Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Homeschool Philosophy

There was a post on a parenting board I frequent, asking about our homeschool philosophy and this is what I wrote:

When Alex came along I sensed he was a bit different and would have a hard time in school. I was also unhappy with the educational choices left to us. School just felt like a bad fit for him. Funny enough, I wouldn't have hesitated to send my younger daughter but she is so different. Thankfully Alex helped us discover homeschooling first.

The issues I had with Alex sort of highlighted some of the problems I personally had with the school system at large. Though a scary leap, I decided homeschooling was a way for me to hold on to my personal ideals about how to live life and to not live with regret because I was scared - that it would have been easier to do what everyone else around me was doing even though it felt wrong.

I believe in family before peers, especially for kids. I want to be their biggest influence. (Well Rob too, lol.) I want them, as young children, to play and have fun. I want them to learn how to cope with boredom and learn how to be creative. I hate homework and busywork for young kids. I hate the sense of competition that develops in school and this need to keep pushing kids to get ahead. I want them to have a say over what they learn, and how, and when. I never want them to think of learning as a chore. I want competence in subjects that are severely lacking in schools today - like proper literacy and the ability to think and debate.

School would have changed Alex. Not for the better, I believe. Conforming would be difficult for him, not just the act itself, but because he needs to please others. Emotionally it would have taken a toll on him. I love homeschooling most of all because my kids get to be who they are and learn at the pace they set. They are not defined by grades or their behavior amoung peers.

School is set up for the good of the many, as it should be, but that doesn't always jive with what is good for the individual. That is more important to me. I won't sacrifice what I think is best for my children based on what 25 other kids need. For example, I know that a class needs to be quiet and settled for teacher to teach. I also know that my son needs to move a lot, find something to fidget with, and be attracted to the material being presented. I know that large groups not only take his attention but exhaust him quickly. That isn't fair of me (or anyone else) to ask of the school. So we do it at home.

Homeschooling isn't really even about schooling to us. It is about lifestyle. Rob and I still love to read and learn. Most of the things I retain have come to me through interests well after my 'education' ended. We don't want to teach our kids subjects, we want to teach them the thrill of learning something new and give them the tools to do that for the rest of their lives.

In my heart I am still an idealist. I cherish my days in university more for the debates I had and teachers that challenged my ideas than for career advancement. Schools (more specifically post-secondary) shouldn't just be businesses prepping future employees. It should be about growth and the betterment of one's self and mind.

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