Chicken Fried Vogue

For 15 years and most of her adult life, Bubblez lived in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city. She enjoyed taking her children to museums, parks, and dates at Starbucks. Then Bubblez moved to the country and her En Vogue attitude got chicken fried. Her yard is a park where the neighbor's rooster won't stop crowing, Starbucks is almost an hour away, and her large collection of fancy shoes is worthless. But, living in the acres of green has presented more opportunities for living "green" as Bubblez travels the path toward self-sufficiency (and bitches ((and prays)) along the way).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Homeschooling Part 3: So, What's So Great About It?

If homeschool is something you are still considering, I do have this bit of encouragement to offer. If you can teach your child to count to 10 and say their ABC's, you have no reason to believe that you won't be able to teach them beyond that. I taught all four of my children how to read, and it was so easy that I can't even tell you how I did it, exactly. So, if you are worried about whether or not you are capable, regardless of your own educational background or lack thereof, you are.

I don't know them, but I'm willing to bet that your kids are pretty damned smart. They can learn from you. All you have to do is provide them with the right materials and learning environment. Even if you are not the greatest teacher in the world, chances are good that your child will still learn better one on one with you than they would 25 to 1 in a conventional classroom.

I hate hate hate it when people presume that if your children are being educated at home, they will have no social skills. Is it possible to completely isolate your children and ruin their ability to function in society? Yes, if you are cruel and abusive. (Come to think of it, I know a couple of people who attended public school who weren't allowed any friends or social life outside of learning, due to abusive parents, and those people still have trouble forming healthy relationships.) Is it normal for homeschooled children to be isolated and socially inept? No. No, it is not normal at all. If you are choosing to homeschool, I hope I can assume that you are simply interested in doing what is best for your child. Part of home educating, is making sure your kids get opportunities to learn, and most importantly, play (because it's in the casual moments when our relationships form) with other children.

Homeschoolers in urban areas, especially, have scads of social opportunities. Rural homeschoolers might have to dig a little deeper or drive a little to farther to participate in these things, but then, you do that for everything (shopping, etc), right? So, what's the big deal?

First of all, you have all of the various businesses that focus on teaching kids music, dancing, swimming, martial arts, gymnastics, or anything else. Of those, many offer daytime classes which are geared specifically toward homeschooling families. Gyms like the YMCA often offer special classes for homeschoolers, as well. Even roller rinks and horse stables will offer, at the very least, an occasional homeschooling event. There are sports and theatre opportunities available through community resources, and depending on what state you're in, through both private and public schools. Some schools will even let your kids take elective courses at their facilities right along side their regular students. Are you affiliated with a religious group? I bet there are regular classes once or twice a week at your church, aren't there? The local library probably offers interesting opportunities for kids to hang out together, too. Don't discount after school (latch key) programs for your homeschooled children, either. How about boy or girl scouts and 4-H Club? And I haven't even touched on the number of homeschool support groups and co-ops that exist.

By the way, you will appease Grandma and whoever else is expressing negativity toward your decision to homeschool your children, when you give her the opportunity to say, "Oh my. I'll tell you, my seven year old grand-daughter was reading to me about bugs last week. They went out on this hiking trip, or whatever it was, and she showed me probably 50 pictures of different bugs she had seen. She was telling me about this one and that one. I swear she's smarter than I am! And oh my goodness, they are involved in this and that. Why it's just go go go with them." Shh.. between you and me, it doesn't have to be go go go. You just want a healthy balance, and Grandma just wants to be able to impress her friends.

Social time outside the home is important, but what most people really like about homeschool is the strong relationships that are built within the home. Ask any homeschooling family about sibling rivalry. I'm willing to bet my right arm that most will say it's only a minor concern. Ask homeschool families about their children's disobedience and disrespect toward parents and other authority figures. They might say they have one kid who challenges the rules, but generally speaking their kids are respectful and well behaved. Why is that?

