Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School - Embracing Nonconformity

Today is the start of Back to School Season around our community.

What does that matter to me, a homeschooler? I choose when I start and stop my year. We have flexibility and freedoms at our discretion. Heck, we already started back to school two weeks ago.

I went to school and I remember those back to school butterflies and first day excitement. The newness, the expectation.

I remember also it is overrated and quickly dies off in the dull routine of regular classes. Memories of being interrupted when just about to figure out that math problem and the bell rings and math can't be thought about it again until a few more classes go by, then after school distractions are over, math can finally picked back up before dinner time. Rush, rush, hurry, hurry.

Our school plan is an individualized educational experience. Using a college model of studies, our students work at their own pace, explore what interests them, not marched off from class to class at every 50 minutes past the hour, ruled by a bell and rules on when to eat and have a potty break. We do have curricula, syllabi and deadlines which they help pick and are allowed go to the bathroom as needed. They don't usually get lost on the way back down the hall.

We homeschool for many reasons. These are merely a few.

Yesterday we were living the life of summer. Today everything around here changed just because the neighbor kids went to school. The atmosphere outside drastically changed.

I don't wish everyone else home schooled because when school is in season, we can get our school done uninterrupted: no neighbor kids knocking all day long to play with my kids. We do seek out others that do and work it into our schedule.

The girls made friends here and have enjoyed playing outside most days this summer. Today was obviously silent while they were gone to school. We had a more productive day. We were able to get many subjects done, even after sleeping in, having breakfast with their dad before he left for a business trip, picking up truck from shop and working on some art activities in our free time, play with neighbors after their return from school. Relaxing pace, time to think and wonder and complete assignments at their own pace.

Every education will have holes of missed learning opportunities. Public, private, tutored or home. It is reality. Quality of learning and how well these holes get filled depends on the student's desire to learn. I have seen my kids possess the same insatiable curiosity that my husband has that has earned him his real education far more that his public school and college experience. He loves to learn. He is always curious, asks why, how and he listens, he observes. Nothing seems to be uninteresting to him. I am the primary educator of our school, but this gift of curiosity they inherit from their father will fill in the gaps where I unintentionally leave unfilled.

We have chosen a different path. Intentionally.

That curiosity leads the kids to wonder what the other educational systems would be like for them, what if they got on the bus with their friends. They all wonder at some point, girls more so than the boys, it's natural. My older kids understand early on why we chose to home school and, looking back, agree it is the best option for us. The two older compete in college with kids of all walks of life and educational backgrounds, and they are doing very well. They have figured out how to get along and succeed. They weren't sheltered to the point of harm, rather it taught discerning skills and helped prepare them for success. 

That doesn't mean in comparison they don't miss out. They miss out of many structured school activities: band, sports and dances. We fill our time with things that interest us: activities, outings and free time. There are good and excellent teachers that my kids don't have to teach them, but they have met good and excellent people in every day life who influence them in a different way. They have time to figure things out and solve on their own or find a solution another way.

We miss out on social opportunities and fill that time with friends and activities we select. Not equivalent. But what life is? And really, intentionally I am not striving for that same experience. I want different. I seek different and choose this path for those known and unknown differences. 

We chose not to conform to how it's supposed to be done. 

Our family has been schooling on our own for a  long time. There is a certain age when each child starts to own it themselves, usually junior high. The social yearnings are strong and the curiosity is unrelenting. It has been a good life lesson to see and feel that their life will take a different path. 

Home schooled students are people too; they are social creatures and crave shared experiences. I can work to fill their time deliberately and intentionally or accept the times when I intentionally don't and enjoy down time together, time to be bored, be lonely. None of which will kill them, I promise. Many times, great ideas, interests and projects are born during this type of down time.

It's odd how many kids congratulate mine on being home schooled because they get to sleep in, not have to deal with certain aspects of school. Maybe they imagine no unnecessary busyness, systemized interruptions, lack of freedom or they assume homeschoolers just don't have to do anything since they are home with mom.

We do sleep in many days, and we catch up late in the evenings. We get ahead, we get behind, we do it differently. Sometimes we put subjects on hold for months, sometimes we finish months early. I know sometimes my kids secretly wish they could walk in another's shoes for a day to see what they are missing and if it's okay that they missed it. Obviously, I believe it is more than okay that we chose our own way, in reality it's been the greatest gift. Every walk is different, the point is to experience and learn from each's own path.

No comments:

Post a Comment