Jim Erskine wrote and illustrated an article called 20 Great Reasons You Homeschoool. In this blog I took his 20 reasons and wrote about how I relate to the reason. So, this a personal experience with my son, who have newly started homeschooling.
1. Safety – Small Town vs. City
We have been lucky because we have had the opportunity to be very selective with where we live. We love the city. Cities are full of excitement and have people from all walks of life. Over my lifetime, I have lived in places like Dallas and Chicago. As you know there is also the bad of a city. Our biggest concern has been safety. We decided long ago that we wanted to live close to a city so we could have access to all of the great things that a city can offer. We now live in a small town that is only 15 minutes away from the city. A small town may not have all of the answers, and actually does have some disadvantages. For example, everyone knows everyone. So if you are the type who shakes the apple cart, it becomes very public. Then again if you are a person who shakes the apple cart, you probably don’t care if it becomes very public.
The other thing to keep in mind is that racism, bigotry, uncouthness and ignorance are everywhere. A couple of years ago a neighborhood girl called my son a nigger. I was angry, and dealt with the situation. Later I was talking to someone about what had happened and their response was “Your kidding. There isn’t racism in our town.” Bull. It’s everywhere.
The other big reason I picked a small town is that I knew that my son had learning disabilities and I wanted a school system that I may have some power in and to force them to provide the services that he needed. I have heard too many stories about city schools and the difficulties the parents have with getting their child an education. Now I have learned it isn’t any her different in a small town. Perhaps the only difference is the small town school tries to be slick about it and give you the impression they are trying. In a city school it is more obvious they don’t care. I guess it doesn’t matter any more. We have now chosen to do homeschooling. We don’t have to worry about questionable teachers, or making no progress. We don’t have to worry about the added peer pressure or the bullies. Home school is safe and controlled. More importantly, you can anticipate favorable results, which we have never been able to do so before.
2. The teacher-pupil ratio is great . . .
Having the opportunity for my child to have an one on one teacher experience is ideal for my son, which is probably why the school was never successful. I understand that the school system can not afford the resources to a dedicated resource for each child with learning disabilities, but it takes some one on one time to be able to understand what the learning style the child has. This close contact and observations can then determine what accommodations that need to be made and how lessons have to be adapted so that the child can get the full benefit from the learning process. Since I started teaching at home I have found that my son is very visual, so having stimulating presentations of information works really well with him. He also grew up in this video game era, and use of applications to present information such as math problems is like doing a video game. He isn’t even aware of the fact that he is learning things or is practicing things. The other observation I had is that when he starts something new he needs some validation that he is on the right path. Once he has that validation, he is able to work independently. I am sure that as we continue doing homeschooling, I will learn more and more about his learning styles and can easily adapt the lessons to fit those learning styles.
3. You don’t need security guards or metal detectors . . .
What more can I say about this topic. I have control over who is in my home and who interacts with my child. There are no bullies. There are no gangs. There are no weapons. I am not so sure the security officers at schools are a deterrent to some of the violence that happens at schools. They surely don’t help in dealing with bullies. The children in this country are screaming for help to them protect themselves against bullies, especially during the hours of school. I know the schools have introduced anti-bullying problems, but they haven’t recognized that they themselves have had a hand in creating the situation. I remember when my son was in 1st and 2nd grade and the school had lessons on how to deal with conflict while at school. They suggested that the LAST line of defense was to tell a teacher. Instead, they promoted the fact that the children need to deal with it themselves. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the teacher say to my son, “Oh, he was just teasing. It’s okay.” Well it wasn’t okay. I don’t understand why the school systems have chosen to ignore this issue. Peer pressure, teasing, and bullying has a tremendous impact on the well being of an individual, and it totally affects the person’s personality. I know this is true because it happened to me, and I know that this situation is pretty prevalent.
4. Your kids enjoy socializing with people of ALL ages . . .
To be honest, my son hasn’t ever had a problem with socializing with children and people of all ages. In fact he has gravitated to the older girls. I wonder if that is a premonition. What homeschooling does do is give my son an opportunity to spend more time with myself, my husband, or even his grandparents. Everyone at one time or another participates in the education process. This includes when grandma and my son are making spaghetti. Or when my father is planting his garden with my son. I take advantage of any moment that can be turned into a learning experience. These moments have become a great life experience for my son. It reminds me of when I grew up, and those memories are still precious to me.
5. You don’t have to run to catch the school bus . . .
No having to deal with the school bus in general is a blessing. The same peer group and bullying issues that exist are present even more so on the school bus. My son had some awful experiences on the bus. I think the kids think this is a place where they can do anything they want. The definitely don’t follow the same rules that they follow while they are in school. Students that don’t normally act out in school feel this freedom to act out on the bus. I remember the days when I was in middle school and when I got on the bus I prayed that I wouldn’t be noticed by some high school bully. My son mentioned this very same thing. He is very timid around high school kids. Now we don’t have to worry about this any more.