Well, for one thing, homeschool offers parents and children a unique bonding opportunity. You work together rather than against each other. It's not "go do your homework" and "go do your chores." It's "let's sit down and talk about this subject" and "let's use this hour to clean up the kitchen." That's not to say you won't have a child who tries to sneak away and hide when it's time for the less pleasant acts to be done, but you really just do not get as much fighting and resistance when they know you are on their side and are working right along with them to accomplish the same goals. They know you will be there for the fun stuff, too, and that makes a world of difference.

Also, being free from the bullies and mean girls, the eat or get eaten attitude that is prevalent among children in conventional schools, allows a child to grow in kindness and confidence, and enables them to reach out to others in a friendly way without the fear of being belittled or shunned. Take Teenie, for example.

My daughter had been receiving her education at home from second grade on. This school year, she decided to attend the public high school. She was also new in town, so to say she was the "new kid" was putting is mildly. Teenie passed nervously through her first day. To say that she was strung out when she got home that day was an understatement. Do you know what the problem was? She kept getting lost in the new building and was worried that she wouldn't find her classes.

As her mother, I knew that this was a normal part of first day anxiety that happens with every student pretty much every year. What I was worried about, of course, was whether or not the other kids were mean to her. Well, Teenie, having only rarely been exposed to mean kids, just assumed that everyone was nice. As a result, she approached the other students with confidence, asking for directions to this room or that one, asking for assistance with her locker, and smiling at anyone who looked her way. She came home from her first day of school with two phone numbers of girls in her choir class and her first story of having been flirted with by a boy. Oh if only she hadn't been homeschooled! We could have avoided such trauma.

Can I brag for a minute? We just received Teenie's midterm report in the mail. She's getting A's in every class but one, math. I'm taking the blame for that one. She took algebra a year early at home, but as you know if you read Part 1 of this series, math is not Teenie's strong area. Instead of enrolling her in sophomore level geometry, I should have had her retake algebra with the other freshmen, because even though she expressed confidence, I knew she was shaky. What I am SO proud of, are her study skills. She is a hard worker who knows how to and isn't opposed to studying. When I was in high school, I found that good grades were pretty easy to come by. If I showed up and turned in my homework, I could usually pull off a B average, and I really did not see the point in working for an A. My lack of study skills killed me when I got to college. Teenie will be just fine.

A fun side effect of homeschooling, is that kids learn how to learn. That sounds silly, doesn't it, but how many times have you heard someone say, I wish I knew how to...? So many people have no idea how to approach the acquisition of new information. When you homeschool, finding information is part of everyday life, and the longer you do it, the more aware you are of available resources. There's the internet, the library, the television, the lady across the street, or the man at Home Depot who all might be able to help you. You know how to find the information and how to get it from the source into your own head. Sometimes, it's just asking. Sometimes, it requires setting up an appointment or sending a letter of inquiry.

Did it ever occur to you, that it's easier to learn more and get ahead in life if you have good manners? It occurs to homeschoolers. Having well mannered children is often another pleasant side effect.

Here are a few other things that are benefits of homeschooling:

-You make your own schedule, including vacation time.
-You have more time as a family and more time to serve your community.
-You know what your kids are doing and who they're with.
-You control your child's diet.
-You can tailor your curriculum to your child's unique learning style.
-Children learn more from you, and less from their peers.
-Your child can experience more things first hand when they are not limited to a classroom.
-The people in your home will experience fewer illnesses and have the chance to rest and heal when illness does occur.
-You choose what your children learn in terms of heritage, religion, morals, and values.

So, now that I've told you some of the good things about educating at home, is homeschooling right for you? If you're thinking, "oh, hell no," I'm sure glad you can recognize that. But if you're thinking, "wow, that is right up my alley," and want information that will help you get off on the right foot, visit:

 Homeschooling Part 4: Getting Started

Go back to Homeschooling Part 1: Our Story
Go back to Homeschooling Part 2: Is Homeschooling WRONG for you?

If you have questions regarding any aspect of home education, please feel free to contact me, and I will try to get your questions answered.

No comments:

Post a Comment