In many homeschooling forums one topic pops up often — friends, family and acquaintances (as well as virtual strangers) asking home educating families to explain their choice. “I do not agree with homeschooling! How are you qualified to teach? Give me 3 reasons why you chose it” is something I have seen come up a number of times… Being put on the spot, the poor homeschooling parent fumbles out a reply and feels that they have not done themselves justice. They then turn to a homeschooling forum to arm themselves with more succinct answers for next time. The reaction of the groups is often outrage, saying things like “Tell them it is none of their business!” or “How rude, don’t they have any manners?” lots of people say “If homeschoolers told schooled parents they don’t agree and asked why they send their children to a school, then they may see the absurdity of the question” and I agree with the sentiment, people could be curious without the tone of judgement. Although I believe that often the person asking is truly interested and are simply completely unaware of homeschooling and how it works.
I would like to reply to the questions.
Regarding being qualified I would say. Firstly the government says I am qualified, our family is registered as homeschoolers. To become registered we applied and were approved by the the education department. That is not why I believe that I am the right person for the job though, I am qualified to teach my children because I truly care about the outcome. I am invested in ensuring THEY have every opportunity. I know my children and will always be looking out for the best way for THEM to learn. A teacher may be qualified in what is considered the ‘best’ way of teaching the majority, I am not interested in teaching the majority, I am interested in what is best for MY children!
As far as 3 things that make it right for my children are:
1. Self confidence. My children can learn in a way that is tailored to how they learn and their interests. If they are really good at something they can fly through it although on the other hand if they aren’t they can take as long as they need. Therefore they will never get left behind or be left feeling lost and stupid. They will also never miss a part of the scaffolding to learning a particular subject or topic. They know they can do anything, given time and opportunity, this gives them the confidence to trust in themselves. Self confidence is obviously extremely valuable to have for a number of reasons although as far as their education it allows them to try harder or more advanced subjects than they ever would without that confidence.
2. Socialisation. My children get to socialise with a variety of children of all ages, they are able to help younger children with problems as well as be helped by older children. Homeschooled children learn in groups often although the groups are more likely to be interest driven rather than segregated by age. Because they are often discussing learning with both younger and older children, I have found that, they are able to communicate their learning well as well as problem solve without adult intervention.
3. Imagination! They get to foster their imagination. Learning generally happens much more quickly when it is a small group and child driven. We don’t spend 6 hours a day doing school, we play and we learn all the time! They have lots of free time to play and imagine. I feel that one of most important things that our future society needs is imagination! We need people that can think outside the box to create the amazing jobs of the future.
If you educate your children differently to me that is fine, if something else works for your family I am truly happy for you. I do not believe that home educating is for everyone, for many reasons some people would not want to or can not homeshcool their children. I have no problem with parents that educate their children differently to me although I am happy with our decision and know it is the best for our family.