There’s a stereotype of homeschoolers that “do” school every day in their pajamas. Sounds kind of great, in a way. While it may be true for some homeschool families, it rarely happened in ours. Unless, of course, someone was sick and took a detour into the schoolroom to see if Mom would make a grilled cheese sandwich, find a blanket, get more cold medicine, etc.. I’m of the mindset that actually putting on clothing prepares you to make the day happen. Still… there may be homeschoolers out there that swear doing school in their pj’s is the bomb, and one of their favorite things about being home all day.
That’s great. Awesome, Incredible. Amazing.
Because my absolute favorite thing about homeschooling is that the rules can change. Homeschooling allows such a huge degree of flexibility it’s astounding. You want to wear pajamas? Fine. You don’t? That’s fine also. You’re all sick? Well then, you can watch Johnny Tremaine with a mug of tea in hand, and say you studied history. In fact, when I was in elementary school, the entire 4th grade went to the school auditorium to watch Johnny Tremaine as part of our history studies. So why can’t I do the same thing at home? Well, I can. If a certain math curriculum isn’t making sense to your child, you can change it. Or if one child is capable of doing the same schoolwork as the next oldest child, you can accelerate their work. Or not. Homeschooling affords the flexibility to tailor school to your situation, your family, and your students.
Another terrific thing about homeschooling is that you get to be with your kids, and know them really really well. I do know people that have sworn to me that they could never be with the kids ALL. DAY. LONG. While I understand it to a degree, I truly believe that both parent/teacher and child/student grow into the relationship and proximity of it. Think of it kind of like when someone is newly married. They got married because they couldn’t imagine not being with each other, but learning each other’s habits and quirks takes some adjustment time. I am inherently tidier than my husband, and sometimes it drives me crazy, but I’ve learned to live with that personality trait, and vice versa. The same can be said for the 24-7 homeschooling situation; you may have more exposure to your kids acting like kids, but the more time you have with them, the more time you have to guide them toward maturity. Being with your kids all day long isn’t just a job; it truly is an adventure!
Likewise, because you homeschool, you can have all sorts of adventures and experiences! Beyond the normal art and science museum field trips we took, we were able to travel all across the country and call it school. We visited Plimouth Plantation and saw how the first pilgrims (one of whom was our ancestor) lived, experienced Lexington Green, Concord, the Old North Church (one if by sea, two if by land) first hand, toured Gettysburg and several other Civil War battlefields, ending at Appomattox Courthouse, where the Confederates conceded to the Union. We took an in-depth tour of Chicago, visiting the Field Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, neighborhoods off the “L,” and saw Jackson Pollack’s Greyed Rainbow and Suerratt’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, forever feeling at one with Ferris Bueller and his friends as they did the same. We worked with our congressman to get a special tour of Washington, DC, visited New York City shortly after September 11th, saw Broadway plays, and the pièce de résistance – took a 6 week camping trip across the Midwest, West, finishing up in the South. We experienced 13 national parks, camped with sea lions on the Pacific Coast, visited friends in Seattle, boating past Bill Gates’ house, strolled through a ghost town, and the list goes on. And on and on and on! School doesn’t have to take place in a room with 4 walls!
When you do teach within 4 walls, however, you can teach to both your children’s strengths and weaknesses. I mentioned in another post that our daughter is dsylexic, so when she learned to read, both of us were exhausted by the task pretty quickly. But because we homeschooled, we could try different methods of learning, such as tracing letters on sandpaper because sometimes brains need tactile reinforcement. To help her want to read, we used cereal boxes, magazines, toy assembly instructions, recipe cards, and more because book reading can be repetitious and boring. We did this off and on all day long; we weren’t constricted to a 6 hour period to get it “done for the day.” Conversely, one of our sons was reading by the age of 4, so he was able to read and comprehend much more advanced material throughout his education at home. Rather than sitting in a classroom with 30 other kids, bored out of his mind, we were able to continually challenge him. Each of us is unique, so it makes sense that we don’t learn in the same manner or at the same pace either. Homeschooling is an optimal way to teach each child in a way that steadily improves both their strengths and weaknesses.
While there will certainly be days that aren’t fun in homeschooling – just like in life! – it can be a wonderful way to help your kids learn more than just the 3 R’s. I will forever be glad that we had the opportunity and means to home educate our children. I loved them which made homeschooling so much easier!