Yeah, We Homeschool, Do You?

clip_image002

While in the pool I began chatting with another mom playing with her daughter. Our conversation invariably lead to schooling. 

“Where does your daughter go to school?” she asked.

I replied, “We homeschool.” and waited for the typical response.

“Oh, you’re brave. I could never do that!” she stated emphatically, like most people do.

I wonder why she and everyone else I tell that we homeschool say that they could never do it.  And I wonder why they act guilty that they don’t want to do it. 

Personally, I don’t care whether they homeschool or not. It’s not easy, but neither is sending your kid to school.  Nothing is easy.

What I would like is for people to realize that there are many ways to learn.  There isn’t a prescribed way to do it.  

I believe that if parents are talking to their kids, reading to them, camping, hiking, visiting museums, travelling, etc., they are facilitating their kid(s)’ learning whether they homeschool them or not.

I reassured her with one of my pat general statements for these conversations by saying, “Yeah, it’s not easy, and it’s not for everyone.  I think each family is different and has to figure out what works best for them.”  

–And I sincerely believe that.

The woman’s next question was predictable. 

“But what about socialization?” she asked while adjusting her swimsuit. 

From experience, I realized that she imagined my kids and I isolated at home. 

While she glanced at her watch impatiently I explained, “Our kids play sports, music, and attend classes and camps with other kids, and we belong to a homeschooling support group.” 

 My comment invariably lead her to question how we handled curriculum.  She replied, “Oh—so you get together and do classes?” 

I patiently explained, “The main thing we do is meet weekly in city parks.” and I added, “Some of us meet and do learning activities together. My sons have been in parent-led writing and science groups.  I’ve lead insect, photography, print-making, music and film history classes in our home. We camp and backpack with other families too.”  

I could go on, but I noticed she was loosing interest and I stopped talking.

 I didn’t mention to her that, as homeschoolers, my kids have multiple opportunities to engage with children their own age in positive ways, and more importantly with diverse age groups.

There was an awkward pause until she asked, “How do you know how they are doing?  Do you test them?” 

As I wiped my sunglasses on my sleeve I told her, “Schools test children as a means to obtain funding and since I work with my children every day, I know the level they are at.  And as a private school, I am not required by the State to test them.  But when our son wanted to take the Star test, I ordered it for him and he took it.  He likes filling in the bubbles on tests.”

I didn’t describe how I tailor learning to meet the abilities and interests of our children. I could go on and on about the learning theories of John Piaget, Howard Gardner and John Holt, but she didn’t want to hear about their philosophies.

I casually added, “I feel lucky we have the option to homeschool in California.”

Her daughter dunked her head under the water and blew bubbles. The mother playfully bounced her up and down on her knee, and then asked her to swim to the wall with a good strong kick. The child swam willingly. 

I felt compassion for the tenderness between the mother and her little girl.  I don’t think she realized she was what I would call “homeschooling” her child in the pool.

I wanted to tell her that by my definition, simply being engaged with your child is the essence of homeschooling. 

Her family had chosen their path, like we had chosen ours.  And they were both working!  I’m not interested in imposing homeschooling upon her.  I could have gone on, but her interest had waned. 

She didn’t know that studies have demonstrated that the success of homeschooling has been attributed to parental nurturing. The educational background of the parent and the chosen curriculum are less important.

Each family does it differently.  A few homeschooling families I know fit the image of a mother lecturing at the front of a room, but most do not.  

I have met so many people who think homeschooling has to be the way they experienced learning.  It doesn’t.  

The whole wide world with its ever-so-many different people and the things they’ve created, as well as all the living creatures and plants provide content from which to learn from.  

I view my role as a facilitator rather than as a teacher. I am not a subject specialist, but I sure know how to obtain resources.  I design our own custom curriculum making sure our kids get the basics in a way they find meaningful.

It is my opinion that because of homeschooling:  our two sons and our daughter enjoy each others’ company more than they would if they were in school, practically leading separate lives.  

My goals are for them to be physically and mentally healthy.  I want them to be independent thinkers.  Most of all, I want them to love learning–throughout their lives.

Homeschooling is a successful educational option that is accepted in fifty states in America and it works for us, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone.  

As I waved goodbye to the mother and daughter holding hands while they carefully walked upon the slippery deck by the pool, I was aware that we both were doing what we thought was best for our family.  

