So, how’s homeschooling going?

It’s a question we get often, asked with a healthy trace of disbelief that it can possibly be going well at all. As a new homeschooling family, we don’t know many people who have chosen this way of life and many of our friends are at least a little curious about why we’d want to teach our own kids.

I take no offense. They don’t mean any harm. The whole homeschooling concept is simply so foreign to some folks that they don’t know how else to start the conversation.

Do you teach, like, all the subjects?

Yes, I teach all the subjects. Math, science, reading, writing, social studies, health, and physical education. Also, financial competency, investing, foreign language, cultural studies, critical thinking, environmental studies, nutrition, and anything else that comes up in the course of our regular life.

One question people don’t think to ask… What are the benefits? 

The benefits… well, the list of benefits is so long I don’t think I can include them all in one post.

For one thing, I now spend the entirety of most days with my kids and this gives me the chance to know them even better than I did when they went to ‘real’ school. In this short blip of childhood, we have more time for conversation in the freedom of our new life. With the more flexible schedule, we have the opportunity to take trips as work and money allow. I also have the chance to discover each of their unique learning styles. For instance, one child is very visual. Another enjoys expressing herself through art. My oldest is almost completely self-guided.

I had a lengthy talk with my son yesterday about sustainable living. He’s doing a research report on ways people can do their part to preserve our common resources by making their own home as sustainable as possible. He’

s been reading library books, watching TED talks and documentaries, and researching online. He came out of his room yesterday, face completely aglow, waving a notebook at me. He’d drawn a very detailed illustration of his version of the perfectly sustainable home, which utilized everything from solar power to humanure.

I know he could be learning about this stuff in school, but there’s a difference. At school, he would have learned about it because the subject was on the teacher’s list. At home, he’s learning about it because the subject is on his list… That’s a pretty big distinction.

My other son has a passion for creating visual masterpieces and so is taking a class called “Green Screen.” Between that and the GoPro our family received for Christmas, he’s been getting into filming and editing. On our next trip, he can be our official cameraman and documentarian. He’s learning through this hobby more about himself and his talents than he ever did in a traditional school environment. Why? Because he’s exploring who he is. Homeschooling has given him the power to believe in himself and his talents.

Travel Learning

At school, he sat in a chair and felt dumb when he didn’t complete a math page as fast as his other classmates. Here at home, he’s realizing he doesn’t have to be the fastest in order to achieve success in life. He just has to keep an open mind and believe, BELIEVE, in his own worth. 

Homeschooling has flipped our former educational paradigm on its head. ‘Education’ now means wonderful things for the entire family. Instead of learning happening only in a school environment, this new, wonderful idea came upon us: we can learn anytime, in any place, whenever, however. Learning has now evolved as an exciting privilege instead of a boring responsibility. Instead of feeling force-fed, the kids are able to decide on the learning path that suits them best, which, in my mind, is the first step to a rich adult life of autonomy, creativity, and self-sufficiency.

Many traditional school communities exist that provide great educations for children. We recently left one of those and would go back if homeschooling became something we could no longer do. For us, homeschooling is working very well and seems to be allowing our kids to blossom. But the needs and desires of each family are different, so I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone else what’s best for them. I can only tell you what’s working for us.

Our experience with homeschooling has been wonderful so far.

Here are the reasons why:

  • The flexible schedule means we can learn whenever and however we want. In our pursuit of learning, we’ve taken a road trip across the U.S. and experienced, first-hand, geography and history and demographics. It doesn’t get any more ‘hands-on’ than this.
  • The conversation never stops flowing. We have eager discussions in the car, at the table, or on walks about everything under the sun.
  • We have been able to incorporate documentaries, lectures, and online classes into our curriculum, as we develop a thirst for any given topic. Online learning is the wave of the future.
  • Homeschooling lets me focus my attention on each child on a one-on-one basis and allows for customized learning.
  • We have more time to spend together as a family, which complements our view that the family is the foundation of a healthy childhood.
  • Freedom also means more unstructured play time, which studies have shown builds creativity in kids.
  • We’ve also felt less busy in this new life than we did while attending traditional school and all the accompanying extracurricular activities. This means we’ve been able to sign up for any classes or lessons of their choosing: horseback riding, robotics, and filming.
  • ‘School’ has become a fluid concept, with learning happening outside of the 9-3 timeframe and beyond the confines of the typical school building. We learn everywhere. We learn about everything that passes in front of us. And we’re learning that learning, with all its beauty and excitement and mystery, is something we’ll enjoy for our whole lives.

 

What are your thoughts about homeschooling?