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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What does it take to homeschool?

When I began home schooling I never sat down and figured out what it would take for my wife and I to school our children at home. Basically, we hold onto several decisions that are normally made by committees, school boards, principals and teachers. We hold onto questions of class structure, content, teaching style, lesson plans and curriculum. As parents teaching in the home we not only maintain the role of parent but also keep that of administrator, teacher, janitor and lunch lady.

I never really considered this a few years ago when I consented to letting my wife to “try” teaching our kids at home. Now, I wouldn’t give away these roles. Our children gain several benefits from us not delegating these roles away. We are able to seek outside help in our state and have consultants that we pay for out of our own pocket, that help us make decisions of curriculum but my wife and I (mainly my wife) make the final decision.

The biggest benefit that I can work with is I can tailor my curriculum at the beginning of the year to the level my child is at right now. They can be halfway through second grade on one subject, at the beginning of third grade in another subject, and even further on in another subject. The decision on what is taught to my child is based on what she knows and what she has mastered. This is a huge benefit for my child over institutional school where decisions are made on some imaginary standard of a student that is used to develop grade levels.

As the school year progresses we are able to adjust our schedule and path for each subject as the year moves forward and meet my child’s needs. The benefit is that we are able to present the lesson to our child and our child alone. I only have to meet one mind in its needs and its understanding.

The role of administrator really is the role of parent. We have to make decisions about how much outside playtime, inside playtime, computer time and field trips. The great thing is that we don’t have to participate in parent-teacher conferences and teacher-administrator meetings. We are able to combine all of these roles together into the parents.

The role of janitor is one of my favorite roles because it really takes very little additional time to fill when you are teaching your children at home. If you think about it the additional mess that a child in school makes is really small in the grand scheme of a toddler and their ability to help is present (in varying degrees and depending on their attitude).

The role of Lunch Lady, especially for me as a father, can be lots of fun as well. Currently, I am working second shift and I get up in the morning and make breakfast for my children and then we have lunch together before I go to work. We don’t have to rush around in the morning trying to get anyone out the door unless we have something we have scheduled or planned.

Another favorite activity we have undertaken this year is going on nature walks. Every week we are going outside and just experiencing nature and what is going on with the seasons. I am thinking of adding geocaching to the experience of the outdoors as it could be a fun game for the kids to grow into, problem solving and some basic orienteering skills could easily be learned.

Anyway, I am beginning to digress from my point. What does it take to home school? It takes decisions about lifestyle and roles that you are going to undertake. My wife is a Stay At Home Mother (SAHM) and that is one of the things that makes homeschooling a possibility. We also make choices about what is important to have in the house like cable, newspapers, cellphones and how much you eat out.

One of the big things I work to maintain my attitude on is the question of what do I do when I am not at work. When you are a parent you are “on the clock” and working from the time you wake up until you go to sleep at the end of the night. From the time you go to sleep until you wake up you are merely on call. As the parent that works outside of the home I consider that I have one job outside the home and many inside the home but I don’t ever truly have “off-time”. My wife who stays at home has time on the clock and runs longer than a full-time job. However, I do work to give her time away from the home and time to herself since she doesn’t have the “break” of getting out of the house as regularly as I do.

So, to return to the question, what does it take to home school? It is a choice that a parent makes, it is a commitment. It isn’t for everyone but it is an option that should be preserved, promoted and defended.

Under the Mercy,

Matthew S.


Linda said...

Really great post! Thanks!

Alfonzoxbuf said...

Really great post! Thanks!