell her she’s a baby eating baby food (this actually eliminated several of the healthy foods my nieces would initially bring in their lunches—no applesauce, yogurt, baby carrots…); at home your kids can eat whatever you are willing to offer.
Kid wants to wear a superhero costume all day? Fine, there’s no dress code at home except the one you set. Want to go on vacation in September, since that’s Dad’s slow time at work? Pick your week and head out—your schedule is your own. Child works best when listening to music? Pop in some earbuds or haul in your CD player and have at it! Doing your learning at home frees your family from so many restrictions that schools find necessary in order to manage large groups of diverse students.
Homeschooling also distills the purpose of “school.” When I was growing up, I was made fun of for being nerdy—ridiculed for any mistake I made (“Hey, look! Miss Perfect got that one wrong!”), laughed at for my extensive vocabulary, and generally excluded from social circles until the pond got bigger in high school. I don’t want that for my kids. I don’t want them to worry about what their peers will think of their performance, to fear making mistakes or equally dread being too good at something. I don’t want them to judge themselves by what reading group they are in or whether they are pulled out for the Resource Room or the Accelerated Learning Lab. I want them to be excited about learning, to worry only about doing the best they can, and to see academics as one facet of life rather than a definition of who they are.
Homeschooling is not easy, nor is it perfect, but I’ve found a lot to love about it. Perhaps you’re a homeschooler who loves it, too. Maybe you’ve lost your love and are looking to regain it. You might be considering homeschooling, still weighing pros and cons, or just reading with curiosity about a lifestyle different from your own. You may not share my passion, but I’m sure you can understand my sentiment. After all, don’t we all want to provide the best opportunities for our kids?