Why I Homeschool
This is a guest post from one of my dearest friends. I love her (even if she didn’t name her baby after me) and appreciate her story! I hope you enjoy it as well 🙂
Anyone who has ever asked me my favorite part of homeschooling will probably get a wide variety of answers, there’s not just one favorite thing. There’s the freedom to learn what we want, when we want and how we want. Freedom to deviate from the norm. Freedom to quit when something isn’t working for us. There’s also the increase in quality time spent with my children and the control over what they are exposed to (though truthfully, I try to expose them to almost everything). There’s also the freedom to have bad days – days when we are tired and want to sleep in…days when we just don’t want to do anything. Those are our “emotional health” days – don’t tell me people don’t need them, because we do.
What I generally skip over telling people is that one of my favorite parts about homeschooling is actually the absence of something altogether. You see, I don’t miss the daily phone calls from teachers. That’s right. They’ve been gone from my life for 2.5 years and they haven’t been missed whatsoever. Let me clarify: of my five children, I have two older children who attended public school for the first 4-5 years of their life. My son, my oldest child, was always a “problem child” at school – or so I thought until I started actually truly paying attention to what was going on.
I can’t sum up every situation or I would be writing for days. What I can say is that it started in kindergarten – my son wouldn’t sit still, wouldn’t stop talking, couldn’t read the way they wanted him to read, had anger issues, blamed everyone for things he couldn’t understand. I’ll be honest – I wasn’t always the best parent to my son. Because the more phone calls I got, the more I hounded him. What’s the problem? Why can’t you concentrate? Why are you mad? He NEVER had these problems at home. Why was he having them at school? He was 6. Only 6. I still feel guilty to this day for the way I responded when the teachers called – instead of defending my son, I tried to make him “behave”.
It went on for a few years. I could never understand – why was he this way at school but not at home? Fast forward to third grade. We started preparing for testing. Testing, testing, testing. Everything was about testing. My son (and daughter too, for that matter though I’m only focusing on my son in this instance) would wake up at 6am, get ready, catch the bus, have five minutes to eat breakfast, be at school until 3, get home at 4, do homework until 6, do some more homework, shower, go to bed and then repeat. I’m not exaggerating. I missed my kids these years. We never had time together.
And the phone calls kept coming. Not daily now, as he was older, but at least weekly. He didn’t do this assignment (he had hidden it from me), he forgot to do this, he was upset and crying in class. And on and on.
Then one day it hit me like a brick. The teacher called to tell me my son had fallen asleep in class…again. Again? And I realized – he is TIRED. And not because he doesn’t have a bedtime – we were putting him to bed at 8. He was tired because his brain was being worked to death and he had NO time to be a kid. He’s hiding assignments because he’s tired. He’s lashing out because he’s tired. He’s crying because he’s tired. Why hadn’t I seen this all along?
You see my son loves THINGS. He loves to build, engineer, design, manipulate. He DOES NOT love to write, write, write or test, test, test. He loves to run and play sports, not stack cups for 15 minutes (although he finds this fun when he does it voluntarily). He loves to figure out ways to fix the broken coffee machine, not ways to group tens and ones.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was failing him as a mother. Not intentionally, but I was. Let public school be public school (that’s a conversation for another day), but I had only one chance to do right by my children. I pulled him that year. It wasn’t an easy start. At first I thought homeschooling should be “school-y” (confession of a lifelong public-schooler here)…I now know it doesn’t have to be.
My kids do have a curriculum for math and writing that we use sporadically (and when we do it takes maybe 2 hours TOPS) but we learn everything else by games and gaming, documentaries, field trips, online exploration, outside play. We cook, sew, listen to music (and learn it as well). And in my son’s case – we BUILD. He takes lessons in coding and online courses in technology and engineering because HE wants to. And when we need a day off – when we are tired – we take it.
You’d think with 1-2 hours of actual schoolwork, we would be behind. But we aren’t. My son is two levels ahead of his “grade level” in math. His writing has improved tremendously (because we write about what he WANTS to write about, not what he is TOLD to write about). He actually BEGS me to go to the library or to buy him new books. His attitude has improved. He brags about his dreams of becoming an engineer. He will tell you – quite frankly – that the idea of going back to public school is a nightmare for him.
No, it’s not all roses. I won’t lie to you. There are hard days. But, my son is happy, well-adjusted, appreciated, loved for who he is. And I receive no more phone calls. So, it’s worth it.
Trisha Rodriguez lives in Central Florida with her husband and their 5 kids. Trisha is a veteran and trauma nurse. In her “spare time” Trisha helps run Mid-Florida Homeschoolers; Central Florida’s oldest, largest, and friendliest support group!
Meg Grooms is a long-time homeschooling mother of 6 children, ranging in age from preschool to married with kids of their own. Always a vagabond at heart, Meg and her family have embraced a slow travel lifestyle and currently call Southern California home. Your guess is as good as hers as to where they’ll end up next.
Meg blogs about secular homeschooling and gameschooling at Homeschool Gameschool.