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The first thing most people do after they learn my kids are homeschooled is to ask them several questions about the experience. How do they learn? What do they do? Are they challenged? This experience of feeling like an interactive educational museum exhibit is definitely my kids’ least favorite thing about homeschooling. Everything else about it works out just right for our family.
Our homeschooling routine is simple. We get up, and everyone receives their assignments for the day. There aren’t any fancy boxes or setup, because that doesn’t work for us. We participate in a co-op for extra-curricular activities, which has turned out to be a great addition to our classroom activities. This means we get out and about in the city a few days per month.
We have one struggling reader, and one who reads everything. We have struggling writers, and struggling morning waker-uppers. Our weeks are relaxed, but we get the work done.
This is not the learning life I envisioned when I announced eight years ago that I was going to start homeschooling my second child. Everyone assumed then that my 2-year-old daughter would be reading at a 10th grade level before she turned three. And honestly? I was one of them. I just knew that my focused attention — plus all of the manipulatives that I purchased — would produce the first toddler rocket scientist.
That obviously didn’t happen. I wanted my daughter to be anything but regular, and after a few years of trial and error, I’ve reduced those expectations a lot. I’ve learned that homeschooling is best when your child learns in a way that is best for them, while preparing them to move on to higher education or directly into a career.
I expected my children to attend public school, just like I did. We live in a city with a large public school system that served me well as a student. I had opportunities that I thought everyone could access. As a parent, I learned that this was not the case.
Fighting for my oldest child to attend some of the best schools in the city convinced me that I wanted a different experience for my younger three children, and for our family. While my son flourished in his public school environment, I had to fight hard for this. I simply did not want to have to use the time I could spend providing quality educational experiences for my children on fighting for all three of them, too.
So far, the investment has paid off. Yes, sometimes I seriously question what the heck I’m doing in this space. Sure, I’m smart. Yes, I successfully completed several levels of education, but I’m actually taking charge of what three young people —who happen to be my children — are learning. Am I stunting their growth? Am I putting them in unfair situations? Are they learning enough?
Then I sit and listen, and observe them.
I see that my kids are smart. They may not be able to tell you the first 100 digits of pi, but they are bright, curious, and active. They are educated, and they love school on most days, which isn’t a bad average. They love the freedom that they have in learning the way that we do.
I’m not homeschooling to raise geniuses, but if they do find themselves in this intellectual territory, I hope they’ll credit it to their love of learning, and not the fact that they were simply homeschooled.