The one hesitancy I had about starting this blog was creating the perception that we have the answers to all of society’s educational woes or that homeschooling–unschooling even–is the best choice for everyone. Many of my dearest, sweetest friends do not homeschool. My own girls have five years of public school history between them. So without judgment, I would love to explain a bit about our decision to homeschool.
There are many different reasons people choose to homeschool, but I think these are the top three:
Religious Reasons. This is the primary reason people in the 80s were homeschooled–or at least, the people I knew. There was a small group of homeschoolers that transferred to my school in 9th grade. My friends and I called them “the homeschoolers” for a long time. We thought homeschoolers were WEIRDOS, which is funny, because we were at a Christian school that offered a Lapidary class where you could make a bolo tie out of a rock. Anyway, one day I found out that one of “the homeschoolers” had recently attended a Live concert (come on, think back..the 90s. “Lightning Flashes..”) and my jaw hit the floor. I genuinely did not know that homeschooled people listened to the radio. Incidentally, that same “homeschooler” has been my dear friend for over 20 years now. She’s not a weirdo. Other “reasons people homeschool” can fall under the umbrella of Religious Reasons: Objection to public education materials, worries over morality issues, fear of political indoctrination, etc.
Our story: I don’t want to live in a bubble. I don’t believe the world is worse today than it was generations ago. I think there has always been incredible darkness in the world. Examples: Slavery, The Indian Removal Act, even the Crusades. These events were horrendous and sinful and far worse than what many of us experience in our cozy western culture today. Our family believes that Jesus brings light to this dark world. But we also believe that we are part of actively participating in that redemption.
Limited Choice of Schools. When we moved to East Nashville it was in the earlier stages of becoming “gentrified.” Sure, those renovated bungalows sure look pretty, but the skyrocketing property taxes make it difficult for many of our underprivileged neighbors to remain in the community. I love my neighborhood. I love the vitality and the diversity. But sometimes I’m sad that there aren’t better solutions for reconciliation between people of different socio-economic status, different race, or different culture. 5 years after our big move to an “up-and-coming” neighborhood, and there has been an explosion of foodie food-trucks, condos, and hipsters. But many of the neighborhood schools have not quite caught up yet– by a lot of peoples’ standards, and by the State’s standards as well. Unless you and 50 other families all decide to go in to a school and be involved all at once, change is slow and difficult. Many otherwise community-minded people I know decided to either homeschool, or send their kids to a “lottery” school rather than attend their failing neighborhood school. However, there are examples of a few schools where the parents DID all band together and help make that slow change. “Private school is too expensive” would probably fit under this umbrella as another reason people homeschool.
Our story: I have to admit that in the beginning, “limited choice of schools” was a motivating factor. But after 2 months of spending each day with my girls and watching them learn I have realized that there is no amount of money, no system, no school–public or private–that would tempt me to trade my time with them.
Child Giftedness or other Special Needs. Many parents choose to homeschool their child if the child’s needs are not being met at school–either because they are bored and not challenged enough, or because the available school doesn’t have the resources to deal with the child’s particular needs.
Our story: My child’s “giftedness” did at one point persuade me to think that she needed the most rigorous and challenging academic experience possible–whatever that looked like. However, I was quickly overwhelmed by the many homeschool curriculum choices and the onslaught of information promised to rival the stress of state testing. Some of the message boards I read made it seem like it homeschool was just public school on steroids. I realized that I’m not trying to up the ante on traditional school. I’m not entering my children in an academic race. Children cannot be holistically nourished by a gluttony of facts. I’m not trying to replace a “failing” system–I don’t want the system at all.
*Edited to say: None of these reasons are our reasons for homeschooling.
So what is the number one reason we homeschool?
We missed each other. We were grouchy and we were stressed. I wanted more time with my girls.I wanted ALL of their hours, not just the grumpy tired end-of-the-day hours, and they needed my time too.
My oldest daughter was so anxious for awhile that we sought counseling. My daughter is not an introvert. She is social and creative and blossoming. But she missed me. It took a couple of counseling sessions to figure out that my daughter’s anxiety was not abnormal. She wanted to be home. And the counselor gave me the permission I desperately sought: “Have you considered homeschooling?” I had, and I had run from it out of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear for what people would think, fear that I was indulging a child who just needed to suck it up and go to school. But I did not have peace, until now.
Homeschool is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it is our solution.
If homeschooling isn’t controversial enough for you, stay tuned for next week’s Tuesday Tutorial:
“Why We Unschool.”
Prepare your questions! I’ll try to answer every one.