Why Homeschool… Reason #7

Reason #7: Closeness with my kid(s)

Homeschooling gives me the opportunity to really know my child. As her mom and teacher, I understand Laynie’s heart as well as her mind, and I’m her primary influence in her development/training. Our relationship is intimate and meaningful, even now at her young age 3. I have the freedom to just stop and play dolls with her if she wants me to, we’ll just push back dinner for a little while longer, no problem. My evenings aren’t filled with frustrations over cleaning up spilt milk and rushing through bathtime to get her to bed early enough so she won’t be cranky at preschool tomorrow.To me, it’s the little moments that are so special. When I first began staying at home with Laynie at 20 months old, just seeing her staring out the sliding glass door in wonder at the birds in our backyard pecking at worms in the mornings brought me such joy. I can’t wait for the days when I’ll witness the moment when reading finally “clicks” or when she and I can have meaningful discussions about the most important issues. There are so many of those little moments that I would miss if she were at school for the majority of the day and all I got were the grumpy and tired evenings.I’m definitely not saying that it isn’t hard. There are times when Laynie acts like a littly tyrant and I am at my wits’ end, lol! I’m not any more patient than any other mom out there. I know that Laynie acts differently with me than she does with strangers. But it is my conviction that teaching her true obedience to Mom and Dad is much more important than “playing the game” and “acting” good for a teacher. Luckily, right now, schooltime is fun, but I know it’s going to get harder and we’ll need alot more structure and self-discipline as she moves up into higher grade levels. Even now, we spend a good amount of time learning honesty, self-control, integrity and obedience, and it’s TOUGH! But, it’s SO WORTH IT! I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world.Homeschooling allows me to monitor what’s going on in Laynie’s life. Notice I didn’t say control – I specifically used the word monitor. Although I’ll admit, I’d like to control everything, I really believe that’s unhealthy. But I’m able to be more involved and knowlegeable about what’s really going on in her life, because I personally witness it as I guide her growth and education.Homeschooling enhances our family life. School time is minimal and free time abounds. Unlike working moms with public school children, school schedules won’t dictate our time together as a family, or add to the stress of our daily life. As Laynie gets older, Chris and I can allow other interests or bonding family activities to take precedence while other parents are fighting with their children over finishing homework, harping on them to avoid procrastination on a book report, or nagging them to study for tomorrow’s spelling test, or scarfing down a fast food meal in the car on the way to soccer practice.

Our Daily Schedule

You’ll see a lot of free play opportunities in my daily routine with Laynie. Under age 5, free play is more beneficial to development and learning than anything mom-driven or teacher-driven anyway. Until a child is about 5 years old, it’s perfectly acceptable to allow plenty of unscheduled, unguided play time.
At this age, learning occurs through natural play, and through a mom’s recognition of a great learning opportunity and taking advantage of it. If Laynie is playing with playdough, I’ll ask her if she can form a ball (I’ll even call it a sphere!). If she’s coloring with crayons, I ask her what color she’s holding, or tell her to try to write a green letter L. If she’s building a castle with blocks, I’ll say, “We need four blocks on this side, help me count…” etc. If Laynie’s playing dress-up with a fireman’s hat, I’ll pretend with her, but also guiding her into a conversation about what a fireman does. If she’s playing with her dollhouse alone, I’ll sit back and just watch as she entertains herself and at the same time expands her creativity and independence. If she’s playing with a friend, I’ll sit back and watch her learn how to share and cooperate (with some guidance on how to be polite if necessary).
During “free play” times, I am usually right by her side, but she leads the activities. It is during these times that I am allowing her imagination to grow. She learns how to problem solve, manipulate objects with ever-improving dexterity, create, and become more independent. Most importantly, she’s guiding her own learning, and not even aware of it. Although sometimes, I’ll pick a toy or a game that I feel like using for a learning experience, and I’ll say “How about this?” and usually she’ll say, “Ok!” One of these days, soon enough, I will be providing a set schedule of academic learning opportunities. But for now, she’s happy, she doesn’t even know that she’s learning, and she knows just as much, if not more, than most kids her age do!

