Weird Homeschoolers

I would never homeschool my kids.

That’s what I said.

Well, really, that’s what I thought.  I didn’t say that because I recognized that it was close-minded and because several people whom I respected homeschooled their kids and because, technically, I saw some value in it.  At the same time, though, I was generally 99.9% certain that homeschooling wasn’t for us.

After all, kids need the structure of school.  And if my kids were anything like me (which Luke is), they would need the constant social interaction that school provides in order to help their overly-introverted selves become normal.  Plus, as Greg points out, kids need to learn to respond to different authority figures, even ones who don’t like them.  They need deadlines and due dates and people who don’t let them off the hook just because they love them.  They need to learn to not be the center of attention, to function and interact with groups of people who might be very different from them.  I could go on.  The bottom line is that I see so much value in the classroom setting.

And yet, here I am…

fairly certain I am going to homeschool my children next year

…and very excited about it.

That’s kind of weird, don’t you think?  I think it is.  I actually am pretty shocked at myself.  What really gets me is how good I think homeschooling will be for Luke and Anna, after being so sure that I would never homeschool them.  It’s quite a reversal of opinion!

At the same time, though, I think we might indeed be the weirdest homeschoolers in the world, which is saying something because…you know what?  Never mind.  I won’t besmirch the community:).  Instead, I will just point out all the ways that we, personallywill be weird homeschoolers:

1.  We are weird people.

Let’s start with the obvious.  Three out of four Kirby’s range from fairly to extremely introverted, and even Anna (our token non-introvert) generally keeps to herself in preschool, despite the other girls’ valiant efforts to befriend her.  Thus, there is a good chance that next year, we are all just going to crawl into a hole and become hermits.  It is a very real concern.

2.  We love the public school system.

Yes, for real.  I think it’s wonderful.  I am so stinkin’ proud of our country that we view education as a right, and that we are committed to providing every citizen with a good one.  Whether we are actually able to do that is a matter for debate, but the idea is right on.  A successful democracy depends on an educated populace, for one thing, and in my opinion, it also depends on cultural awareness and acceptance.  And in public school, you are surrounded by people who are different from you, and you have to learn to get along with them.  That’s a good skill to have, which is why I want to be a part of the public education system.  I want to support this noble effort, and the best way to do that, I think, is to allow my children to participate in it.  

Furthermore, we have loved Luke’s school and the people who work there.  Luke’s teacher has gone above and beyond for him, and I love the principal, the counselor, the reading specialist, and so on.  Luke also loves his classmates, and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to volunteer there once a week and getting to know the little children with whom he spends his day.

3.  We are not homeschooling for religious reasons. 

In fact, I am slightly terrified of the idea of indoctrinating my children into my own worldview.  I know that is weird, since my biggest hope for them is to become Christians, but I want them to choose it, you know?  I want them to hear other viewpoints and perspectives, to have other teachers who disagree with them (and us), and to grapple with other worldviews.  If our house has a motto, it might be something like, “The truth is strong.”  And so, I’m not afraid of exposing my children to contradictory worldviews.  To me, faith that is not tested is not faith at all.  That’s probably why I found myself researching secular curriculum instead of the Christian material that makes up the lion’s share of homeschooling curriculum.  The curriculum we finally chose is Christian, but we chose it only after reading many critiques about its “controversial” nature and how it gives other views instead of  just the biblical view.  That’s what got us.

4.  None of our friends homeschool.

At least, none of our friends in Nashville homeschool.  In South Carolina, almost all of my friends homeschooled; I was the weird one for sending my kids to public school.  In Nashville, however, a disproportionate amount of our friends work in the public school system, and so now we’re weird for homeschooling.  Apparently, I have a perverse desire to look at what all my friends are doing, and then do the opposite.  Perhaps I need to explore that tendency…

Until then, those are just a few reasons that we are going to be weird homeschoolers next year.  In light of those facts, you might be asking, “Why in the world are they going to homeschool their children?”  And even if you aren’t, just know that I’m going to blather on about that very subject for the next few days.  So if this topic does not interest you at all, then…um…see you next week?  We’ll miss you!  (For real.)

