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With the exception of a few months when my daughter wanted to "try out" school, my kids have been schooled at home. Why? For my family, the benefits far outweigh the tiny problems with schooling at home.
I acknowledge that there are a few disadvantages to homeschooling. I can think of two. Firstly, I don't have frequent breaks from my children. They're always around. I relish my alone time and never seem to get enough.
Secondly, because my children are around all the time, I can't work a full-time, out-of-the-house job. I think the job thing might be more related to the "break from children" thing though.
So, yes, there are a few problems with homeschooling. The advantages, however, are numerous.
Did you notice how socialization wasn't in my disadvantage list? That's because it isn't a disadvantage. I don't want my kids socialized in the manner that schools socialize.
I don't want them to change focus because a bell's been wrung. I don't want them to put emphasis on material possessions. I don't want them to pick on other kids because that's what the popular school kids do. I don't want them to think that it's ideal to be in a group of people their same age all the time.
Instead, I want my kids to have a steady course of social development and real friends. They have a chance to develop friendships with other children at coop and on play dates. They learn that learners, people who learn, come in all ages when we take classes at the local rec center or online. They learn that it's good to be nice and helpful (the great majority of homeschooling families promote these values in their children, actively, and the kids get it).
Despite my attempts to avoid socialization and instead promote social development, they have still been socialized. My kids know that they must wait in lines and not cut. They know that rules exist for reasons. They understand checking books out at the library and they understand about following laws. They're socialized. Fortunately, though, I've been able to focus attention on good socialization and not the bad.
The Actual Education
Ratios: I don't care if a parent is college educated or not. The only time I'd question whether or not a parent could provide a better education for their children than a school system is if the parent had a well below normal intelligence level. Think about this. Your ratio of educator to students is 1 to how many kids you have. At school, that ratio will be at least 1 to 15, but more likely 1 to 30. You have can divide your time among your children and they'll still get more one-on-one time.
Quirks: Also, you know your children and their quirks. My children are sensitive and dyslexic. I understand depression and am learning about dyslexia. I can focus on their needs and not worry if they're getting what they need. They are in the majority in my household. They are not in a minority in a school classroom.
Desire to learn: Additionally, my kids are allowed to get obsessed over topics. If my daughter wants to spend months digging in the dirt and reading about gardening, great! I'm happy to let the three R's slide for a few months while she voraciously learns and directs her own learning. Besides, those 3Rs come into play with her own work more often than you'd think.
You're out of the rat race. I have plenty of time with my kids and enjoy them. We rarely have a tightly jammed schedule, so we get to be relaxed.
You can vacation whenever you want. We're planning a trip to WorldCon this year. It's an annual, international science fiction convention. The convention is in late August/early September and we're taking off over a week to devote to it. We didn't have to think twice about missing school.
The evenings are for family, not homework. My daughter wanted to try out school, so she attended the fourth grade for a few months. The amount of homework she had was insane. After a full day of school, they actually expect the kids to do work at home. We lost a lot of family time because of that homework, and I'm glad it's gone.
So Does It Work?
Most people judge whether a child is learning or not by their test scores. I can tell you that won't work for my kids. My son is dyslexic and his standardized test scores aren't that great. However, my son regularly beats my husband and I, and other adults, at strategy games (and we don't let him win). Both of my kids know how to look up answers to questions on the computer. My daughter can out-talk non-paleontologist scientists when it comes to dinosaurs.
I'm not worried about them. They'll be well prepared for employment or entrepreneurship when the time comes. And isn't that the point? Being able to take care of yourself and your family and loving to learn?
Gwen Nicodemus is a freelance engineer/writer and a homeschooling mom. Visit her website, Notion Nexus, for more homeschooling ideas, unit studies, worksheets, notes, and educational videos.
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