Homeschooling is fast becoming the most progressive education a parent can provide a child. There is no red tape, there is no teaching for standardized testing, there are simply no limits to what you and your children can accomplish in a day, a week … a lifetime – the sky is truly the limit!
Our children were average students while they were in school. As the years wore on I watched as their love of learning, their curiosity, their excitement and their drive slowly wilted away. I was told this was normal as kids got older, and that they needed consequences if they weren’t living up to their potential. We sat through the crying during homework time, we rode them daily about upcoming reports and projects, and all but duct taped them to their chairs for their mandated reading time.
None of this felt right and as each new school year approached I played lip service to the idea of homeschooling. I wanted to homeschool them, I did, but I just knew I didn’t have the patience. I mean, if you watched me while drilling multiplication tables or spelling words you’d surely have agreed.
Then one year, a few days before school ended, I received a call from my 1st grader’s teacher. He was behind in reading, barely passable. I was berated for his lackadaisical performance and my apparent inability to bring him to grade level. The “consequence” would entail summer school and then an individual educational program in the fall. I was needed in the principals office to sign the paperwork.
It didn’t take long for my shock to turn to disbelief which then turned to anger. He had been the recipient of 4 report cards and 4 progress reports during the school year. He was deemed Proficient in all of them. I’d also attended 4 parent/teacher conferences and this struggle was never brought up.
I finally could not sit idly by any longer. It was clear that institutionalized education was failing my kids.
Together Dan and I made the decision to homeschool. Looking back, it was the single most important decision we ever made as parents. Our kids bounced back almost immediately. After an entire summer off and then being allowed the privilege of learning in a safe, secure, known and comfortable environment, their love of learning returned, their inquisitiveness flourished and their knowledge sky-rocketed. They were the driving force in their own education.
They were on the fast track. Their minds were filled with inquisitiveness. They were learning exponentially more than they ever had at school.
But I was a mess. I blew through curriculums faster than the speed of light. Nothing was to my liking. I wanted their minds filled with useful and relevant knowledge, I wanted to give my kids a progressive, unencumbered, hands-on, unforced educational experience, but was finding nothing of the sort because I was looking in textbooks and what I wanted for my children cannot be found in a textbook alone.
It is important to note that the curriculums I did find that I knew I would like were beyond our financial budget, especially since I am charged with educating 9 kids. The best of the best are pricey. I have found two that I specifically enjoy that have worked in the very feasible possibility that two or more children may taught at the same time. Time Travelers: World Explorers is one and One Year Adventure Novel is another. I’m sure there are more, but for the most part, you must buy multiple copies of the same thing in order to teach additional children. A School Choice Law would do much to service the families that have opted to educate their children themselves and focus on true education without all the red tape.
The eventual conclusion I came to, which is the same as most homeschoolers before me, was that there is no one-size-fits-all education model. But more importantly, true education is not a “one must fit one size.” This is the problem with public schools. They have this curriculum and these standards and every student must conform. Students are forced to fit inside this one view of the world and if they fail, they are punished. We tell them, “You will fail if you don’t fit into this mold that we’ve made for you.” Tailoring a student’s public education, therefore, isn’t about fixing the one size fits all model, instead it’s about molding each child to fit within the framework that’s been designed.
Homeschooling mimics parenting. As a parent you don’t view your children’s differing strengths and weaknesses, interests and skills, personality and thought processes as problematic. Instead, you celebrate them, you encourage them and you use them to build your child into as phenomenal an adult as possible. That is what homeschooling is all about. Celebrating each child’s individuality, instilling the love of learning, the thirst for knowledge and giving them the tools to pursue that which is of interest to them. Once our children felt free to develop their own expectations of themselves they blossomed.
Today these are kids who will go outside with graph paper and map out a full-fledged terrain park, they make their own weapons, they study survival, war, and history. They love to make their own original recipes, they can fix anything, they can build anything. They direct and edit videos, they write phenomenal blogs, they take professional looking photographs. They scour books on exploration and map out treks across the country. They research repairs, they write their own novels. They are fascinated by our human bodies and read about how best to fuel them to make them perform at their highest potential. They are well versed in the politics of our time, they have a good grasp on where they stand on the issues and they can debate and field questions as well as I can. They question everything, in fact, I’m convinced they’d all be incredible attorneys! Our kids are unstoppable. Their ability and desire to learn knows no bounds.
They are self-confident and self-reliant and so when we took our education on the road, it was seamless and very timely. It’s exactly what we needed to progress to the next level of their educational experience. They had the foundation and the desire to learn so that when we hit the road, education was always at the forefront. Geography, history, science, math, english, PE, music, art, religion, government, philosophy, economics, statistics, etc. it’s all a daily part of life. It happens even when it’s not planned. In fact, if I’m to be completely honest, this is when learning leaves the most indelible mark.
Travel is an education in and of itself. The diversity it offers, the unique opportunities, the different cultures … travel opens our children’s eyes to so much more than if we were a sedentary family. It has set our oldest boys on a career path, that I couldn’t have seen coming a mere 5 years ago. It has inspired one of my daughters to study photography and to become a technology guru. We are all learning both French and Spanish and our oldest daughter is learning Japanese as she makes a living as an artist … but her love of learning continues to thrive and propel her to do new and different things.
Skeptics inquire if homeschool children are really college and/or career ready, as if the only purpose in our children’s education is to prepare them to either get a job or get into college so they can get an even better job. But rather than explain my parenting philosophies about how we are much more than our jobs, much more than our diplomas and much much more than our paychecks, I answer their question with a resounding yes.
You see, children who are homeschooled have their educational experience catered to their interests. They are able to hone their strengths, indulge their interests and the end result is a young adult who is very well rounded, but also very specialized. They are on the accelerated track toward whatever it is they want to do.
Kids graduating from a public school are all being molded to be the same exact thing. They have been folded, stretched, poked and prodded so they each can fit through the square peg at the end of the year.
Homeschool kids stretch their wings, enjoy the breeze, take in the scenery and flourish in the freedom to learn and to acquire knowledge. Homeschool children are the progressive learners, the worldly, modern day intellects who see the world as their oyster and themselves as the pearl. Confident, humble, hard-working, free … they have learned that old adage that one must work to live and not live to work.
“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” Arnold J. Toynbee