Sunday, March 27, 2011
If someone had told me 15 years ago, that one day we would be a homeschooling family, I would have stared at them bug-eyed and insisted that they had the wrong crystal ball.
I had firm ideas and opinions about homeschooling, the foremost being that it was not for me. I'll be honest, I couldn't understand why someone would decide to homeschool.
That was, until our family became a family of homeschoolers. How does such a change in personal conviction take place? What is it that found us arriving at this lifestyle choice for our family?
My husband and I have always been book a week heavy readers. Our home, from the beginning, has had piles of books bedside, sofaside, coffee table piled up to here, with books.We are a family of readers.In a very unromantic, yet prescient act, we had both packed books for our honeymoon. Without consulting each other: we just assumed that we'd find time to read. Leisure time meant reading time.
After our children were born, within the first twenty-four hours of bringing each of our 3 newborn boys home, we held a book in front of their little faces, and read to them. There were as many books scattered in the toy room as toys themselves.
At three months old, our children were grabbing for books, and chewing on the covers. Nine months old found them crawling over to their own low level bookcase that we kept for them, and pulling out a book of their own.Yes, it was only to chew, but the recognition of what a book was, and where it was kept, was there.
At fifteen months old, they would open the book, look at the pictures, then make their way to our laps, handing us the books they wanted read to them. As time went on, and we began our weekly trips to the library, we had already begun what we didn't recognize then, as informal homeschooling.
Our children would excitedly choose books of their interest, and we would sit at the library, criss cross applesauce, amidst piles of books, and read, point, look. They’d become immersed in a certain topic, say, anything bulldozers--and we’d delve further. They would ask questions, and we’d go find out more together. Soon, our reading together at the library about bulldozers evolved into a field trip to a quarry, and then a hands on activity of making a bulldozer out of torn construction paper bits, renting a DVD on construction site equipment, and then a discussion at dinner on all the different types of bulldozers we had learned about.
Time marched on and our oldest had reached the age where we began to look at preschools. As the majority of families do, we made appointments to see several sites. We'd visit a few schools, but our oldest son would always comment at the end of our stay, that he felt as if he never had the chance to do any of the things he had wanted to. And so it continued, the same reaction, at all the other appointments, too.
The preschool teachers we consulted felt that it might be a good idea and appropriate for him, if we were to wait another year before starting him in a formal education setting. One year soon became two years. We were now at the kindergarten stage. We had scheduled three visits for him to sit in a kindergarten classroom. With each visit, I’d pick him up, and he’d confess that he really wanted to be home, learning what he wanted to learn more about.
After much discussion and research and meeting with other homeschooling families, we decided to take the plunge and begin kindergarten at home. We would see how it would go. No firm time commitments were made. We would just see and test it out for one year. I remember the happiness on my son's face when we told him of our decision.
There was such excitement in my heart as we began our first day of learning at home. And familiarity. It was what we had been doing all along.
Is this a permanent commitment for us? We decide year by year.
Is this just for the time being? Perhaps.
Have we decided to homeschool every year? We will decide this on an annual basis.
The liberating thing about homeschooling is that it is up to you and your family to determine for how long, and for what grade levels you will homeschool. If we had decided to do this for only one year, it would’ve been wonderful. If it had only turned out to be for six months, that would have been a blessed time in which I truly got to know my children, and their learning style. It was, and is, win win for me.
We are a homeschooling family--it's right for us. And we decide year by year, whether we will be a homeschooling family in the year to come.
There is no perfect answer, no perfect environment, no black and white. We don't homeschool because we are pro anything or anti anything. To me, this lifestyle we’ve chosen has brought our family a deeper level of happiness,closeness, and knowledge of each other that I don't think we would have known otherwise. We began homeschooling in 2005, and we are still homeschooling in 2010. This works for us now and we will decide whether or not to continue as long as all of us feel happy and satisfied with the style of learning we’ve chosen.
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