Friday, April 15, 2005

How to become a fearless expert in homeschooling

Spunky Homeschool has invited homeschoolers to participate in a virtual homeschool conference and here is my 2 cents.

I am an expert on own children, that is. Just as a new mom worries about whether or not she'll be able to respond to the cries of her infant, is frightened to bathe her baby for the first time and wonders if she'll ever be able to both be a mom and a presentable adult who manages a shower each day, so a new homeschooler feels overwhelmed by whether or not she can cut it as a homeschooler. The most helpful advice I ever got on being a new mom was, don't worry, you were given this baby for a reason and you will become an expert on her. Trust your instincts. Trust that God knew what he was doing by blessing you with this particular child. The same is true in making the decision to homeschool. You know what's best for your child and it is not dependent on what other people think.

I am also fearless of what others think and not crippled by the worries of what if I don't do this perfectly? Part of the reason I am confident as a homeschooler is that my husband and I began to think like homeschoolers long before our oldest was school age. We met other homeschoolers and I read and read and read some more about what it would be like. I learned to answer the objections that we might receive even before anyone could articulate them. I began to view homeschooling as a natural extension of the parenting that my husband and I were already doing. We love being with our kids, and to continue to keep them home was just a natural extension of our family life.

Homeschoolers are unique people, able to stand apart from the dominant culture, unafraid to be different. Our family is already unusual. My husband and I come from two different cultures and two different languages and are committed to raising our children to be fluent in both. We are committed to living out our faith in a practical way...not just assenting to some intellectual principles, but to try to live out what we believe with integrity. We are even unusual among some homeschoolers because my husband does about 40% of the teaching and I do the rest while also working in ministry. In many families that task falls almost exclusively on a full time mom at home.

We use curriculum but are not bound by it--it is a launching pad for us and it is supplemented by museum memberships, library books (especially in Spanish) and lots of day to day living with our kids seeking out the teachable moments. We are relaxed while being serious about teaching our children to think, to love learning and to live as disciples of Christ. We are the fearless experts on our own children because we have held onto the right and the responsibility to be the parents to our children and we cannot imagine any other way.

Micah Girl

Check out a new homeschool blog: Homeschool Mami


Blogger Danny said...

What would you say to the argument that homeschooling socially retards children?

5:23 PM  
Blogger MicahGirl said...

The vast majority of homeschoolers that I have met have been more socially adept than their typically schooled peers because they actually have more social interaction with a wider variety of people than do kids who are artificially socialized by age, grade and academic proficiency. Also, the Lord of the Flies mentality that often dominates social groups in schools is more likely to socially retard a child than learning multiplication in the kitchen and natural science at the local museum while conversing with family members and adults working in the community.

5:50 PM  
Anonymous bezahlt said...

"We are the fearless experts on our own children because we have held onto the right and the responsibility to be the parents to our children and we cannot imagine any other way."

Well said. My wife and I are homeschooling our 5 children and couldn't imagine raising them any other way.

8:52 AM  
Blogger MicahGirl said...

I think that homeschooling has grown so much because people are trusting themselves and the light that God has given them rather than allowing "experts" to dictate to them exactly how things should be done.

11:09 AM  
Blogger David BC Tan said...

Has anyone read David Guterson's "Family Matters:Why Homeschooling Makes Sense"? It's a great book and he's got this to say:
"Some have found that the solution is to homeschool, and while they do so chiefly because it works extraordinarily well, providing both academically and socially for their children's needs, they do it because it fulfills their own desire, an instinctive and undeniable one. To give their children over to an institution is to deny themselves certain elemental satisfactions that life as a parent has to offer. They know this, are reluctant and ultimately unwilling to give up these fulfilments, and this as much as anything explains why they teach their own. It would be an act of extraordinary selfishness if the children didn't also benefit."

11:04 AM  
Anonymous cheryl said...

Micah Girl !
I've been meaning to comment here but have been slow to do so.

It's been my experience that many/most homeschooled kids are noticably different in behavior to kids who aren't. They often are more comfortable with adults because they spend more time with their own and other parents.

The confidence factor is a big issue, and not everyone who sets out to homeschool finds it. I've known people who constantly struggle with the decision to homeschool, but continue to do so because they feel it's in the best interest of their kids. I feel that if the decision is not fear based and a family truly seeks the Lord for direction, then confidence will blossom through experience. Which takes time. Just my thoughts.

I'm glad you're enjoying your homeschool journey.


12:11 PM  
Blogger MicahGirl said...

Hi, David

I have read Guterson's book, too, and found it to be one of the more helpful first person homeschooling accounts that I have read. I really appreciated his perspective, particularly as a public school teacher homeschooling his own. For our family homeschooling really is a win/win situation...the kids benefit and we benefit as parents and as a family unit.

5:03 PM  
Blogger MicahGirl said...

Hi, Cheryl

I agree that not everyone finds that confidence. It is my hope that more would so that they could focus their energy on raising their kids, and not on stressing over the what if's. That said, I don't think that homeschooling is for every family, and there may be a time that we decide it is not for our family. For now, however, our sail is set.

Thanks for saying hi over here, you Bewley's-loving tea drinker:-)

Micah Girl

5:06 PM  
Blogger Tozetre said...

Hello! Found you through a link on The Anchoress.

I have a comment about Christianity and homeschooling. I'm a homeschooled Christian son (currently in grad studies, so that worked) of Christian parents. Our family has been actively involved in the legal and cultural legitimization of homeschooling in Canada.

It's a danger to tie homeschooling too closely to Christianity. As a practical example, a recent conference in Alberta defended homeschooling entirely on the basis of God's calling. As a result, a Muslim couple walked out, and anyone not particularly Christian was turned off of the whole thing.

I agree that Christians, especially when confronted with antiChristian sentiment in schools, have a calling to homeschool. However, we should promote it on the basis of sociological benefits, so as not to deny others the benefits.

12:16 AM  
Blogger anne berit said...

I'm from Norway and here just a few kids are homeschooled; mostly due to the school being to far away(!) I don't think I ever will do homeschooling, but I think it is a good way to be close to the children as a parent and to choose more carefully what they learn. Good luck!


6:48 AM  
Blogger Hannah Im said...

Good post. My husband and I are also from two different languages and cultures. He's undecided on the homeschooling part for now. I was homeschooled K-12.

12:46 AM  
Blogger Victoria said...

Thank you for your excellent comments. As a homeschooling mom, I face the fears of not being able to homeschool "the right way" I God is constantly telling me to stay out of my own way. As a recovering "expert" (I was a psychiatrist before I became a homeschool mom), I was frequently pained by parent's inability to trust themselves and the Holy Spirit inside of them in their parenting journey. Thank you for encouraging all of us to rememmber what is really important.

3:46 PM  

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