6. You can sleep in on rainy days . . .
Unfortunately, I can’t take advantage of this because I still have a full-time job. But my son can have this luxury. Not only can he sleep in on rainy days, he can also sleep in on those freezing cold mornings. We live in the north and it was always a pain to have to go to school when it was below zero degrees. Now we don’t have to worry about weather conditions and don’t have watch for school closing notifications. I also don’t have to worry about the safety of my child when there are hazardous driving conditions. Plus I don’t have to rush home during bad weather when the schools have an early release due to bad weather conditions. A few years ago, we had a really bad snow storm. I was working in the city and on a good day the drive was about 40 minutes long. On this particular day my husband had driven me to work and was going to pick me up. Luckily I called him to come early because we were having a blizzard. It took him two hours to get to me. Meanwhile my son is at an after school program. I call them and tell them that we are on our way, but the roads are really bad. It was a horrible drive. It took us four hours to get home, which was three hours beyond their quitting time. They were really mad at us. I think I was more stressed out about getting there fast rather than worrying about the drive which was really treacherous.
7. School prayer is encouraged
God is a part of our every day lives. Why not in school? I think this topic has been blown way out of proportion. I treasure our right to practice any religion, or to practice no religion. This concept has been at the foundation of this country. Are we going to take the reference to go in our constitution? I say leave it alone. If it is not your belief then ignore it. As for school, there is nothing wrong with a child quietly saying a prayer to himself. The teachers don’t have to know. Home schooling is not going to change us for this topic. We have always practiced our own religion in our own way, regardless of where we are. We have also taught our son that one needs to have religious tolerance. There are many religions and none of them are wrong and all of them are right for those who follow it. The beauty of religion is that they all have reverence to something that is greater than us. It is all good. Once again I say leave it alone.
8. You don’t have to buy “back-to-school” clothes
I gave up with the whole back-to-school clothes a long time ago. It is just another advertising push that has been imposed on us by the retail world. I will admit I like a good sale just as much as anyone. But I don’t need to buy clothing in August. I buy clothing when my son needs clothing. The whole cycle of buying clothes doesn’t even work with his growing cycle. I am lucky if he can wear the same pants for 3 months because he is growing so tall so fast. I can remember when I was young and the preparation for school. We lived in a rural area. Most of our “school” clothing purchasing was done with a catalog. JC Penney’s, Sears, and Aldens. I remember intently studying the clothes to determine what I would buy. And then you prayed that they fit. The catalogs were also not timed with the start of school. So in August the latest catalog available was a winter catalog which meant winter clothing. I can remember wearing my new clothes in August when the temperature was high and it being unbearably hot. If we didn’t get our clothes from the catalog, then we made them. I actually sewed some of my own clothes. I dreaded this because it was a pain to get it all sewed before school started. The only thing that we had to buy in August was shoes. One pair for everyday wear and a pair of gym shoes. Times have changed. The hassle of new school clothes no longer exists. I will say up until starting home schooling, I still liked to buy my son one new shirt for that first day of school and we have always taken his picture on that first special day. I guess with homeschooling we will have different traditions and different memories.
9. You don’t have to develop a taste for cafeteria food . . .
Not having to deal with the cafeteria at school is a huge blessing for us. We had a number of issues when he was going to public school. As you may already know, my son is a diabetic. The school always felt very anxious about handling his testing and insulin. At least once a week I would get a call from the school nurse wanting directions. The second big issue we had with lunch time was rthe food itself. My son has some sensory issues which is related directly to the types of foods he can eat, which is very limited. Up until the last two years we had to beg the school to allow him to heat up his food in a micro wave. He always took his own food because the foods he could eat were not on the school’s menu. The third big advantage we have now is not having to deal with the loudness of the cafeteria. Loud noises have always been a trigger for my son’s seizures. There were many times he would have a seizure at lunch, which is not the best place to have seizures, if there is such a thing. For my son, it was the humiliation that was the worst. His classmates would see him when he was most vulnerable. Well now no more cafeteria. We have full control of his diabetes, what he can eat and what the eating environment should be.
10. You can celebrate your birthday with a school holiday . . .
How many years have we had to celebrate my son’s birthday on a school day. In elementary school in the old days you could at least bring some treats and have a littler party in the classroom. Now with all of the food allergies that isn’t even possible. So now that we are homeschooling we can take the day off and truly make his birthday a special day.
Drawings from “20 Great Reason You Homeschool” http://www.homeschoolnetcast.com/home/2011/11/21/20-great-reasons-you-homeschool.html Written and Illustrated by Jim Erskine