Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Joining Michele's Discussion: What is Education? (Part 3 - A great family relationship)

Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here.

The last post ended with: "Most importantly, our experience has been that homeschooling is not just a method of education, but a way of life that has brought our family closer than I could have imagined or predicted."

And that's where I'll pick up today. It's true that homeschooling offers us the ability to tailor (or eschew) curriculum as needed, include as much faith formation in our days as we like, and gives us freedom and flexibility with our schedule, but the bonus is this: a great family relationship.

Sometimes when people find out we homeschool, they say, "I couldn't stand to be with my children all the time!" or, "Don't they drive you crazy?" and it's then that I realize what we have.

I can stand to be with them. What's more, I don't just love them, I like them.

They don't drive me crazy (most of the time.) Yes, we're human and we occasionally want to bat each other over the head with a croquet mallet, but I'd estimate that happens only .05% of the time and it usually has something to do with the fact that four females live here and we're out of chocolate and/or Tylenol.

We have to get along. We're an organization, a club, a co-op. We're a school, a nuclear unit, an aggregation, an association; we're a body, a circle, a coalition, a going concern. We're a consortium, a crew, an establishment, a federation. We're an institution, a league, a society, a sodality, a team and a union. (And we wield a hefty thesaurus.)

We've banded together and created something: an education that is unfolding with home as home base.

That doesn't mean we're home all the time, or that we never see other people. Anne-with-an-e and I were recently snorting with laughter over a book summary we saw: "Jason is homeschooled, so he's never really been around other kids."

I beg your pardon?

May I dispel right now the notion that homeschooled children are locked into dark closets and fed nothing but textbooks all day long? ("And don't come out until you can spell pulchritude!")

What it means is that we've created this thing -- this home-based education -- and that we're in it together. We discuss with our kids everything that is related to their education. At first it was only Atticus and me doing the planning and decision-making but the kids have become a part of the process. Their voices are heard, their desires are considered and respected, and their goals are encouraged, even when their goals surprise us.

And all of this discussion, and the resulting shared experience, has helped us cultivate a bond, genuine respect and genuine appreciation and enjoyment of one another's company.

The world seems to think that teens have to be distant and difficult in order to properly separate, but we certainly haven't found that to be true. I think my kids are pretty normal in the usual growing-up-and-growing-away stuff. They're finding their own ways, ideas, tastes, and talents, and yes, we sometimes get the "You are such a parent" eye roll. But, in general, our kids like us. And we like them.

A delightful, and very close family relationship has been one of the huge, unexpected boons for me in homeschooling.


Upcoming questions:

How have your ideas about education evolved and changed over time (if they have).

What’s working? What’s not working?

What are you aiming for?


Jennifer said...

Excellent Karen! It has been the same here. I never could have predicted that homeschooling would become such a joyful lifestyle change. It permeates everything we do. For this reason I almost feel selfish - I get to study Latin, I get to study ancient cultures, I get to read picture books all day! As to your first point - I feel selfish there too. Our primary (secret) reason for homeschooling was because I wanted my children with me. I love spending time with them and watching them learn. I love that we are on this journey together. I love that they have a teacher who is so dedicated (though a bit absent minded!).

Beck said...

It sounds like a lovely life...

Karen E. said...

Hi, Jenn -- yes to all of that!

Beck, I know that a schooling life can be lovely, too, when there's a lovely mother at the helm. :)

Anonymous said...

And she knows that because she has me, her favorite sister-in-law, who has her favorite nephew all grown up and wonderful! LOL
Love you Karen!

Karen E. said...

Bingo, Nance! :-) Love you, too!