To the four people who are left, I will get to the two big reasons soon.  They need elaboration.  For now, here are some of the smaller reasons:

Our kids want to.

We want to.

Greg’s schedule is the mirror opposite of the typical school schedule:  his busy times are evenings, weekends, and the summer.  If homeschooling is convenient for anyone, it is the minister’s family.

My two biggest passions in this life (besides the overarching passion for God and my family) are writing and teaching my kids.  When I do those two things, I feel the most alive.

Nashville has so many opportunities for homeschoolers.  Seriously, it’s incredible.

My best friend is moving up here soon (God-willing), and she homeschools her boys, who are my kids’ good friends.  We have big plans for collaboration.

I’m sure there are more little reasons that make homeschooling appealing to us, but I can’t think of all of them right now.  The bottom line, though, is that, as convincing as those factors are by themselves, they would not have pushed us over the edge.  I would describe the two factors that did push us over the edge as

kindling…

and a match.  

But more on that tomorrow.

In the meantime, if you have children, how did you choose to educate them, and why?  

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mcafeess on April 2, 2012 at 9:15 am

    We home school our fifth grader, Chase. This is the first year we have done it. He has always been a predominantly “A” student, and has done pretty well socially through his involvement in church and athletics.

    Granted, fifth grade is much different than where Luke will be (1st grade?), but these are my overall impressions:

    1. It’s taxing. Home-schooling really takes it out of you sometimes, especially if your child is not self-motivated. Being the firstborn, Luke might be self-motivated. Chase certainly isn’t.

    2. It gives you a chance to encourage his strengths and spend time on his weaknesses. You’ll get a very good idea of where he excels and where he can use some work, and will be able to adjust your time accordingly.

    3. It’s not as cheap as you might think–though this may not be evident until later on. If you plan on using any type of textbooks, etc…those can add up quickly.

    4. Here’s an obvious one–flexibility. The flexibility is great, and it works both ways. For instance, there may be a day you need to get other things done, and you can. On the other hand, come spring time the school schedule seems very inconsistent, and you can be as consistent as you want regardless of their schedule.

    5. Without other students to teach, if you start around 7am, you can be done by noon. Maybe earlier with Luke. Right now, I teach Chase from 7:30-10:30, and Angela takes him for the few hours after that.

    6. Writing, writing, writing. This is one area where home schoolers typically come up short, so be sure to incorporate it as much as you can.

    Reply

    • Shurley English is a wonderful English curriculum. It not only teaches grammar at an indepth level, it takes the student through the writing process. My fourth grader will be watching television, and when an unusual word is said she will comment “(insert word here) is an adjective!” Love this curriculum! Having just left the public schools, I can safely say that writing is woefully neglected there, as well.

      Reply

    • Thanks for the tips, Sean! I think I especially need the reminder of how taxing it can be. I’m still in this fantasy-land phase of thinking it is going to be totally wonderful. However, when I really start picturing the time commitment, and the day-to-day operations, I begin to get a glimpse of how tough this might be–especially since I would not describe Luke as extremely self-motivated.

      I am, however, aware of the financial obligation. The curriculum we have picked out is pricey, and my adjunct salary, as meager as it is, will be missed. In addition, one benefit of homeschooling is that we will feel more comfortable enrolling our kids in sports and other activities without taking too much away from family time. As I’m sure you know, those add up, as well. So yeah, it will definitely be an adjustment for us.

      I’m also excited about the ability to incorporate more writing into Luke’s education, even though we first have to figure out the fine art of handwriting:).

      It is especially good for me to hear the perspective of a “newbie.” I’m glad that you seem to be liking it, even though it is a big commitment. This whole experiment may not even last for more than a year, but Greg and I definitely believe that it’s the right thing for right now.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Tim on April 2, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Love your house motto, Kim!

