Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Shifting Your Perspective

LillianJ at Mothering.com said, “The people I knew who loved homeschooling thought in terms of what they got to do that they wouldn’t have been able to do if their children were in school.

While I can’t imagine anyone not loving homeschooling (because it is clearly awesome based only on my experiences as related in this blog), I thought that I’d share some of the things we’ve gotten to do this year that we would have missed out on had the boys been in school (not that we ‘couldn’t’ have done them; more that freeing up an extra 20 or so hours per week to do stuff in was key).

I am in no way a gardening enthusiast. In fact, on most of my ‘about me’ sections on anything that asks, I mention something about not liking spiders, clowns and gardening. However, since we were homeschooling this year, and I had some friends who were instrumental in starting a local Farmer’s Market in our area, I decided that starting a small garden would be fun and educational for the boys, so we did. And it grew! And we actually got things from it – carrots, radishes, tomatoes and a cantaloupe (that bugs got into before we could harvest, but still…) Had we not started homeschooling, I may have briefly thought that the garden was an interesting idea, but we never would have gotten around to growing our own. Having had a good experience though, we’re already planning for next year’s garden.

This one, we may or may not have ever done. When I was a child, we went camping religiously. My mom had packing down to an art; 3 Rubbermaid bins that were stocked and ready to go. We would get home from school at 3PM on Friday afternoon and be in the car headed to the lease or the lake by 5PM, grabbing dinner on the way. My only experiences camping without my super-capable and responsible mother along to manage things prior to our recent trip was an ill-planned trip to the lake at midnight in July (which, in Texas, has an average nighttime temperature of 283 degrees F). We were home the next day by 4PM.

The next experience was after Hurricane Rita; we were stranded up near Texarkana. My sister and her in-laws were staying at a State Park on Wright-Patman lake, so we met them there and camped for 3 days… it was not an ideal experience. I admit, I was somewhat worried about going camping (without my mother). But it turned out that with planning and foresight, it can be as great as I remember. We had a really fun time and are looking forward to the next one.

  • zoo/museums

It’s sad to say, but when the boys were in school, we never made it to local museums. Houston has a museum for virtually everything, and with it being only 2 hours away, you’d think that we would have taken the kids to them. But we were so busy with school, and so tired by the end of the year that we needed to veg out at home for a while to recuperate. We always had the intention of going, we just never got around to doing it.

Since we’ve started homeschooling, visiting museums has moved up on our list of ‘must see’ as a way to supplement our various areas of study. Sure we could learn about how big dinosaurs were from a book, but how much more impressive is it to stand under a 20′ tall skeleton to drive that lesson home?

  • hikes

Again, this is something that we ‘could’ have done, but likely wouldn’t have just due to the time factor. We’ve visited our local State Parks, plus made trips to several others in our general area at least once a month over this past year. It’s been really eye-opening to see how much effort our state puts into maintaining our state parks. We have nature centers and classes at most of them, visitor’s centers and well-maintained trails at all of them. We’ve actually had time to enjoy them this year, and it’s been fun.

  • Summer Reading Club

Theoretically, we could have participated in this; it’s free and open to all. However, when the boys were in ‘school’, by the time summer rolled around, I needed the 3 month break just to catch my breath. From the week before school started in August (because I was an actively involved parent, and the week before was orientation and book/locker assignments and PTO organization meetings) until the last day of school in May, it was go-go-go-go-go. I dropped the boys off at 7:45, but didn’t usually leave the school until 9, then picked them up at 2:45PM, but if it was a PTO day, or a student council day, or a tutoring day, then we were there until closer to 4PM. And this in addition to whatever other project I was working on. After that level of commitment and constant effort, the summer was a welcome respite from quite such a buzz of activity.

There are other things, of course, but I’ll stop here. In addition to the time/energy factor, I think another change in perspective is that without the walls of a school to limit learning, these types of learning experiences become more foundational in our personal style of homeschooling. My kids learn better through experience than through books; homeschooling allows us the freedom to actually experience something rather than merely read about it. The shift from passive learning to active learning is a huge one, and a worthwhile one, in my opinion.

What have you gotten to do this year that you might have passed on?

Warmly,

~h

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3 responses

  1. The biggest for us is just spending time together–all of us. My husband works a lot of weekends and nights, if the boys were in school they would almost never see him. It’s a big deal!

    November 23, 2010 at 11:42 am

  2. When my boys were small, we kept an ‘alternate’ schedule just because Loverly Husband and I are night-owls by nature. We often had the baby out at midnight or later and frequently got looks of ‘oh, my!’.
    Being able to adapt to our individual family’s needs is definitely a benefit of homeschooling now, even though our Daddy works a more traditional schedule.
    Thanks for commenting, Hampchick!
    ~h

    November 23, 2010 at 1:22 pm

  3. Since I sleep in the evenings and work nights, the most important thing I get out of homeschooling is spending time with my kids. The next most important thing is watching their eyes light up when figure something out and watching their broad smiles when they are praised for their work.

    Homeschooling is amazing.

    November 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm

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