Schoolmom

. October 16, 2012.
home-school-graphic

From the moment we decided between cloth diapers and disposables, this parenting gig has been full of choices. Our kids grow, and important decisions continue to present themselves. As parents, we all desire the best for our kids and determining their educational path ranks high among those decisions.

My parents probably didn’t think much about how my four siblings and I would be educated. There weren’t that many options. Today we have a vast number of choices from which to choose: public, private, magnet, charter, and what has become known as “home schooling.”

When I was a child, the idea of home schooling was pretty, well, weird. Certainly not a common phenomenon, it was considered
unconventional, at best. The reasons a family chooses to home school are varied, involving economic, academic, social, and religious factors. But, what was once rare is becoming prevalent as parents become aware of their options, and legislatures learn of the value of private education at home. Although I attended public schools all my life, am a child of public school teachers, and was myself a teacher for several years in a public high school, my husband and I are part of a growing group of parents providing their children with this type of education.

If you’ve ever contemplated bringing your children home to educate them, you’ve probably wondered, how could I ever do that? Offering
my children a private education at home is certainly not the easiest in terms of time and effort. There are days when I am frustrated that my kid’s teacher isn’t better organized, or when my students don’t seem to be “getting it.” The science experiment might go awry, or the baby draws all over a math paper. There are moments when balancing a household and a school becomes difficult. Yet, despite the hard work of schooling my kids, our family harvests great fruit from this way of living and schooling. Here is just a glimpse at some of the benefits we enjoy:

Our day to day routine is just that, routine

My children’s education is not hampered by the sniffles, bad weather, or teachers’ strikes. We set our schedule according to the standards set forth by our state government and enjoy the freedom that comes with not worrying about sharing our germs with other families, driving on bad roads, or wondering when the union will settle things with the school district.

We have an abundance of time to spend learning and exploring the world

My kids don’t spend too many minutes of a day standing in line or waiting for the teacher to take attendance. The bulk of our school time is spent learning. We don’t need to wait for funding, permission slips, or an available bus in order to take a field trip. Thanks to a small administrative staff, there isn’t too much paperwork to deal with. And a parent-teacher conference is as easy as calling my husband.

We are learning together

It’s amazing to me that despite my graduate degree and teaching credentials, there is still so much about the world that I didn’t know prior to teaching my children at home. As we work our way chronologically through history, I am learning right alongside them. Sometimes we discuss an event that I only vaguely remember cramming in for a college exam. Other times we read a historical account that was somehow entirely missing from my own education. We read stories, draw pictures, watch videos, and discuss these events around the dinner table with Papa. It is a privilege to witness their outrage at social injustices of the past. We’ve also been known to shock the adults we meet when my three year old recounts the story of Odysseus and the Cyclops! (Hey – if they can learn Barney songs, they can learn the tales in The Odyssey.)

My kids know each other

I feel blessed that my boys get to spend extended time with one another. My own childhood memories of my siblings contain blank spots. We spent the bulk of our days apart and often didn’t see each other for more than a few hours after school. My children are learning together and developing deep friendships with one another. Schoolmates will come and go, but what a blessing to have a friend in a sibling!

Our children receive a custom-built education

While I know educators endeavor to provide this in other settings, personalized instruction is difficult to achieve in even the most advanced private school. We enjoy the advantages of exploring subjects that interest us. We can spend a day at the World War I Museum examining artifacts of the era after reading about the event. We can explore a local apple orchard after an in-depth study of the life cycle of trees. Additional help on content is always available. If a math concept is difficult, we can take several days to go over it. My child doesn’t have to hurry to keep up with the rest of the class. Likewise, he is not bored, waiting for others to get it.

Outweighing the work and inconvenience

Many friends have said, “I could never do that.” If you want to, you can! This path we’ve chosen is not the easiest one. And by no means do we do it perfectly. Yet our family profits in so many ways that we wouldn’t choose a different lifestyle. The benefits far outweigh the work or inconvenience.

Jessica Fisher is a busy mom of six children, making her home in San Diego. She and her husband, Bryan, have been teaching their children at home for seven years. Jessica regularly writes about family life, frugality, and the pursuit of a clean house at www.lifeasmom.com.