Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Take two: Passion & Flexibility.

A while back, I wrote out a post on reasons I want to home school. A few reasons, I should say, that I want to home school. It's incredibly difficult for me to be able to iterate on paper, or in writing I should say, exactly how I feel about homeschooling. Why? Because I feel a lot. I have so many thoughts on this topic that I could sit on the couch, drink a cup of coffee, and get lost in conversation the entire day. And still somehow walk away feeling like there was so much more that I could have said.

That's how I felt about my last post. That's probably how I will feel after this one as well.
I was thinking the other day of why I want to do this so much. Something I read in an article stood out to me. Two things actually. And while I could focus on many different directions and reasons with this post, I'd like to stick to just these two very important ones: passion and flexibility.

Passion. How does this apply to homeschooling? How does it affect me and my family? Why this word and what does it mean? You see, when I read passion and homeschooling in the same sentence, I automatically think: That's it! If there could be just one word that I could describe my drive to home school and leave it at that, it would be this. Why? Because of what passion means to me. Passion for me, as the mother {and teacher}, as well as passion for my children {and students}. I think about how motherhood drives me to be passionate about things I never thought I would be---such as the outdoors, learning about our environment and the things around us, exploring nature, discovering new hobbies and skills, and so much more. In turn, I begin to think about what learning is {and should} be all about, and I again find myself coming back to this word--passion. When I learn something that I don't know, or when I begin my quest in finding out more about a topic, disease, or place or time in history, I do so with a passion to dig for as much information as possible. I have this desire to read read read and then talk about it {to myself} and ask questions {to myself} and find the answers {for myself}. I'm passionate about it. I want to know the back story. I want to know the why. I want to know the how. And I want the same for my children. When I think about how I want them to view learning and how I want them to view discovering new things, ideas, and events in history, I want them to do so with excitement. Can this be accomplished in a typical school setting with 20+ kids, tons of distractions, strict requirements and ridiculous expectations through standardized testing? Sure--anything is possible. But do kids get drained out, over-worked, and the passion sucked right out of them with each passing year? I would venture to say yes.

I think we have failed our children when it comes to the public school system and what it has become. I think that there are so many changes that need to be made {too many hours spent at a desk, not enough exploration, too many distractions, too many tests, corrupt school administrators, bullying, and so much more}, but unfortunately I don't see the changes coming anytime soon. I think the school system has taken the purpose of learning and the drive behind learning and made it all about the wrong thing: the school, instead of the student. The focus here is test scores and what looks good on paper. What's lost? Is the passion and excitement in the student for learning---which I believe is much more important and critical for the young students that will one day grow into adults and have to apply various skills not only in their career but in their everyday lives than any test score could ever tell you.

And so the further we steer away from the passion behind learning, the more we are failing all the students out there from having the drive, desire, and will to explore.

Flexibility. So important and I believe nearly impossible in the typical school settings. A schedule? Just as important. However, I think flexibility is something I never truly thought about until I had children of my own. I think about how everything is done when you go to school, how strict of a schedule everything is, and how by the book most of the teachers and schools run. Why? Because that is simply the best way to keep a class full of 20+ students in line {or close to the line}. The more flexible we are, the more likely that things may get out of hand, more disruptions may arise, and things may not get done. Well, when we put it that way, that totally makes sense. However, the most crucial piece to this puzzle is the idea that everyone learns and acts exactly the same. And that, well that we know is completely false.

Knowing that, how could we possibly teach children all the same and expect them to learn the same? We can't. We just hope that they will get it. Or, actually, hope that when they come home from school with all their homework, their parent will tune into their learning abilities and teach them in that way. And then I think.... well then, why did they spend 8 hours in a school setting only to come home for me to teach it to them?

Is it the schools fault? No, I don't think so. Is it the teacher's fault? Absolutely not. Is it the student's? 100% no.

I think the system as a whole is just wrong. I think that waking up at 6 in the morning to start getting ready for school, half asleep during the first hour of school, trying to get your brain woken up and alert enough for what is to come, and then trying to focus with all the distractions around and catch onto every word and explanation during the day can all be just...... wrong.

So how do I envision homeschooling my children through passion and flexibility?

Simple....through passion and flexibility. I want a schedule, but I want to be flexible. If they need to sleep in a little longer because they are going through a growth spurt... then do. If they aren't feeling the desk today and don't want to practice spelling there... then let's go outside and use chalk or kick a ball and spell out our words. If they learn through art better than books... then let's do art. If we are struggling in one area and excel more than the other... then we put more focus on the one we are struggling. The beauty of homeschooling is that there is that flexibility and ability to tune in to the learning style of each individual child. To take that learning style and make it to benefit them. To give them the best possible opportunity to learn at their fullest potential.

To find what they are passionate about, and use that as the center of their learning.

I tell you what, I could sit here all day and go on and on. Like I mentioned before, as my children get older, I get more and more passionate about this topic. I think that as parents, many of us do not realize the potential that is within us. That you don't have to have a teaching degree to teach the ones that you love the most. You don't need to be in a school setting to know what works or what doesn't for your children. You don't need that title in order to give your children the best possible education out there.

And as far as "socialization" goes? Well.... that's a completely separate post that more than deserves it's own space. In fact, we wouldn't even have to talk about it if it wasn't the first thought that comes into someone's head when the idea of homeschooling is mentioned.

I know. I planted that seed.

First: passion. Second: flexibility. Third: Socialization.



  1. I think it's so great that you are homeschooling. I'm going to be in high school this next year, and I've been homeschooled my whole life, and will continue to be through high school. I love being homeschooled, and yes, the flexibility is the best. We are able to do so many more things, and get to take advantage of so many more opportunities, because we're homeschooled.

    You seriously have the cutest kids, and one of the names I want for one of my future children is Graham. I love his name.
    It may seem weird to you that you have such a young reader, but I love your blog, and since I have six younger siblings, I can still relate to a lot of what you write about. :)

  2. Socialization isn't the first thing that comes to MY mind when someone mentions homeschooling. For me- I'd like to know how the parent best prepares the child for their future. If they choose to go to college- will that child have the skill set to "survive". I'm not saying that traditional schooling is the place where that is learned but as a higher ed professional I see so many students whose parents have crippled and enabled their children to the point where they are like a fish out of water.

    I could go on and on about it, but that's not the point. I wish you luck in your homeschooling endeavors- keep us posted!

  3. I love this post. Our school system here in Louisiana is just awful. Especially in the parish that our child would end up going to school in. They have literally taken out every bit of imagination and creative play. In fact, next year there is a new rule that all stories read must be non fiction. Seriously?!?! I'm very interested in homeschooling. It is just my husband that isn't quite as interested. I personally like the idea of homeschool up until junior high, and then putting them in school. Great post!


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