Friday, November 12, 2010

What they did right(homsechooling part 2)

There is nothing I love more than watching my son explore his world.  Everything, at five and a half months, is new.  He delights in discovering new sounds he can make, playing with his toes, and working so hard on crawling.  I love this, and it's one of the reasons I want to homeschool.  I want to watch him discover his world all through his childhood, and I want to be the person who explores it with him.
So this has made me re-evaluate my homeschool experience, and identify what was done right.  There were four main things that, looking back, I could identify as making our homeschool experience a success:

We were individuals.  There was no canned curriculum in my home.  My mother spent countless hours over the years researching and studying out the best books to use.  And simply because it was good for me, my mom was wise enough to realize it would not necessarily be best for one of my sisters.  Our curriculums were tailored to meet our own needs, right where we were.  My mom also stayed away from going with the flow and using what ever curriculum was currently popular.  Just because something was popular didn't mean it was the best thing for our family.

We were flexible.   If something wasn't working, we found something that did.   Just because we owned the textbook or curriculum ddin't mean we would continue on with it.  If it wasn't the best thing, my mom found something that was.

We were not isolationists.   It is a wide world, and there is a lot to learn and see and do and be.  We never felt segregated from the world at large.  We were not super-sheltered, not isolated, and had large birthday parties.  We spent a lot of time with others, whether it was a homeschool gym class, Bible Quizzing, missions trips, snowboarding, plays, or merely spending the weekend at a friends' house.  Even though my sister and I may have been best friends, and are still close, we had plenty of other friends outside the family.  Why is this important?  I have seen many people who grew up very isolated, were not allowed friends outside the family, and now I watch them struggle to cope in a rapidly changing social environment.  Also, we were able to see the way other families did things, whether wise or unwise things.  There were things that other families did that perhaps were not allowed in my family, or were simply foolish.  We were able to see that, to know how what kind of adults those children and teenagers became, and know what we want in our own families now.  There were many things that I will probably be more lenient on than my parents were, and many things that I will probably be stricter on than many of my friend's parents.  And there will be things I will be stricter on than my own parents were.  But because we were not isolated form the world, we have a lot of experiences and knowledge to draw from now as we raise our own children.

Education was a priority.  While I am making a concerted effort to not criticize anyone here, one of the things my sisters and I observed in other homeschooling families was that school did not seem to be a priority.  Waking up at 11 am after staying up half the night does not make education a priority.  Training your daughters how to sew, can, cook and clean while neglecting literature, history, math and science does not make education an priority.  Not requiring your children to finish their workbooks/textbooks/homework does not tell them that you think education is important.  And not striking a balance between good and worthwhile activities and staying on course with your schoolwork does not make education a priority.  Requiring your older children(usually daughters) to run your household and take care of your young children does not indicate to them that you think either parenting or education is important.  
None of these were factors in our homeschool.  Our schoolwork was of the highest academic quality.  It was finished.  It was important.  Why, after all, would you make the time and financial sacrifice to homeschool, if you didn't think education was important?
I have a child now.  A goofy, wonderful, happy, lovely little boy.  He may not be as academic as I am.  He may want and need to spend lots of time with his dad learning how to fix things and build stuff.  He may not be able to sit still very long and need lots of time to run and play.  Every situation is different, but I truly believe that if I stay flexible, accept him as an individual, allow him time to be and learn from others, and make sure he knows that he and his edcuation is so important to me, I think he will be fine.