Written by contributor Sarah Small of SmallWorld at Home
A note from Jamie: Now that we’re in the swing of another academic year, it’s helpful to remember the reasons why we’ve chosen this homeschooling lifestyle. Sarah sums it up so beautifully in this post, which originally published on August 12, 2011. Enjoy!
Where I live, the public schools begin in early August. Summer still—the hottest month of the year—and kids are sitting in slick chairs, pencils sharpened, new shoes still a little tight. I imagine a little boy just my son’s age watching a fat bee hover outside the window. He can’t hear it buzzing, of course, because the air conditioner drones at high speed, drowning out the sounds of bees and the smell of sunshine and dry grass.
We started homeschooling 12 years ago because…
• We thought it was silly that our then-first-grader spent time each week in public school devoted to filling in bubbles on a test page. He and his classmates were practicing for the standardized tests they would have to take in second grade.
• We didn’t like being warned that we were not to go away on vacation—that doing so would be an unexcused absence. But, we asked, what about all the learning that comes with traveling? They’ll miss too much at school, we were told.
• Our six-year-old would come home from a long day of school and have to do homework. He would sit at the table, folder of worksheets in front of him, looking stressed out.
• Our state ranks near the bottom of the barrel, year after year, in education. Even the “best” schools, when held in comparison to other states, are only mediocre. And we do not strive for mediocrity.
We started homeschooling for a bunch of reasons, and the list has grown year after year.
But sometimes it is just one reason that stands out above all the others. Forget academics, test scores, long days, busy work, and tedium. What we give them now is this: an August day. A river to wade in. The feel of dry grass beneath our feet, and a sliver of silver moon at night.
Sometimes that whole stack of “reasons why” comes down to a knowing feeling—a conviction that this is the way life should be.
That’s how I like to start each new year of homeschooling: knowing that for every tangible reason why, there is an intangible one as well. For every study that points to higher ACT scores among homeschoolers, there is my own memory of my three little ones playing in the sandbox while I read The Witch of Blackbird Pond to them. For every argument that homeschoolers become more responsible adults, there is an afternoon spent hiking in the glorious autumn sunshine.
As I prepare to begin my 12th year, I hold on to the conviction that we are made to hear the bees buzzing and smell the late-blooming flowers. And sometimes that’s reason enough to homeschool.
What intangible moments have made you grateful to be homeschooling? What reason do you give most often when asked why you homeschool?