South African mom blogger Lucia shares with us her reasons why she has decided to homeschool.
I got into a debate with a close relative recently about my choice to Home-school my children. She thought it an interesting subject, mentioned concern for the children, and we had a relatively unheated debate about my choice. I took no offence, I don’t anymore because I’d live in constant offence if I had to take offense every time someone questioned this choice of my parenting.
I don’t have to defend many parenting choices because for the most part people seem to agree that as a parent I have the best interest of my kids at heart – just not so convinced that choosing home schooling as my kid’s primary education method that I could be thinking with my kid’s best interest at heart. I find it fascinating and disturbing that this is a perception.
My relative pointed out to me that most home schooling parents she knows are doing it for their own sake, to have time to go to the hairdresser or beauty salon. Apparently, they do it so their kids could fit into their schedule. Gasp. I can’t remember her exact words, but she felt that most home school parents don’t do it for the benefit of their children, but more for their own benefit.
I sure must have hung out with a different set of home schoolers because I’ve yet to meet a home school parent that are doing it for their benefit. It’s a sacrifice as a mother to take time out of your dreams and career to bring up your young ones. To be at home so they can learn and play at home. It’s a sacrifice we’re not allowed to talk about because then what about the working mothers’ sacrifice. Let me just be clear here. I think working mothers are great mothers and women and wives. I don’t take away from their sacrifice of time without their kids so that they can provide food and housing and whatever else they deem necessary for their families. I respect that they have their reasons for making the choices they have made, all I ask in return is a mutual respect in trusting my reasons are as valid as the reasons you use to make your choice.
I listen to most working moms and they all feel they don’t have much choice in the matter, needing to support finances in the house, and at the same time they don’t feel that they would be able to live a fulfilled and busy life as a mother at home. They say they won’t have the patience or the ability to teach their children what they need to learn. Every mother that has asked me about my choice to home school has told me that it is not for them because they’re just not ‘made’ for it. I always wonder what exactly that means? You’re not ‘made’ to teach your child the things in life you’d wish for them to learn? You’re not ‘made’ to face the fact that you’re not as patient as you’ve imagined yourself to be, or your kid is not as clever as you’ve told yourself they are, or your idea of what’s important to learn is not what your kid deems as important? You’re not made for spending your days at home with the little people you’ve created?
I believe that if you’re a mother you should accept that you were made for more than just your own dreams and aspirations. I guess I can say that I wasn’t ‘made’ to be a working mom. I shiver when I think that if I was in someone else’s shoes I’d have to be up by 5am to get my kids ready to get to school on time, as well as get myself ready to get to work, be separated from my kids 5 days a week for at least 8hrs a day. I wouldn’t know if they were getting hurt, playing with friends, getting bullied, being a bully, learning new things, getting into trouble. I would only hear about it at night, hopefully. I would have to come home tired from working all day and must help each child with homework, should make dinner, bath kids and get them to bed – hopefully having had an hour or so of meaningful family time, but more than likely it would be spend looking at a screen.
You really get to know your kids when you spend 24/7 with them. And they get to know you, and you discover new things about yourself and that little army you created. They outnumber you and they are growing up into little people full of their own ideas and wishlists. I want to be in the know of their ideas and wishes. Not so that I can grant them their wishes and ideas like a fairy godmother, but because I want to be there to help them try their best to fulfil their dreams, as best I can. I want my kids to achieve the most they can – but I really want them to just enjoy each day and each moment as it happens. I want them to chase after moments and not after money. I want them to chase after family and friends and spending time with people that make you laugh, people that make you think, people that make you angry and people that you can just be all you are without judgement. Because all those groups of people create an emotion in you for a reason. It makes you question yourself, your ideas or ways of thinking. It makes you put yourself in someone elses’ shoes, or if you’re a narcissist it only validates your own way of thinking.
I am fortunate enough to be able to choose to work or not to work. And in that I mean that if I had to work I would have time to my career and myself but any money I make would have to pay for my kids to go to school. And do I want my kids to go to formal standardised schooling? No. I choose to work from home, using my skills and passion as a photographer. I am currently pursuing writing as another option as a source of income. Having chosen Home schooling as our way of living has also given me the opportunity to explore areas of myself that I haven’t previously considered as a means to earn and contribute to our life as a family. It has also allowed me to show my daughters that the boxes the world wants to put you in doesn’t have to define you. If you don’t fit into the box someone is forcing you into, break out and shape your own box.
