That is how I reacted when I first heard that some people do not send their children to school but teach them at home to, among other things, avoid bad influences.
Fast-forward 15 years, and here I am explaining why I support and practice homeschooling.
What has produced this shift in me? During all these years, I have learned a number of things about children, parenting, freedom, choices, family life and the passing of the Christian faith and values to the next generation.
A one-year stay in Mexico City granted me first-hand contact with several homeschooling families. I discovered that they were normal people, and that the children could be described as well-behaved, mature and engaging.
Both my husband and I agreed that we wanted to give homeschooling a try and educate our children in the safe and warm environment of a family. But since English is not my first language, I felt unsure about teaching the intricate phonetic of the language. I was tempted to send my son to kindergarten, so he would learn to read there, and then take him back.
However, something was telling me that a 5-year-old should not spend so much time away from family, that my child still belonged close to me and that he should learn English phonics at my side.
So, armed with “One Fish, Two Fish” and “Go, Dog. Go!” I taught my firstborn to read. He not only succeeded, he became the reading machine he is today. He is also a decent reader in his second language.
“Go, Dog. Go!” is out of the shelf again, and my 6-year-old is enjoying it. Teaching my children to read has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my journey with motherhood.
But this is not the only advantage I enjoy. I have countless others: I do not need to worry about bad language, peer pressure, too many germs, too much time on the school bus or an academic pace that is too slow or too quick. Without a doubt, one of the biggest blessings in homeschooling is that I get to hug, kiss and tickle my children as often as I want.
Learning at home allows us to save time as well, so children have more time to be just children. What if my first-grader likes to do his math work on the floor, wearing his coonskin hat?
Do I have it all together in my homeschooling journey? No. Am I always a loving and patient mother? Absolutely not. In fact, I am convinced that homeschooling is for the parents first. Why? Because we need to learn to think outside the box, be patient, flexible, organized, more loving and less selfish.
Well-intentioned people occasionally ask me: “Do your children socialize enough?” Yes. In fact, homeschooling produces the best socialization: fewer people but more meaningful relationships in a real, non age-segregated world that strengthens family ties.
Between blood and church family, community events, extracurricular activities, field trips, play dates and weekly homeschool co-op, my children have a fair share of the world around us.
My mother and my nephew are visiting us from overseas this spring. We will not have any problem finding time for them. Welcome to Buffalo!