Here’s my daily schedule that I typically follow with Laynie. We don’t follow it exactly, every single day, but you get the idea. The times are not written because we never end up doing things at the exact same time every day, and sometimes things are out of order, but it’s close. This schedule keeps us busy from about 8:00 in the morning until about 5:00. I also keep children in my home during the day, so being on a set schedule keeps us all happy.
Breakfast, get dressed, brush hair, etc.
Free Play
“School” time (Usually a brief 15-30 minutes or so, and can include many things, right now we’re working through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and sometimes doing a page out of some simple preschool workbooks I bought at Walgreens. In addition, I sometimes have a weekly theme that I follow, and I’ll find daily activities to do together around that theme.)
Outside play (or indoor movement, depending on weather)
“Art” (sometimes a cool craft, other times Playdough, other times just coloring in a coloring book or chopping paper into small bits with scissors, sometimes a theme craft)
More Free play
TV time (usually Super Why, Reading Rainbow, Sesame Street, or a favorite show on Noggin that I’ve DVR’ed)
Prayer before lunchtime (“God our Father, God our Father, we thank you…”)
Lunch
“Music” (we sing, dance, and play toy instruments along with children’s music CD’s)
Free play and/or theme activity
“Pre-Reading” activities (We read lots and lots of books, do finger plays, sing songs, quote nursery rhymes or Bible verses)
Prayer (“Now I lay me down to sleep…”)
Naptime (2-3 hours, yes, she still takes a good nap usually!)
Free play and/or theme activity
Snack
Outside play (or free play indoors, depending on the weather)

Why Homeschool? …Reason #6

Reason #6: I Know.

I know what really goes on in public schools and preschools, and I just don’t like it, to put it plainly.I worked in public schools as a Master’s level classroom teacher for five years. Four of those five years I worked in “Schools of Excellence” (schools that had over 98% achievement on the End-of-Grade exams). I’ve worked off and on in preschools from the time I was in college, in the positions of both assistant teacher and lead teacher. Each preschool ranking ranged from 4 stars to 5 stars, which means high conformity to state standards of excellence.I’m not satisfied with the agendas of some of the teachers I’ve worked with: I’ve known teachers who would blatantly push their social, religious, or political agendas on the children they were entrusted to teach, and would negate or diminish the value of their students’ differing views or beliefs. I just wouldn’t feel good about sending my child(ren) to public school with the chance they’d be enrolled in one of those teachers’ classes, allowing them to be bombarded all day with ideas that are contrary to our family’s beliefs.I’m not satisfied with the character of some of the teachers I’ve worked with: In all but one of the schools and preschools I’ve ever worked in, I was often appalled by teachers who would easily get away with sly neglect or verbal abuse. I personally witnessed three cases of physical abuse as well, in two of the preschools I worked in. It’s really scary but it does happen, and it gets covered up, more often than you think.I should say, though, that I do know many wonderful teachers. I’ve worked with some, I’m friends with some, and I’ve even got some in my own family. I’m certainly not slamming the good ones, because I do know that they’re out there, and I think they need a raise!!! But that’s for another soapbox…I’m not satisfied with the ineffective leadership of some (not all) of the principals I’ve worked under: The fact is, they’ve got too much on their plate, they aren’t paid well either, and they have a lot of stress to deal with from their own superiors, whether it’s the money-focused owner of the childcare, or it’s the superintendent of public instruction, budgets, or laws and paperwork they’re required to complete. They’re set up for letting children be “left behind” because they’ve got too much to worry about instead of truly focusing on the children.I’m not satisfied with the politics of public education and preschool education: There’s too much relying on the paperwork required to “follow the rules.” I’ve found that the paperwork is what counts – if it’s well written, or if the “results” look good, people think that it’s really being done just as it’s written and therefore it’s great because it sounds great. No one has time or even bothers to check to see the how the real children are faring who are affected by it.Finally, I’m not ashamed to just go ahead and say that I’m not satisfied with the character of half of the children that are enrolled, or their parents either: Too many times I’ve seen the bullies, the children who cuss at their peers and their teachers, the spoiled brats, the kids who prick their friends in the back with sharpened pencils, and the ones who throw furniture when they’re angry… Too many times I’ve seen the parents who make excuses for their children, the ones who are scared of their own children, the ones who think their child can do no wrong, and the ones who brag about teaching their children to cuss or bully others. If I did send my child(ren) to public school, I would obviously be considered that “crazy nitpicking parent” that drove the staff bonkers all year long! Well, I guess it’s better for their sakes as well as my children’s sakes that I wouldn’t enroll them, LOL. I can’t say what private schools are like, because I have no personal experience there.To sum up my attitude on public education, I’ll refer to a quote I’ve seen on numerous homeschool bloggers’ sites: “Hillary Clinton says it takes a village to raise a child. I’ve seen the village; and I don’t want it raising my child.” (~Unknown)