Amy is a mother and an educator. She and her husband have been homeschooling their children for seven years.
It’s true, and I’ll be completely honest. Eight years ago, I thought that home schoolers were crazy, unnatural, and bizarre. Why subject themselves to the never ceasing concern of those wondering, “What do you do for socialization?” (Admit it…If you don’t home school, you’re wondering this right now, aren’t you??) I truly could not understand why parents would choose to not adhere to the most basic, elemental, and central tradition of our modern culture — school. Good ol’ brick and mortar, teachers, principals, hot lunch, and the smell of a newly cleaned hallway in September. Ahhh. In fact I love school! Public and parochial “traditional” schools are so important to our communities, and our country truly would not be where it is without our public school system. In fact, I have my teaching certificate and a master’s degree in special education because I love — school.
But our family wanted something different. I was at the Wirt library when I first felt the tug on my heart to home school. We had three kids at the time. Our oldest was in first grade, and our second in preschool. I had stopped teaching full time but was still working part time in education. Already I felt like our busy lives were not how I pictured them. I knew that as our kids got older, our time apart as a family and their downtime as kids would only lessen. So while at Wirt, I stumbled upon a home schooling magazine just hanging out on the shelf. There were amazing articles that caused me to really start questioning the only world of “school” that I knew. I told my husband (also a special education teacher) about my thoughts, and he didn’t think I was crazy! We started to dig into whatever we could find. Pros? Cons? Can our budget handle it? How do home schooled kids turn out? What curriculum should we use? Would they get into college? What would our parents (who were ALL in the public education system!!!) say?
We found that many things that schools strive for and want to see happen were happening in the home school world. Self-directed learning, creativity, freedom to fail, individualized assignments, time to play, time to read, healthy hot lunches (if we remembered to go to the grocery store), time to practice piano, time to play outside for as long as they want, and downtime to relax and just be kids.
It took us a whole year to research home schooling. We found that many things that schools strive for and want to see happen were happening in the home school world. Self-directed learning, creativity, freedom to fail, individualized assignments, time to play, time to read, healthy hot lunches (if we remembered to go to the grocery store), time to practice piano, time to play outside for as long as they want, and downtime to relax and just be kids. Yep, when we focus, we can get our studies done around lunchtime and then have the rest of the day to spend on individual interests. My middle schooler’s studies take a bit longer, but then she doesn’t have homework after school.
I’m sure you’re still wondering about the most ever asked question of home schoolers: “What do you do for socialization?” I could honestly write a book about how I really feel about this concern and about the development of social skills, but I’ll spare you and just give the simple answer — lots. Since we don’t have built in “see people at school” time, we do have to be purposeful and plan meet-ups, field trips, and fun classes. I sometimes like to say that we “community school”, because I’m pretty sure we are out and about more than at home. There are some amazing resources in the Great Lakes Bay Region, and there are hundreds of families that home school. There are weekly co-ops, monthly meet ups, ongoing swim and PE classes, science classes at Chippewa Nature Center, Delta Planetarium, electives through virtual schools, and many more. With friends, we frequent the Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum, Midland Center for the Arts, the Saginaw Children’s Zoo, Dow Gardens, City Market in Bay City, Bay City State Park, any other park, and all of the libraries. All of our local libraries have amazing programs and they’re all free! Our kids chose to also play sports, do archery, be in the church choir, volunteer at community events, and join 4H.
Although we are honest with our kids on what they are missing out on by home schooling, they’re totally on board and committed. They understand that it’s definitely different, but also wonderful and enjoyable. Our family is constantly adding reasons why we love home schooling, and I love to answer any questions about the realities of it. I have met with many parents who have felt the unmistakable tug and decided to not ignore it!
Homeschooling events coming up in the Great Lakes Bay Region click HERE!
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