Do you ever feel that the word “Homeschooling” just doesn’t do justice to the lifestyle it entails? Or perhaps it is not the fault of the word, but rather our own disparaging view of anything that is done in the home. Homemaker, Work from Home, Homeschooler. Often we don’t even have to look towards others to endure this perception, we will do this to ourselves. Add to this the growing societal pressures on women to single handedly attain levels of perfection in all faculties from physical appearance to social roles, the ensuing guilt at naturally failing at one or more of these at any given time, the withering away of the concept of extended families or even close knit communities, the growing pace of existence and the exponential rise in superficial connectedness and distraction, you would think someone a lunatic to take on the education of their children upon themselves.
However even a cursory look at the day to day lives of average homeschooling families will disabuse you of these notions. By taking on the education of their children upon themselves, families are challenging the downgraded role of the “Home” and reinstating it to the heart of raising and educating children and preparing them for adulthood. By opting out of school many families are choosing to create their own micro communities that are often more diverse than the local school and encourage communication, exchange and collaboration at a level schools just aren’t equipped to provide to families.
These are some of the reasons I choose to homeschool my children. However I have another reason that sets us apart slightly from your average homeschooling family. I have a special needs child with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. He is my eldest and I chose to keep him out of school simply to create a less overwhelming and more personalized environment for him. I wanted to create opportunities to facilitate his learning that would be flexible to his unique needs on any given day or week. The focused attention he received from various professionals and at home has enabled him to make great strides and taught him to take ownership of his own learning. He is assertive but kind and has a real love for learning new things, because of the countless memories of small personal successes and positive reinforcement. Because he has been taught by the same teacher, gently coached by the same therapists for nearly a decade, he has developed a trust in being guided, in being an apprentice, and is not a prompt dependent follower of instructions or a dispassionate captive conscripted into a system over which he has no control.I am not bound to any methodology or belief system when it comes to how I homeschool my children. They are all so different from each other, how can I? Through recognizing the student’s strengths, acknowledging their anxieties and adapting teaching methods accordingly, I believe a teacher can truly earn the trust of her student. Once there is a mutual understanding of “I have something to teach you and you can learn from me”, from then on it is only a matter of curriculum, books and providing opportunities. A child has the capacity to become a self learner, to read himself a text book or find resources and extract the information he requires to find the solution to whatever it is that he is trying to do. Whether it is wanting to start his own business, or constructing a study that finds a correlation between sleep disorders and social media use, teaching herself various bird calls, or learning a programming language, I feel through homeschooling a student has the potential to become an independent thinker and problem solver.
Homeschooling is about people. It is about the relationships we build with those in our communities, how we come together to solve our problems and create wonderful learning opportunities for our children, irrespective of our culture, race or even religious background in most cases, and all the while, the children are witnessing, internalizing and learning.Perhaps this is the answer to the collapse of the extended family. Perhaps by setting their own pace, by replacing superficial connectedness by purposeful associations with those in our local communities to serve each other, by spending a lot more time with their children, homeschooling families are not so radical or avant-garde, but rather offer a solution to some of the challenges families with children face in our time. Homeschoolers are some of the most resourceful people you will ever meet and isn’t that the end goal of education? To figure out how to solve problems and how to meet the needs of our time?