Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Why do I homeschool?

Michelle and Michele (he he) did such a lovely job at conveying their reasons for homeschooling and it got me thinking. I couldn't post right away. I needed time to think. And, I guess, I have been a little busy too. And after our first 2 days back to homeschooling after a month "baby break," I do wonder to myself, "Why AM I homeschooling?" Not really. It has gone well.

I think my reasons have changed only slightly since I first started reading up on homeschooling and researching. I don't remember what first got me started on the trail, but I do remember having early homeschool conversations with Michele about the subject while Brennan and Jacob were both still a mere 3 years old. I remember Brian joking with others that I was so excited to homeschool that I was going to rip some little grade school child off the school bus one day and start homeschooling him - just until Jacob was old enough!

And I think that one word, "excited," still sums up my perspective, my feelings about homeschooling. I was excited as I read my very first book. I was excited as I read my second book. I was excited as Michele and I went on our very first shopping excursion to our local homeschool store. I was excited when I started Googling homeschooling. I was excited to attend my very first homeschool conference. I was excited, excited, excited.

Some might argue, "Oh, Celeste, it's just the smell of all those homeschool books that gets you excited." Well, yes, it does. There is nothing better than a fresh stack of books, no matter what the subject! But, honestly, there is more to my excitement than the books and manipulatives.

I love to learn. I would never have thought this of myself in my school days, but now I truly see it for a fact. School was work for me. I did what I was told, I worked super hard, I made top grades, I excelled, I graduated. But I can't say I really enjoyed school. But I do love to learn. I love to read. As Brian says, I devour books. Learning is to love.

From early on Jacob adored books. We read to him often and I always read books to him that were above his "level." Real books, I guess you could say. For a time we were afraid Nicole would not enjoy books as much, but somewhere around 18 months she made the turn and now adores them like her brother. I know she will be anxious to unlock the code to reading too. And even Andrew enjoys books. He gets books off the shelf and reads to himself with his very own "Andrew gibberish." But, never fear, that boy knows what to do with a book. Books litter our home all day long. By the end of the day there is a stack in the study (at my clean up request) of books at least a foot high. At least! It makes me happy to reshelve them every day. I often wonder as I reshelve, "What will they choose tomorrow? What treasure will they uncover?"

I love that they love books. To me this is where a love of learning begins. To read is to unlock a whole world of possibilities. I enjoy hearing Nicole describe favorite books to me and to hear about what Jacob has newly discovered in his reading.

So I get excited. I get excited about sharing knowledge with them. I was always a good reader and I attended mostly public school, but I never read the quantity of books at school that Jacob reads at home. I have my mother to thank for getting the REALLY good stuff in me. She knew the good books, the real books. In our journey of homeschooling I know books will be our mainstay, our constant. I am excited to share with them the journeys they make through their reading. I am excited to read some things I never read. What an adventure awaits!

One of my early reasons for desiring to homeschool stemmed from my short year as a Catholic school teacher. I enjoyed it thoroughly, but was often frustrated by my limitations. I had so little time to do with my students the really wonderful, creative activities that we could possibly do. There were so many basics to squeeze into each day - around the breaks and assemblies and announcements and discipline troubles. Our reading of good books was so limited by the available time. I always felt like so much time was wasted with fluff. And I always felt sorry for the really gifted children who often times missed out because I had to focus so much of my efforts and attention on the average and below average students. Now I know many children get stellar educations at both public and private schools. I am not dragging them through the mud. And I know there are excellent gifted and accelerated programs out there. I am a product of those. But I wanted something different. I wanted the available time to read, make meaningful crafts, to dance to music, to garden and, more than anything, to let them JUST BE A KID! I wanted to allow each child to have time to focus on their interests. If they are really into building, I wanted them to have time after math and phonics to delve into their Legos or K'Nex. And so far I have been more than pleased with that facet of our homeschooling life.

Another reason, I think I have recently more fully discovered, is that if not missing out. As we have begun our "real homeschooling" with Kindergarten this year, I have had countless moments when I knew in my heart I would be crushed if I had had to miss it. It is so enjoyable to watch my children think through things, sort out ideas, talk things through, master concepts, and learn. I hate to think all those "Aha" moments I would miss out on if they weren't here learning in the home. I want to share those moments with them. I love to be able to be the one who says, "Yes, that's it! You got it!" I don't want to miss out on those discoveries that they come barrelling into the kitchen to tell me about. I love to watch them learn.

I want to homeschool my children so that I can provide for their needs. I know if I sent my children to school, it's not that I wouldn't be meeting their needs, but I do think there are needs that would be met by others for part of the day - some of them strangers. When my child is upset during the school day, I want to be there to console him. I want my child to share his special moments with his family more than he would his classmates. I want to be a more present figure in my children's lives. I want to be able to meet their needs as they struggle with difficult bnehaviors, in decision making and with tough moral questions. I feel I can also meet their needs in a special way by meeting their special learning needs. I know so far how Jacob works, pretty much. But I am yet to discover what it is that will really make Nicole tick. She may need something totally different! I want to provide that for her and my other children. And I know I can with little effort and expense. I love my job meeting their needs, no matter how taxing it can prove to be on a 24/7 basis.

I remember after teaching in a Catholic school, I had the feeling that I wanted my children's education to be more Catholic than what I experienced. Not all Catholic schools are the same, but from what I witnessed, I felt I wanted more. I really like the ability that homeschooling gives us to live our Catholic faith all day long, not just during a specific time period carved out for religious instruction. This is something I am constantly trying to improve and I know there are many changes and improvements I can make. But like all of life, our homeschooling journey is just that, a journey.

It has been an interesting endeavor to write this "little" post. I think it has reiterated for me the reasons why I really do homeschool. Yes, there are the other reasons of limited negative peer pressure, great academics, etc., but I think what I have posted about are the real reasons I have. Plus, I must say that I enjoy being with my children all day. It is not an easy job. There are difficult parts of every day. Yes, there are times I wish for time alone. But all in all, I wouldn't have it any other way. I love my children and enjoy them. I am glad they can be home learning and loving with me and with each other.


Melissa said...

Celeste, you are so awesome.

Every time you write about your kids and your life as a Mommy the enormous love you have for them just shines through every word. This was perhaps the greatest example of that and you've got me so excited about MY job as primary provider and educator of my own children. Sometimes I get so caught up in the little day to day details that I fail to see the big picutre, but you have certainly helped put it back into focus.

Thank you so much, dear friend! I hope you are enjoying a lovely day of reading and learning with your little ones!

Mom of boys said...

Excited about new books - I defintely know what you mean! I have spent the last week eagerly perusing all of the wonderful new books for next year.

Kind of makes me wish it is time to start the fall already! :)