All I have to say is thank goodness for parents who engage themselves with their child’s learning because that’s what matters.

14 Responses to “Yeah, We Homeschool, Do You?”

  1. deliberatemom

    I absolutely love this. I feel so fortunate to be able to homeschool. I too view myself as a facilitator and co-explorer… I love learning beside my daughter.

    Wishing you a lovely day.
    xoxo

    Reply
    • Kristin

      Well hello there deliberatemom,

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post.

      It’s great to hear that you are enjoying homeschooling. I know it’s not always easy, but what is? But, I have proof it works. Both of our boys entered the school system effortlessly having never been to school for elementary or junior high. (Well, my eldest went to a 1/2 year of kindergarten.)

      But although there is a slight bent in this post towards homeschooling as a preferred means for educating one’s child, I was also trying to point out that: simply being engaged with your child and fostering learning is the essence of homeschooling. And many parents do that fortunately.

      Hey, I sent you a twitter message and I’m not sure if you got it, but on my previous post I nominated your blog for an award. Check it out!

      Reply
  2. AMR

    Kristin, you said it so well! In the last months of the last year of homeschooling, I know I am already missing it. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Kristin

      Hi Sweet Anita,

      I’m sure missing you. You have been a model for me in many respects. I have learned much from your example, and I’ve enjoyed good times with you and your family.

      Yeah, things have changed since our big boys grew up; but there is so much promise for our future; it will be rich.

      I look forward to what happens with our kids. Someday it will be great when our children have kids and we can learn with them too. I’ve been saving my favorite wooden toys and books to play some more.

      Reply
  3. nlharty

    Kristin,

    What a great article, loved your “gently phrased” blog on the education of educating your children. I send my kids to school so I can have time to paint! LOL I appreciate learning about how you homeschool your children, but then I am doing that as well…thanks!!

    Reply
    • Kristin

      Hi Nlharty,

      –And we are reaping the benefits of your paintings! Your work attracts me. I often add it to my Pinterest boards. I hope that brings people your way.

      –As far as gently phrasing my thoughts on educating kids, well, I’ve had almost 21 years to practice. Currently, I have a son at a public high school and one in college. I only homeschool our daughter.

      What I am promoting here is being involved and learning together. There isn’t one way to do that. Thank goodness.

      Reply
  4. freshlyplanted

    This has been the source of much discussion lately in our house. Currently I homeschool our preschooler & am deliberating whether to continue next year. This post was a great reminder why we homeschool now, and a comfort that, if we do send her to school, that’ll be okay too. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    • Kristin

      Hi freshlyplanted (BTW: I like the sound of that.)

      I’m glad this post hit a chord for you. I’ve re-written it many times and I think it’s finally done;->

      Warmly,

      Kristin

      Reply
  5. araneus1

    Wow, did your post sound familiar!
    I’ve had that conversation a few (hundred) times and I’ve made those points and I’ve seen that look but I must say that I have never said it anywhere near as well as you did. Well done.
    In recent years my goal has been to encourage those parents who are considering home schooling and also to encourage those who have taken the plunge. To that end I have done a few talks in libraries and I must say that the experience is electrifying.
    I wrote my book because it was the book we wish we had found back when we started out. I’ve sold a few but the most heartening part of this exercise has been the fact that since I donated two copies to two different libraries they have never been on a shelf. They have been continuously on loan and reserved for the next reader. This makes the agonising process of writing it all worthwhile.
    I will most certainly refer people to your blog because you are living the experience in the here and now, our experience is a bit dusty by comparison.
    Have fun, enjoy (I know you will), it was the most amazing experience of my slightly amazing life.
    Terry.

    Reply
    • Kristin

      Hi Terry,

      What a thoughtful comment. Congratulations on writing a book about homeschooling. What an accomplishment!

      As homeschoolers, we know the typical conversation described in my post above by heart. But, I think it’s important for non-homeschoolers to realize that doing it is no mystery. In essence: it’s good parenting in action. And it’s not about perfection; it’s about support.

      Reply
    • Kristin

      Hi Annette,

      Thanks for thinking of me and for sharing that link. I certainly will check it out. As far as unschooling goes, having been a homeschooling parent for sixteen years, I am very familiar with it. Self-directed learning is the emphasis of that philosophy–and you know I’m game about that topic. That is the essence of this blog;-)

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 84 other followers

%d bloggers like this: