Why Homeschool?

This is a commentary on home school from a veteran mom of 11 children. It's a beautiful piece that speaks simply and succinctly about the benefits of home school that go far beyond academics. I have reprinted it here with her permission - leapinlily.

This is my 18th year of homeschooling and I have heard many times, especially at times of stress for my family (deaths of my mother, father in-law , brother and a miscarriage all within a year), that I should just "put them in school." What they don't know, because they have always lived within the schedule of institutional schooling, is that putting the kids in school and then dealing with the pressures to keep up and do homework and re-settle them into family life on a daily basis would have been much more stressful than continuing on with our lifestyle of homeschooling.

I pulled my now 29 year old and my 26 year old out of school and began homeschooling them in the 6th and 3rd grades. Public school is a lifestyle that, yes, involves sending your kids off for x amount of hours in a day but, more than that, it is a lifestyle that also includes an hour or more of homework and the stress of having to teach what the teacher didn't teach. There are the squabbles that come with immersing your kids in age segregated settings and then bringing them home to brothers and sisters who don't measure up to the title "friend" and all of the sibling rivalry that results. It's putting your kids under the mantle of a teacher who may or may not care whether your child learns. It is a constant fight to get your learning disabled child the help he needs and then having to fight that same fight the next year, if not the next week. Not a lot of freedom there.

Most people put their kids in school because it is the thing to do; they don't understand the true freedom of waking up on a beautiful day and declaring "spring day," our version of a snow day! They don't know what it is to live together, school together and enjoy the natural relationship that comes from that interaction. They grasp the concept of "freedom" because they have to have something positive to hang onto. Some of them have to support their families on one income; for others, summer vacation represents the time where the budget is stretched beyond what they can bear because of the added expense of child care. Their children have been trained to "need" social interaction and when faced with their kids for an entire summer the parents come up short. It isn't that they love their kids less, it is that they don't know the kids they love. Institutional schooling compartmentalizes kids. The school get the lion's share of the day and send home a tired child who has changed in ways the parents don't comprehend because they were not part of the process.

Homeschooling doesn't happen between the hours of X and Y. It is something we do from the moment we wake until we send our kids off to bed. It is a natural way of learning that enables us not only to spend the best part of the day with our kids but lets our kids spend the best part of the day with us. Yes, there is math and reading and all of the other subject matter to contend with but there is also kindness, helpfulness and obedience. These character traits that are molded into a child by daily interaction with their family.

The parents who send their kids off to school are not bad people or bad parents. They are, however, captive to a system that dictates to them when their children learn, what they learn and how they learn it. We are conditioned to believe that sending our kids off to school is the natural thing to do and the pressure is on to do so at a younger and younger age. The moms who will be sending their little ones off to preschool are doing it because the society we live in says that it's the right thing to do. Those moms, despite their bravado, will shed some tears and then the molding of their kids will begin, molding that up to this point has been done only by them. Unless, of course, they've had their kids in child care all day since birth. It won't take long before the cycle is complete and the child will give the better part of himself to the institution called school, causing the parents to think that "freedom' is contained within the walls of the public school.

donna (wife to Ron and mom of the blessings 11)

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