Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The why of it

I had an awkward conversation about homeschooling with a friend yesterday, but basically it was because I was so terrible at spitting my information out and just not really making any real sense. Instead of saying the good things about the conference I had been to, I was just rattling off the big conspiracy theory that the one presenter had talked about.  Maybe its because it was still on my mind,  but like when a on fire Protestant catches you off guard about why you became Catholic (At least this happens to me a lot, even if I know why, I just don't verbalize it well in person.) I failed at telling someone not in a my way is the best, but the best for me way to homeschool. But I had forgotten all the good reasons that I actually started looking into homeschooling when I had this conversation, and just felt kind of like an idiot to be honest.  She however made really good points, first to focus on what's good about what I want to do, and second, know why I want to do it, not because I want to avoid the craziness but why I think it is best for my little family to embark on this adventure.

First, before I come off sounding like I know more than I do, I don't.  My oldest just turned 3 in March, so I don't have all the logistics of it figured out and I know overall I have to be flexible. But there is still a pull there to educate in a homeschooling way, and I want to clearly state why finally.

So here goes... My own schooling adventure consisted of public school, then lab school, then public secondary school, then private college and private grad school. In the early years of public school, I went into it knowing a ton having been taught informally by my sister who is 5 years older than me. She taught me reading, writing, and math before I even stepped foot inside a formal school. I'm not sure its a thing anymore due to computers, but I also could write in cursive before kindergarten.  She continued to teach me and I continued to learn.  When I was in school, well, I was bored.  I had already done this stuff.  I remember distinctly getting in trouble by teachers because I was going ahead in my workbooks and this wasn't something I was allowed to do according to them.  I had one good teacher in the public school in third grade that engaged me, and the one art teacher saw I had a passion with art so I got to go to art camp through the school. Other than that, school wasn't challenging or engaging, and by the end of fourth grade I was getting in trouble.  My parents decided to send my younger brother and me to a lab school, and I'm not sure their reasoning lined up with my experience, but they did it and I had a great experience.  In this school there was only one class per grade.  Each grade interacted with the lower grades and had specific reading partners and did projects like time capsules.  We even had a night where the entire 5th grade class stayed over night at the school to carry out the book Be a Perfect Person.  During this time I tested into a Directive Studies program that allowed us to learn more than the average student and when entering back into the public Junior High put us in charge of the Junior High school paper.  The same program allowed me to take Spanish a year early starting in eighth grade and then college classes in my senior year that the school paid for since I was considered "gifted."

All the while until my sister went to college she taught me still.  I learned speeches like the Gettysburg address and parts of Julius Caesar way before I was supposed to, because I ate up learning.  I think the only class I actually struggled with in high school was typing of all things.  I mean I type in the QWERTY manner all the time now that it's kind of hilarious to think that I sucked at typing and had to have my younger brother who was in my class teach me a trick or two with it.  I eventually really learned how to type using chat clients like AIM instead of in typing class in high school.

I went to college on a cross country scholarship of all things, and majored in chemistry.  I think the first chemistry subject that I struggled with was organic.  I mean I know thats a given for most to struggle with organic, but I hated that class and actually got a C in it. When I got to the upper level subjects in my major, I actually did get challenged, (yay!).  And honestly, one of my eye openers for the fact that I was being challenged was that I acted like a baby when I knew I had performed badly on a test in physical chemistry.  I had prepared for the exam well in my mind, but when it came to the test I barely got a C.  I gave a fit about this to the teacher in a childish way I wasn't proud of, but I learned finally.  I learned that even if I didn't get my desired A that I was so used to, I was learning. A's aren't everything right?

Maybe this was how I made it through grad school.  I definitely would have called myself a B student in grad school, but that was okay, I needed that.  I knew finally I was being challenged and I was learning.  But the thing is that I felt like I could have been prepared better earlier by the schools.  I mean most of my learning was done through my sister, and my mom.  I forgot about her, sorry.  She gave us the love of science always bringing things home for us to play with from the classroom and always taking us outside in nature to explore things. She also dragged us all over the country to historic sites by taking us on Volksmarches aka 10K walks where you are out in nature learning biology from her or learning history with questions about the places you were visiting.  These two women are the reason I think I was able to even succeed in college and grad school, not the public school so much.  The public school did allow me to do one or two things that challenged me like foreign language and art and some chemistry with the science olympiad(but really with that I was on my own to learn it, my advisor didn't interact with me at all), but overall it wasn't as engaging as it could have been.

Now, we will just state for my husband's side of it all, that he learned by taking the book home and reading it to himself and he was in public school K-12 too. Probably why he is so dang smart compared to me, he can totally just go and learn something all by himself.  Sometimes I wish I was someone who could learn by reading books, but I'm an experience learner, but that's another story.

So after all that, why homeschool?  Because I think instead of jumping through hoops to get to be able to do this or that that I had to do I want to tailor my child's education towards him or her.  I want him to be able to learn outside the box.  I want him to be able to tell me the why behind it all, not just the what.  I want him to know that there are moral absolutes, and I want him to know that mama isn't going to give up on them when maybe a different teacher would (Not saying that all do this, there are excellent teachers out there and their job is hard and their passion is greater to succeed to get through to some kids). Instead of having them in a classroom where everyone is supposed to learn relatively the same, I want him to be able to learn in the way that helps him best succeed and go even further with it.  I want him to learn history by going to the sites of historic battles, and science by playing and exploring the everyday and literature by me reading to him countless stories.  I want them to learn math in a practical manner and most of all I want them to become little cathedrals for heaven by learning compassion of those smaller than them and bigger than them in their siblings and parents and by homeschooling they get more time to do this.

These children of mine are borrowed from God and I want to be able to say that I have done the best with them that I could do when my life is done on this Earth. So for me, I think this is by homeschooling. For you it may be Christian/Catholic school or charter school or public school, everyone must make the best choice for their family.  But that is the great thing about being unique individuals with many different little ways to carry out our vocations. We are all necessary in God's master plan.

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