Monday, November 07, 2011

Thankfulness: Day 5--Homeschooling

There are plenty of reasons to avoid sending your kids to public schools, but I'd like to focus on five reasons I'm thankful I homeschool my kids.

1. I get to parent my kids instead of relying on an outsider. Parents who are active and involved in their kids' lives have a greater influence on their kids' attitudes and behaviors. Schools have gradually adopted the idea that they are to act in place of parents and have shifted their focus from merely teaching the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, to sex education and politically correct thinking. I'm thankful to be able to spend extra time with my kids and talk to them about life beyond the basics of academia.

2. We get to work on character formation as well as academic formation. This follows upon the first idea that parents should have the most influence on their kids. Unless our kids are well-formed to be responsible, self-disciplined, respectful young adults, their academic formation will be worth diddly-squat. Character formation comes first.

3. I know my kids' needs better than the so-called "experts." This has been proven true to me time and time again. No standardized test can reveal to me things I didn't already know after daily lessons with my kids. We need to work on reading comprehension, spelling, math facts...whatever it is, I'm already on it. In fact, those standardized tests can't tell me some things I'm quite aware of. Junior may need work on his cursive writing or his study habits, or his attention to detail. These are things I know about without having an expert tell me.

4. We have time to nurture creativity. Home learning is often more laid back, relaxed and less stressful than school. We're free to explore questions and lines of inquiry that might not be on the lesson plan for the day. We're free to ditch the entire day's lesson plan if the weather beckons us outside to explore the natural world rather than our textbooks. When I think back on what I learned in school, most things that come to mind aren't in textbooks. They're things I did or experienced. Field trips, story time, active movement. Those types of things have a way of engaging the brain that passive learning can't.

5. We are the school of life. Everything kids need to learn to be responsible adults can be learned at home. Learning how to learn and how to be an independent learner are skills that I believe are best learned at home. Schools are good at teaching kids how to conform, how to get along with others (in other words, avoid the bullies), follow the rules and turn in your work on time. The trend in schools towards collaborative learning kills the independent spirit that gave us men like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison. A couple of my kids were recently told by a teacher the best way to learn is in a group setting and that it's nearly impossible to learn anything on your own. I think Abraham Lincoln would have disagreed with that statement, as would millions of homeschoolers.

Today I'm thankful for the opportunity to homeschool my kids.

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