I was asked the other day why I homeschool. Sigh. How not to answer in essay format. I have so many reasons now, how do I be succinct?
Why do I homeschool? Because wandering around this wide world, discovering all that it has to offer is intriguing, interesting, and energizes me. And I wouldn’t want to do it without those that have been placed in my care for an abbreviated time. I want to learn to live and learn about life with my little family for the days we are given together.
It’s been a while since I read this article. Just as revisiting our first memories of babies and early parenting reminds us of those warm feelings, those reasons for choosing parenting in the first place; remembering why I first chose to home educate my children reminds me of all the things I wanted and the sweet hopes I have for this lifestyle.
“I picked up a book on our spring vacation to a resort mountain town. I had a spare afternoon, an opportunity to leave my three girls with my husband and go out for an afternoon, to do nothing. No unfinished phone calls, no bookkeeping, no housekeeping, no childcare, no cares. This was a free afternoon, and there weren’t many of them as I had three kids under six.
I’d finished my most recently borrowed library books. No extra books sitting on my nightstand. An exciting crossroads—carefree and bookless. I ventured to the chic bookstore on main street, perusing bookshelves –this was one of the things I was meant to do, if passion counts for anything.
Thumbing my way through the parenting section, I came upon a book entitled: The Homeschooling Option: How to Decide When It’s Right for Your Family. Hmm, makes me think. So many acquaintances were going that direction. Well, I’m not looking for a mission to step outside the crowd, be different, not be mainstream. I’m a mainstream kinda gal.
I don’t have kids with behavioural troubles in school–just a little sassiness and arguing amongst themselves at home. No one is complaining of bullying. If anything, my oldest is the social butterfly with clever ideas that keep her friends engaged. I’ll just figure out WHY I wouldn’t homeschool…then I’ll finally be able to defend myself and get on with other things.
Was it the first chapter or the second where I began to identify? Does public education inspire a desire for learning? Do my children generally spend most of their time wrestling with their identity, responding to labels and uncertain interactions with peers? Was this my experience?
Hmm, I had to admit that some of the arguments presented seemed aligned with my experience. But isn’t avoiding the school social issues just a way to attempt creating an unreachable utopia? Don’t all the troubling interactions prepare children to grow up happier, more content with themselves, more aware of who they are and able to deal with conflict?
Wouldn’t co-exisiting with a parent make me feel suffocated? Wouldn’t the lack of constant companionship with similar aged peers make my children lonely? Does it make me feel lonely? Hmmm, do I even screen my friends based on age?
Nonetheless, who am I to decide their education? Isn’t the government the most capable of deciding what my children should be taught, when they should think about? I certainly don’t know everything.
I read endlessly, have a post-secondary education, but I’m not a trained teacher. I haven’t been taught how to teach. I don’t have the full gamut of knowledge on the tip of my brain. Even though I have taught my girls how to sound letters out, count numbers, explain to them why the sky is blue and why little seeds grow into plants and what happens if colours mixed together make different colours and why, if you drop that book and it falls on someone over the stairwell at seventeen feet high, it might kill them.
But above all, could I really live with my children all the time? No six hour break to clean the house, organize my world, or zip off to the gym? If I was around all the time, maybe they’d want a break from me. Maybe the way we did family life would have to change to accommodate my solitude and interests. Hmm, maybe I could actually start writing.
As I read on, what enticed me most were the repeated testimonies of increasingly healthy relationships between family members. They kinda sounded like they enjoyed being together. And even that they enjoyed learning. Like they took it for granted that they actually enjoyed spending life together. Maybe they chose a family, because they wanted to learn to live with them, share life and learning.
Then I had a vision. Me, a white long flowing gown, with three little girls, white long flowing dresses rushing about our little home on the quaint Prince Edward Island…zipping outside to enjoy the summer sunshine, weeding the garden together, reading when we felt like it, having quiet times reading together on our white sofa. White, the colour of purity. I wanted to enjoy them. I wanted to enjoy them for as long as we had each other.
After one week of reading and re-reading this unexpected selection, I surprised myself. I was sold. We’re going to the other side, step out of mainstream, learn to live and learn about life together.
Four years later, the three little girls own those flowing white dresses. We’ve added a spritely little boy to our family. We moved from sunny Alberta to beautiful British Columbia. We started home educating two years ago. Utopia it is not. But the only uncertainties I have about it all is why I bought a white sofa.
Yup, the white Ikea sofa was functional; it lived with us for a solid ten years, but it was a mistake. Our choice to home educate, now almost seven years later, definitely not a mistake. Utopia it is not. The girls have outgrown their penchant for white frilly dresses. I’m more me, and my children are peeling back the onion of who they are, while growing into the fullness of who they were meant to be. We are, many days, not every day, happily learning to live and learn about life together.