So Here is my story…
About 7 years ago, When I was working at the time and pregnant with my younger one, I started searching for articles on homeschooling. I was doing this not for myself but for a friend who seemed to have questions/concerns about her unconventional decision. I was amazed by the information and statistics on homeschooling.
The surprising aspect of this information was the source. It was not just coming from a specific group of people with an agenda which I imagined to be the case. There was a fair amount of diversity in the criticism of conventional schooling but little agreement on the solutions. I found a lot of books written by educators and thinkers who have years of experience in the field of education calling for reforms to make education more individualized. ( Read John Taylor Gatto, Sir Ken Robinson, John Holt etc) Home education seemed like a good alternative.
But I had huge concerns regarding the social aspect. What followed that was months and months of reading, reflecting and pondering over it. But it was mostly in the background and I did not consider it for my own family until I read this book called “Hold onto your kids”. This book was not about homeschooling but it gave me a deeper perspective about upbringing. While I was reading this book, I looked back at my own childhood and reflected I was more and more convinced based on my own personal experience that excessive peer – peer interaction which has replaced the peer – adult interaction over the years has been a source of many problems highlighted in the book. After reading it, I had little doubt that having an alternative approach to schooling can help achieve the lifestyle implied by this author.
I visited other homeschoolers, called up local school districts, visited co – ops, looked into sports, extra curricular activities, museum classes and looked into all the possible opportunities available to homeschoolers and asked questions.. to others and my own self. I didn’t write things off, I wanted to know the how’s. How can we provide rich experiences outside the confines of our home (which have shaped me positively) to a homeschooled student and ensure that we don’t remain in a bubble. I ended up learning that its all out there for anyone who wants to make the effort.
Home education can literally give one an advantage over others in the social context too as long as we are willing to go the extra mile and seek it in everything around us. This was incredible! We had already looked into private schooling by then and knew that it is not possible to have everything we like. There are compromises to be made no matter which route we go. The next question was, “why not go with the option where we get to do our best?”.
Home education seemed like a clear winner out of all the options because it would give us the freedom and the opportunities to nurture our children in the most crucial years of their life. We knew it will allow us to give a truly custom education to our children and allow us to join them in this journey and develop stronger family values and build strong morals and character.
I already knew the academic advantages of homeschooling so that was never a concern. I knew that this decision meant breaking free from the “One size fits all.” In any other form of schooling they have to set some standards(average standards) for a group of kids and strive for that. It doesn’t matter if my child’s educational needs are above the standard or below the standard. But I needed some more reading and thinking.
Eventually after months of scrutiny I was deeply convinced that this is the perfect fit for my family and I was looking forward to learn and grow along with the kids. I pulled my son out of play based/preschool which he attended for just four months. It was perhaps one of the best decisions I made. I absolutely love this beautiful journey in which we explore, read, learn new things and enjoy our time as a family. It has forced me to come out of my comfort zone and deep dive into areas where I would never wander on my own. It has also revealed a world of so much beauty and wonder. I feel like a child again who is getting educated all over again and this time its a much better one. I think every parent works hard to give their best to their children irrespective of the path they may choose. I truly admire parents who may or may not be home educating but are committed as parents in the upbringing of their children.(In some ways all parents homeschool).
Homeschooling has afforded me a position of direct influence and allowed me to have more time with my kids. Its a huge blessing which fills me with gratitude. Every single day I get to use every resource that was given to me… be it my education, health, the material things around me, the resources, the guidance to raise these children who will be a part of the future God willing. I hope they make the world a better place. I cannot control the outcome but I take delight in knowing that I am trying. I am trying everyday with all my might. When I was resigning from my job, I was told that no one in their right mind would turn their back on an opportunity like this. Boy, were they wrong! I am so glad I did that and invested myself completely in this beautiful endeavor which has given me so much fulfillment. I don’t say this to make myself sound noble and a self sacrificing mom. In all honesty it is the joy of my life, an immensely rewarding experience, something I look forward to each day.
Homeschooling does have its own challenges. With the direct responsibility also comes a lot of anxiety. Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much? Is this the right way to do it? Will I succeed? If anything goes wrong (and things do go wrong.. Its life!!) there is no one to blame but myself. That’s a tough position to be in. Unless we have the right attitude towards it , it can quickly start to take over our lives. Even though I started homeschooling well read and informed and had everything figured out (or so I thought!), there have been many ups and downs and switching back and forth and streamlining my goals and objectives and fine tuning myself and tuning out(of critics! ). Its amazing how much you get challenged both from inside(your own fears and worries) and the outside(friends, family, anyone and everyone who has an opinion on homeschooling). It becomes very difficult to maintain the right attitude. It is like swimming against the tide.
I have been homeschooling for many years now and over time I have noticed that I have had to adopt unconventional ways, adjust the pace, approach, methods, curriculum to suit my children’s ever evolving needs. I have also come to understand that there are some constants in the world of homeschooling and parenting. These are the things which can keep your boat steady. (I will be writing a detailed post on this). And there are those things which are like dress ups or nice to have’s.. In the end, it all boils down to our own personalities, our gifts, our shortcomings and family culture. After experimenting with several different educational philosophies I was able to see where they converge and then take what was relevant and useful to our unique family culture and leave out the other information. It is so important to not get caught up in all the jargon and the details.
Being attuned to my inner self, observing the children and following my intuition has helped me the most. Then I was able to sift through the information to see what I truly needed. Make information a tool and do not get enslaved to everything that’s thrown at you. Homeschooling is a lifestyle change more than anything else and to sustain it you have to be true to yourself and find your own rhythm. For me personally I need things simplified. I need simplicity and a good solid understanding of the larger goals. Within the larger framework I try to fit the various tools (curriculums, books etc) which will help me achieve the larger goals. I read a lot but I make conscious effort to not get lost in all the information which makes things seem more complicated than they are. Really, they are not!
I hope to record everything I learn. In this safe space that I have created for my deepest thoughts so that I can come back for them. ( It was getting difficult to keep track of my hand written notes…I needed something searchable). I am a human being with very limited abilities, so there are days when I feel weak and get filled with doubt despite everything I am doing right and I look for inspiration. These doubts have at times compelled me to do things differently in the past. It has always been a waste of time. At the end of it I realized that my intuition was right and I got caught up in unnecessary peer pressure. At such times I need to connect back to my own thoughts or read a favorite book again… So perhaps these words will inspire me and put me right back into the perfect rhythm.
I also hope that I am able to document our ‘home education experience’ (it is the moments that matter not the books we fill… especially with boys who hate writing ;-). I hope to benefit others from the things I have learnt and continue to learn. I will hopefully share lessons, ideas, curricula and resources. I have benefited so much from other bloggers/Vloggers, writers and the homeschool community in general. I hope to contribute to it in some small way. That is, if I can survive all the typing…. 🙂