The World is our Classroom: My Experiences in Homeschooling
When I decided to homeschool my youngest son and daughter, I was at the end of my rope. I had read all about the pros and cons of homeschooling, done all the research, but felt that I was not really qualified. After all, I reasoned, I did not have a teaching degree, I was a philosophy major for pity’s sake! But when I sat before my youngest son’s 7th grade teacher and expressed my concern about Ben’s struggle with triple digit multiplication, my world seemed to fall away when the teacher looked me straight in the eye and said, “Oh, don’t worry about that, we’ll be past that section in a couple of weeks.”
For maybe the fifth time in my entire 40 years of life I was speechless. I just stared at him, grasping for words that would impact the gravity of the situation while exercising the utmost in restraint as I envisioned myself reaching over the table and shaking his twenty-something body till his teeth fell out of his head!
And so our journey began.
I say “our” because homeschooling is not a one man show. The parent is the “teacher,” sure, but not in the traditional sense. I became an information facilitator, if you will, an imparter of information, a directory for research and a one person focus group as we would lie across my bed, talking about our dreams and goals for the future and how we planned to make them a reality.
So, yeah, I pressed on, homeschooling manuals in hand, figuring that I had to be at least as qualified as the yahoo who basically told me that my 7th grader didn’t need to know how to do triple digit multiplication. I will say, I had had many “interesting” experiences with our educational system, this was not the first (an administrator fell asleep on me during a conference discussing my son’s education – snoring and all!). It was just this event that happened to be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
During our homeschool adventure, I discovered some things that my research did not reveal. In my quest to weigh the pros and cons of homeschooling, I had determined that a lack of socialization was a definite con. I based this on the antiquated assumptions that homeschooled children are bookish little isolated creatures, never venturing out to spend time with friends, never meeting new people. How wrong I was!
I searched online and found a couple of local homeschooling groups. I joined them and, tada! Socialization problem solved. We had at least four field trips a month to dairies, whole foods, blueberry picking, the zoo, museums, you name it, we did it. On top of that, the parents socialized too! We would all get together for family nights with games, snacks and conversation. The kids would go off in one room to “hang out” while the parents got together in another.
I also learned one of the great advantages of homeschooling: overcoming so-called learning disabilities. My son had been diagnosed with ADHD and my daughter had attention problems stemming from her epilepsy. However, in our homeschool setting, I saw neither of these problems.
I won’t say homeschooling my children was easy, but it was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. What’s more, my kids look to me as a hero, a friend, a mentor and a mom. The experience drew us closer and we all learned from each other.
We recently moved to a new state (with a better school system) and both my son and daughter (he is in 9th grade now and she is in 11th grade) decided that they wanted to give public school another shot. This school is very strong and they are enjoying it. However, they do know that they always have the homeschool or unschool option should they decide that public school is not adequately meeting their own individual educational needs.
Yet another of the many advantages of homeschooling: kids grow up confident, independent, with a sense of direction and a sense of purpose. It wasn’t always easy, but I am so glad that I did it, gave my time to my children. I would do it over and over again.