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Homeschool as a Lifestyle
Homeschool as a Lifestyle
When does learning begin or end? I consider educating my child as a continuum. From the day my daughter was born, I was homeschooling her. I taught her to walk, talk, and feed herself, among many other skills. At age five, then what? I no longer had the responsibility of teaching her. I didn’t think so. To school at home was not just about teaching it was our lifestyle.
From the beginning, I looked at everything and wondered how I could utilize it as a teaching moment. If you think about it, we learn with every experience. I used that philosophy in the toys I bought and the activities I planned. I would encourage my daughter to finish her dinner by telling her she needed to eat 5 more bites, she learned to count. Driving around town, we played I spy something that starts with a letter of the alphabet. Later on, while at the grocery store, we discussed math and nutrition.
As we continued on our learning journey, one of my favorite elements was learning with my daughter. I was not just a teacher, but a student as well. History was my least liked subject when I was in school. My daughter and I started reading historical fiction together. I can honestly say that I learned more about history during my years of homeschooling than in all my years of grade school. After reading a book, my daughter and I made a timeline of the events leading up to and during the Great Depression. Another book led to my daughter checking out everything she could on World War II from the library. We followed her interests thoroughly.
My daughter is a kinesthetic learner. She likes to be physically active in the learning experience. I recall a time when I was reading a book to her. She would not sit still. I was getting frustrated in thinking she was not paying attention. She was able to recite word for word just what I had read. Once I understood her learning style, I was able to apply those principles to other subjects.
For many years, I worried that my lack of college education could be hindering my child’s education. At times, I would talk to other parents that homeschooled. They advised me that what they learned in college had nothing to do with how or what they taught their children. Kohn (2003) concludes “to be well-educated, then, is to have the desire as well as the means to make sure that learning never ends.” ¶28 I too came to that conclusion after some years of homeschooling.
Some issues seemed non-existent while homeschooling. One of those issues was cheating. At least in my approach to homeschooling, cheating was a very limited possibility. Years later, though, when my daughter did attend school, cheating came up. She had let someone look at her paper. The teacher gave her and the other student a zero. That was a tough lesson for her.
Homeschooling was very rewarding. I remember when my daughter had her “aha, I get it” moment with reading. For about six months, she read from the early morning hours until bed time. We spent hours at the library. Someone once told me that if you teach your child to love reading, everything else will follow. I have no doubt about that being true.
Homeschooling was as flexible as I needed it to be. I chose the days and hours we studied. I chose, with input from my daughter, the subjects that she learned. My daughter struggled with math. I was able to take extra time so that she could grasp a new concept. Since she loved to read, I would use reading as a reward.
Homeschool is not without controversies. It seems like the biggest debate is about socialization. What exactly does that mean? Socialize is defined as: “1. mix socially with others, 2. makes (someone) behave in a way that is acceptable to society.” (Soans & Stevenson 2010) By being a part of my whole life, my daughter has been to the doctor office, store, post office and park with me. At these places, and others, she was able to “mix socially with others” and “behave in a way that is acceptable” with people of all ages and races.
While living in Alaska, my daughter was enrolled in a correspondence course. That meant, she was actually enrolled in a public school system. The school system reimbursed me for many of my expenses related to educating my daughter. The controversy stems from the fact that you had to turn in sample work, grades, and students took the standardized tests. Is that homeschooling? The answer depends on who is asked. For me, it was a fantastic opportunity, especially with only one income in the home. I used the allotments to purchase educational materials I would have otherwise not been able to afford. The standardized tests were a good opportunity for my daughter to learn how to take tests. With sample work, I also had to send in grades. At home, I did not grade, so what did I send in as her grades? I gave her all A’s. What else should I give her? I was giving her these A’s based on the idea that Kohn (2002) suggests, “continued use of grades rest on nothing more than tradition”¶35. We covered a concept as long as needed for my daughter to grasp it, hence the A’s.
Schooling at home may not be an option for everyone. There are very real challenges and obstacles. Not only have I taught my daughter, she has taught me. The continuum of teaching and learning is not only for my daughter, but for me as well. We lived and breathed learning. Sometimes it was through actual book work. Many times, learning was through the life experiences.
Kohn, A.(2002).The dangerous myth of grade inflation.The Chronicle of Higher
Education.49 (11),B7. Retrieved from http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/gi.htm
Kohn, A.(2003).What does it mean to be well-educated?Principal Leadership. Retrieved from
Soanes, C. & Stevenson, A (n.d.). In The Concise Oxford English dictionary , Twelfth edition .
Oxford University Press, 2008. Oxford Reference Online . Oxford University Press. Liberty University. Retrieved 17 April 2010 from http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t23.e53496