Sunday, January 3, 2010

A New Year Reminder About Homeschooling


Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself. ~John Dewey

There are times that every homeschooling parent toys with the idea of allowing their children to go to public school. Today I was reminded why that is not really an option. Since I have not really brought up this subject before on my blog, I feel I should give some background as to why my husband and I chose to homeschool.

I met my first homeschooler nearly twenty years ago now. I remember having a number of concerns it, but mostly these three. First, I did not think the parents were capable, a very common (and tiresome) argument against it. Second, I thought their ideas about how to educate a child were irresponsible because this particular family planned not to teach their child to read until the child wanted to learn for herself and I already thought the child should have begun; this ideology the mother learned from reading Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child's Education. Third, I thought that maybe they would change their minds when their child got a bit older and they would conform to what I thought at the time would be normal, a rather odd thought coming from someone who is not that fond of conformity herself.

Frankly, I don't know what has happened with that family as we moved to another state and loss touch, but I can say that just about every opinion formed from that first exposure has been turned completely around through the Lord's guidance. I could go on and on about the benefits of homeschooling and I have seen some of the pitfalls with it as well, but for now I will just address my three first impressions, erred as they were.

First, no parent is given a manual as to how to be a parent and so no homeschooling parent is going to be perfect and some are not as capable at homeschooling as others, but the one thing that people do not understand about homeschooling is that the education of the parent also improves as they teach the child. Even though I have been a Christian for most of my life, I remember never really learning as much about the Bible as I did when I taught a Sunday School class for teenagers. As Richard Bach said, “You teach best what you need to learn.” Another way of saying you need to learn to teach and, as the teaching parent, you will learn what you missed or relearn what you have forgotten, but you will learn. Homeschooling is a lifestyle of continual teaching and learning.

Second, ideas about how to educate children are vastly different and cover a wide range. There is no one fits all style and even after homeschooling parents choose what they feel is the best way for their family, it will be modified and molded and even toss out because it did not fit after all. This will probably happen many times as each child is different and each one also changes as he matures, so it is likely whatever ideology appealed to the parent in the beginning is going to be quite different in practice than was expected. Homeschooling is exercising adaptation and recognizing opportunity.

Third, if the parents start homeschooling the younger child, they are going to be hooked and it will just seem natural to continue doing what they have been. There is just nothing more gratifying than watching a child with eyes of wonder examine something for the first time, or that "ah-ha!" moment when he finally understands a challenging concept. Homeschooling is the ultimate the parent-child relationship establishing a firm foundation in respect and discipline.

With all that said, I would not have homeschooled if I had not felt led by my Lord to do it. My husband and I planned to homeschool long before we had the Princess, but only because I was certain this was my Lord's will for our family. He made it quite clear to me in so many ways and continues to do so, especially when I feel overwhelmed or inadequate.

Today may have been another one of those reminders. We had a potluck dinner to welcome our new pastor and we, my husband and I, ended up sitting across from a sixth grade girl, probably at least three years older than my daughter. She was quite nice, but it was eye-opening. After discussing a few topics, she asked what my husband does because he seemed so smart. I said we homeschool and that seem to explain it all to her, as if the typical parent does not know much...? Later on she told us that Language Arts was her best subject and I repeated a chant that my daughter learned: "A preposition is a word that shows the relationship of a noun or pronoun to another word in the sentence." She said that she had just learned prepositions and was surprised that my daughter knew what they were. Not only the Princess knows what they are, but she memorized the list over a year ago. Then I mentioned that my daughter struggled in recognizing adjectives and adverbs, so I had her start sentence diagramming. The sixth grader then looked really surprised and said she just learned sentence diagramming, but she was not doing well with it.

I am not even going to tell you what these children have been led to believe in Earth Science...well, yes, I am, just this one thing. The earth is losing water, which is why we must conserve water. Now except for a bit of water that has been taken into space and not returned, just how has the earth lost water? When you think about it, all the water has been here since the creation of the world, it is pretty incredible.

There are times I think that am not teaching my daughter enough, that she will be behind or lack in core subjects, but today I was reminded that whatever I have done is far better than she would be learning in our local public schools. Today I know it is worth it and that she will be searching for answers, not given PC propaganda deceivingly woven in science texts. Tomorrow we begin doing lessons again and I will probably meet with resistance, but this was motivating for me as I plunge into homeschooling this new year.


~ Thank you, my Lord, for guiding me to provide my daughter a better education. ~

2 comments:

  1. It is an eye~opener isn't it? I always think I know so little about music but it's shocking how much more Ditz knows than the kids at the expensive schools, never mind public school!

    I always wanted to homeschool but it took some *very bad* outcomes to convince Dearest we needed to make some radical changes.

    It's good to get that reality check every so often.

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  2. Yes, it is and I had to remind myself of that when I met with so much resistance the first day back into our regular homeschooling schedule. The lessons that took priority yesterday were more about discipline and respect than piano, math, and spelling, which was all we got through!

    Knowing my Princess, it is likely that today will be better...and it better be better....

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Thank you fellow travelers for walking and talking with me along this journey.