Thursday, January 20, 2011

Why I Homeschool

I've never been asked this question, although I know many are perplexed and curious about my decision to do so.  Quite simply, I homeschool for my benefit of my children.  It has nothing to do with anyone who has proven a positive or negative example of any other type of schooling.  I don't do it to strike or affirm anyone else's parenting.  In the first years of our marriage Mike and I made a pact not to criticize other people's children, because, quite honestly, they weren't ours.  "Not my kid", and it helped us immensely to remain friendly with most of our peers and family.  Kids have quirks, I've learned this now by my fifth.  It's often not the intention of the parents for these kids to have such quirks.  I can't judge the parents based on what I see in their children, and I wouldn't pretend to be in a position to do so.  Mike and I have been falsely accused of many things, but in my heart I know that all the children I hold in my circle of acquaintance are there solely because I love them all dearly and they are very important members of my life.

But, why do I homeschool?  Well, again, its for my children.  I love to watch them learn.  I love to watch them grow in knowledge.  I remember with my first son, as he approached the age of 4, I moaned and groaned that it seemed all he could ask was "why".  The infamous "why" phase that every child has.  Well now that I have many more children, I've taken on the hope that none of my children ever outgrow the "why" phase.  Whether they be four or forty four.  Some of the most successful entrepeneurs are those unafraid to ask "why" or rather "why  not".  I want my children to continue to love learning.  To let learning be an organic experience of their young lives so they fully embrace in their secondary and post-secondary educations.  In homeschooling, my children learn very quickly and very soon in their educational career to independently study.  To continue to pursue truths and theories even after the books are put away.  I see one sitting in the corner trying to sound out words from a book, even though we finished reading an hour ago.  I see another drawing with his sister and practicing writing letters, even though we have yet to do his letter drilling for the day.  As I'm washing the dishes from lunch I'm engaging one in Religion, in ethics, in politics, in social sciences, and he's only six.

'Yes, but Patty, my kids go to such and such a school, and they do all these same things.  What makes your kids so special, so important, that you take pride in what they've learned or how they learn it?  My kids read in their spare time, and they draw, and they talk together and to me, and they do all these things as well.'  Then, I can only surmise that you do in your household the same thing in your parental role that I do in mine, encourage learning.  And that is a great thing.

I homeschool my children for my Faith.  I admit, if we could at all afford it, Mike and I would have sent our children to Catholic school.  We love our Faith, we love the Church, and its a gift we want to pass on to our children.  We want our children to learn the Faith, to come to love the Faith, to have a relationship with Christ and his Immaculate Bride.  I love to see my little ones learning to pray.  I love to hear my older ones pretending to "say Mass".  I'm excited to hear my eldest teach the others to read from the Bible and to talk to his father about God.  I want them to grow up secure in the love that God has for them, and to thrive in that love.

'Yes, but Patty, my kids go to such and such a school, and they know and love God and his Catholic Church.  Why would you think that your kids wouldn't have Faith if they went to public school?'  I never said that.  I said only that I delight in having a role to help my children come to the Faith and to learn it.  No matter what school environment they were in, my kids would learn the Faith at home because, as poor an example I am of it, I love the Church and all of Her graces.  Praise God that your children live in a household that has a strong example of the love of God in you, the parents.  That you encourage Faith in an environment that may not always be supportive of it.  Again, that is a great thing.

I homeschool my children for the chance to go to college.  That's a stretch, I hear you saying.  But I'm sure you didn't know that 99% of homeschooled students are recipients of scholarships to higher education.  In recent years, the trend has been for colleges and universities to search out homeschoolers to join to their student body.  Mike and I are poor, and we have a lot of children.  The chances that we will be able to pay in entirety all of our children's college tuition at this point is an impossibility.  While we will help in whatever way we can, homeschooling is a way for our children to help themselves.  That is our hope anyway, and we work everyday in school to guarantee it.

'Yes, but Patty, my kids go to such and such a school, and because of their grades, their involvement in various extra curricular activities, and their application to various organizations, they will have college money when they need it.'  Again, I applaud you as a parent for being so supportive in their college pursuits.  Its a great sign of a parent, imho, who can lend so much of themselves to ensure their children are given opportunities at education.

I homeschool for my children.  My schooling days are filled with joys and challenges.  With prayers and hopes and dreams.  With laughter and frustration.  But they are days that are cherished and well lived out.  As every school day ought to be.  As every school day is for children who's parents are involved in their schooling.  If you're interested in my schooling, its only because you are intersted in your own student's schooling.  I don't have to sell homeschooling to you.  It's not an option you may care to be involved in.  That's fine.  It works for us, but I know it doesn't work for everyone.  I do it for my children.  And at the end of the day, I do what every good parent does.

To paraphrase a quote from I believe Fulton Sheen, for those who believe in homeschooling no explanation of why it is done is necessary.  For those who don't believe in homeschooling, no explanation of why it is done will suffice.

I do it for my children.  Because I love them.  Because I want what's best for them.  In the end, its because I'm trying to be the best parent I can be.  And despite my greatest efforts, they'll still turn out just fine.

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