Hi there! Join me this month for the My Journey to Homeschool series. In this series, I’ll be sharing the why behind our homeschool and the process it took to get there.
If you’re new here, welcome! My name is Nike and I’m entering my fourth homeschool year with a new kindergartner and third grader.
I’m doing this series for two reasons. One, it’ll help you get to know me better. Two, I really need to revisit my why for self-encouragement as the start of the new school year approaches.
Even though this blog is over a year old, I’ve never quite addressed the reason my husband and I decided to homeschool in the first place. I’ve mentioned the benefits of homeschool that appealed to us, such as flexibility and tailored education, but I never really got into the “heavy” stuff.
Well, that’s because I didn’t want to appear anti-public-school. In fact, you’ll read here that I actually don’t hate public school. I’m simply pro-diversity. I believe there are many paths to success and one of those paths includes alternative education.
Nevertheless, as someone who has experienced and studied education at a professional level, I have some pretty sober things to say about the public-school system. As great as it is to have free education in this country, like everything else in life—including homeschool—public-school has its flaws.
The following reasons are ones that spoke to my husband and I on a personal level. They are in no way meant to sway you in one direction or the other if you’re on the fence about homeschool. Instead, my hope is to inspire you to develop your own “why” if you’re feeling led toward the path of home education.
So, without further ado, here are five reasons we really chose to homeschool our two boys.
1. We Weren’t Taking Any Chances.
Racial disparity in the education system is a topic no one wants to discuss, but it’s a real concern for many parents who are raising black children in America. In fact, studies indicate one primary reason black families choose to homeschool is due to dissatisfaction with the low expectations for black students and how they are treated in the education system.
The school-to-prison pipeline for children of color is a reality my husband and I had to consider when discussing the future of our boys’ education. Since we grew up in the public-school system, both of us have witnessed this practice first-hand. While we’ve turned out “okay,” we couldn’t negate some of the psychological damage we’ve had to overcome.
If you’re not familiar with the school-to-prison pipeline, it is defined as followed:
“The policies and practices that are directly and indirectly pushing students of color out of school and on a pathway to prison, including, but not limited to: harsh school discipline policies that overuse suspension and expulsion, increased policing and surveillance that create prison-like environments in schools, overreliance on referrals to law enforcement and the juvenile justice system, and an alienating and punitive high-stakes testing-driven academic environment” (National Education Association, 2016)
It is not our goal to shield our children, but rather utilize homeschool as an incubator of sorts to help prevent premature exposure to harmful disparities in society before they are fully equipped to process these experiences and thrive on their own.
2. To Implement a Holistic Approach to Education.
Homeschool offers us the ability to prioritize development in core areas that are often neglected. Physical, social, emotional, and spiritual development hold equal importance to intellect in our home. Since public school comprises about 1, 170 hours of a child’s time each year, there’s less time in a child’s day to prioritize development in areas outside of intellect, unless a more holistic approach to education is adopted.
As homeschool parents, we have the freedom to implement a holistic approach to education without competing with the time restrictions of public school. That means having sufficient time to work with our children and be more intentional about integrating all core areas of development into their school day. This practice is often referred to as whole child education.
3. To Cater to Our Children’s Intelligence.
If you’ve ever studied developmental psychologist, Howard Gardner, you’re hip to the nine types of intelligence. However, while at least nine types of intelligence have been identified and legitimatized, public schools only cater to students who possess logical-mathematical and linguistic intelligence. That means if a child is not a math-whiz or book-worm, the likelihood of reaching their potential in the education system is slim.
So, what are the other types of intelligence that often get overlooked? Naturalist intelligence or nature-whizzes. Musical intelligence or children who are skilled in sound. Existential intelligence or those who are referred to as “life smart.” Interpersonal intelligence or those who are people smart. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence or those who can perfect skills through a mind-body union. Intrapersonal intelligence or those who are gifted in self-awareness. Lastly, spatial intelligence or those who can think in three-dimension.
It was very apparent to my husband and I when our boys were babies what their dominant intelligence was. In short, they both exhibited strengths in spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, and musical intelligence. These are strengths we are able to fully develop by allowing our boys to incorporate them into their learning—maximizing their academic potential.
4. To Increase Their Quality of Education.
It’s no secret that as more emphasis is put on teaching to the test, more education budget cuts are being made, and the student-teacher ratio continues to increase, the overall quality of education has suffered. Couple that with a one-size-fits-all curriculum that is tailored for the average student and you’ve got highly intelligent students who aren’t being adequately challenged and low performing students who aren’t having their educational needs met.
This is a reality for many public schools.
Sending our children off to school just to become great test takers was simply not appealing to us. Nor was sending them into an environment where their success depended on becoming “average” students.
5. To Establish a Healthy Environment for Self-Development.
Our children are individuals and we want to keep it that way. Unfortunately, in most public schools there’s a “get in where you fit in” mentality where children are encouraged to become carbon copies of each other and individuality is frowned upon.
As homeschoolers, we aim to provide a healthy environment for our children to discover who they truly are and what they’re passionate about—outside peer influence. In other words, we’re removing the distractions and providing our sons the privilege of defining themselves for themselves and growing confidence in that identity.
Yes, peer pressure is inevitable. Yes, children are bound to make poor decisions. However, the more time our boys spend developing in confidence and character in a healthy environment, the more equipped they’ll be to make sound decisions in difficult moments, and the less likely they are to adopt an inauthentic view of themselves.
In essence, homeschool enables us to redefine education by making it enjoyable, interest-led, and a natural part of our everyday life. it’s essential for our family to dissociate learning from something you only do in a classroom or to get good grades. Instead, our desire is to encourage our children to become lifestyle learners
As I mentioned earlier, homeschool is not perfect, either. But it is the better decision for our family during this season of our life.
If you’re new to homeschool, you may find the following posts useful: