First of all, I need you to know that I am not a zealot about homeschooling. I will do my best to retain reason and be measured in my opinion and leave it at that. My intent is not to thrust homeschooling upon you as the superior way to educate your child/ren. People can get uppity about this subject and take on an air of superiority. That's not what this is about for me. As each of us vary as individuals, so do our opinions about how things should work, and so do our life situations. One level up from the individual is the family, and that's the microcosm I operate within - my family. Homeschooling is a brilliant fit for my child, for my family, for me, for this time in our lives. Instinct tells me we are following the right course of action and there have been many affirmations of this feeling since we started.
I have been reintroduced to my child in the most wonderful of ways! I am watching him grow and learn, make connections and express himself. He has a safe environment in which to do so. We are not rushed. We do not have deadlines, projects due at such and such a time. We are not driving hither and yon to a school building twice a day. We change out of our jams when we are darn good and ready. I am fairly well-rested, so is Max. We have time to explore things to whatever depth we wish to go on any given day. Some days we dig deep. Others we scratch and scritch, hunt and peck, and then call it a day. And some days that are planned out on paper have a way of twisting and turning onto journies of their own; one subject leads us down a different path and we decide to stay with it instead of dropping it because math worksheets need to be done (math worksheets are Max's arch nemesis - don't even mention them in his presence.) We are learning the benefits of flexibility. We are also learning more about our relationship as mom and child. We have time to reflect, time to piece interesting pieces together. Max has time to think. He also has time to imagine and move wherever his mind takes him. Fort building is an activity he embarks upon whenever I read aloud to him. Or he draws. Eighty-five percent of the time he is listening intently, even stopping me to ask questions or offer a comment about what the character should or shouldn't do. I don't expect him to hear every word or be able to analyze the story like I am able to. I know that he hears enough and that he is learning. He told me today that reading is like a movie, only better because it is more descriptive and you can imagine what the writer is trying to tell you.
Prior to our homeschooling days I was involved in the public school's governing body and various other activities and therefore attended meetings and had other responsibilities, most of this action taking place in the evenings. I was pulled in differing directions and when that happens, I get chaotic. Plunk a chaotic mom into the milieu with homework, bedtime routines, projects that were due, not to mention those dreadful math worksheets - and you get a stressed family. Add in food, laundry, dishes, animal care and more dishes and laundry. I didn't like it - no, I despised living like that. In the deepest part of me I wished for a calmer way of living together. Now Max's dad comes home to a house that is more welcoming, more full of life, more calm. We actually lay eyes upon one another! There are very few instances when we are passing in the night, leaving notes for one another anymore. Homeschooling has done wonders for our relationships with one another. Plus we enjoy telling Max's dad about all the cool stuff we are learning!
My philosophy for homeschooling hinges around what I am witnessing in my home. It is good. I see benefits everywhere I turn.
People have questioned my ability to teach my own child - not directly, but I think I hear the message in their questions. My ability to teach my own child hinges on willingness, trial and error (which, by the way, is probably the single most common element repeated throughout history), access to great resources, research, creativity and the aforementioned flexibility. Plus some other traits which I'm sure I'll run into. Maybe they've never taken the time to think about what it means to be educated - what does 'educated' mean? Really. Ponder on that one for awhile. Standards for education are merely a guideline that one can choose to follow or not. They are helpful and I have looked at them, but they are not the be-all, end-all for me. I am also not of the ilk believing that fourth graders must learn such and such, and only in seventh grade are you ready to handle a particular concept. On the contrary - fractals, infinity and Fibonacci numbers can be introduced without trepidation (quite cleverly, thank you, Penrose the Mathematical Cat) to a 10-year-old. You can take broad colorful strokes and fill in as you go, you can lay solid and intriguing foundations, you can reach far and wide into knowledge without those pre-determined boundaries looming over you. I like that as well. Perhaps I am a rebel! You can teach your child to love learning for the sake of learning, which is a gift that will benefit him or her through an entire lifetime.
I also like that I can pay critical attention to Max's interests and use them as jumping off points into new worlds of learning. I like when his eyes spark on something and he jerks his head up in pleasurable surprise when he makes a connection, or when he relates to the information. I like that very much. Or when we go off on some crazy, hair-brained tangent that just popped up and seemed too enticing to ignore. That's what tells me we are doing the right thing by him. I like seeing him so relaxed, engaged - HAPPY. He is content. He has time to be a child. He is not under a great deal of pressure. I would wager that he is even healthier - just because the level of stress has been reduced in his life.
I also think another theme running subterfuge amongst those questions might have something to do with the 'asker' feeling subtly threatened, like I am insinuating that they are educating their children, or did educate their children (now grown) in an incorrect manner. Like I am shaking the very foundation of their belief system. Not so. I don't gush on and on about how great this is, well maybe I do to close friends and some relatives, but they hopefully know me by now and know that I'm not operating with motives. I'm doing what I think is right for us. Anyway, it's been interesting experiencing the universality of questions and queries from others, especially strangers when they see us out and about, perhaps on a field trip and assume that Max is 'sick' from a day of school. My simple statement of 'he is homeschooled' can bring out a wealth of reaction. I like to study on those reactions and piece them together into what really is said between the lines. Many homeschooling families field those same types of questions and we are no different.
Homeschooling will continue to evolve in our household, as will my philosophy about it. It is our chosen path for the time being and I sense a distinct balance that apparently our family didn't have before we embarked upon this journey. Guess I could keep adding just one more reason why we homeschool, plus one more, plus another.........to infinity!