Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Everyone should homeschool

Yep, it's almost September, and in addition to football (YAY!) the new school year is upon us! I read this blog post from "Simple Mom" this morning and it got me thinking. Everyone should homeschool.

Now, lest you think I'm advocating doing away with our school system, I will tell you I come from a family of teachers. My dad and mom are retired teachers, and my brother and sister-in-law are teachers. I am all for schools, and I think we are lucky to live in a country with truly free as well as mandatory education. Some parents choose, for a variety of reasons, to educate their children at home, and this is and should be their choice as long as their children can pass exams to show they are making adequate progress.

But homeschooling doesn't have to replace the standard school day. It can supplement it, as Megan points out in the post linked above. In fact, you're probably already doing it without realizing, if you have kids. Kids are learning all the time, whether we like it or not. Sometimes that's a great thing, like when you hear your younger brother or sister joining in the prayers at church without being prompted. Sometimes, when you've just closed your hand in a drawer or hammered your thumb - not such a great thing.

As parents, we play a unique role in the education of our children. We are their first teachers, able to tailor each lesson to their individual learning styles. We can teach math and science while fixing dinner or baking cookies. We can practice reading and object identification when grocery shopping. I'm willing to bet none of you readers learned how to mow the lawn or do the laundry in a classroom at school. Faith formation can and should begin in the home. There are a lot of things we will teach our children over the course of the time we have with them, many of them critical life skills, some to supplement the lessons learned during a day at school. "Homeschooling" doesn't have to mean pulling your kids out of regular school and undertaking their entire K-12 education yourself. It just means intentionally integrating teaching into your day, even if it's just a few minutes a day.

I'll be the first to admit, I'm still learning how to teach my kids. Granted, they are young yet, but we've learned a lot together so far. I learned how to nurse as they learned how to eat. I learned how to put a shirt on over their heads; they learned that getting dressed wasn't a cry-worthy occasion. They're learning how to fall back to sleep during naptime and at night; I'm learning to listen to the crying for five or ten minutes as they do so. I'm learning the difference between their cries of frustration and the insistent cries that indicate hunger or a wet diaper. We're learning together, and that's okay. Perfection is not a requirement for parenthood. The human race would not have persisted this long if it were.

In the article from "Simple Mom", there are some great ideas for how to supplement your child's school day. The first and probably most important is to READ. Reading is fun for even very young kids. Heck, my girls are 10 weeks old and they will stare at the same page of a book for half an hour! Keep books in the house. Visit the library together. Let your kids see you read. If you tell them to read and then you go watch TV for the rest of the evening, they think reading isn't something big people do.

I'll add my own suggestion, and that's to learn along with your kids. If they suddenly develop a fascination with hurricanes or dinosaurs, find out what you can on the subject (unless, of course, you happen to be a meteorologist or a paleontologist!) and share it with them. Or better yet, let them teach you what they know. Note: it can be helpful to read an encyclopedia article on the subject if you take this approach, just to refresh and update your own understanding.

Kids get really "into" one or two things at a time when they're young, and they will remember your encouragement of their interests well into their adult years. My husband and I still talk about our childhood obsessions with - you guessed it - hurricanes and dinosaurs, and we've been known to drink our morning coffee out of his twenty-some-year-old "Dinosaurs are cool" coffee mug. If you can instill in your kids that learning is fun, they will enjoy school more and get a better education because of it. And that, dear readers, is why everyone should homeschool!


  1. I'm a homeschooler, though I never intended to be. Things happen...
    Anyway, I just wanted to add that if you are homeschooling in the traditional sense, or homeschooling in the supplemental sense, you should make the learning fun. My daughter hates to repeat lessons, but doesn't mind reviewing through games (she likes Learning Games for Kids). Reviewing can be fun! As for reading, if you model the behavior that reading is important, by having books, letting your kids see you read, and having books for them to read, they will grow up knowing that reading is good, important, and worth their time. While school might teach your kids how to read, you teach them to love to read.

  2. I wish I had been homeschooled! I never thought much of the public school system and now that I attended a four year university for a couple weeks, I realized I'm not ready.