What image comes to mind when you think of “homeschooling”? I bet it’s based on your experiences (or lack of experience) with other homeschoolers. Some people homeschool for religious or faith reasons. Others homeschool based on need (travel, location, etc). And still others homeschool because they are unhappy with the direction that traditional schooling has taken. And, just as there are many different reasons why families choose to homeschool, there are many different ways to do it.
We choose to homeschool because I believe that traditional schools are no longer the best fit for some kids. I taught in the public school system, and I know that there are many intelligent, hard-working, caring people who are in the teaching and educational field. I was always frustrated, though, with how we, as teachers, would go to these amazing continuing education classes where they taught us to use experiential learning, get our kids moving and engaged in interacting, to teach to each student’s learning style, and to develop authentic assessments — all of which are nearly impossible in a traditional school setting. We were told that these were the best, most effective ways of teaching and learning, and then we’d go back into the classroom, where we were expected to follow a common core program to prepare our students for a state test which, by the way, represented the antithesis of what we had just been taught.
We also choose to homeschool because we have older kids, and we have already experienced many years of traditional schooling with them. I’ve watched my 11 and 13 year olds go from curious preschoolers who were excited about learning, to 1st and 2nd graders who equated school with boredom. For them, the word “learning” now means “chore,” and that makes me sad. I feel like I’ve watched their spark dim and die out over the years. Now that they’re both going to be in middle school, I’m reminded of the days when every day was an exciting learning experience and a chance to try new things, and how quickly they developed negative associations towards anything related to school.
I don’t want that for our little boys. I want them to keep that spark. So, we homeschool, and we do it in a way that honors their individual learning styles, needs, personalites, and interests.