We’ve been homeschooling for a couple of years now, and we know several others that educate their children at home as well.
In no way do we do it the same though.
The majority of our friends take a school-at-home approach, and most assume we do it the same way: grade- and age-specific curriculum, unit studies, competitive projects between homeschool groups, co-op and group lessons and outings, et cetera.
A fair amount of our non-homeschooling friends and family also assume our sons are in a “grade” and have a set schedule of assignments.
Therein lies the beauty homeschooling.
You could meet 20 separate homeschooling families and witness 20 different ways in which they homeschool, especially in Florida, where homeschooling laws and rules are fairly flexible.
In our case, we are unschooling homeschoolers. As per Florida requirements, we track what our sons do, what they read and what we read to them, maintain their records, and meet (online) with a certified Florida teacher once a year. We are not required to use a curriculum or follow Common Core, two items that also happen to be among the reasons we didn’t want to put our kids in school in the first place. Our boys are also not required to take tests, read books uniteresting to them and are the reason CliffsNotes was invented, or sit quietly at a desk, in a room, for hours on end.
Don’t get me started on that “S” word either. Our sons — and the vast majority of the homeschooling population — are better socialized than schooled kids. To be properly socialized, kids are comfortable around and used to talking to kids of all ages, as well as adults. They’re not restricted to being around kids their own age. Case in point, our boys will soon be having a birthday party to celebrate their 6th and 8th birthdays, and the nearly-dozen friends attending range in ages four to eleven…and none of these are relatives.
Oh, and isn’t school about learning anyway, not socializing? Isn’t that why, the instant kids walk through the doors of a classroom, they are baically told to sit down and shut up unless they’re called upon?
Please don’t get us started on peer preasure and bullies. Wear glasses? Have an accent? Raise your hand in class? Complete homework and assignments on time? Have the sense not to smoke, try drugs, or skip class? Wear generic or hand-me-down clothes? Then you’re on the fast-track to name-calling and becoming a victim.
For crying out loud, don’t tell us school prepares kids for life or toughens them up. When are you bullied at work or the store? Do you understand right from wrong? Do you try to save money rather than senselessly flaunt it? Do you work or socialize with adults only your age? Are you tested at work and expected to recall everything on a whim, or do you have references and resources readily available when you’ve run into a problem or challenge? And doesn’t this world need more kindness and fewer bad asses, less robots and more rebels? School programs and shapes people, and you’re rewarded when you conform and fit in.
Let’s not forget the massive time wasted on assemblies, teaching for government-mandated tests and test taking, reviews, corraling kids between classes or drills, and so on.
Vacations? Breaks? Please! Yeah, nothing sounds more fun than planning a trip during a period when millions of other families are attempting to do the same. Crowds, longer lines, more traffic… Fun.
This isn’t a post against school and traditional education. (Okay…maybe it is a little.) It’ a post in defense of homeschooling, unschooling, life lessons, and true education that doesn’t consist of and require books, homework, tests, faux socialization, and lack of flexibility.
For homeschoolers, it’s seamless. We’re not necessarily saying it’s easy, but anything worth doing right and doing well requires work and dedication and will have its share of challenges.