Friday, January 13, 2012

Peace... Finally

This has been quite a year for us school-wise.  I feel like we have had a lot of back-and-forth and a lot of angst on my part about what the right thing is to do for our children's education.  Part of my angst was caused by a lack of understanding what my fundamental principles about homeschooling were - specifically, WHY was I homeschooling?  And, as with most things in life, if we don't have an underlying principle to guide us, we can be buffeted around by others' opinions, the current stress levels in our lives, and our own emotions/guilt.  I needed to know the WHY so I could have peace.

One big source of confusion for me were the many well-meaning parents in the homeschool community decrying all public school education as being inferior to a homeschooling education.  Homeschooling is portrayed as "the higher calling" and therefore, if you stop homeschooling then you have not let your child live up to his/her fullest potential.  However, there are many great families that I admire that have their kids in public school.  I see the parents as being spiritually grounded, and they have bright, well-adjusted, talented kids.  The evidence I had in front of me was that all of public school was not wretched.  How could I resolve this seeming contradiction?

Finally, it dawned on me. 

There are some truths and rules in life that are not negotiable or subjective.  The nature of God.  The 10 commandments.  The laws of physics.  Math.  But there are some things that are subjective.  Such as the right way to parent your children.  Potty-training.  Sleep-training.  Discipline.  Chore assignments.  Education. 

That's right.  I said it.  The best way to educate each child is subjective.  It is based on that child's needs, your family situation, and even a parent's personal desires.  (For example, a parent who doesn't LIKE learning really shouldn't be homeschooling their child.)  So with that realization, I could stop and evaluate exactly how I WANTED to homeschool my children.

The verdict?

I primarily want to homeschool my children through 1st-5th grade.  Beyond that, I am open to my children returning to public school. 

I know this may seem backwards to a lot of people (because let's face it, kids get meaner and naughtier the older they get), but it all comes down to the WHY I homeschool.  I've summed it up in 5 points:
  1. I want more time to interact with and raise my children before sending them "out into the world".  Hopefully, this will set the groundwork for a good, strong parent/child relationship and allow me to be the voice in their head through their teenage years.
  2. I want to teach my children to enjoy learning.  I want them to have the opportunity to explore the things that interest them, and not be burdened with excessive home work and stress that comes in the later grades of elementary school.  This includes the stress that is put on the entire school (teachers and students) with the emphasis on the standardized tests every year.
  3. I dislike the stress that it causes me to have a constant stream of spelling lists, vocabulary words, reading assignments, and other work coming home every week.  As I've said before - homework assignments to kids in elementary school are homework assignments to the parents.
  4. Younger kids learn best by experience.  That means field trips.  How many trips do the kids in school take a year?  They need to learn something outside the same 4 walls every day.
  5. If there is ever going to be a time that individuality and creativity is crushed out of a child, it is going to be in elementary school.  I don't blame the teachers - they really are doing their best.  But it's hard to manage a class of 20+ young boisterous children and get anything done.  So they resort to conformity.

With this knowledge and understanding supporting me, I have been able to approve of Olivia's desire to join her friends at school this semester.

In some ways I will miss her.  She is growing up into such a beautiful, good, young lady.  Ben, Olivia, and I have taken a lot time making this decision.  Olivia has a lot of reasons for wanting to back to the public school arena, despite the things she's going to miss about homeschooling.  I am proud of her for the thought, consideration, and prayer she has put into this decision on her own.  And how do I feel about it? 

I have peace. 


Ramblings of an Incurable Optimist said...

I love this post Anita. I love that you work so hard (physically, emotionally and spiritually) to do the right thing for your family. I love that your decision brings you peace. Good luck to Olivia in this next adventure.

*Jess* said...

totally agree :)

Shannon said...

I love reading your blog, Anita. You're such an amazing Mom. I loved reading about this journey, and love the way you're doing homeschooling. I love it!