Friday, December 3, 2004
If You Have Children, You DO Homeschool
During my daughter's last year in public school (4th grade), we were already homeschooling, but we just did not realize it at the time. Recognizing how much I was already teaching her at home made our decision to homeschool much easier.
She had difficulty keeping her mind on the subject at hand and often daydreamed in class when she should have been working on assignments, so I worked with her at home after school to improve her focus. Many concepts that the public school teacher tried to teach were just not grasped by my daughter, so I explained them in as many different ways as I could think of until she understood. It felt really good to be able to impart confidence to my daughter for the things I was teaching her. She did not get personal feedback in the classroom, and that was something she truly needed to keep her going.
It finally became clear to me that I was becoming the primary teacher in my daughter's education. The teacher at school handed out the assignments, but her attempts at instruction simply were not successful with my child. More and more often, my daughter came home seeking my confirmation of a lesson from school, and many times the lessons were very confusing. The school did not allow students to take textbooks home; for some subjects they did not even have textbooks. Once in a while the concept learned at school was just plain wrong. (There is no polite way to phrase it: wrong is wrong.) The frustration level soared dramatically as I attempted to teach my daughter at home in late afternoons and evenings (when she was tired and I was busy preparing a meal) without benefit of curriculum. Many parents go through this scenario to a greater or lesser degree -- Junior needs help, parent tries to help, success is debatable.
Parents, I would like you to reflect for a moment on all the things that you do successfully teach your children. You have probably already read my soapbox speech on how you taught your children to walk, to talk, to dress themselves, to feed themselves, and how to do a myriad of other tasks before they were considered old enough for "formal education." You imparted all of that knowledge without the aid of printed textbooks, charts, diagrams, or other visual aids. Now I want to look deeper into the realm of what you teach at home without even trying hard. Your children learn their greatest lessons in life just from observing the everyday routines of their parents and other family members.
Language (including choice of slang words), fashion consciousness, manners, the value of money, person-to-person relationships, the importance of extended family members, community involvement, religion, politics, prejudices -- these are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of lessons learned at home. Have your children learned to do their own laundry, have they learned to think of others by sharing in the family laundry task, or have they learned to expect someone else to provide them with clean clothing? Apply the same line of questioning to mealtime -- is Mom expected to perform all facets of food preparation and clean-up, do family members help Mom, or is it "every man for himself"? Look around your house right now: are there articles of clothing scattered about, draped over every chair; newspapers lying on the floor next to an endless array of toys, game pieces, and miniature cars; or is every room absolutely spotless, not a speck of dust, and no single article out of place? Remember, this is not a spot inspection of your housekeeping ability -- this is your personal, private, in-depth analysis of what and how you teach your children.
I am the only member of my extended family who has chosen to homeschool, but I am not the only one who teaches her children. Some children learn that a parent's career is much more important than the children's needs. Some children learn that volunteering in the church/community has a much higher priority than spending time with family. Some children are taught to expect the television to be their constant companion and the basis of all their values. Some children are never taught how to entertain themselves without the use of electronic media. These may not be the lessons that parents desire their children to learn, but it may be what they are teaching.
If you are spending every evening with your child, helping him with his school assignments, you might want to consider the benefits of homeschooling. You could continue to do the same amount of teaching, but you could choose when to do the lessons -- ideally, choosing times when you are both fresh and not at the end of very frustrating days. You and your child could also decide together what other subject areas would be interesting to explore and how you would like to investigate them. If you have children, you are already homeschooling. You may not be the one teaching long division, world history, or grammatical sentence structure, but you are teaching.
Posted by Carolyn M @ 1:17 PM |