I was asked the other day why I homeschool. Sigh. How not to answer in essay format.
After eleven years, I have so many reasons now. How do I be succinct?
Why do I homeschool? Because living in this world, discovering all that it has to offer is intriguing, interesting, and energizing; 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 family for the days we are given together.
I picked up a book on our spring vacation to a resort mountain town over a decade ago. I had a spare afternoon, an opportunity to leave my three little girls with my husband and go out for an afternoon, to do nothing.
No unfinished phone calls, no bookkeeping, no housekeeping, no childcare. 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, perused bookshelves-–if reading was something I was born to do, I was in the right place.
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. (No, it is not! I thought.)
So many acquaintances were going that direction. I’m not looking for a mission to step outside the crowd, be different. I’m a mainstream kinda gal.
I don’t have kids with behavioural troubles in school–just a little sassiness and arguing at home. No one is complaining of bullying. If anything, my oldest is the social butterfly with clever ideas to keep her friends engaged.
I decided I would read the book to determine why I wouldn’t homeschool, then I would have my reasoned arguments 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? Or do my children generally spend most of their time wrestling with their identity, responding to labels and uncertain interactions with peers when they’re at school? And was this my experience? Was I distracted from learning with all that noise and energy around me?
Am I learning what I need to learn to become the unique person that I was born into the world to be by attending school?
Hmm, I had to admit that some of the arguments presented seemed aligned with my experience.
Isn’t avoiding the school social issues just a way at attempting to create an unreachable utopia? Don’t all the troubling peer interactions at school prepare children to grow up happier, more content with themselves, more aware of who they are and able to deal with conflict? (Hmm, does that sentence even make sense?)
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 choose my friends based on age?
Who am I to decide their education? Isn’t the government the most capable to determine what my children should be taught, what they think is valuable? Won’t the school system make sure that no knowledge bits will be missed in my child’s education? (However, I went to school. Do I know everything?)
I’m not a teacher. Though I am a strong and regular reader and I have a post-secondary education, I’m not a trained teacher. I haven’t been taught how to teach a classroom. Even though I have taught my girls how to sound out letters, count numbers, explain why the sky is blue and why seeds grow into plants and why, if they drop that book and it falls on someone over the stairwell at seventeen feet high, it might kill them.
Could I really live with my children all the time? No five 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 solitude and my interests too.
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. Even that they enjoyed learning. They took it for granted that they could spend life together.
They chose to learn to live with their family and share life and learning.
One week of reading this book, and I had a new vision for my family life.
Me, a white long flowing sundress, with three little girls, white flowing dresses rushing about our quaint homestead on Prince Edward Island…zipping outside to enjoy the summer sunshine, weeding the garden together, and afternoon quiet times reading together on our white sofa.
White, the colour of purity. I wanted to enjoy my children for as long as we had each other.
We’re going to the other side, step out of mainstream, learn to live and learn about life and the world together.
Four years later, the three little girls had those flowing white dresses in their closets. We added a spritely little boy to our family. We moved to beautiful British Columbia, instead of PEI.
Our choice to home educate, now eleven years later, has definitely been the right choice.
The only uncertainties I have about homeschooling was why I bought a white sofa.
Utopia it is not. The girls have outgrown their penchant for white frilly dresses. I fit in writing, added a house build and homestead, and started a bed and breakfast last summer. One child graduated, now in post-secondary school, two in high school and our youngest nearly finished elementary school.
We are, most days, happily learning to live and learning about life together.