When The Husband and I decided to homeschool Thing1 in kindergarten, we determined to make a year-by-year decision instead of committing to 13 years of homeschool when he was five years old. At the same time, I decided to put my reasons into writing each year. When my thoughts are recorded in black and white, I can see the foolishness and the wisdom more clearly. I also hope that writing out why I am homeschooling each year will make me accountable to reality. If the day ever comes when it is not working any more, being committed to giving reasons each year should help me to realize that.
Our decision for first grade in 2012-13 is (obviously) to homeschool. Our favorite reasons are character training, tailored academics, effective use of time, and selfishness on my part. Before kindergarten, we perceived the lack of social interaction with his age group and teachers who are not related to him as a drawback (mainly due to his extreme shyness) and an advantage (due to parental control over social experiences). Looking back over the year, the advantages have outweighed the drawbacks. His participation in swim lessons, t-ball, and co-op classes have shown us that Thing1 has made great strides in overcoming his shyness and fear of people despite (or maybe because of) homeschooling in kindergarten.
First, homeschooling fits The Husband’s and my purpose for our family. We feel that the most important training is character training. If we do not impart good moral and ethical values to our children, the most advanced academic plan will be meaningless. I know it is possible to “train up a child” who is schooled traditionally, and I have great respect for the parents who accomplish it. However, when I look at the vast amount of time and attention that we spend on this task in the early years, I know it would be difficult – maybe impossible – for me. Even though I do not expect to see perfection in humans, I pray that our intense concentration this year on eliminating whining and the recognition of privileges in relation to responsibilities, to name two, has planted some seeds for these boys’ futures.
During these first years, we want to focus on the joy of learning rather than the fear of not measuring up on benchmark exams. If the kids enjoy learning, I believe they will do well later on when the tests really matter. I am excited about choosing our curriculum this year with Thing1 in mind. He is a reader. He advanced from Henryand Mudge to Ralph S. Mouse during his kindergarten year, and he reads fiction and non-fiction with equal enjoyment. Therefore, we are going with a literature-intense curriculum. I even bought Life of Fred for math since it is story-based and applies the math to real life (albeit a tad far-fetched) situations. He struggled with the monotony of Math-U-See practice sheets, but we are still going to do those as a supplement to Life of Fred. I know he will enjoy Story of the World for History because it requires lots of reading. Another concentration is preparation for writing. The end goal in educating our children is that they are able to think and communicate their thoughts effectively. Thing1 might get that in a school setting, but the one-on-one training in our homeschool definitely will not hurt.
Our third reason for homeschooling this year is that homeschooling affords us the opportunity to use our time effectively. I say opportunity because whether or not we actually use the time wisely varies from day to day, but the opportunity is still there. Yes, the boys have large chunks of time to play, which is very important for kids. But as they get older, another important aspect is that they also have large chunks of time to work. They (and their daddy) would miss the time they get to work on projects other than school and homework in the classroom school scenario. When their dad is home, they are by his side working on whatever project he is working on and thereby learning how to work. They do not work with Dad instead of doing schoolwork. They are able to work because their schoolwork is concentrated to a shorter amount of time, which leaves more time afterwards for work…and play.
Finally, we are homeschooling this year because I like it. I like the fact that I am forced to work on my own character while I am helping them with theirs because teaching without example is worthless. I like the fact that I am building on what I learned and learning what I did not learn while I was school-aged. Researching in the name of homeschooling helps me develop an understanding of the way we learn, which helps me deal with myself and even others outside my family. I love that I get to see the kids’ daily progress and get to witness their light bulb moments. I love that I can spend so much time with my boys during the short, short time that they are with me.