Education has always been the cornerstone of my family. My parents and my sisters and I all had such a love of learning that there was never a “push” toward excelling. It was just always who we intrinsically were.
I went to high school to be a surgeon and college to be a psychologist, so I never expected to be a teacher. But, when I think back, even as early as five years old when I would teach my stuffed animals, being an educator was really always my path.
I earned a B.A. in Psychology and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership. I have been a school caseworker, a high school English teacher, an assistant principal, and trained teachers in best practices. Plus, my sisters and I are proud products of public schools. So suffice it to say, I believe in public education!
However, as a teacher, I began noticing a shift from teaching as an art to becoming more robotic, with a focus on testing and “standards.” I watched more and more students lose their natural inquisitiveness to the beast of conformity.
Choosing to Homeschool
When I became a mother, I decided I didn’t want my sons subjected to what I felt education had become–rote learning. To me, our educational system had somehow become broken and was missing the mark not only in the way students were learning, but also what students were capable of learning because of lowered expectations.
I was determined to never let my sons’ love of learning be minimized to merely sitting still and learning how to test!
So, my now ex-husband and I initially decided I would stay home with our sons until school age to give them a solid foundation. We figured who would know our children better than me? Wasn’t I their first teacher? My older sister had stayed home with her children until school age, so I knew I could do it as well. And, because of this early decision, the transition to homeschooling my children past pre-school was an easy, and natural one for me.
Interestingly enough, life’s curveballs like divorce, new jobs, and sickness, have led me to make the decision to send my boys to both private and public school over the years. But, I have again returned to homeschooling as our best choice. The boys love it! And, although they also loved private school and public school, they truly enjoy the freedom of exploration homeschooling affords.
I Still Panic
Now, don’t get me wrong! At first, I did (and still do at times) have a slight panic attack of “What in the world am I doing??!!” and “Why do I think I’m equipped to do this??!!” However, I quickly realized homeschooling is really just allowing my children to learn what they need to learn, as well as what they want to learn, in the way they like to learn.
I really think that’s where traditional schooling sometimes falls short. Children often aren’t able to combine what they want to learn, with what they need to learn, in the way that’s right for them. Learning really shouldn’t be boxed into some boring standardized formula of success. It should be child focused, challenging, and always fun!
My ultimate hope for my boys is that they never cease to wonder and learn from all the things this big, incredible world has to offer. I want them to discover for themselves where their passions lie. And for us…at least right now anyway…homeschooling is the best option.
Melanie Harper, educator and blogger at www.melanieharper.com