Of my four kids three have had a public school experience. They were generally successful. Academic pursuits come fairly easily to all four of my kids. We did not leave the public school system with an ax to grind.
Our last year of public school found our oldest in sixth grade and our third child in kindergarten There was this weird juxtaposition of too much too soon and then not enough. While my youngest was being asked to do what I thought was beyond her developmental reach my oldest was learning to jump through the hoops and do just enough to get by. He was learning to work the system while doing the least amount of work possible to be successful.
Argh. It was killing me.
We want our kids to be driven, responsible for themselves.
I want them to know they have a say in their life and their days. I want to indulge their weird interests in hopes of growing more interesting adults.
Schooling them at home is a step in that direction Along with the responsibility of pushing their lives forward comes the risk of failure. I love that. My kids never failed at school. I probably would never have let them fail in any significant way. Failure in the system is wrought with labels, permanent records, and names written in the board in the spirit of humiliation. That isn’t what anyone wishes for their baby.
Natural consequences are what we do at home. Because at home it’s not about punishment or humiliation or even “teaching a lesson.” It’s life. Homeschool allows for that failure.
Homeschool Encourages Personal Responsibility
My oldest is thirteen and in eighth grade. When we left the system I don’t think he had ever studied for a test in his life. School was easy for him. He did well with little effort. When school at home required more (more effort, more discipline, more creativity) it brought him to his frustration level very quickly. It’s not an enjoyable bit of time but it’s so worth the struggle for him to learn he can work though things that are not easy.
This year he helped plan his school year and divide the work up into quarters and then weeks. He writes his weekly planner and knows if he doesn’t stick to it he will pay for it come next April. (Yes, we will be done in April.) He knows if his work isn’t done by Thursday he will have to work Friday (usually a day off at our house) in order to be caught up. We don’t need to talk about it or record it anywhere. Its just the way it is.
Homeschool Allows Failure in a Way that Isn’t Discouraging.
My second son is a right brained, a creative spirit. He has never thought himself book smart although he had always done well in school. It doesn’t matter what the subject is he comes from a new direction. Thinking outside the box is not rewarded in public school. Honestly he challenges me every single day because he doesn’t do anything the easy way, or at least the way written in the teachers manual. Learning at home, I hope, will allow him to continue thinking outside the box and to see that smart doesn’t necessarily equal quiet and compliant. I never want to see him make himself smaller to fit in a box. (Okay, sometimes in a public setting smaller would be okay. Quieter would be even better.)
Failure doesn’t need to be life changing.
My kids screw up on a daily basis. (Don’t we all?) Kids, adults, everyone fails from time to time. Failure doesn’t need to be life changing. I have been a perfectionist all my life. So the idea of public failure is paralyzing for me. I feel a jolt of it every time I hit the “publish” button. And I despise the idea of doing something in public until I know I can do it well. I want my kids to be braver than that. And to be that brave I think you have to experience a mess up or two.
Home is a good place to fail because my kids know no matter what they do their dad and I love them to the moon and back. They couldn’t mess up big enough to change that. They watch me mess up and apologize. Every. Single. Day. But I do know my kids strengths and weaknesses. I like to think I know when to push and when to comfort.
Homeschool Puts the Responsibility Directly on the Kids
I’m much less likely to hound them to finish something on time or study “a little more” or whatever needs done now that we are learning at home. They do it or don’t do it and consequently reap the rewards or consequences. Kids figure out how to do what really counts and cut through the garbage pretty quickly. So there is no arguing over “homework.”
Some days that went so wrong they were laughable. Later, much, much later they were laughable. I have lost my mind over things I thought they should know or do that they didn’t. Not every day goes smoothly but they are being challenged. Yet growing and learning is still happening. Furthermore they are not wrought with anxiety or losing sleep at night over worrying about the next day.
They are learning how to be in charge of themselves right here at home. They mess up.. I mess up. That’s life. Move along.
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Another article I just love! So glad I found your site on the Homeschool Bloggers Network. You are now on my blogroll (my way of following homeschool blogs…I’m always updating my blog so I notice new posts more there than other places, and it doesn’t clog up my e-mail).
Glad to find you too Gale! I’m going to go check out your blog ASAP!