My soon-to-be sixteen-year old is just days away from finishing her high school studies.
As a homeschooler, she’s free to decide when she’d like to do her work – mornings, weekends, evenings – as long as she puts in the required amount of hours and covers the work we’ve outlined in our correspondence with the district’s homeschool director. To my amazement, my child has chosen to continue her schoolwork long past the end of the traditional school year. She has worked steadily since last September and has managed to complete two grades in that time.
I say this because I’m extremely proud of her. I also say this because, while we’ve been homeschooling for five years now, I’m still awed by the freedom, choices and possibilities associated with the process.
This is not for everyone and I would never say homeschooling is the BETTER option for everyone. I will, however, say it has been not only a better option, but the BEST for my daughter and my family.
Her traditional elementary school was wonderful. It was hard to let our little girl go there each day without us. Harder to know she was experiencing new and wonderful things, and we weren’t there to see the light in her eyes as she ‘got it’. But, it gave her a sense of confidence and independence that we admired. Add to that the warm, nurturing environment that was her elementary school, and it was – and still is – hard for me to see how homeschooling could be better or give her more.
In middle school, everything changed. The hours upon hours of homework after a full school day did nothing to help her ‘learn’ the subjects, but rather made her want to just “get it done”. Her friends were as overloaded with homework and projects as she was and so they barely saw each other. Homework was worse on weekends, as if the school had a policy declaring children should not be permitted any free time, ever.
The teachers were no longer nurturing. They were like drill sergeants. I get that tweens can be unruly and you have to maintain order. But I truly believe they’ll grow and learn better when treated with respect rather than contempt. I think of the bees-to-honey scenario.
It was the exhausted broken spirit I saw in my child that prompted me to, finally, make the move I’d considered when she was just three years old. Homeschooling.
It has worked for us in ways I could explain page after page. I will sum all of that up by saying my daughter had choices. She chose to work and to work hard. There are no ‘grades’, there is no competition, there is no principal’s office or hall monitor. There is only one child, one teen, doing her personal best because that is what she wants to do.
She’s fortunate to have had the best of both. I’m fortunate to have had the ability to provide that for her.
Have you made life or life-style choices for your children that could have gone either way? What were they? Given the same circumstances, would you make the same choice again?