Monday, July 12, 2010

Why We Homeschool

Before we started a family, I was intrigued by the concept of homeschooling.  As time passed I learned more about its benefits and possible pitfalls.  From the beginning I understood there were very strong opinions out there about homeschooling.  Turns out the subject can be very 'polarizing' and very politically charged too.  It is without a doubt a personal choice.  Reasons vary extensively.  For every family out there, there is a reason to homeschool, or not to homeschool.

In our case, distance is a real issue.  The nearest school is 32 miles away, on a good day.  On a really bad day, it is potentially another 20 miles.  Why?  Weather, road conditions and the biggest barrier is the Big Sandy River.  If we have rain, and anywhere else to the north, northeast, and northwest of us, the water runs off the surrounding mountains into the Sandy.  It is well named.  When dry, you can see it is nothing at all but sand.  At times, if you don't know how to drive in sand, you could risk getting stuck, especially if you don't have a 4x4 to help you across. 

When the Sandy looks like this (above), no problem. 

But it has been a raging torrent that you can feel in the ground you are standing on.  When it is anything like this chances are you would have to drive the extra 20 miles of dirt roads to get to school.

Even on a perfect day, it would take about an hour one way.  If I were to go back home until school was dismissed, it would be another hour.  Then I would have to repeat the trip one more time.  It would then be a total of 4 hours in a car seat for my youngest boy, on a good day.  Something about that, seems to me, borders on neglect or even abusive!  It made me so sad to even consider it.

In addition, the school hours are from 8 o'clock to 4 in the evening, Monday through Thursday.  Since there are no school buses available, it is completely up to the parents to get their children to school.  Considering even a good day, that would add up to 10 hours per day the children would not be home.  Since these roads are not maintained on a regular basis, this is a rare and best case scenario.  In reality, about twelve of their waking hours would be spent on the road and in school.  I couldn't bear the thought of it.  When the worst case scenario happens, it would be 2 1/2 hours one way to school.

Clearly, weather, roads and geography play a very real role in our plans and considerations!

Those are Javelinas crossing the road!

So, the original interest in homeschool became a necessity.  The expensive wear-and-tear on vehicles and our inevitable insanity has been avoided and creatively resolved.  Interesting how everything comes together as if you planned it.  What do they say, "Everything has a time, a place, and a purpose."  Sure seems to be true.

Here is Cody watching his brother cut and paste a phonics lesson.  There is a term I am only now learning about.  "Unschooling."  Cody comes and goes from the kitchen table during school.  Yet he learns so much!  I haven't had to exert any effort for him to know how to count up to 30, sound out basic letter sounds, or learn world geography.  I can see why people are fans of this concept!  Proves children are sponges.  When he starts kindergarten a year from now, he will be well prepared!

One of the multiple benefits of homeschooling, is that you can stay on point for as long as necessary before moving on.  You can go at the child's pace.  It works out in the end! 

You can creatively teach following directions and measurements in a fun baking project.  Weston is inspired by "Remy" the character in the Pixar movie, "Ratatouille."

You can encourage strengths.  Tyler is a crack Lego architect.  How do you like his solar array mount?

Creative activities for math put the fun back in for hand's-on type learners.  Games, counters, and even semi-sweet chocolate chips help teach the math facts.

And my youngest gets to do school with his brothers too!  Such a big boy!

This is my first full year of homeschooling.  I began the first of the year unsure about just how it was all going to pan out.  It's not so bad, in fact, it's awesome.  I love watching them learn.  All because I simply try.  Who else has the best intentions for their children than their own parents?  Who else knows them better?  For that matter, who loves them so much that they won't do anything knowingly to fail them?

One other benefit that I must mention addresses the emotionally charged issue of "socialization."  Without fail, you will find people who are sure your children will turn out to be social misfits.  At first I was afraid of that possibility.  With research I have learned that it is an unfounded fear!  The overwhelming majority of homeschoolers are extremely well socialized, some despite being naturally shy and not having a great deal of interaction with their same-age-peers.  The reason I can point to is that in a homeschool, children are not daily bombarded by peer-pressure or even subliminal social pressures.  They are completely free to discover themselves, who they are, what they like, what they don't like, and have the chance to form a very healthy sense of self.  In addition, any child raised on a ranch, homestead, etc who is in touch with the natural world, tends to be healthier and more self sufficient.  Very little ruffles their feathers!  They go out into the world ready and thoroughly capable of learning new tricks.

My choice and even physical location has everything to do with our own family.  It is in no way a standard by which any one else should use to decide whether or not to homeschool.  If you find public school is your best answer, then more power to you!  Embrace the diversity.  Accept each other, learn from each other, and most of all, celebrate our differences!  It's what makes us great!


  1. I stumbled upon your blog this evening, and I'm so glad that I did!

    I enjoyed this post on homeschooling and totally understand your decision--I homeschooled a couple of years in middle school/high school and loved it!

    Keep up the great work; I'm looking forward to reading more!

    The Chic College Cowgirl

  2. Thanks Darcy! Judging from your own blog and what you said above, you are a very intersting, happy and exciting person! Keep up the good work!