Monday, May 14, 2012

A little more about homeschooling

Due to the way social media works, I write things, people repost them, and then other people comment on them. So even though you don't see comments here, there are entire discussions going on somewhere else. I don't try to keep track of them, but sometimes I do run across them. And because I am always on the lookout for writing fodder, I'm going to address a comment from one of those discussions. A comment I might add that I hear a lot. In fact, in my experience, it is the number one reason people give as to why they couldn't homeschool and why I must be a saint to do what I do. (I won't delve into the subject of why, when I tell non-homeschoolers I homeschool, the majority feel the need to tell me why they don't, but I find the phenomenon fascinating.)

Anyway, what is the reason? It usually goes something like this, "I could never homeschool because I can barely help my child with his or her homework each evening. It's like pulling teeth. I can't imagine doing that all day long."

And I actually agree. I wouldn't want to do it either. Who wants to try to convince a tired child who has already sat in school for 6+ hours to do yet more schoolwork? (You can probably already hear the bias in my tone and why it's probably just as well I am not a public school parent.) It's really a set-up for disaster. But it is also a false assumption to assume that what homeschooling looks like is anything similar to the regular night time battles over homework. Just because it is learning related and happens at home does not mean the two things are equivalent.

Let's start with the most obvious reason:  homeschoolers do not have homework. Ever. Our children have not sat in their desks for many hours and have not been assigned work to return in the morning. In our family, we do our work in the morning. Each child works at his or her own pace and when that child has done the day's assigned work, they are done. The rest of the day is pretty much their own. Since we don't allow TV or computers (usually) during the day, they often choose to fill their time with interesting things... reading, playing elaborate make-believe games, building things, running around outside, drawing or coloring, playing board games, or even helping me do things around the house. I've even had a child become so interested in the book work which he or she was doing that working ahead in that book was the afternoon's activity.

And let's talk about that book work. First I am getting the child at their best. That child has just had a good rest, a healthy breakfast, and is ready to engage his mind. Compare this with the homework situation. It is late in the day, after usually a full day of school and other activities, the child is both physically and mentally tired, and possibly hungry. The parent has also put in a full day and is also feeling the same way. It is much more difficult to make this a positive experience (for both parties) with the deck stacked against it in this way.

The fact that as a homeschooling parent I'm getting the best of my children's day instead of the dregs is actually one of the biggest reasons we chose to go this route so long ago. I know there are many reasons why people choose the educational choices they do for their children. I think it's wonderful that there are so many different families and that we live in a country where we do have the freedom to educate our children in the way that fits each family best. But as we're looking at arguments, let's make sure those arguments are valid and not some imagined reality that doesn't exist.

3 comments:

Melissa Werner said...

I thought you might like to see this article from the Arizona Republic. http://www.azcentral.com/community/tempe/articles/2012/04/25/20120425homeschooled-tempe-student-flinn-scholar.html

Vintage Girl said...

Homeschooling has been great for our family. You know last year I was so worried about our oldest son wanting to be on the computer during the day. We had a no tv/computer rule too, but our son is gifted in writing programs. Had it been a guitar he wanted to play all day I wouldn't have blinked an eye, but since it was a computer it was limited. I realized one day that this really was just a standard rule someone put into place and that my child is gifted with computers and I was holding him back from learning. So since then we let him use them. He has created so many wonderful programs and it's been good!

thecurryseven said...

Missy - That's great! Thanks for sharing the article.

Vintage Girl - You're right... rules for the sake of rules rarely make sense. For us the no computer rule mainly covers the mindless games which make it too easy to fill time. If a child wants to use a computer to really do something (write a story, for instance), the rules are different. That's great that your son is able to write programs.

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