I wasn't always a proponent of homeschooling. I am now ashamed to admit that I once bought in to the commonly held beliefs (albeit misguided beliefs) that homeschooled children 1) have the social skills of a doorknob and 2) teaching is best left to the "professionals". I felt it was sad that homeschooled children were denied the experience that public school offers, after all, my experience wasn't bad. At least, not all of it. I figured homeschooling moms were overprotective, religiously fanatic control freaks that just couldn't handle the variation and "culture" that can be found in public school. I mean, the bullying, snarky comments, choice swear words and the like build character in our kids to some degree, right?!
Luckily, I have seen the error of my ways and my (eh-hem) rather strong opinions on homeschooling have changed. Significantly. Dramatically. Irreversibly. Ok, you get the idea.
What started off as a solution to a problem has become a lifestyle shift for us. In a good way. The problem was the warp speed in which the public school system is desintegrating before our eyes. At least here in California. I mean, a school without a library?! That's like chocolate without peanut butter. Journey without Steve Perry. T.V. without Tivo. It's not natural. It's just not right, people!
Seriously, though, we can't expect our children to take education seriously and make it a priority if the government isn't. That's a lot to ask for grade school kids and apparently, it's a lot to ask of grown adults making decisions for an entire state. Sorry, I digress.
Our journey into homeschooling began 1 1/2 years ago as an exploration into alternative options to public school but has now become our life. I have never been the mom who waited for Monday mornings so I could send my kids back to school and have "me" time from 9-3(although, it is nice every once in awhile). I've never been the mom who panicked when the kids had an extended break from school. I have always enjoyed the company of my children and truly missed them during their school day.
Now, I have the supreme pleasure and honor of spending my days with my children - teaching them, laughing with them, molding their characters and manners and having a positive influence on them.
What I have discovered over this past year and a half is that...
* My children receive far more one-on-one attention with their school work than they ever did in school
*They have far more hands-on learning opportunities and field trips than the State of California's education budget allows. We have several field trips each month as opposed to the one or two a year.
* They are not being taught contradicting values, manners, behaviors, and beliefs of our family
*We are SOOO busy with social activities that we have to really guard our calendar
* The boys are much happier, less stressed and are having their own unique learning style (not the "one type fits all" cookie cutter mold)addressed so that learning becomes interesting
* We've discovered how much they flourish in subjects that are quickly getting the axe in public schools, such as music and art.
* We get to explore topics not offered in grade school (foreign languages; in-depth astronomy,etc.)
* Topics the boys are interested in are incorporated into our day and explored
* Ageism doesn't reign in the heart and mind of my eldest any more (this came from the segregation of ages in school). Gone are the days when little brother is "too young" to play with or it's "uncool" to be seen hanging out with his younger brother. My boys are now good friends and play well together. Most days anyway.
* I get to keep my kids closer for just a little bit longer before they are grown
These are just a few of many "perks" of homeschooling that we've discovered over the past year and a half.
The funny thing is it took me taking a leap of faith to homeschool to realize that I am an expert on my children. I may not have all the answers but I know their idiosyncracies, their temperament, how they grasp information, how they learn best. I am the professional of teaching my own children. I taught them before they ever darkened the doorway of a school. I am capable of continuing this.
The joys of homeschooling have far outweighed the paradyme shift in our life. I get to spend my days with my children. I don't consider it a burden or feel overwhelmed by the fact that I have no where to send them. I do not begrudge the time I get to have them around. I have always wanted to be a mother and when I was told I couldn't have children, I was stunned to think my dream, my goal would never happen. Yet, I've been blessed. Both with two miracle children that, according to the medical community, should not be and with the opportunity to homeschool. Yes, OPPORTUNITY. I am excited to say I am blessed with and on this journey of homeschooling. It's a wonderful thing and I honestly wouldn't want it any other way now.