People have been asking for a few weeks now, “when will school start for you?”
Here’s the thing. (Shhh! Don’t tell our kids!) School never stopped for us. The formal parts did. We backed off of math lessons and classes like band and theater break during summer but we still kept learning all summer long.
Life keeps going. We keep learning forever. That is a huge part of what school looks like for us.
As for the “formal” parts of school, today’s the day. In Michigan, most public schools start right after Labor Day. We usually wait a few extra days, just because we can, but this year Sweet Hippie Daughter has opted-in to a number of classes and lessons and many of them kick off this week so we figured we’d just jump right in.
Today that means music lessons from 9:00-2:30 and a volleyball game at 4:00. Tomorrow we’ll be picking up with math and “bookwork” and soon enough we’ll be in full swing again.
When we started homeschooling a friend told us to make a list of 100 reasons why we wanted to do this. “If you can’t think of 100 you don’t want it badly enough. When times get hard you will need to look back at your list and remember why you are doing this.” It was awesome advice. We made our original list and promised ourselves we would re-visit it annually to be sure it was still valid. (Our year one and year two lists)
The list is largely the same, but it has changed a bit as our daughter has gotten older. It has also grown a little and now includes 115 reasons. Some of them are far more weighty than others. Some of them are downright silly. Some apply to our family, living in our town, with the resources available to us and they wouldn’t make sense at all to another family living in another place.
It is important to me to make it understood that this list is not meant as a criticism of those who have children in public school or of the school district in which we live. I thank God that we live in a nation with CHOICES. We can choose what is best for our own families at any given time. For us, for now, that’s homeschool. I feel privileged to live in an area with great public schools. I am humbled by the efforts of the teachers and staff there to help us provide an excellent education for our kids, even after we officially left the district to be homeschoolers. The system isn’t always perfect but no system is and the people working in the schools have shown an extraordinary devotion to the children of this community.
Finally, I wanted to say that I know this list can be confusing to some people who know we have 4 children because it primarily refers to one little girl, just entering 5th grade. Our two older children live with their mom during the school year and attend a great public school where they are growing and learning and turning into young adults of whom we are incredibly proud. Our youngest is only 3 so school for him is hanging out in his underpants playing drums on the wall and singing the ABC song. We aren’t big believers in any kind of formal education for kids his age. We read to him every day and color with him. He digs in the garden and watch PBS and sings The Beatles at the top of his lungs and that seems to be enough for now. We’ve talked about sending him to the same pre-school that his big sister attended next year but, frankly, that’s a whole year away and I’m still trying to figure out what we’re going to eat for lunch today so… one thing at a time.
Without further ado… drumroll, please…
100 Reasons (+15) Why We Homeschool
1. We love spending time with her and would miss her if she were gone all day each day.
2. She wants to be homeschooled.
3. We want her to have the opportunity to explore her passions in great depth.
4. We want to teach her to choose healthy foods and eat them SLOWLY and WITH ENJOYMENT (not gobble down processed lunch during a 20 minute break).
5. We want her to have several hours each day to explore her imagination and play – not just a 20 minute recess where she’s not allowed to run too fast or swing side to side due to liability concerns.
6. We don’t want her to spend so much time comparing her possessions to those of other children her age.
7. We think that 7+ hours of school plus and hour on the bus is too much time for a child (or an adult, for that matter) to sit and listen (as opposed to playing, questioning, exploring, etc).
8. It seems to us that homework, after 7+ hours of school, seems excessive for a 9 year old.
9. We want our family to be free to travel when and where we like.
10. With Handsome Hippie Hubby’s work schedule he would never see her if she were at school until 3pm each day.
11. The one meal we can eat together, as a family, every day is lunch.
12. We want to teach her to be responsible to the environment in practice, not just through lessons.
13. We want her to learn practical skills like cooking, gardening, sewing, etc and there is little time to teach her when she’s away at public school all day and such things are no longer a part of the curriculum in school.
14. Sometimes life makes you stay up late and we want her to be able to sleep in or nap when her little growing body needs to.
15. They watch a lot of classic movies in music class and we want to be the ones to experience those with her.
16. They watch a lot of movies in music class and we want her to actually learn to play/sing/appreciate music.
17. The district cut art class but the Homeschool association still offers it.
18. We don’t want her to have to deal with the repercussions of being in a large class with a few “naughty” children that monopolize the teachers’ time.
19. An elementary age child should NEVER be stressed to the point of tears over homework and test scores but she often has been – starting in Kindergarten.
20. Because we hate sending her away to school when she’s feeling sick, but not “sick enough” to keep her home.
21. We hate sending her into a building full of children feeling “a little sick” but not “sick enough” to stay home.
22. We think that Physical Fitness is something that should be a part of a person’s life more than 45 minutes a week.
23. Our child, who is a great reader and writer, should never have to slow down to wait for other children to catch up.
24. Our child, who struggles with math, sometimes needs more time and attention than her teachers can give her.
25. We were unhappy with many of the things we saw or heard about happening on the school bus when she was in public school.
