Monday, November 14, 2011

What's My Motivation Here?

Occasionally I get asked a question that part of me thinks should be easy to answer - but there is no short and easy answer.  It's a question that most homeschoolers are asked at some point - Why did you decide to homeschool? Sometimes it's asked along with a comment like, "I could NEVER do that" and I admit, there are plenty of occasions when the snarky side of me would really like to say something along the lines of: "You send your kids to public school???  Whatever made you decide to do that??? I could NEVER do that."  But I gnaw on my tongue and I don't.  But I also usually don't go into all the reasons we've decided to homeschool.  There just isn't time.  And I don't have the time now, to be honest, but here are a few of the things that figured in our decision.

We first found out about homeschooling when a family started attending our church way back before we were even expecting our first baby.  They had two daughters that they homeschooled, and during our brief acquaintance with this family, we learned that homeschooling was legal and practical and, if their girls were any indication, tended to turn out well-mannered and mature children.  So by the time we had our first baby, I was pretty sure that I wanted to homeschool.  DH wasn't 100% convinced but he really had no objections either.  Although our own experiences in public school had been largely good ones, I was well aware that schools had already changed a lot from when I was a first grader, and there were some negative things to which I would rather not expose my children.  Then, when Harrison was still a baby, we moved from western Canada to mid-Atlantic USA and in those first few years we were fortunate enough to become acquainted with another homeschooling family that DH worked with, and became even more sure that this was the route we wanted to take for our family.  The final decision was made (for me, anyway) when I realized that if Harrison was to go to Kindergarten at the public school, he would have to ride a bus with kids all the way up to Grade 8, and I think it was all-day Kindergarten too.  That long bus ride for a 5-year-old, in the company of young teens, and being away from home for most of the day seemed unnatural at best.  At about the same time we were considered a move to another state, and the possibility of changing of schools didn't seem like it would be smart either, so our minds were made up.  All before he was even old enough for Kindergarten.

Of course, by that time, Spencer had joined our family as well, and there were plenty of practical considerations that made homeschooling a good choice.  There was no question of my going to work and putting children in daycare.  We had settled that issue long before.  And we figured that we wanted at least one more child, so as long as I was home with a baby/toddler/preschooler anyway, why send the older siblings to school?

Another thing had started to bother at me a little, and that was the apparent ignorance that so many people we met seemed to have of the larger world.  I can't tell you the number of times people would ask where we were from, and when I responded that we were from western Canada, their concept of "Canada" was that it was "that state up north, near Alaska, right?"  o.O  I'm really not exaggerating all that much - I was speaking to adults who didn't seem completely clear that Canada is a sovereign nation, and not another state, or who wondered if I happened to know a guy they met once that was from Canada.  Don't get me wrong - I think it's important to focus on your own country's history and culture, but to be so wholly ignorant of other countries, especially the nearest neighbour to the US...  well, that didn't sit well with me.  I began to realize that I wanted my kids to know more about the world than just the county we lived in, and especially I wanted them to know about the country their dad and I grew up in and loved.

Along the way, we found out lots of practical and wonderful advantages to homeschooling:

  • we can set the schedule.  The time of day, how long we spend on a subject, how many days a week we study, how much work we cover... and I don't have to get up and dressed so I can drive them to school or wait for them at the bus stop.

  • we can choose the textbooks and resources.  We choose things that honour God, and that work for our kids.  We don't have to use the same textbook that everyone else in the county uses.  We can choose individually.

  • we can go on vacation whenever we like.  Go on field trips whenever we like.  I can't tell you how awesome it is to be able to go to a theme park or zoo or almost any museum during a time when we don't have to compete with the crowds.

  • real life learning.  Life happens, and homeschooled kids aren't insulated by it because they are at school with their head in a dry textbook.  And we can find way more opportunities to see and hear and experience things that we are learning about.

  • no uniforms.  We can wear pajamas if we want.

  • fewer sick days.

  • individual learning styles can be accomodated.

  • teacher to student ratio is pretty good.

  • I genuinely enjoy spending time with my kids! They are interesting people, and I am blessed with relationships with them because I can spend lots of time with them, and enjoy their company.

  • so many more....  I don't have time to list them all!

So that's how we got started with homeschooling.

And the more we thought about it, and the more often we had to defend or explain our choice to family and friends, the more plain it became to me that the reason it didn't seem "natural" to me to put my kids on a schoolbus and have them separated from their family members for most of their waking hours each day ----- is because it's NOT.  God's plan is for children to be raised and discipled by their parents, to be influenced and to be educated in a loving home where God is honoured.   Where the inevitable questions of "why?" can be answered based on the truth of God's Word.  Where character can be shaped and trained by the people who care the most and have the most invested in the child.  We can do what we are charged with in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 - impressing God's Word on our children, talking about it as we go through our daily lives.

Homeschooling just makes sense.  I have come to believe that homeschooling should be the "default" position for families, especially Christian families.  Maybe someday it will be.

And sometimes I need to ask myself the question I asked in the title - what is my motivation?  I am doing this because I love my kids, and because I believe it is the right thing to do.  My highest goal is to disciple my kids and continually point them towards the Lord.  There are plenty of other motivations, and none of them wrong, but as long as the most important motivation is my priority, I can keep my focus when days are difficult, and know how I'm doing in reaching that goal.


Blog Cruise ~ Why Did You Decide to Homeschool? at TOS Homeschool Crew said...

[...] Kym from Homeschool Coffee Break contributes What’s My Motivation Here? [...]

Blossom said...

All great reasons :)

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