Strangely enough, formal schooling is not that old. In fact it only became popular between the 17th and 19th centuries.
If you have the time for an interesting read go check out this article about a brief history of education. It’ll give you a better insight into one of the reasons I believe home schooling to be a better option than formal standard schooling. Kids, especially young kids, learn through play. I can see by the interests that my kids portray what they would enjoy doing as a career. I don’t think that they can’t have careers if they choose to be mothers, but I hope they will know that balancing your passions in life is what brings happiness, not earning more money, or living in bigger houses or driving fancy cars. I am happy. I am fulfilled and when I’m not fulfilled I do something about it. We make time for ourselves as much as we make time for our kids. I didn’t become a home school parent overnight, but I always knew that if possible I want to spend the first 4 years of my kids’ lives at home with them. It’s become a bit of an extension in time as we’ve grown as a family and I’ve come to realize the time we have with our kids are so little. If we live to be 70 years we live with our kids less than 20% of our lives! Women often use their career as an excuse for not being at home with their kids, and in the unfair world we live in it’s a valid excuse. Most women won’t be able to get back into their careers at the exact point they left it to become a mother. Someone younger and probably male would’ve come along and taken her position. She’d have to start over again.
I know that choosing to stay at home with my kids until they are ready to head into the world as confident human beings doesn’t mean I must sacrifice my career. I can do what I love while being at home, study further myself, improve my skills or take a break if I feel I need to recharge and refocus. I know that by the time my kids are no longer at home to occupy my time I will be able to focus on my career and build it up to where I want it to be. I know I am good at what I do and can only get better with the time I get to practise. I might not have enough time to build a career right now, but I have enough time to build my skills. Having had this debate with my relative made me think…what would a parent who chooses to send their children to formal schooling do or say if I had to ask in the same tone about why they chose to send their kids to school? Are they really doing it for their children or for themselves? Using my concern for their children to pass my judgement on their choices? Would they walk away unoffended? It’s not only because of this recent debate that this thought came up, but being constantly asked in a way that makes you feel you are ill-equipped to make that choice – as if you just decided this on a whim, as if you don’t know what you’re doing and how could you?
I do hope this clarifies the choice of home schooling a bit. It’s a much longer and deeper discussion really than what is captured here or what was said during our ‘debate’. I can go back to my own schooling history, or mention the fact that people like Beethoven and Mozart was taught by their Fathers. In fact, just about any person born before the 17th century was more than likely home schooled. We are not all religious, we are not all hippies, we are not all weird. But most importantly of all, if we are any or all those things, we don’t really care that you see us that way, because we are, most importantly WHO WE ARE. Not who the world, or the system, or the government, or anybody else wants us to be. We are comfortable with the morals and standards that we live by, we are comfortable with the people our children are, we are encouraging individualism above reforming, we are encouraging our kids to use their special set of skills and knowledge and character to make the world a better place. To connect as families. To expand their horizons and think differently than everyone else. A kid’s intelligence does not rely on whether they go to school or not. Or in the speed at which they grasp a concept. Mozart was not interested in learning geography, and Michelangelo couldn’t care less about his grammar. We nurture the things that drives our children to want to learn, that make our children enjoy learning and we do it whilst allowing them room to play and be children. My relative agreed by the end of the discussion that she can see the benefit of home schooling during the foundation stages of a child’s life. And if that’s only a start to opening one person’s eyes to the benefits of home-schooling, I’ll take it. I believe there are equally beneficial reasons to home school high school children, but it’s a whole different ball game then, and one I’ve yet had to tackle. It’s one I’m scared of and excited by. It’s one I will face when we get there. Right now, we’re just learning to read and write and be kind and honest and confident and cook and bake and build stuff and grow stuff and care for each other and show respect and use our imaginations and design clothes and houses and care for animals and babies and clean our rooms and occasionally water some plants, sweep the house and dust every now and then. We learn to count by counting our blessings and we learn to divide by sharing our blessings. We multiply by baking and subtract by eating. We enjoy life with the people we love. And we love a big variety of people. People who home school, and people who don’t. People who go to church, and people that stay at home. People who have kids, and people who don’t. People with the same colour skin as us, and people with a variety of different colours of skin.
My kids will be fine, in fact they may even be great! And so will be all the working mommies’ kids. If we do what we do out of love, they will all be fine, or even great.