26. We want our child to have a broader, less politicized, view of history than she will learn in public school.
27. We don’t want our child to use anti-bacterial hand soap several times a day.
28. We think it’s unhealthy that our daughter sits in a swelteringly hot classroom in the middle of winter.
29. We live in an awesome community surrounded by awesome communities with a near infinite amount of resources to use as teaching tools.
30. The whole family will get to learn and grow with her if she’s homeschooled.
31. We want religion, spirituality, prayer and meditation to be a regular part of our child’s education.
32. We want to foster our child’s differences that she may harness them and direct them to the greatest good of her fellow man. Not just learn to be exactly like everyone else.
33. When REAL disaster/crisis/tragedy strikes (ie – the tornadoes that struck a nearby town a few years ago) we want her to know that it is not only OK but RIGHT and GOOD to drop EVERYTHING and rush to the aid of her neighbor.
34. It will make me feel like the years of my life and tens of thousands of dollars I spent on my own education weren’t a total waste.
35. I learned advanced math. I NEVER used it (I told you so!). And forgot every bit of it. But no one ever taught me how to balance a checkbook or calculate the interest on a mortgage and I don’t want my child to have that same experience.
36. Homeschooling isn’t marriage. It’s not a life-long commitment. We can opt out if/when it stops working for us.
37. We want to know IMMEDIATELY if our child is struggling with a problem or social situation – not after it has reached a crisis state.
38. We think people learn more by experiencing something (ie. a visit to a farm is more memorable than a lesson about “where veggies come from.”) and it’s not reasonable to expect a teacher to schlep 35 kids all over the countryside several times a week.
39. We think intuition is a valid and valuable tool in the human mind that is suppressed by “institutionalized” learning.
40. Homeschooling forces me to be a more organized person.
41. Seeing my organizational skills, my child will learn to be organized. (It’s a great theory, isn’t it?)
42. Some days, watching the morning news together, and then having the time to discuss it, can be a more valuable education than an entire day in a classroom learning to figure the degree of angles in a triangle.
43. We believe strongly in the implied power in the sciences of noetics and quantum physics and this isn’t taught in public school.
44. We believe a child should have the opportunity to ask every question they can and public school teachers don’t have time to deal with that, so curiosity gets suppressed.
45. One of the smartest, most accomplished scientists of all time said, “imagination is more important than knowledge,” but public schools focus almost exclusively on the development of knowledge at the expense of imagination.
46. We want our daughter, who has a very entrepreneurial spirit, to have time and energy to experience the creation of business and the power of free enterprise.
47. We believe a child should be free to express themselves in all sorts of creative ways through their play and dress and public school stresses conformity. She’ll feel the pressure to conform to society soon enough.
48. With internet and virtual learning, she can learn from a much more culturally, philosophically, educationally diverse group of teachers than she will encounter in a local public school.
49. We don’t like putting our child on a bus every day. But especially on days that are foggy, snowy, icy, etc.
50. Many of the people we respect most in the public school system have told us that, if they had young children, they would not put them in public school.
51. Public school teachers, no matter how good, smart, loving, patient, etc must conform to the state standards no matter if they agree or not.
52. Sometimes our child is “naughty” and teachers have neither the time nor authority to properly discipline her and/or the teachers’ definition of “naughty” and the accompanying discipline are different from what we teach at home.
53. Public school is all about working to get good grades to get into college to get a “real job” but the modern world doesn’t work that way. Ask any college graduate working as a Wal-Mart cashier. Or any high school drop out running a multi-billion dollar international corporation.
54. EVERY study done shows homeschool children achieve higher academically.
55. EVERY study done shows that homeschool children are better socialized (fit into society more successfully).
56. EVERY study done shows that homeschool children have a greater sense of civic responsibility.
57. We want our child to learn how to use a computer to do more than play games.
58. We want our child to know how to do things without a computer.
60. We feel it’s more important for our child to know how and where to find information than to memorize facts for a standardized test.
61. We never want our child to go through the experience of “feeling stupid” for not understanding something without a little help.
62. Our state offers an amazing option to opt-in to “non-core” public school classes as a homeschooler, so she gets to sign up for public school band, and still keep her homeschool schedule.
63. We don’t want our child exposed to sex, drugs, violence, etc any earlier than necessary.
64. Time is valuable and public school wastes time (bus rides, moving between classes, waiting in line, etc).
65. We think it’s a bad idea to “stop learning” for 3 months out of the year, but a good idea to have lots of fun experiences all year long.
66. Some of the most mature, intelligent, respectful, strong-minded teens and young adults I know have been homeschooled since early childhood.
67. We want her to know that being a dancer (painter, musician, house-wife) is just as valid as being a doctor (teacher, accountant, etc).
68. In the event of a crisis (tornado, fire, etc) our child would be with us and we could make sure she’s as safe as possible.
