Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Why We Homeschool: Part Three

Read part one here and part two here.

In my first post about homeschooling, I mentioned that before I had children, I thought I would send them to school.

After I met my kids, however, I discovered that I loved being a mom. I loved being with my kids (most of the time) and I loved watching them learn. But I still didn’t plan to homeschool. I really enjoyed the carefree days of pre-school, with play dates in the mornings and naptime in the afternoons. I wasn’t looking forward to Camilla starting Kindergarten, but I also wanted to stick to my plan. I wanted to start contributing to the household income through my writing by the time all the kids were in school, so that I wouldn’t have to consider going back to a traditional job.

People who homeschooled, or considered homeschooling, often asked me for my story. Since I was home schooled myself, they wondered why I wasn't planning to homeschool my kids. I had so many reasons. But I did see the value in homeschooling. I appreciated many things about my years of learning at home. I agreed with homeschooling as a philosophy. As I looked ahead to Camilla starting Kindergarten, I hated the idea of tight schedules and less-sleep and homework during elementary school.
A visit to the farm up the road
My second reason for homeschooling is this: Young children, in the early grades, do not need to be in a structured learning environment for most of the day.

Not only do they not need it, I don’t think it’s good for them. That ties into my first reason in the previous post, the flexibility afforded by homeschooling. But it’s different, really. 

Learning to fold laundry!
I do think learning needs to happen, and in a structured way some of the time. But kids thrive if they’re able to play and use their imaginations.

Adults are so encumbered by time limits. Have you ever noticed how unconcerned children are about time? It doesn’t matter how much I prod and push and nag Adrian when we’re running late. He cannot be rushed. He doesn’t know how to care about the time. Of course, we need some time constraints as adults, but there’s a lot to be learned by observing children and how fully involved they are in what they are doing. They can throw themselves completely into their play—or their work—without thinking about all the other tasks that need to be accomplished before their heads hit the pillow.

We spoil some of that spontaneity and zest when we force children into a rigidly scheduled life. Now, of course I follow a loose routine in our home. Otherwise we’d get to 8 o’clock every night and we would still be in our pajamas. (Come to think of it, Evangeline is still in her pajamas and it’s 3:15.) Most of the time we do schooling in the morning after breakfast, starting around 9. Just this morning, I actually raised my voice at Camilla because she wanted to do everything EXCEPT get dressed when she got up. I can be too rigid myself. But most days my kids end up with plenty of unstructured downtime to play by themselves or together—or with friends.

That’s something I felt Camilla was missing out on when she was in school all day. The few hours she was home, she was tired, had chores to do (something else I think is important), and then it was time to get ready for bed. She didn’t have much playtime on school days.

Plenty of time to play with baby sister now!

Next week I’ll wrap up this series, explaining the emotions behind my decision to homeschool.


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