*Note: For the purpose of this post, I will be using the terms 'homeschooling' and 'unschooling' interchangeably. I am fully aware that they are not the same thing, but since I am not giving a lesson explaining their differences, (and I'm interested in both of them) I will be using both words throughout.
I've been meaning to write this post for a long, long time, but just haven't managed to hunker down and do it. A while ago, my cousin-in-law specifically requested a post such as this one and I am pleased to finally be delivering it to him. I hope it lives up to his expectations.
Quite some time ago, I was completely against homeschooling. I never had a bad experience with it, and I actually knew some people who were home schooled, but I thought that public school would give my future children a better view of the world and they would be exposed to more variety than at home. This was something my husband and I agreed on before we even got married, so I figured we were set.
Then, I had my children.
Like every parent, I want them to have every opportunity to expand, practice and exercise the talents that they have been blessed with. The idea that these gifts could be squashed or refuted by a teacher or a school is actually terrifying to me. I want to nourish each gift H & P have been blessed with and I'm not convinced that public school can do this. So let's look at a short list of the reasons I'm actually attracted to homeschooling and unschooling.
Freedom: I love the concept of school freedom. They can go to school anywhere, do a wide variety of things every day, use different curriculum or no curriculum at all depending upon their interests and have infinite opportunities for hands-on learning. This amount of freedom, to hand-pick what they will study, is also incredibly terrifying. Nevertheless, it is a process I would love to undertake if it meant that I could provide the freedom for them to blossom on their own time.
Individualized Curriculum: Yes, I'd like H & P to learn all they need to learn to be "successful" in life, but I would also like for them to do it on their own terms. If I can teach them math through art or science only through hands-on experiments, and that's the way they want to learn, they will actually want to do it. Children are not robots and should not be forced to fit some sort of pre-molded curriculum set if it doesn't work for them.
Unlimited projects: If I want to teach them how to cook at age 5 by actually cooking in the kitchen, I can. If I want to teach them science by planting and maintaining a garden, I can. If I want to teach them history by actually visiting a historical place during the school year, I could do that too. The project ideas are unlimited for homeschooled children because you can do so much more with a small group than you can with a large group. (Yes, I realize schools have plenty of projects and they take field trips, but it is still harder to give each child individual attention during that project or trip if there are 30 of them.) The possibilities for fun things to do with them are so exciting!
Options: Just because children are homeschooled, doesn't mean they can't participate in school activities if they choose. They could still be in band or sports, they could certainly take dance lessons or piano lessons, and if they wanted to, they could go to school! *gasp!* There are always options available for homeschooled children to be like "regular" kids as well as to make friends and "socialize" as often as you want.
College students are in charge of their education. They choose where they want to go, what courses to take and when to take them, and what their major area of study is. Why is it that younger children are not trusted to do the same? I trust my children and their inner guidance and I would relish the chance to support their own decisions about school.