First hand stories why other parents in Washington State have chosen to home-educate and learn naturally.
It all started with my horrible public school experience. From the time my kinder garden teacher wouldn't let me go to the bath room causing me to pee my pants, to a teacher my senior year telling me he was going to flunk me because he didn't like me. I did, in high school manage to change a few school policies, and that teacher almost lost his job. I said I would never put my children in a system like that. They didn't need to go through the peer pressure or the bullying. Teachers not caring, and just being another number/statistic. I've seen many children hate life because they dreaded going to school. Kids are little parts on an assembly line, and for most of the adults in the system that is as far as it goes. It is natural to hand out children over to a stranger and let them have one of the biggest influences in raising our children. Before I new that there was a term called homeschooling, I figured I would just not send my kids to school and who would no the difference. This all before I had kids yet, and I had my first at 19. My first son started to get close to school age, so I got informed about the law. Like most parents that homeschool looked into all the methods, but like usual I just do my own thing and later found out it to had a name. So that is why we're a natural learning family.
Because I am absolutely obsessed with raising my kids. From the minute I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter I laid in bed at night with my hands on my belly, trying to "fill her up" with love and praying I was up to this awesome responsibility of being a mother. As she grew, I researched absolutely everything in regards to pregnancy so I could do thebest possible job. I actually made "meal charts" tobe sure I got a good diet. Once I figured that out- I"homeschooled myself" about childbirth and After Ifigured that all out it was on to the subject ofbreastfeeding. Everyone thought I couldn't do it. The wonderful pregnancy, the natural birth, thebreastfeeding- I think at times I did it to proveeveryone wrong. How dare anyone underestimate ME? Well- once she was born, I read every book everwritten on child development and THEN- it was time toread everything about education. My originalintention, since I had already "heard through thegrapevine" that homeschooling was best; was to sendher to a fancy private school and then homeschool"when she came home so she would become thissuper-genius kid. Thanks to David Elkind and whoeverwrote "magical child" I realized; wonder of wonder; that my daughter could be trusted to direct her ownlearning and all I had to do was back off. Hoh-
that's not my style; then I was blessed with anotherdaughter whose presence and temperament gave my oldestthe space she needed to turn into the awesome kid sheis today. 4 years later, we had our 3rd daughter andNOW- we're pregnant again. Will it be a girl? Idon't know, but One thing is for sure, Mothering hastaught me more than I have EVER learned in school.
I have chosen to homeschool my children after several years of wrestling with the prospect of educating them in my home. Initially I had to overcome my fears of my inability to "math" the way they "teach" it in school (which was ineffective for my daughter's learning style by the way!). My second fear was that my daughter and I might kill each other.
Then I got a job working for a State Grant Funded Program and had the dubious priveledge of being an "insider" at the local elementary
school where my children attended school. *Sigh*
1) The staff speaks to, and of, the children in a manner I consider abusive and demeaning. (And look at parental involvement as
something to merely tolerate and try to shuffle to selling goodies at recess)
2) Bullying and Harrassment are not taken seriously. It seems to be normal for first graders to sexually harrass one another. (It
happened to my child!) Physical violence has no logical consequences. Parents are not informed when their children are injured (if it is
slight) due to physical harm by other students!
3) The staff was in general less knowledgable about many of the subjects they were teaching than myself (frightening really).
On top of it all my daughter, who up until December of 2001 enjoyed lunch and recess most at school, began to hate lunch and recess. She began crying and not wanting to go, she was afraid (bullying of others not merely her) and had nightmares. Then the clincher came (as if her being terrified wasn't enough) her grades nose-dived. My daughter, who was chosen to attend the young author's conference as a second grader (a big TaDOO) got the equivelent of an "F" in her writing grade. All beacause she refused to write a book after being told she could not write a "How to draw" book. Rather than be allowed to merely write a book, go through the process they took her creative freedom away. So, like any intelligent person she shut down.
As for natural learning, I cannot see a better option! The latter part of the above paragraph tells me what happens when you do the "supposed to's" to a child who is highly intelligent.
My great-grandmother (born in 1899) was not sent to HS because she was a girl, and yet she taught herself algebra, geometry, and calculus because she so wanted to learn. I have watched my own children grab subjects and run with them when they have their interest sparked. I have my own experiences and understanding that the desire to learn is an aspect of being human.
I consider myself highly educated, less because of my degree rather it is the amount of experience in life, travel, and independant study I have conducted. The piece of paper just shows I did the ropes. I can print out my daughter a piece of paper if she wants one.
OH and by the way just in case you were wondering the school district in which my daughter attended, and her school in specific, are
testing off the charts academically. This is a GOOD SCHOOL (SHUDDER!).
That's why I homeschool.
I survived school by teaching myself most of what I know. I cannot remember not reading, so I assumed that's how it was for everyone. When I had my first child, I watched her learn everything by wanting to know it, and I spend time with her reading, drawing, playing. When she got old enough for school, I couldn't imagine being away from her and we'd been hanging out with other unschooling families, mostly because they were also the homebirth, non-vaccinating, family bed crowd. Unschooling seemed to continue the natural leanings I have, and my daughter thrived. We moved then from Ventura County CA to Santa Cruz CA, and there met some home/unschool pioneers, who assured me that this is viable, who had grown children who'd gone on to college after learning in this natural way. I then gave birth to 2 more children, read more books by John Holt, Gatto, etc, etc. I have watched my three thrive, self esteem intact, and become more convinced each year that this works for us. As homeschooling has become a mainstream activity,
unschooling has remained somewhat out of the norm, and people are still amazed that we don't use textbooks, or curriculum, except for the curriculum of life. I guess that's enough for now-I'm sure there's more I could add.
I homeschool/unschool my son Guylan because I want himto keep his passion for learning and a strong sense ofwho he is. I remember being thrilled to learn to readand excited about school early on. That passion fadedfor me by about 2nd grade although I still did "well"and was in the "gifted" classes. Between having tofollow the textbook curriculum and worrying about mysocial standing and clothing choices, joyful learningwas just sort of lost. By the time high schoolgraduation came along I had had enough and could not see going on to college. I even went years withoutreading a book. My passion for learning came back andI have no real regrets but some curiosity as to whatcareers may have been more accessible (archaeologist? paleontologist? etc.) had I not been too burned out to
go on. I would like for Guylan to be ready to jump tothe next step in learning when it arrives? Hislearning style and personality are much more like myhusband Sam's; leaning toward the random abstract (Cynthia Tobias', The Way They Learn) and more openly
wanting to lead and be in control than I ever was inschool. I think he would tend toward rebellion in atraditional school setting, like his dad, and linkthat to learning in general. My husband has reallynoticed ways that he would have benefitted fromhomeschooling since watching our son learn and grow. Besides the academic reasons for homeschooling it justfeels odd to turn him over to a classroom for a hugechunk of the day. He's usually well behaved andconsiderate and people who get to know him oftencomment on his maturity. I think a lot of that isbecause we have the time to ponder and talk aboutsocial issues that come up like people's feelings, hisown emotions, and "doing unto others". Even before Ihad a child, I had heard of homeschooling and thoughtthat's what I would do if ever I did have a child. Wehave fun together meeting other homeschool familiesand the closeness just feels natural.