School at home – An option

We are nearing the end of our kindergarten year.  This has been our first official year of homeschool & we all agree that it has been a big success.  I began this school year with a new curriculum, a little self-doubt & lots of excitement.  The curriculum has been a good fit for us (insert sigh of relief).  I no longer doubt my ability to teach my kids &, in hindsight, I realize that those doubts were just silly.  And as for the excitement…well, I am still pretty excited.  Homeschool is fun!

Homeschool is not for everyone.  Of course it isn’t.  No one choice could be right for everyone.  For lots of different reasons, many parents cannot or simply don’t want to teach their kids at home.  In that case, it is good that there are schools to send our children to.  Public & private schools work just fine for many families.  Many kids thrive at school, in a group environment, learning at a pre-determined pace, with little individual instruction.

But I can’t help but wonder about the kids that do not thrive at school.  Kids who learn differently or do not enjoy the environment at school.  They muddle thru, because they must.  And well-meaning parents & teachers push them along, because they must.  But a school (particularly a public school) is designed, necessarily, to be a big box that serves the many.

Schools have programs in place to help kids who do not fit neatly into the box.  Counselors, therapists, tutors, experts, experts & more experts to fix kids & get them into that box.  Many private companies offer services to re-teach kids what they are not learning in school, for extra time & extra money.  And finally, sadly, there are any number of medications to try.  To fix those kids.

Here is what I believe.  Maybe, for some of those kids who do not fit into the box, the problem lies elsewhere.  Maybe the kid does not need to be fixed at all.  Maybe, for those individuals, the problem is the box.  The box does not work for them.  And that is okay.  It is okay, because there is another option.

Most often, when people learn of our choice to homeschool, their reaction is positive.  But at some point in the conversation, most people also comment that they could never do it.  My guess is that the biggest reason that most parents never even consider homeschool as an option is because they believe that they are not qualified.  My own doubts came from that very belief.  But why would an educated adult feel that they are not qualified to teach basic elementary subjects to their own child??  Only because our culture has decided that we should relinquish that duty to the professionals.  We want the best for our kids & we are told that out-sourcing their education is best.  Maybe it is not best for everyone.  Sometimes, for some people, homeschool may be best.

I would love to see this simple idea become completely mainstream…homeschool as an option.  I would like to see homeschool considered a very real & legitimate alternative for kids who struggle with the standardized curriculum, kids who are restless in a classroom, or kids who just don’t enjoy school.  I would like for parents to know that there are countless way of learning & an ocean of resources; that the materials & methods approved by their local board of education are not the best fit for every child.  I would like for parents to trust their instincts & to believe that they are actually the true experts in matters of their children’s education & happiness.

I can share my own experience, mother to a son who is finishing up his public school education this year & three little ones who know only school at home.  I can share the best & the worst of homeschool as it compares to public school, from my perspective.

First, the best.


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