Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Why I became a homeschool/unschool parent

I am a homeschool/unschool parent. I say both because while we do workbooks and focus on particular subjects- there is no time limit, no schedule, no due date, no grades. She may spend one night on division and have it all figured out, or 3 or more months learning Spanish. I give her the amount of time she NEEDS to properly retain the things she is learning and we got back to cover the basics all the time so she wont forget. She has no pressure to learn on a time limit.

I was a public school student. As I school my 10 year old I find myself having to re-learn things I had already been taught in school because I did not absorb it properly. I would complete an assignment in the time allotted, get a grade, and move on. For tests, because I was so terrified of being embarrassed by a bad grade, I would study and study and study until my eyes and brain were raw with information. I would get an A. But if you would have tested me on the same thing a month later the information was gone, because I had exhausted myself in to learning it, all for a grade- NOT because i wanted to know the information. So, my brain tossed it out to make room for other temporary knowledge. I did not retain, I was simply trying to survive and pass.

Now, when speaking to other parents about homeschooling I often get asked, " how on earth does your child socialize?"

Yes, your public school child gets to socialize 5 days a week for 7 hours a day with other students. But the difference with my daughter is that while she doesn't spend as much time with other children, when she does- their time is valuable. They enjoy being together. She is also not restricted by age. My daughter has friends who are 4 and up. Some older, some younger, a few the same age. She gets along with anyone and makes friends easily and well. We are in a home school group that gets together weekly for play dates, she also has choir once a week at a Unitarian church. She has plenty of socialization and it doesn't end with the school bell.

To top it off she is not being bullied every single day. At 10 years old, when her little friend who is 4 wants to gallop around and pretend they are horses, she happily leads the way through imagination. She is not afraid someone will laugh at her, she has no self esteem issues. She just wants to have fun.

I spent all of my school aged years being bullied, torn down, ridiculed, and made to feel like the fattest most unintelligent being in the room. But, I wasn't fat, nor was I the least bit unintelligent. However smart I was did not outweigh how cruel the children in class were. The first time I experienced this was in Kindergarten while learning the alphabet. The teacher asked the children to raise their hands if they knew what sound "Y" made. My enthusiastic little 6 year old self raised a hand and when called on I shouted, "eeeee!"...

Most of the children laughed and the boy sitting next to me called me a "retard"...

Except, I was RIGHT and they were assholes, even at 5 and 6. Regardless, that moment changed my enthusiasm for learning and made me a timid, scared little girl. Another time in 3rd grade we were going alphabetically through the classroom coming up with words that rhyme with grape. When we got to "R" the boys sitting behind me told me to say "rape". I'm in 3rd grade, I'm 10... I have no idea what this word means, only that it starts with R and rhymes with grape. Because really, why should a 10 year old know what that word MEANS?

Of course those boys thought it was gut splitting hilarious what I had said and roaring laughter erupts around me. I was oblivious, and then later scarred when my teacher pulled me aside and explained what the word meant. Don't worry, later that day while they were in the lunch line, I spit in their milks...

These are only two small stories from a childhood PACKED with moments just like them. So, in conclusion- children are evil. They are raised in a public school system that thrives on competition, grades, winning and losing. Kids will do what it takes to come out on top, and then the weak ones are left in the dust, failing and struggling.

So for us, homeschooling works.

To my readers, do you home school or does your child attend school? What works for you and why?

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