*answering my own home school interview questions…so you get to know what I think about these things, too* :)
Last week, I told you why we decided to home school (as that’s always the first question I ask home school parents). Originally I was going to share what I think are the greatest things and the not-so-great things about home school. It quickly became clear, though, that my answer to the first part was going to be lengthy. ;) In light of that, in this post, I’m only sharing the bit about why I love home school. We’ll get to the not-so-great part next week.
What are some of the greatest things about home schooling, in your opinion?
I think we’ll tackle this one with a list!
I love the flexibility of scheduling. For example, Grace is getting ready to go spend a week with her Grandma in Alabama. I didn’t have to consult a school calendar or worry about her missing days. We just scheduled the trip. This goes for days off, sick days, field trip days, etc. No matter what the situation, it’s so much easier to deal with scheduling as a home school family.
I love the flexibility of lesson planning and curriculum choices. We’re in our fourth year of home schooling now, and we have thrown more than a couple of resources straight in the trash. If something doesn’t work for us, I feel no obligation at all to continue using it. There are tons of reasons a resource may not be the best fit – above or below academic level, full of mistakes or inaccuracies, just plain boring, or the expectation that we have an entire professional grade chem lab hidden somewhere in our house…those are a few of the problems we’ve encountered. When these things come up, it’s no problem to abandon ship and search out a more suitable resource.
Grace has choices. Those resources I was talking about up there? Sometimes they get abandoned simply because Grace doesn’t like them or isn’t learning well with them. Grace has input in what she learns and how she learns it. Now, I’m not saying that math and language arts and science and social studies are optional, but Grace has full freedom to say, “This isn’t working for me.” And then we find something else that does work. She also gets to choose her own electives. For the first half of this year, she’s chosen forensics, marine biology, and art. Later in the year, she may change them or keep moving with the same ones. It’s up to her. She also has long-term projects that she works on…and she gets to choose and self-guide the project. (She’s currently working on making visual art representations of her three favorite Panic! at the Disco songs.)
Our daily schedule. We don’t start school until 10:00 each day. This allows Grace to get that extra sleep that teenagers need so much, but almost none of them get. It also allows me to start my day off slowly and calmly…and that is a good thing for everyone involved. ;)
The ability to explore on a whim. We often encounter topics and dream up questions that have absolutely nothing to do with what we’re “supposed” to be learning at the moment. With home school, tangents and side paths are 100% okey dokey. It is not all that unusual for us to get sidetracked with research or to head out for a sudden “emergency field trip” to address a curiosity. I feel like Grace is learning that curiosity is a lovely thing that should be entertained whenever possible.
We’re not limited in the level of work we do. We don’t have to stick to Grace’s “grade level” or only swim in the waters of what the “other kids” are able to do. If Grace understands a concept, we keep going…we don’t have to wait for anyone to catch up. If Grace is struggling with a concept, we stay with it until she has it…we don’t have to keep moving to avoid “getting behind.” We can use whatever level of materials we see fit depending on where Grace is with a topic. It’s common for us to use elementary school materials and college level materials in the same day. For example, Grace loves astronomy and has no problem grasping the ideas presented in the subject, so we used a college text book for the subject. She’s also just awful with remembering the finer points (and, honestly, the not-so-fine points) of grammar. (Odd since she writes like a little mad genius.) We have no problem using “below grade level” resources to address that. And Grace is totally comfortable with the idea that this is not an insult or anything like that…we teach to where she is in a subject.
The absence of bullying, peer pressure, and truly horrifying role models. I think that one is pretty self-explanatory.
School includes more than academics with home school. Because Grace is home schooled, she is familiar with things that a lot of kids don’t get to experience. She knows about renewing car tags and filing taxes and updating insurance policies because she’s been along for the ride on these things…and had everything explained to her as we went. She even witnessed the whole process of us buying our house from the first visit with the loan officer to meeting the home inspector to sitting in at the closing. Life skills for the win!
Time. We can take the time we need and want to accomplish things. Even goofy stuff like lunch. We actually take an entire hour for lunch each day. We make our lunch, sit down together to eat, and then goof off for a bit before getting back to school. We also have flexibility with our time. If the day’s science lesson takes 2 hours, it’s no problem to cut back on how long we spend on math or social studies. Another time factor that works in our favor? We don’t honor the public school calendar. We pretty much have school all year, so we avoid those big breaks where things get forgotten.
Pajamas. We make liberal use of them. That’s not just a home school myth. ;)
Why not build rockets and take them outside for launch while wearing your pjs? :D
These are just some of the things that popped into my head at first think. I’m sure there are tons more reasons why I love home school, but this list gives the big picture.
What about you? If you home school, what are some of your favorite things about schooling this way? If you went to/go to public or private school, are there any things on the list that sound appealing…or horrifying? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!