Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March Madness: Consider The Homeschool Option


Every March in my city, many parents eagerly await word from both public and private schools about where their young child may enroll come fall. City lottery decisions are mailed indicating the public school to which a kindergarten-age child has been assigned, and private school admission decisions are mailed for urban preschools and elementary schools.

It is this time of year, as schooling choices are being mulled, that I urge parents to seriously consider the homeschooling option as part of their complete decision-making process. And here's why:

1. Focus on Family

Homeschooling centers a child's life and learning around family, creating a slower, simpler pace to childhood in which children naturally reveal their true talents in their own time and in their own way. Given the unhurried time and space to grow and discover, children are able to move through their childhood at their own speed, surrounded by the security and comfort of family members guiding their way. Homeschooling shifts a family's entire focus, as family life and learning become intimately intertwined, and learning and doing together evolve into a natural part of a family's daily, weekly and seasonal rhythms. Family bonds are strengthened, sibling attachment deepens, and learning emerges as a seamless component of ordinary family life.

2. Focus on Community

As the ranks of homeschoolers grow nationally, to well over two million children, the homeschooling community expands and strengthens. Throughout the country, there are diverse and vibrant homeschooling networks offering ample opportunities for meaningful friendships, and providing a solid base for a wide array of activities, ranging from park meet-ups, to museum classes, to co-op opportunities and resources for almost any interest or need. Homeschoolers are also perfectly positioned to take full advantage of the abundant resources available in their communities, including the people, places and events that surround them. Libraries, museums, universities, nature and cultural centers become prime learning spaces for homeschoolers, and many cater to the homeschool community with customized programs. Community classes in art, music, athletics, and many other interests abound, and homeschoolers are able to integrate these classes into their week. Learning from neighbors, friends, community members, shopkeepers by simply going about a family's daily life is a satisfying reward of homeschooling.

3. Focus on the Natural World

For many homeschoolers, and certainly for our family, a big draw to homeschooling is the opportunity to spend much of our time outside, exploring nature, noticing seasonal shifts and signals, learning from the world around us. With so much of childhood now focused on structured, scheduled, indoor activities, homeschooling provides an alternative, valuing the natural world as a child's great classroom. As Last Child in the Woods author, Richard Louv, states: "Children need nature for the healthy development of their senses, and, therefore, for learning and creativity." (p.55). Homeschooling allows ample space and opportunity for exploring outside, in nature, surrounded by community, and alongside loving and engaged family members and friends.

Homeschooling is a practical and fulfilling educational option that growing numbers of families are considering as they weigh their choices for fall.

What might you add as some additional reasons for families to consider the homeschooling option among their public and private educational choices?

5 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Kerry! We went through a similar process last year, got accepted to the local Waldorf and Montessori schools, as well as the public lottery, and ultimately chose homeschooling for all the reasons you mention. It's been an amazing year and now I can't even imagine choosing school over the freedom and customization that homeschooling offers.

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    1. That's great, Sara! So glad to hear that homeschooling is working out well for your family!

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  2. Homeschooling provides flexibility and how you "do" it is entirely up to what works for the whole family. You can homeschool or unschool. Include religion or not. Be highly scheduled or mildly scheduled or not at all. It can be long term and part of an over-arching philosophy of parenting and family, or it can be just a practical thing you do because you can't find/afford the right school. You can homeschool one kid and send other(s) to school. It doesn't *have* to mean having one parent at home full-time. A whole lot of families figure out ways to manage two parents in the workplace, utilizing grandparents, after-school programs, home-based businesses, swing shifts, etc.

    And... you can change course fairly easily if something isn't working out. As I've lamented previously, the social piece of homeschooling is/was a bust for us. So what worked was to stop trying, build relationships outside of homeschooling, and send our kids to a part-time learning center where they can count on other kids being there to hang out with. Not what we envisioned, but still working.

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  3. Great post! Really resonated with me --- especially the focus on family and natural world. That is a huge reason why we're homeschooling, too!

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  4. Great post! You really captured the reasons why we have chosen to homeschool, especially the focus on family and nature.

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