As Monkey is rapidly approaching school age (oh my days, where have the years gone?!), I have found myself being asked about our plans for his education. I am often questioned as to why we are choosing to homeschool the boys, at least for now, so here are the reasons why.
Choosing to homeschool or unschool is a personal decision, so therefore these reasons are very personal to us. You may agree or disagree, and that’s fine. We each must do what we feel is best for our families, and all children are different.
#1- We want to foster a love of learning.
Sure, some children thrive in a structured school environment – my 4 year old niece is one of them. She loves it, and is blossoming. However, many don’t – and I suspect that Monkey falls into the latter category. It is an accepted notion in our society that learning is something we have to trick our kids into do doing, but I really feel like that isn’t the case. Children love to learn. We are born as little sponges, ready to suck up everything around us. If our kids are allowed to explore their world and learn in a way that suits them, through play and self-initiated discovery, that passion for learning will continue well into adulthood.
#2 – Our children are individuals.
Again, some children thrive in the school system; I’m not disputing that. However, even the very smallest and best of schools simply cannot truly cater for children as individuals. At home, the boys can learn in the way that suits them best rather than having to adapt to the standard way.
#3 – We want the boys to learn to listen to their bodies, not the clock
At home, the boys will be able to wake when they want, sleep when they want, eat when they want and rest when they want. I feel this is really important in order for them to learn to trust their bodies. We live in a world in which we are taught to ignore our bodies signals and I wholeheartedly believe that has a huge hand in the huge increase of weight and food related issues in recent years.
#4 – We want to allow them to be children.
Childhood is so fleeting. Why make them spend 6-7 hours per day, mostly sat down inside, when they could be making the most of their time? It’s been shown that kids tend to learn things faster when they are homeschooled, probably due to the fact that the parents can allow them to learn in the way that suits them best (be that worksheets and studying, or the freedom of unschooling), which means that they can spend more time playing (the most important part of learning) and being active. Most 3 year olds I know have packed schedules already, and I want for us to have a more free and easygoing lifestyle.
#5 – We want them to learn social skills
The first thing people say when talking about homeschooling is generally something along the lines of “But don’t you worry they won’t get socialised?” Actually, I would worry more about my children’s social skills if I had to send them to school. School is a very unnatural social situation – when, in adult life, will you ever have to spend that amount of time with a large group of people who are the same age as you, being told when and where you can talk to each other? In real life, we mix with lots of different people in lots of different situations. I completely agree that it’s important for kids to mix with others their own age – that’s what Scouts/summer camp/sports clubs/dance classes/art classes are for.
#6 – We want our kids to follow their dreams
I do believe that a basic knowledge of English, maths and science is important. However, it makes me sad to think of the amount of time I spent each week at secondary school (age 11-16) studying subjects I couldn’t stand when I would have much rather been in the music rooms or in the drama studio. All of those hours wasted in maths class learning about things that I absolutely do not remember now (trigonometry and quadratic functions to name just a couple), that I could have been spending honing my performing arts skills. That would have given me a much better chance of ending up with a career I *really* wanted. It just makes no sense to me to force anyone to study things they cannot stand and have no interest in. Providing an environment in which they can learn the basics is positive, and then they can choose if they wish to pursue it further later on.
#7 – I don’t want to lose out on precious time with my children
I didn’t have my children so I could send them out of the house for a minimum of 30 hours per week. All mums need a break and I certainly do my best to get one when I can, and for some working mums it’s essential that the kids go to school, but I know so many parents who dislike sending their kids to school and wish they could keep them home. If you’re one of those mums – it’s never too late to start homeschooling! For primary-school age kids especially, there’s nothing that they learn there that they can’t learn in a homeschooling or unschooling environment.
#8 – I don’t want my kids to go through what I did at school
Although I seem very confident on the outside, on the inside I am very insecure and find social situations pretty hard sometimes. I was the same when I was a small child, and it made my school life very hard. Certain group activities made me feel very uncomfortable but I was forced to participate anyway, which often led to me being taunted (or full-on bullied) by my classmates. I hated school with a passion because I didn’t fit into their one-size-fits-all approach, and I couldn’t bear being forced to socialise with people who I felt horrifically uncomfortable with. I see a lot of myself in my oldest son and I couldn’t bear the thought of him going through the same thing. Obviously, if he chooses to attend school at some point I will support him 100%, but I will never put him in a situation like I was in because my school experiences have affected my entire life in a negative manner.
#9 – I want my kids’ individuality to be celebrated and encouraged
School uniform is one of my pet hates. Sure, I understand the reasoning behind it – if they’re all wearing the same thing there is less focus on clothes and more focus on learning, plus it’s supposed to discourage bullying (not that it does) – but I believe that self expression is important. Appearance is just one way to show others who you are and I believe that urge should be encouraged, not quashed. Maybe if the expression of individuality through appearance were the norm, children wouldn’t bully others for features that make them stand out from the crowd.
#10 – I don’t want my children to be measured against others
Scores, tests, sports days, spelling competitions, awards for handwriting and times tables… all of these things foster a sense of competitiveness. Now, I have nothing against a bit of healthy competition – but it’s not healthy for schools to make our kids feel like they aren’t good enough if they don’t hit a certain level of ability by the time their peers have. Sure, schools don’t *mean* to do that, but children tend to internalise things – I definitely did, and I still do. They are perfect and wonderful as they are, flaws and all, and it’ll be a cold day in hell before I allow an institution to make them feel otherwise.
Are your kids in school, or do you homeschool? What brought you to your decision?