Thursday, January 27, 2011

An Answer to the Women Who Demand to Know Why I Homeschool

Occasionally, I am asked why we homeschool. I give different answers because there are so many varying reasons, depending on the tone of the person asking. (Sometimes the person can be asking in a nasty, accusatory tone, as you've likely all experienced.) One of the major reasons is so my children can have a broad and excellent education my children would not get if they attended public or private school. This is often a disturbing answer to teachers or parents who are happy to have their kids in public school. Perhaps it makes me sound like a snob. However, it is my true feelings. Let me explain...

I do not think any child in public school is being presented with a large variety of classics and experiences, and I strongly believe that all children deserve this. Furthermore, three of our children have special learning challenges (the fourth has graduated already from homeschool high school).  I would homeschool them even if they did not have special needs, but children like mine are given an even poorer education than the "normal" kids. Two of our children are very bright, although one of those has severe sensory issues that get in the way of everyday life and the other has vision problems. Unfortunately, the third child has a low IQ (just a few points above retardation). They would never be given the education I provide at home, no matter how nice and wealthy the school system. No one would think it worthwhile to read to them for hours from great classical books. No one would show them great works of art and play a large variety of classical music. Do you think they would be learning Latin and Sign Language?!! Are you kidding?!?! They would not be learning to play the piano, act out Shakespeare plays in their free time, and drawing pictures of what they are learning in history. No one would imagine that kids like these would go to the adult section of the library to check out science books for storytime or could sing a dozen songs from musicals (they have all memorized 1776).  If I had a dollar for every time a professional has commented in shocked tones on their advanced vocabulary, understanding of current events or some tidbit of knowledge they divulged, I might be rich.  The disabled are not supposed to know this stuff (according to our public school system). In fact, even normal kids are not supposed to know what my children know (as most people surprised at their knowledge do no know of their learning challenges). Most would say I was wasting my time and should just stick to phonics and math forever.  I know this to be true, because I actually worked in an elementary school as a remedial math and reading teacher assistant for "normal" children.  There were certain fourth and fifth grade students whom I was not allowed to help -- and was actually told they were "throw aways".  These children were not the students in the special education classes! In fact, my oldest son was in special education, and the teacher there told me that he was very bright, but if I wanted him to truly learn anything, I should keep him at home and teach him myself, which is exactly what I did from third grade on.

Now, I am not saying that I am special in some way. I do not have a magic wand or an amazing secret on how to teach special needs or normal kids. I just simply give of my time, energy, and love, trying to impart my absolute LOVE of learning. I do not think it is a waste of time to read Shakespeare to a child with a low IQ. At least she will hear rich, beautiful words. It is sometimes a frightening journey.

I second guess myself...not about sending them to school, but about if I am teaching them the right way. Am I spending too much time teaching classical literature and music as well as going to performances and on field trips instead of sticking to the basics? However, every time I start to doubt, I get a glimmer that I am on the right child finds all the C's, A's and G's on the piano after having no lessons for close to a year, or one might ask such intense questions of a science teacher on a field trip that the man has to go look up the answers (for example, my 8 year old's "What is the temperature of the Cat's Eye Nebula in the Constellation of Draco?")  Tom Sawyer keeps his hand up the whole time during the Q & A period on field trips and often knows the answers.

So, that is one of the primary reasons I homeschool. ALL kids deserve to have the world as their oyster and to learn to love learning. ALL children deserve to have a chance to spread their wings and never, never be labedled as failures.




    I know why you were thinking of me, and I know why I was thinking of you--this is my heart! In reading a couple of Carol Jago books about teaching classics, she states that in a traditional school, only the gifted and talented, or the outrageously rich, would get the type of education that you described above. And she's right. For the rest of us, for various reasons, we would be labeled and given something far less than what we can create at home--without the funding or the justifications of the system. BIG accolades to you and your special gifting, even over and above many of us, and what you are able to give (with the Lord's guidance, of course) to your children. I'm going to come back and read this one again...and again.

  2. Dawn, this is so well-written. I can really hear your heart and passion.
    Your children are so blessed to have you for their advocate and mother. I wish all mother's would go to bat for their kids with the passion that you do. I have no doubt that you are giving your children the absolute best. So sad to think of how they would be "handled" in a regular school.
    You have inspired me, my friend.

  3. Amen!! Wonderful put!! I agree with everything that you said!! Children need and deserve the best education possible....not just the answers to the test. AND, all children should be able to be given the opportunity to learn what they are capable of, not what society deems them able!