Friday, July 13, 2012

Getting Schooled

Now that Enzo is is older, I have begun researching our options for his schooling.  I know he is only two, but the time goes by so fast and I want to be sure we are as informed as possible and feel confident that we are setting him up for the most success.

The more I research, and the more we think and talk about it, the more Pablo and I want to homeschool our children.  It is honestly not something I ever thought I would do, but as a teacher, it only makes sense.  I could never, in a billion years, allow my children to go to public school in the neighborhood we currently live in.  Over my dead body.  If, for some reason, we are still living in this house when the time comes, our options would be a free Montessori school that has a lottery, private school, which is costly, or homeschooling.

There are so many misconceptions about homeschooling, some of which I even believed myself.  When you really get down to it, it is a wonderful opportunity that sets children up for a lifetime of success by teaching them to be life-long learners.  As parents, we are all teaching our children from the day they are born.  I think homeschooling is a lifestyle that we are already leading.

Homeschooling has some great outcomes too.  Homeschooled children statistically do better academically, get higher scores on the SAT, and excel in college.

Here are some of our reasons for wanting to homeschool:
  •  Freedom:  By homeschooling I can teach my children in an environment that suits them.  We can go out and explore the world. They won't be confined to a desk all day. They can learn with their hands, and experience more outside of a classroom setting.  By homeschooling, I can tailor lessons specifically to their interests to make them more appealing and fun.  How hard would that be if you were teaching 30 students? 

  • Individualized instruction:  Every student learns differently.  Some children are visual learners, while others may be musical, tactile, or kinetic learners.  As teachers, we are always trying to differentiate the lesson plan to accommodate as many learners as possible so that every child has the best opportunity to learn the material.  As you can imagine, it is difficult to meet the needs of every child when there are 30+ students in your classroom with 30 different personalities and needs.  As a homeschooler, I know what my child's strengths and weaknesses are.  I can work longer on problem areas and give them one-on-one instruction.  Doesn't that just sound more productive?

  • Socialization & Co-Ops: Homeschooled kids are social with people of all different ages, not just a bunch of kids who were born in the same year. By joining a homeschool co-op, you can pull resources and offer children a chance to be social with a diverse group of families. By being part of a co-op, you can team up with other parents so that the children are getting the best teacher for each subject.  Let's face it, I would be doing my children a huge disservice if I were to attempt to teach them math. 

  • Bullying & Peer Pressure: Homeschooled children are less likely to experience teasing, bullying, and peer pressure.  I remember how difficult the middle school years were for me. I experienced so much pressure from my peers and then I was receiving counter pressure at home from my parents. I remember feeling like I was constantly being torn on two directions.  It was so stressful.  It wasn't exactly conducive to a good education either. My social circle took a lot of my focus and energy, often resulting in unacceptable grades.

  • Soaring Spirit:  I want my children's spirit to be nurtured and fed.  I want them to be comfortable in their own skin and to question everything; be independent thinkers.  I don't want them to be in an environment that could squash their bright spirits.  I don't want them to feel like they need to conform or be untrue to themselves.  I want them to be GREAT.

  • Productivity & Focus:  Often, in a public school setting, a teacher will have to deal with behavior issues, resulting in wasted time and less instruction.  It's difficult for anyone to focus on classwork or a lesson when there are disruptions from their peers.  In a homeschool setting, children can have more focus.  A lot more material can be covered in a shorter period of time because the instructor isn't dealing with a lot of behavior issues.

  • And finally, I love my kids.  I would be honored to teach them and spend my days exploring and learning with them.  It's a sacrifice, but the rewards and outcome would certainly be worth it.   

So there it is, folks.  I'm not sure what the future holds for us.  There is still a lot to figure out and lots of time to do it.  I do know that this is where my heart is.  Whether our family can swing living on one income for longer than these first few years is yet to be determined.  Things like retirement and a bigger house do need to be financed and saved for, so we shall see. There are certainly wonderful public schools and very qualified, bright teachers out there, too.  So, if by chance, we don't homeschool, I am sure we can find a nurturing, open-minded school that would suit their needs just fine.

For now, though, I'll day dream about spending afternoons digging for clams for a Chesapeake Bay science lesson, painting murals in the backyard, and exploring the wonders of the world from our dining room table. 


  1. Ahhh! I love how you think! We are unsure as well. Homeschooling has always had a negative connotation to me (ashamed to admit). Now that I have a child and we do discover a million new ideas through interest based discoveries it seems like a much better option. Having taught as well, I am completely disinterested in the public school system. It will all work out!

  2. It had a negative connotation to me too, until I started actually researching it. Now, it makes sense. It's a decision that will require lots of thought. It is a huge long term sacrifice, especially financially, and it definitely takes lots of dedication and discipline.

    MLI- I think you'd be great at it!!

  3. I love your reason "Soaring Spirit". The other reasons are fantastic too, but if you had just ONE reason and "Soaring Spirit" was it, you'd do an amazing job homeschooling your child.

    Feeling peer pressure when my eldest reached two I also went around investigating schools - just the playschools/preschools - and just couldn't find anything that fit. I eventually tried a Montessori school, but even then, after a week, I was not happy with the changes in my daughter's demeanor. Everyone told me to "stick it out", but it felt very wrong, like I was doing her spirit a disservice, so we didn't.

    I took her out to keep her home "for a bit longer". It has been four years now! She just turned six the other day and in the meantime we had a second little noo join our family.

    I never even knew about homeschooling back then - it was never an option when we grew up (actually outlawed in South Africa for a long, long time) and when I found out about this thing called homeschooling on the internet, I fell in love with it.

    We've settled into a very relaxed homeschooling routine, and actually unschool a bit more than doing any kind of structured schooling at home. But my children are amazing - they are happy, inquisitive, well adjusted, socially apt and very clever. Their spirits are soaring.

    As a side note - recently I listened to two teleconferences on homeschooling or unschooling and found many of the interviews incredibly positive and encouraging - have a look at "The Unschooling Summit" and "What the Experts Know".

  4. Thanks for sharing this Carmen. I think it is so important for parents to think about the education style they want for their children (and to do it pretty early on). As you know, we love Montessori and find it a natural progression of our parenting style and a great fit for Kale's personality. As much as we'd like to keep Kale in Montessori, we know that it will be next to impossible if we have more children. The fees are twice as much as a university tuition!

    Unfortunately homeschooling is not an option for us since Kris and I both need to work (thanks student loans!). I think if we could afford for one of us to stay home, it would likely be Kris, who is drawn more toward unschooling. There is a really supportive unschooling and homeschooling network in our community, which I would definitely check out if we thought doing it was a possibility.

    For now we'll stick with Montessori - and hopefully a long the way we'll win the lottery.


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