Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Homeschooling vs 'the real world' a journey to self discovery.

If you are considering homeschooling your children there are likely many good reasons for your thinking. I imagine for every good reason you can think of to homeschool you can also come up with a pretty good list of scary reasons not to homeschool. I am with you. I was pretty scared of homeschooling and I had very little idea what I was getting myself into. But having done it for the past three years I can tell you that most of my fears were unfounded. My fears were basically just excuses to help me stay safe and ensconced in the bubble that I decided to call 'reality'.  So if you are looking for some backup in your reasons to homeschool here are a few of my arguments in favor of homeschooling in rebuttal to common reasons people say they can't homeschool.

1.   School is the 'real world' and we need to get them ready for that.

I would like a definition of 'real world'.  In my view 'reality' is fluid and the container in which you  place 'reality' is the 'real world'.  For some people I guess reality is a job that includes spending a lot of time with only people of your age and often same color,  who have completely different interests and goals, and are all trying to please a manager who has been handed down a list of goals that really have nothing to do with the individual skill sets, interests, or limitations of those in the room.  I know that a majority of Americans think this is just 'the way it is'.  For me this is not 'real' it is a predisposition that has been accepted. In my definition of 'the real world' we follow our interests and skills to provide a necessary service while finding a way to manage a core set of societal requirements. Abundance is not a requirement it is a burden that is self inflicted.  We need just enough. We need to nurture our self and to do so we must carve our own path that is directed by following our hearts desire.  It takes practice and support to find your 'reality' it is scary and often you will fail, but you will never find it if you don't allow yourself to try.  I feel I am empowering my children to carve their own path by providing them with some solid basic fundamental skills and a plethora of learning opportunities. But I think the greatest gift is the opportunity to really get to know their self, how they relate with self, and how they choose to relate their self with this world.

2.  I can't teach my children. 
Yes you can.  You don't want to teach your children, which is fine, but not being able to and choosing not to are two very different arguments.  Receiving one on one teaching is infinitely more efficient than group learning when you are talking about basic skill development. Because I am focused on only those two children I can easily spot issues and work them out very efficiently using a curriculum that supports their learning style strengths and weaknesses. (which is what all p.s. teachers would do if they had the time and resources) Learning basic skills does not take much time, just consistent quality practice on a linear(ish) course. In my 'school' we cover math, all language arts, history and science as the core subjects and that takes about 1.5 hours a day. The rest of learning is based on experiences with the real world and luckily for us there is a lot of world out there to explore.  The study of natural world and by this I mean being in the forest and at the beach but also out in the stores and the community at large where 'real life' is happening is some of the richest learning material that money can't buy!!  Learning from the world and then adopting and adapting your skills to match the needs of the world is powerful. You need to master some basic skills and you need to eventually become an expert or at least adept in some skill. That really isn't hard to do. What is hard is choosing what to do and why you want to do it. It is also challenging to determine what you need in return for the work you are willing to do and how much of your 'self' you are willing to part with to achieve those goals.  You can teach your children how to follow their heart and you can support their development of self.  You don't really have to 'teach' them you do need to provide them resources and a bit of structure. You do need to provide them with feedback and arguments as to why you feel certain skills are necessary. You do need to have patience and compassion. You do need to have a sense of curiosity and playfulness. You do have to let go of judgement, fear and control. You can give them the basic tools and show them how they can be used.  They will take those tools and carve their own path...and that is the best teacher of them all.

3. I need time for myself!

Me too. I get up at 5.30 am and I allow my children to sleep until 8am. I get 2.5 hours of time to myself every morning.  Time to do yoga, meditate, drink coffee, write, cruise Facebook and watch stupid videos, pay bills, take a shower, get dressed. ect.... And when the kids get up we do not have any stress, which in my opinion is a major health benefit. There is no yelling no rushing no panic feelings of forgetting something or god forbid, being late.  So that time is also a bit of time that is my own because i am not beholden to another persons schedule. Is this the 'real world'?  For those people who have managed to find a way to work from home and craft their own business, yes. This is the 'real world' for us as my husband completely supports our decision to homeschool and supports me making the executive decisions about how I will run our family.  If you think your husband would never do that for you (or your wife) then it might be time to talk. Being in a committed family relationship means everyone is heard and valued and getting the support and love they need to be happy healthy humans. You have to work out how that is going to happen in your family. It doesn't just happen, you make it happen by asking for what you need and being willing to give back in the same way.

