10 Reasons My Kids Like Being Homeschooled

Last week, my blogging friend Angie over at Many Little Blessings shared what her children like about being homeschooled.

The girls and I actually talk a lot about home learning's benefits - and they've even voiced a desire to somehow be home-educated for any college studies they may pursue (which, of course, isn't as odd as it might sound, given the advent of quality accredited online programs, as well as the obvious problems with brick-and-mortar universities). But we've never before taken a "snapshot" of their reasons for liking home education at a particular moment in time.

After reading Angie's kids' list, though, I was curious. So I asked them one morning at breakfast and requested that each contribute five reasons. Their exact responses are in bold; my commentary follows.

1. No homework: They feel bad for their friends who attend traditional school for seven hours a day and then, even in elementary school, have an hour or more of homework each night as well. There is no doubt that homeschooling is more efficient, as last year I accomplished what was needed for four different girls (at different levels and covering all the requisite content areas) in five hours or less a day - no homework needed.

2. A teacher I've known my whole life: ...which equals security because - for better or worse - at least they know what to expect from me.

3. Being with my mom: We home-educate for a whole slew of reasons, but one is that I just don't want to be away from my girls for seven-plus hours a day; I enjoy them and want to be with them (and, honestly, I can't relate to parents who "can't wait to get rid of" their kids when school starts in the fall). And I'm so glad the sentiment goes both ways! Of course, we have our rough moments, but those are speed bumps on life's highway.

4. Cuddling and reading: Literature-reading time each day - when each girl cuddles on the couch with me individually and reads from her current "reading book" - is a favorite for all of us. The girls are, of course, old enough to read on their own (they have other books for that purpose), but they enjoy reading to me. That time also enables me to gauge how they're coming along with the progressively more challenging books I choose for their literature lists each year. But more importantly, it keeps us connected, mother-to-daughter.

5. Being at home and not having to get up early: We're not always at home (it's a myth about homeschoolers that we barricade ourselves in our basements for 180 days a year!), and sometimes we even have too much going on in terms of "outside activities." But my girls seem to have inherited my propensity to revel in the peace of being home. So I'm glad I can accommodate their natural inclination...and I'm especially glad I can let them get the sleep they really need. Most days they wake on their own before 7:00 after getting nine to 10 hours of sleep, which is a far cry from their traditionally-schooled peers who are usually sleep-deprived even in the "preschool" years.

6. Field trips all year: When I was a kid, we took several field trips each year - some that were obviously tied to curriculum and some just for fun. But now it seems that even elementary kids only get one trip a year - and it must be documented (in triplicate) as tying into "standards and benchmarks" to pass muster. In contrast, I know that "all of life is learning" and so I usually schedule at least one field trip day each month (whether or not our bookwork at the time has an obvious connection) - and I have the freedom to add more when particular opportunities arise.

7. No mean teachers: What a relief...because, trust me, I cannot even profess to be worthy of shining the shoes of the person who shined Mother Teresa's shoes on this one! I'm way too impatient and am far too easily stressed by little things. But the one thing I've always tried to do is apologize for my gaffes - I apologize a lot! - and I think that makes a difference.

8. A furry-fuzzy, goofy principal: That would be my husband, who is "furry-fuzzy" because of the beard the girls refuse to allow him to shave. And he is "goofy," but in just the way a dad needs to be with his young daughters.

9. No grading: Even when I was a classroom teacher, I looked at grading as a necessary evil - a part of the bureaucracy of institutional education that is pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things. For the sake of hoop-jumping if necessary, I'll likely devise a way to keep track of "grades" during the girls' high school years - though I'm hoping that, if they attend college, the schools will be more interested in portfolio summaries of the girls' actual learning than in lists of abstract percentages. And until high school, we don't/won't grade. Instead, we work on something until it is mastered (i.e., really learned, not just checked off the list) and only then move on.

10. A lot of free time: I'm all about providing my kids with solid academics and so we work hard at our bookwork - in fact, for the 2010-2011 academic term, we "did school" on 208 different days. But kids need time to be kids - to explore their personal interests and express their creativity. My girls have truly amazing imaginations, and I chalk that up in large measure to the amount of time they can have each day to "play."

I think it'd be fun to ask this question again a year from now - and in subsequent years as well - as a regular "not-back-to-school" exercise of sorts. It will be interesting, indeed, to see how the list changes - and, perhaps in some ways, stays the same - over the course of the next nine years.


Misty said...

Love this idea Tina! THanks for sharing!

Kim said...

Love all of it! It's not about grades, I agree, but about learning!

Angie @ Many Little Blessings said...

Great list! Thanks so much for sharing it.

Many of those things could have made our list too. I never asked the kids what they think about the no grades approach. It just seems silly to keep grades when we tend to work on things until we get them right.

Stacie said...

Hi Tina,

This was fun to read. It's good to hear what kids like, in their own words. Sounds like you're doing a great job!

By the way, I agree with the field trip comment. When my kids where in traditional school, there were only 1, maybe 2 (and that would be a stretch!) fieldtrips each year. . .and they were always the same ones: going to a farm.

I remember growing up and getting to experience much more than that.

Dawne said...

Nice list! :)

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