69. We want our child to be able to think for herself and know how to question authority without being disrespectful.
70. Our child is a unique individual and deserves a uniquely designed education.
71. As parents, want a greater say in what she does and does not learn.
72. Some teachers are burnt out and just putting in their time and we don’t want our child to be “just put up with.”
73. We want to put the money spent on school supplies, field trips, etc to go toward those items we believe will be most beneficial for our child.
74. I really hate packing lunches and snacks every day.
75. We want to be the ones to teach her how to appropriately deal with bullying, harassment, etc.
76. Homeschooling gives the whole family the opportunity and motivation to explore nearby (and maybe far away) museums, gardens, parks, historic buildings, etc.
77. By homeschooling we are not doing things the “normal” way but we are teaching our child that there can be more than one good way to achieve a good end.
78. There are sometimes abusive adults in positions of power and we want to protect her from that as much as possible for as long as possible.
79. We want her to believe in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and all the innocent, magical parts of childhood for as long as she can.
80. We want to avoid exposure to the annual outbreak of lice in the public school system.
81. The world, society, and technology are very different than they were 50 years ago but the style of teaching in public school is much the same.
82. She has excelled in homeschool band and is looking forward to continuing to grow and expand her musical education this year.
83. The government has screwed up most everything they have ever touched, so why would I trust them not to screw up the education of my child?
84. Hitler said, “The State will take youth and give youth its own education and its own upbringing. Your child already belongs to us. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this community.” “Let me control the textbooks and I will control the State.”
85. US Federal Judge Melinda Harmon said, in 1996, “Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school.”
86. Shopping for classroom supplies is more fun when you know you get to keep them and use them.
87. Our child has a passion to be in community theater and their rehearsals run very late at night.
88. We both hated school and did the bare minimum to get through and we don’t want our child to feel the same way.
89. Public schools require “lock-down drills” due to the very real threat of gunmen and/or terrorists in the building.
90. The cheapest time of year to go to Disney (and many other places) is October.
91. Homeschooling is “green.” There is less transportation, less utility use, less paper…. way way way way way less paper.
92. We want our child to understand that learning can be done anywhere, any time, at any age and be self led or assisted. It doesn’t only take place in a classroom with a teacher.
93. We have the feeling that our child has important things to teach us. “Unless ye be like a little child…..”
94. We believe that people absorb the energy of a place and public school, very often, does not have a positive energy.
95. We want our child to have “Bible” as a school subject.
96. One of our child’s favorite restaurants has great Tuesday lunch specials and she rarely gets to enjoy them.
97. Our child’s little brother is growing up fast and we don’t want her to miss it.
98. Our family is always happiest when we are together.
99. If we know what our child is learning about, we can integrate that into life in so many ways for a more well-rounded and memorable learning experience.
100. We are pretty sure we’re doing OK with this homeschool thing.
101. Through the homeschool association she can take all kinds of lessons we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.
102. Through the homeschool association she has multiple opportunities to visit with and be of service to the senior citizens in our community.
103. Through the homeschool association she gets to participate in spelling bees each month.
104. Our toddler is learning things “ahead of schedule” by watching his sister do her school work.
105. Planting season is before school lets out for summer and harvest doesn’t finish until well after the new year begins. She would miss both if she was in public school.
106. We are striving for a 100% GMO free diet and that would be virtually impossible with school lunches, snacks, birthday treats, etc.
107. We’ve learned that our daughter puts up fierce resistance to certain parts of schoolwork. No one was telling us that before, but now we can work on breaking down some of those barriers and help her learn a healthier approach to dealing with the less pleasant chores in life.
108. Her base of friends, after 2 years of homeschooling, includes a much wider age range of people. She is learning to interact appropriately with those much younger and much older than herself in a healthy and positive way.
109. Homeschooling has helped our whole family learn to be better stewards of our time and resources.
110. Homeschooling has given us extra opportunities to share some of our favorite books, movies, and music from our childhoods with our daughter.
111. Our child has had great opportunities to participate in classes with people of a wide range of ethnic, racial and regious backgrounds through homeschooling – far more so than in public school in our tiny community.
112. She is already planning on writing her 2nd book in November (National Novel Writer’s Month – visit Nanowrimo to participate with us!)
113. There are no snow days in homeschooling so we don’t need to spend half of the lovely summer making up for classes missed when it was too cold to leave the house.
114. As a homeschooler she gets to help deliver Meals on Wheels throughout the year and we love that she has the experience of serving her elders in that way.
115. Our youngest child cannot be fully immunized for medical reasons. Homeschooling gives us some (admittedly small) amount of control over what gets dragged into our house.
Do you have other reasons for homeschooling? I would love to hear why other families choose to leave “the beaten path!”
Are you, too, seeking to save the earth, promote world peace and raise productive citizens without expending too much effort?
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If we work on our goals together, they may be a little easier to achieve!