4.   I have to work so I can make a difference and help people. 

Yes, please do. There is time to work and be a 'contributing member of society'  but the idea that you are not helping and contributing to society by raising the healthiest, happiest, most capable children you can while nurturing the relationship that will most likely be one of the longest lasting important relationships of your life seems like a pretty good investment in making a difference and contributing to a better world.  I believe the more health happy balanced people and families we have in the world the better.  I believe we have done a great disservice in devaluing the position of stay at home mom.  It is great if you want to work and do work. If your family is healthy and doing well and you are healthy and happy and doing well then by all means work on!!  But if your working is detrimental to the health of your family then maybe it is time to consider an alternative.  Does that mean it has to be mom staying home. No. In my case the decision is based on a logical mathematical equation. I can earn about 1/2 of what my husband can. Painful truth. Have we had to make some financial adjustments because I am not working. Yes. Have I had to eat some humble pie and realize that I had a prejudgement about 'women who stay home'. Yep. What I realize is I was imposing that opinion on myself. I was judging myself and causing myself misery because I wasn't living up to some precondition for being a 'successful smart' woman and mom of the current era.  Society is a bit warped in this sense. We have fallen for the intellectual trap that says to be seen as a smart, successful, independent woman you will raise a family and work a full time job. We need to 'lean in'. Well, I decided to lean into my family and my self. And that has been the best gift I could give the world. I am not an angry driver. I am not in a hurry. I am not pushing people out of they way so I can be first in line. I am not worried about getting noticed. I do not feel unworthy. In fact I feel so worthy and so valued and so happy I want the whole world to feel the same joy and sense of well being!!  When my leaning into my family creates an abundance of joy then I am contributing. My children will grow up and move out...then I will lean into the greater society and offer my service with the same joy and freedom I feel in homeschooling my children. You being happy makes a difference.

5.  They need to learn how to follow directions, wait in line, and do things they don't like, and to deal with teachers and kids they may not like.

Ok, but do they need to practice those skills upwards of 6 hours a day, 5 days a week? We are involved in homeschool park days, science classes, lego classes, art classes, ect... They have the skill to sit and follow directions. They have opportunity for free play on the playground with lots of different kinds of kids and it has lead to many discussions about how to deal with situations that challenge us. But we have the opportunity to view it as learning and as a choice vs a survival mechanism.  We have an amazing sense of freedom and it makes me so happy to live in a country where that freedom is available. I never ever want to live in a place where the above skills are a requirement for survival. Ever. Does that mean I want to be separate from people? Does that mean I do not think community and joining together as a people is important? Does that mean I don't support group learning or collaborative building opportunities? No. I just think it is more powerful when you enter into such situations with the feeling of having made a conscious and hopefully heartfelt reason for being there. Because when people come together under those circumstances it is pretty amazing what can happen.  In the 'real world' we choose what lines to stand in, what people and causes we invest in, and in general how we want to deal with frustrating situations.
School is not 'the real world'.

Now am I saying that all people should homeschool their children. No. I am posing the above arguments for someone who is in a position to homeschool and chooses not too out of fear.  There are many many good reasons not to homeschool.  But if you are not homeschooling out of fear, then I think you may want to explore that fear a bit further.

I have lots of fears. What I have the good fortune to realize is that my fears are mostly made up arguments to support my current seemingly comfortable way of existing.  Fear is mostly the response to major changes that you may not be able to fully control and really have no clear outcome.
And that is ok, just realize that you are afraid and you are creating an argument to support your fears. And maybe explore those fears....maybe go into that dark place that scares you and find out what is hiding in there.  It might be an interesting journey into self discovery. You may find yourself carving a path to you own happiness.... have fun.

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