Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Homeschooling has changed me.

The other day it dawned on me, how much I have changed since beginning to homeschool. In the very beginning I was not all the confident in my ability to home educate my child. Having read David and Miki Colfax's book "Homeschooling for Excellence" I was thoroughly inspired to provide an alternative than the average school education for my child. She was already reading - and so creative before even entering school, that I though "I can do this" and I would take it a year at a time. Years following, I read a lot of John Holt and spent a lot of time reading about Unschooling. I watched my children develop their abilities based upon their interests - learning all the time. Here I sit, with 14, 11 & 9 year old children. All educated at home, none ever having been to school - and it has changed me.

I no longer think I believe in the All- Powerful education system of this country. I don't see that it is preparing our children adequately. It certainly is preparing them for the corporate world - ever working, ever reaching higher, ever making more money and getting more and more things, more and more debt. What I have found for myself is that all those visions I had of myself being some executive have kind of died out as I realized that is not who I want to be - nor what I want my kids to strive for. I want them to be independent thinkers. I want them to be able to earn their living, by pursuing their passion.

I used to worry that I would be bored being home, that I could not conceive of what I would do with myself if I didn't work. Now I have no idea how to fit work into my life - that is full of teaching children and volunteering everywhere. I used to define myself by what I would do for a job - or how "educated" I was. Now I realize that, while it is important to be educated there are so many ways to get there. Some of the things I learned best where the things I really wanted to know about and learned them outside of school.

This year, my oldest child wanted to do a "cyber Charter School" and although it has the promise of being flexible and letting children work at their own pace, through interesting courses - the school is still kept to the stupid, standardized tests and you can see the "teach to the test" mentality slipping in. They have these "cram: courses in 10th and 11th grade - so that they can get students to score well on these tests. Regardless of whether this is the best method for teaching, or helps students " learn". The Director - who of course has a PhD basically says this is the way it is - so deal with it. So, who know how long this school will last for her. She likes most of her classes - but I don't see that she is enjoying all the dumb, rote, work. She loves Biology - and her teacher uses all kinds of websites and interesting articles. Her history teacher sticks with the boring text book. If the subject is relevant and interesting - children will learn. If it is meaningless to them - it becomes no longer education, but rather getting through the next test and then forgetting the material and moving on.

I love the freedom homeschooling provides. The funny thing was that when Brianna went into this school - she is doing great - including taking Honors classes. She was not held back by homeschooling - if anything it made her a proactive student. She doesn't view education as the "teacher's" job - but takes full ownership that it is in her hands. Her guitar teacher today, told me how talented and gifted she is. If it wasn't for homeschooling - would I have been able to let her sit and play piano all day - or stay up until midnight playing guitar? I know there are lots of schooled children that excel in the arts and music as well - but I think I had the same talent and it went to the wayside - because I didn't take the time to practice and play- I didn't have all that free time to figure out what I wanted to learn. I remember even through college - waiting for the semester to be over so that I could read the books I wanted to read. While my college experiences where pretty positive and I had some great teachers - there were of course those classes that just didn't do anything for me - whose information I have never used.

I have also been changed in that I no longer have any doubts or embarrassment that I am not doing the best job by homeschooling - or that my children are receiving an inferior education. They are doing great- and I think that my "education" is working enormously in supporting their learning efforts. I wish more people recognized the importance that homeschooling mother's provide to our society. It is dedication and sacrifice - but this is the best job that I ever could have asked for.

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