Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why Do We Homeschool?

A friend asked me the other day why I decided to homeschool. I rattled off an answer on the spot...Delaney loved to learn, she learned quickly, and by the time she was the right age for kindergarten, I wasn't sure what the teachers would do with her.

I thought about it later, and found that it wasn't entirely accurate. The reasons are so much more than a glib "she was a fast learner".

So, why DO I homeschool?

I had to sit down and make a list of the reasons. After that, I reflected on my reasons to determine which ones meant the most to me. I found that "TIME" was the motivation behind most of my desire to keep the girls at home.

  • Time to work on a project for as long as it takes, or as long as we are interested.
  • Time for extracurricular activities/travel.
  • Time for family.
  • Time for play. 
 Time to work on a project for as long as it takes, or as long as we are interested.

I believe strongly in child-led learning, and I watch it work on a daily basis. The girls show interest in something and go for it. I help by finding books at the library, strewing activities around, Youtube videos, or simply getting out of the way and allowing our schedule to be open so fascinations can be pursued.  They are curious, adventurous, and love to learn. When the interest level comes to an end, there is time to move on to something new. We are not tied to units that must be finished, or test preps that must be completed.
Making homemade pickles

When I taught school, I disliked the "start and stop" of it all. 9:00 - 9:30 - reading. No matter if you are really enjoying your book, or your journal. 9:30 is time to go to PE, and we must be there on time. 11:00 - 11:30 - Math. No matter if the students are having a difficult time, and need more explanation, or are enjoying a concept and thinking of fantastic's time for lunch. We'll come back to that tomorrow. I was continuously disrupting my students' flow.

I love the freedom of reading as long as we want, doing art as long as we want, playing the game as long as we want. Learning until we are ready to move on. Some days turn into art-day-all-day, some are science and discovering...some days are stay in your pajamas and read on the couch all day. It's wonderful. 
Art in pajamas from morning till the afternoon

Children learn at different speeds. I am thankful that I can let my girls learn at their own pace. Some concepts will be easier to understand. Some concepts will take longer. That's fine. As long as their creativity and love of learning is not diminished, they will be successful.

Dressed our best to do math and more art.

Time for extracurricular activities/travel.

Currently, the girls participate in gymnastics twice weekly, and will soon begin swimming lessons twice weekly. Delaney is in Girls Scouts, and attends soccer and basketball class. Sophie participates in a multi-sports class for littles and will assuredly join in more sports as soon as she is old enough.  We meet friends at the park and play or ride bikes, and hike in the forest behind our house. Delaney is interested in art, sewing, dance and theater. We can fit many of these things into our schedule without feeling overrun with activities, and still have time for all of the other things we like to do.

Serious work at basketball. :)

We visit the library at least once during the week. The librarians know the girls by name. Delaney writes and illustrates little books, and gives them to her favorite librarian, who displays them for others to see, or uses them in her story times, which is pretty thrilling for both Delaney and me.

There is a plethora of natural resources around us, within short driving distance. Volcanoes, caves, Native American ruins, canyons, mountains, cliff dwellings. If we drive a little further, we have museums and exhibits, plays,'s really endless. If we don't feel like leaving town, we have museums and the observatory, and the university often has cool things going on. We've been able to accompany Cullen when he travels for work, and look forward to more travels in the future. We have time to do any and all of these, and still have time to relax afterwards.

Time for family.

Our family spends a lot of time together. The kids and I are together most of the day, and the whole family hangs out together in the evenings. We plan fun things on the weekends.  We don't have to stress over homework that must be done by the following day, or takes up the entire weekend. Hailey began high school this year, and so far, thankfully has not been saddled with too much work on the weekends. Throughout middle school, that was not the case. I realize that students may need extra skills practice that can't be fit into the day, but when a child is expected to go to school from 8am - 4pm, and brings home 2 hours worth of homework each night, not to mention the 4-5 hours worth on the weekends, something is wrong. It leaves no time for family, or for play. I am protective over my family time, and do not want to share it with a pile of busywork homework. I am also protective over play time, at every age. We need time to play!

Hiking at Sandy's Canyon

Which brings me to my next reason.

Time for play.

All humans, not just the tiny ones, learn through play. Through play, we are creative, we learn to problem solve, we learn about impulse control, social etiquette, how to observe and learn from the feelings and experiences of others, and the consequences of our actions. Difficult concepts can be incorporated into and puzzled through during play. Play is open-ended - there are no wrong answers. While playing, children feel confident in taking risks and making mistakes, then trying again.

What have my kids learned through play this week?

Well, the huge Amazon Subscribe and Save boxes arrived, so, this week, they have revisited construction. They've experimented with how to cut the windows just right so they will open and shut, how to measure the door so it is big enough for both girls to crawl through, how to engineer two boxes to be connected to each other to form a two-bedroom hideout, and how to balance their creation properly to turn it into a two-story building.

Or a box-o-lantern...
 Delaney turned the larger box over, got inside and peeked out. Cullen told her that the box looked like his old tv set from when he was a boy. She spent the remainder of her evening writing a tv show, with pictures and a script, and performed it for Sophie and me from the "tv" the next day.

The Delaney the Doll Show!
And a documentary on cheetahs, of course.
The girls have been watching the BBC's "Jungle Book" series on Netflix, and desperately want to swing from vine to vine like Mowgli. They have been using different types of rope on the tree in the backyard to attempt it...yarn, rope, a plastic jump rope...they are learning about weight and balance, and gravity, team work and experimentation.

Delaney made up another recipe earlier this week...this one included crushed Cheerios, lemon and lime juice, honey and salt. She learned about measurement and risk taking.

Making me a special breakfast. She's a good kid.

Sophie and I play a money game that she made up. She gives me handfuls of change and I count it back to her. She tells me what each coin is worth, and as she watches me, she is learning how to count it as well.

I introduced Delaney to the Mad Libs app on the ipad a few weeks ago, and she is able to play it by herself now. Mad Libs are the most fun way to teach parts of speech! When she completes them, I read the final story in my best "radio announcer" voice, and we laugh and laugh.

I could go on and on and on...this is just a snapshot of their independent play. I play more structured games with them also, board games, math games, logic games, ipad games. They ask one million and five questions, and we look up the answers. We play and learn all day. It is really fun.

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I anticipate that we will continue to homeschool as long as life allows, or until the girls request a change. I'd be perfectly happy if that doesn't happen until the college level. I'm excited to see what they will be interested in as they grow older, and to be able to give them opportunities to pursue those interests in an authentic context, rather than through a textbook and classroom.

And the next time someone queries about my decision to homeschool, perhaps I should just say, "Because it's fun!"

1 comment:

I'd love to hear your thoughts, opinions and ideas!


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