Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Education & Enlightenment in the new Millinium

"How does home schooling educate & enlighten students today vs. our public school system in the 1980's when we were students?"

This question posted on my Facebook status surprised me this morning and I knew it would take more than a normal "comment" to really answer.  First let me begin with a little history, I have been a homeschool Mom for 16 years.  When we started our sweet College Girl (who is entering her senior year in college in just a few days) was 5 and just the right age to begin kindergarten.  She wasn't your average 5 year old because she started reading when she was 3 1/2 (at 5 she was reading Harry Potter) and was doing math on a 3-4th grade level.  She wasn't a prodigy, she had just been in a Montessori school for 2 years.  While we no longer wanted her to attend Montessori we were faced with the dilemma of placing an eager learning child into a classroom learning ABC's , colors and shapes.  She needed more than kindergarten could offer so we decided to try that "homeschool" thing.  We quickly fell in love with the ability to find the curriculum that fit her learning styles, the things that could be "education" and the flexibility for field trips, family visits, etc.

As Melissa and Jessica arrived we became even more firmly planted in the homeschool lifestyle.  It works so well for our family and our children seem to thrive.  I've been asked so many times about socialization, making friends, fitting in, "are you still doing that homeschool thing" because I can't stand being around my kids all the time, do you wear your PJ's every day, etc. so on and so forth.  But I've never been asked how it educates and enlightens today vs. public school in the 80's.  perhaps because I strive to have my children fit in and live with the kids in this millennium.  We do not homeschool to protect our children from "society" or the evils of the public school system.  My kids watch the news with me and we actively discuss and explore current event topics.  They are familiar with the LBGT community, are aware of the abortion debate, they know what GMO's are and love the freshness of raising veggies, we celebrate Christmas AND Halloween.   My kids are well spoken, are confident young people who engage in conversations with people of all ages.  At a recent shooting competition, my 10 year old Jessica walked up to one of the discipline organizing volunteers, stuck out her hand for a handshake, introduced herself and thanked him for his time-they then engaged in a conversation about air pistol with him giving her some pointers.  My college daughter, Anna began participating in classes and activities at our local community college when she was 14.  By 16 she was singing karaoke with them learning first hand the difference between the college kids who didn't drink, had a drink or two and those who drank to stupidity-she learned to drink water and ask for a new drink anytime her drink was left unattended.  She learned that it's not a big deal to call mom or dad for a ride home when your friends have been drinking.  She went on to attend a women's college (her choice not mine) in Missouri where she flawlessly transitioned to college life graduating with her associates degree then transferring to the University of Arkansas where she moved into her own place, paying her own rent while working 2 jobs all the while maintaining a 3.85 gpa.  Melissa loves volleyball and this year asked to "Tim Tebow" into our local junior high where she made the team.  She recently had her first school bus ride and is learning just how 2-faced some girls can be and how to stay neutral-out of the mess!  Her coaches usually commend her for her ability to listen and follow directions which seems is something that seems to be becoming a scarcity.

I would say my kids are better educated because they are so well rounded and are used to spending time playing, communicating, learning and living with a wide variety of ages-not just in a classroom with 20-30 kids who are within a year of their age.  They have projects through 4H, church, shooting club, and volleyball where they are responsible for communicating with peers and adults.  As far as enlightening, I don't think the responsibility for that lies solely on the public school system.   There are plenty of kids we went to school with (me included) who were not "enlightened" about so many things!  I was shocked in college when I learned that there were parties with drinking and carousing in high school-I knew nothing of them.  I was very sheltered and many worldly subjects escaped my radar until I was in college.  So I suppose I would say my kids are more enlightened than I was at their age.

Is our home a typical homeschool?  No.  Through the year finding groups and connecting with people who are not homeschooling for religious reasons has been a struggle.  My God is an awesome God but it's not my ringtone-I strive to live and teach my children to live so that people can see the love (kind of person you are) by the way you act, speak and live. Many homeschoolers are the long hair, skirt wearing, anti-LBGT, anti-Halloween, anti-anyone who doesn't think and believe their cookie cutter brand of Christianity.   We are definitely NOT cookie cutter Christians displayed prominently in media-we are the ones who truly have open doors, open hearts, open minds.  (Disclaimer...We are crazy blessed to be part of a relatively new group here that are largely secular-we all have our religions and our beliefs but everyone plays nicely!  While we don't make it to as many events as we'd like because our schedule is so crazy we love the ones we do make!)

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