This week I've read and heard charges that I have been pretty hard on public schooling and Catholic schooling in the past. Then I find posts like this and think they just got lost in the fray.
From April 2010
Yesterday a question came up on Yahoo Answers that I felt compelled to respond to.
I have never been homeschooled and haven't thought about it with my own future children, but I have to do a research paper on different types of education for school. I will probably chose homeschooling to do it on, so I want the opinions of those who do it to base some of it on. My question is (not trying to criticize or anything, I really want to know) what are your reasons for it, besides controlling what exactly they learn. Is it for religious reasons, so they don't have to separate, so they don't have to fall into a strict routine, more comfortable environment,or a bad school district or anything else? I'm just curious because I need different opinions on the reasons of it, not if it's effective or ineffective.
I've thought of this a lot over the past ten years. Certainly our reasons for homeschooling have changed over the years somewhat, but some reasons remain constant.
One of my reasons have to do with the way I was taught as a student - in a regular school/classroom/institutional setting!
I spent most of my elementary and high school years at a Catholic school. In 5th and 8th grade I was given the opportunity to simply go out and learn as much as I possibly could on one subject for a set number of weeks. In 8th grade, our science exam was to come in and write for everything we had learned about the solar system in one hour. This thrilled me to the point that I only learned the common facts (like the distance to the sun and the names of Jupiter's moons) but also any obscure factoid I could find to spice up my exam paper! In my senior year of high school I took a course called Selected Themes, where I had to prepare one paper or presentation per quarter. I loved it. LOVED. IT.
So my schooling had given me a "taste" for independent learning, and had also given me the desire to really dive into a topic and study it inside and out without being hindered or rushed by the class! I have tried to give my own students a taste of that in our homeschool withs. unit studies.
On further pondering I realized that I HAD been homeschooled as well, and didn't even know it! I've blogged before about mymath woes. I'll bet a lot of parents spend a lot of time homeschooling their kids even though they go to regular school. We call it "helping with homework." I wrote my experience with homework help back in 2006:
Yes literally hours. On the couch or at the table, going over math problems until I got each night's assignment done, sometimes not getting done until after 8 or 9 in the evening! It is only now as an adult and a homeschooling mom that I realize that my grandmother was indeed homeschooling me, she was just doing it after school hours and with the school materials (and afterall, isn't that like a packaged curriculum?)
My poor saintly grandmother would spend hours upon hours with me going over long division, borrowing, fractions…AAAUUUGGGG!! I probably shortened her lifespan by 10 years with my inability to grasp this stuff without an unusual amount of concentrated effort.
Thank God I had patient grandmother, because if had not been for her help, I probably would have had a very different sort of academic career. There have been so many times working with my own remedial math kid that I have had deja vu - although this time I am the tutor and one of my kids is the student.
Last week, my son Gabe was still struggling with his math work and in fact did one lesson and got almost half of the problems wrong. So I set one whole morning aside to work with him just on that. I had him read each problem and tell me how he should solve it. Story problems are hard for him. They were hard for me too in school because I couldn't easily determine what functions I had to do to find the answer. So Gabe and I talked through what function we should do and why and step by step he found the answers for himself. I also discovered that for two part problems he wasn't finishing the second part and for fraction work he wasn't turning mixed numbers into improper fractions first. Once we had that all sorted through, he did much better! This was the kind of help grandma gave me, and now I'm passing it on, mostly to Gabe!
So these are two reasons that we continue to homeschool. Now that I think about it I think it's funny that my school experiences gave me a predilection to be a homeschooler!