Since making the decision to home educate our children I’ve often been asked if I disliked school myself, and I have to say the answer is no! If you had asked me as a child if I liked school I would most definitely have answered ‘yes’. There were times I didn’t enjoy it so much, but on the whole it was a positive experience for me. I liked spending time with my friends mostly, and I did pretty well. That confuses people a bit! They assume that because I’ve chosen to home educate that I must have had a bad school experience myself.
The fact is, in our case anyway, the decision to home educate is not about school at all. Sure, in the beginning when we were first making the decision we did talk about some of the negatives of schooling and how they wouldn’t be an issue for us if we chose to home educate. I’m sure no one believes that school is perfect and we all know it has it’s flaws. In the absence of a personal bad experience with school people assume that these flaws are the reason we chose to opt out. So I’ve often heard that:
‘school is different now’
‘it’s not like when we were at school’
‘the classrooms are so different, you’d be amazed’
‘there’s much more individualized learning’
‘it’s much more interactive’
And you know what? I think that’s great! I hope that things keep improving, I really want to see that too. But it’s not going to change our minds. Because, the decision to continue homeschooling is not really about school at all. If I try to imagine a school that could change my mind and make me happy to send my kids there, my mind is blank. Because one is never going to exist for me.
Homeschooling or unschooling is not about keeping our kids away from all the negatives of school. While that’s an added bonus, for us it’s much more about the whole different lifestyle that we can all have together. The practicalities of educating a large number of children at once mean that school can just never give my children the same experience of life and learning as I can. That’s ok! School provides a different role than I do and it will always be needed.
So what makes me keep homeschooling? Why am I never going to be tempted by school, no matter how fantastic it is? Because quite frankly this lifestyle is amazing. For all of us. And it’s something I don’t think we can get anywhere else.
My kids can follow their interests and passions, no matter what they are. They can learn at a pace and time that suits them. Each day is up to us! There is no stress or pressure or rushing.
We have unlimited time together. Time to deepen relationships with family and friends. Time to form sibling bonds that will last a lifetime. Time to spend with all the people we love. Time to play! A whole childhood to play.
Everyone is free to be themselves, to make their own choices, and pursue their own interests. I can spend so much of my children’s childhood with them. I get to watch them grow and the joy of them learning every new thing. And we can do all this while the kids still get a fabulous education? Well, there’s no way I’m giving it up.
So, I’m sorry school, it’s not you, it’s us. It’s really nothing to do with you at all. I hope you understand.