Thursday, February 17, 2011

What Does Freedom Mean to a Home School?

As a citizen of Illinois, I am reeling in the wake of SB 136, which proposed to require every home schooled student to be registered with the State, and left all registration requirements up to the State Board of Education. Since my children are not yet old enough to be required to be in any school at all, I was really caught off guard. Now I feel that I really need to wrap my brain around what our educational freedom in the state means for my family.

My original intrigue with home schooling developed when I worked as a legal secretary (before kids) and met a receptionist from a neighboring office who was only 16yo. A young person attending a brick & mortar school could not have worked in a law firm at that age simply because of the hours. I saw that home schooling gives students the freedom to take advantage of educational opportunities that would not otherwise be available.

As I had my own children, my next thoughts were about all of the bullying and teasing that I endured as a public school student. People say that schools provide socialization and prepare children to work with others as adults. But as an adult, I have never had a job whose only requirements were geographic location and age. Furthermore, I have never had a co-worker make fun of me. Not for my clothes, my body, my hair, my lack of athleticism. Not for anything. Home schooling gives me the freedom to protect my children from bullying and assaults.

As my oldest grew, I could see that she was not going to be academically ordinary. She was reading by 4yo. And at 6yo, she can read years beyond her age. If she were to go to school, we would have to choose between putting her with her age-peers or putting her with her academic peers, or something in-between. Home schooling gives me the freedom to challenge her academically while allowing her to be a 6yo. That means that math can be done on a white board, because her handwriting has not yet caught up with her math ability. It means that I can let her make maps of each kingdom of ancient history by using typed up labels, again because of the writing issue. It also means that she does not have to participate in a reading program, because she is already reading quite well. It means that I can choose not to teach her grammar (even though she is academically capable of learning it) simply because 6yo's shouldn't have to worry about grammar. While b&m schools often have gifted programs, I don't believe that they can fully meet my dd's needs the way I can at home.

Then as I started home schooling a year and a half ago, I started to educate myself on the different educational philosophies. Home schooling gives me the freedom to teach my children cursive first (before manuscript). Home schooling gives me the freedom to teach history in a chronological order while integrating literature from the time period we are studying. Home schooling gives me the freedom to teach a foreign language to my rising 1st grader or Latin to my middle schooler. Home schooling gives me the freedom to teach diagramming sentences to support their writing and foreign language skills. Home schooling gives me the freedom to use the Socratic method in teaching, a method used almost exclusively in law schools, and a method whose effectiveness has been proven over many centuries. Home schooling gives me the freedom to abandon textbooks in favor of living books.

When I was in high school, I thought I was getting a good education. By my senior year, I was getting a 3.8 GPA while taking almost all AP classes in a suburban school that was considered to be a good school. Looking back, I can tell you that I took no history courses except for some 20th Century Modern History survey courses. (I am really glad that I took Art History, because it was the only exposure that I had to history before 1900.) I took one and one half years of literature classes and read the sum total of about 450 pages of classic literature. I took a dance class that counted as an English credit. I took four years of Spanish yet could not speak it. This is abysmal! And things are so much worse in the schools now. All you politicians out there that want to check up on me and my children, please rest assured that I can do a better job than was done with me.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Latter-day Homeschooling