by Beth York
There is a list. I am starting it today. A list called, "Reasons to Homeschool" is on my wall. It grows every day. I am going to share some of my list with you as the week's progress, and describe what each item means to me. I hope they can be of some inspiration to you, if you are homeschooling or still trying to make your choice.
In homeschooling circles we call it the "S" word. For so many people who choose to send their children to a separate location for their schooling, homeschooling is something that makes them a little uneasy. They are afraid that our children won't be "socialized," and therefore might be of some kind of harm to their child later in life. The other fear they have is the fear that we are somehow being judgmental of their choice to not homeschool simply by our choice to do so. That just isn't so. The vast majority of homeschoolers enjoy the freedom of choice our country offers and would stand arm in arm with you to keep your choice available as well.
But don't throw the "S" word up at us. What is "socialization," anyway? Let's look at the things we want to accomplish through this "socialization":
- Good behavior, manners and courtesy to others
- the ability to get along with others, to meet and know the joys of friendship with peers
- the ability to know right and wrong
- to know when it is appropriate to say you are sorry
- the ability to solve problems
- respect for authority, nature, each other
- know how to converse and write
- developing the different skills to be a team member and a leader
I'm sure your list wouldn't be identical, but I imagine it would be very similar. I can't find a one on that list that can't be accomplished at home with siblings, neighbors, and other adults. We have so many interactions throughout our homeschooling life. My daughter and son know how to behave in all kinds of situations and they didn't need to sit in a room full of their peers to learn them. They learned them from doing them. We were put into family units for a reason. It's natural to teach your child in that same environment.
Did you know that the Prussian model for school (which is what our entire school system is based upon) was designed to produce an unthinking complacent and obedient military? Perhaps not. Perhaps that is what the schools are still trying to produce - a culture where everyone believes the same things, knows all the same things, and finds all the same things to be important. I surely don't believe it is a place to instill a love of learning, a thirst for knowledge and the authority to make choices for yourself.
So many young people today don't know how to make good and healthy choices because they are given so few options for making safe bad ones. Then we expect them to make good choices when they are teens after having no practice. It is important to have choices. My children make them all day long and they learn when they have made a good choice and when they have made a poor choice. By the time their choices could lead to lots of life complications, they will have had lots of practice and will know what a good choice looks and feels like.
So much of our western culture has taken away what is natural. By the time our children are at an age when most parents send them to school, they have already taken many steps in their parenting path that lead them away from what is natural. Homeschooling is natural. God didn't want it to be hard to procreate. If He made it hard, we might not do it. It isn't supposed to be difficult to be pregnant, have a baby without medication, raise that child near to you in your bed, nursing that baby until that baby is ready to wean and teaching that child all kinds of wonders from the time they are born until they are ready to leave and make a home somewhere else.
Somehow, folks who want to make money and folks who weren't able to empower themselves have convinced all of us that these things just can't be done anymore. Why? It's natural - not painless - but natural to have a baby without any medication. Why? Because it's the best thing. The baby and your body work in harmony to achieve birth when there isn't a manmade substance standing in the way of your body's abilities and communication channels. It's natural to nurse a baby and to allow that child to wean naturally. Why? Because it is the very best thing for that baby and for you. The health benefits are so numerous I can't even begin to name them all, but one that is seldom stressed is the lower risk of breast cancer. It's natural to have your baby near you so you both get rest. If you co-sleep, your child can nurse and you can sleep. We weren't supposed to be sleep deprived and inefficient. It's natural to teach your child from birth to adulthood the things he or she will need to know. Why? Because it comes naturally. We didn't have a curriculum, but they learned to walk. We didn't have workbooks, but they learned to talk. We didn't have special exercises, but they learned to smile. It came naturally.
Sure, there will come a time when your child will need to learn something that you don't know. But, if you have instilled a love of learning and you have shown them how to find information, you won't need to hammer the information into their heads. They will go and discover that information for themselves because they will want to know it.
We live in a dangerous world. Every time I listen to the evening news, another reason to homeschool comes leaping out at me...safety!
We spend countless moments trying to save our babies and toddlers from danger. There are safety caps, safely lids, safety locks, safety clips, and even anchors for our furniture. We put all kinds of contraptions on our cabinetry to make sure the children don't accidentally get into something they ought not get into...why? To keep them safe!
We, as parents, keep them from harm all the time. We catch them from falling, we insist they not climb on things or run too quickly past a sharp corner while the children ask, "Why?" We do it because when they run past that sharp corner, not only are we hoping they don't bump their cheek, we have (in our minds) already driven to the ER for the stitches and consulted with the plastic surgeon about the scars! So, we remind them to slow down, take it easy, no jumping, and give me that knife and the like. All these things we do to keep our children out of harms way.
Then we are expected to send them off to school. To a building full of strangers and dangers and people we are supposed to trust. But every day, on the way to or on the way home or while they are there, children are hurt. They get scrapes and bruises and all the usual...the acceptable childhood injuries. But they are also put down, teased, manipulated, molested, raped, and even kidnapped and killed. I know there are many well-intentioned and trained adults around a school to keep these things from happening, but no one will watch over your child like you will. No one.
The list grows all the time. I'll let you know when I have another reason to add.
Homeschooling won't be for everyone. But for those of you reading this, I hope you have come away with a better sense of peace about what you can accomplish best as your child's parent.
Beth York is a homeschooling mom of two, Hannah (5 1/2) and Nathaniel (2 1/2) and a supervisor with Usborne Books at Home. Beth's website is located here. She is the moderator of a list for homeschoolers, too. It's called HSchoolUBAH at yahoo. Please join if you wish.
Copyright © Beth York. Publishing rights retained by Pregnancy.org, LLC