    As for schooling, we looked at a lot of options over the years but kept them in public school. Our son tried a small Christian college for his first year of university, but is now finishing at US Berkeley because he realized he wanted to be at a large research university. Our daughter started at UC San Diego and it has been a good fit for her from the start.

    Have fun on the new adventure,
    Tim

    Reply

  3. I never thought I would enjoy homeschooling our kids, either, nor do we do it for religious reasons. Both of our kids have ADHD and were falling through the cracks in the public schools. There were too many disractions, and too many kids with which the teachers had to contend. 504 plans did not work because the teachers either didn’t have time, or didn’t really recognize ADHD as a real disability. They all thought the kids would be okay if they just tried harder. Our kids are both gifted, so it didn’t make sense to their teachers. I was a classroom teacher for 15 years, so I support the public education system as well, but when I see how much better the kids are doing, both emotionally as well as academically, I know we made the right decision for our family.

    Reply

    • Pam,

      I will post more on this later, but one of the reasons we decided to homeschool Luke is that, oddly, we also felt he was “falling through the cracks,” but for different reasons. I have so much respect for the public school system, but it seems to me that it really is impossible to fully meet the academic needs of all the students. It’s simply too big and too diverse of a population. Thus, when the parents themselves can step in and meet those needs, I think it ultimately helps the school system by freeing up resources for other students.

      Reply

  4. Well, I may be a bit behind in my KC reading but I am ALL over this one 😉 Of course, I am a big fan and supporter (as I am the aforementioned bff, and all 🙂

    I have always thought that if anyone could do it- the Kirby’s could. You guys have some great resources at your disposal from motivation to a simple love of being together. I cant wait to 1) see how it all works for you! (I think it will be great!), 2) to have something ELSE in common with each other, 3) have an inspiring and motivated co-hs mom in my support circle (HUGEly important, btw) and to collaborate ideas.

    Of course, I homeschool. I don’t do it for “religious” reasons, per se. Though I feel like our home is one of the best, if not THE best place to be nurturing godly principles in a way that is specific to my children. I feel like I, better than anyone else love my kids enough to be patient in their weakness and know what strengths to encourage.

    Not that they couldnt learn valuable lessons elsewhere, of course they could. But, because I have the resources and desire to do it, I feel like its a good choice for my and my children.

    Another big reason for me, is that I love to watch my kids learn stuff. I love to see their eyes light up at the zoo or to be surprised by something awesome at the Science Center. Its fun.

    Also, I feel like being at home we can go a pace that fits my kids. If we are in love with space today and there is NOTHING in the curriculum planned about space ..so what? We are gonna google the heck out of “space”. If a random questions arises about who Martin Luther King, Jr is ..well, then lets find out! If we need rest day, we take it. If we need to head down and work our tail ends off (for whatever reason my require it) then we can.

    I feel like it allows for tailoring their learning to them specifically, in a way that public schools simply do not have the resources to do (despite the fact that teachers like Luke’s have so much desire and love of doing).

    I am not one that thinks that everyone should homeschool – but I am sure glad that you are one who has decided to try it! 🙂

    Reply

    • Aw, thanks, Court! You and I, of course, have talked about these issues for years, and I am so thankful for your thoughtful and open-minded perspective. I also benefited so much from open conversations with other homeschool moms, like Amanda, Shelly, and Ashley, among others. Summerville really helped me think about education, since I had good friends who were homeschoolers, public educators, and private school teachers. As a result, I know that I’ve thought way more about my children’s education than I would have otherwise. Also, I know that there is truly no “one way” to properly educate a child. We have enjoyed so much of Luke’s kindergarten year, and we are by no means against public education. At the same time, private education has always vaguely figured into our future plans. And for next year, our means of choice will be home education. Our kids will most likely have a wide range of educational experiences!

      And of course, I loved all your points. I’m especially excited about watching Luke and Anna learn. So far, that has been one of my favorite parts of being a mom.

      Reply

  5. Posted by bekster081305 on April 2, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Okay, Kim, now I am very curious what your big reasons are…

    Reply

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