Choose what?, you may ask. I’m getting to that. 🙂 Since there are so many points to be covered today, I’ve decided to compile a list of:
Ten Choices Exclusive to Homeschooling
1. One of the greatest choices afforded to homeschoolers is when to school. While traditional school students are bound by the established school schedule, homeschoolers have the opportunity to arrange their days and years around their family’s schedules, or their own personal preferences. Most government and private schools operate around a late summer to late spring schedule (September to June) with a 12-week summer vacation. There are a great many homeschoolers who follow this schedule. My older children prefer to. But what of those families who cringe at the thought of so many months of school with so few breaks, followed by an extremely long summer break? They get creative! Some will operate around a 6-week on, 1-week off schedule with 6-week breaks at Thanksgiving/Christmas and spring/summer, as my younger children do. Others may do 3- or 4-weeks on and 1-week off. Still others may not even do an official count of school days because, technically, homeschooled children are “in school” everyday!
Determining what time of the day is also a benefit to homeschoolers. Study upon study has shown that many children, especially older children, do not function well early in the morning. How have most schools reacted to this? By making school even earlier! High school students in our district must be in school by around 7:30 am, whereas when I was in school, our day officially started at 8:25. There was a recommendation for our schools to begin later, but most of the teachers protested because they didn’t want to get done at a later time.
As the primary facilitators of our children’s education, we are granted the sovereignty to determine when our days will begin and end. My younger children don’t start school work until mid-morning, followed by our older children who begin about 30 minutes to an hour before lunch. We then take a two hour lunch/chores break until 2pm, when it is time to read a devotional with my teens, who up until this time, haven’t even thought of their assignments yet. After the devotional I finish up any work the older children haven’t completed. My teens don’t even start their school work until about 8pm; sometimes much later than that. Since they are night owls, this is what works for them, so it works for me. You can read more on a detailed plan of our day here.
2. As the facilitators, we have the choice of what curriculum to use, or even whether to use one at all. Traditional schools have hundreds, sometimes thousands of children to educate. As such, they’ll typically choose whatever curriculum is cheapest and most efficient, no matter how it will resonate with the students. As parents, it’s easy for us to see that what works for one child may not work for another. There is such a vast array of homeschooling resources out there, that it can be overwhelming to a new homeschooler, but all the same, it is such a huge blessing, because brick-and-mortar school students do not have that luxury. There, if a student has difficulty with the learning style catered to in the text, they’re out of luck and have to deal with it. As the primary educators of our kids, we want our children to be genuinely interested in what they’re learning. We all know what happens when there is no desire to learn about something- it is quickly forgotten. The curriculum our family’s decide upon are those that will best meet our family’s needs, even if that means each child uses resources from different publishers.
3. Just as we choose the curriculum, we also choose whether or not to change it if it is not working. Similarly to #2, where I discussed the plight of a school student who does not mesh with the mandated curriculum, homeschoolers sometimes find that, while it may have seemed like the perfect fit at first, the chosen curriculum may not be the one for them, after all. Unlike the average student, homeschoolers are free to change resources anytime they choose to- the beginning of the year, the middle of the year, sometimes even the end of the year. In the end, our child’s education matters more than what books we use.
4. The homeschooling methods we choose are completely up to us. Traditional schools are acclimated to the auditory learner. Surprise, surprise- some children are not auditory learners. The only way public schools can deal with this is to place them in “special classes,” which often produces a stigma a child carries with them for the rest of their lives. There are just as many different ways to homeschool as there are families. Homeschooling will look different in each household because each family utilizes the methods and routines that work best for them. Some prefer a more structured, schoolish atmosphere. Others rely on reading good literature and real-world math or unit studies to fulfill their learning requirements. And still others may use life as their curriculum and not separate their everyday lives from their education at all. I’d wager, though, that the vast majority of families are like us, and use a giant mish-mosh of each of these. Again, our goal is to meet the needs of our children. And that’s what we do.
5. The topics covered in our children’s homeschooling endeavors are our choice. Conventional schools have set syllabuses for each year- certain subjects and skills are to be covered in certain years. Not so with homeschoolers. We have the freedom to allow our children who might have no interest in reading at the age of 5 to blossom and develop before forcing something on them they are not ready for. Or maybe our middle schooler has a passionate fervor for biology. Who says they have to wait for high school? To the flexible homeschooler, the answer to that is no one! Each child can learn about something when they are ready, and not a moment sooner.
We also have the option of taking the interests of our children and planning lessons around them. As I said before, children learn best when they are interested. Take advantage of it. My oldest daughter loves Japanes manga and anime. Allowing her the freedom to pursue her interest in that has led to:
– drawing and painting anime style characters of her own design using mediums
such as watercolor, chalk and oil pastels, acrylics, and gel pens
– taking flash animation, narrative illustration, and drawing and painting classes at
the local art school
– learning to sew in order to make her own costumes for the various conventions
– learning the Japanese language through Rosetta Stone, anime, and online
– learning both styles of Japanese writing characters
– researching Japanese culture and geography
– creating a storyline for her own future online webcomic
I don’t think anyone could sufficiently argue that no learning happened there. 🙂
6. Homeschoolers have the choice of dropping everything for the day in order to pursue something other than school work. This could be anything from taking a walk to the playground to visiting a museum to even vegging out on the couch for a movie day. When you’re a homeschooling family, the world is at your feet.
*These last four are suggestions from my oldest daughters, so here’s their input!*
7. Homeschoolers can eat whatever they want, whenever they want. The current school system has classes packed in so tightly now that most students have to practically inhale thier food before the bell rings. Our lunch break at home is two hours long, and as for school lunches…need I say more??
8. Homeschoolers have the option of doing school in their pajamas. We often do. Looking out the window in the morning and seeing all the kids walking to school in their uncomfortable uniforms makes us love our jammie pants all the more!
9. Homeschoolers can decide where to do their work. No need to sit at cramped desks all day. Homeschoolers can do their assignments on the couch, at the table, in the yard, on the porch, at the park, at Grandma’s house- anywhere!
10. Homeschooled students have the option of working at their own pace. If something doesn’t make sense or just isn’t clicking, there’s no need to move on to the next chapter. There is no law stating that each textbook must be completed. As a matter of fact, there’s no law stating that we have to use textbooks at all. At home, we have the option of moving slowly through a difficult area and not surmising that our children are behind, simply because they took a week to learn something, rather than a day.
I know this post was super long today, and I thank you if you made it to the end! I’m just so passionate about encouraging future and current homeschoolers because, for every difficulty you may face, multiply that times ten and you’ll receive that many blessings! Remember to tune in next week, as I discuss how homeschooling emphasizes the centrality of the family.
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