I know. I know. I can hear the sighs. What do you mean you don’t home school your kids? Isn’t that a big reason why homesteaders…homestead?
Before I go off the deep end with this post, I want to point out very emphatically that we have LOTS of wonderful friends and family members who have chosen to home school their kids. I LOVE that they have made that choice and that it has worked out well for them. I totally get all of the reasons why a family would choose to educate their children at home, and fully support each and every person who does so successfully.
This post is not an attempt to convince anybody that home schooling isn’t a good choice for their family. That is a decision you have to make based on your family values and long term goals.
Believe me, I think homeschooling is a great idea.
Just not for us.
There was a time when we felt like our community school system was failing our kids. Katie and I discussed alternatives like Montessori and private school. Home school was never really on our radar, but I’ll say that we would have considered it if we had stayed in that situation. Private schools are expensive yo! And you’re still not guaranteed to find what your children really need, even after forking over all that cash.
BUT… after moving to the community we live in now we found a fantastic public school system where our children thrive. Our teachers are connected, the classrooms are smaller and the overall system just seems to be more balanced compared to where we lived in Oregon.
All of our kids are deeply invested in sports. The community we live in has a great sports program and having the kids involved has helped develop their social skills and confidence. I know that some home school programs have access to public sports, but there is something special for our kids about playing on the same team with the kids in their class. The camaraderie we’ve seen build between our kids and their friends is amazing both on and off the field.
Having our kids in public school has given Katie and I an opportunity to get involved, and it’s opened the doors to build relationships with several other parents. When you’re new to a community, especially one that’s rural, it’s not easy creating good adult friendships.
I love the alternative methods of learning that I’ve seen some of our home schooling friends use with their children. Traveling to historical sites. Implementing farm experiences into daily learning. Using the bible as part of their curriculum. There’s so much room for creativity! But if I’m honest with myself, we are already using some of these options to supplement what our children learn in school and to give them a balanced understanding of how life works.
Our kids are growing up on a working farm. They get their hands dirty in the garden and they are learning about soil health. They take care of animals. They get to run in the woods and climb as many trees as they desire and use their imagination without limit. They’ve experience both death and life and have learned how to manage grief and expectations. They are learning how to cook, how to preserve food and the value of seeing our pantry and freezer full through the year with food we raised or grew with our own hands. And they get a lot of social activity time with other kids, but in and out of school.
They live a balanced life. But we are intentional in giving them these experiences. We know that education in not received from a classroom alone but through capitalizing on the moments at hand, and we are active in shaping their understanding of the world around us.
And while we’re being honest, I’m not ashamed to admit that neither of my children’s parents (that would be us by the way) are particularly very good at being educators. We love our kids more than anything in this world, and we’d sacrifice anything for their well being. Without question. But a little separation during the day is healthy in our family dynamic.
As much for them as it is for us. Believe me.
Have you ever tried to wrangle a herd of feral cats? It’s a serious question.
I love that there are so many different options available to homesteaders when it comes to education. I know there are some parents out there that will tell you the ONLY way to properly educate your kids is at home. Some parents will even shame others for making decisions contrary to their own beliefs. I just don’t think that’s a healthy way to live or to interact with each other.
If your children are healthy, happy, are intensely loved and thrive in their educational experience (however it may be given) then I think you’re doing it right.
At the end of the day, we’re all struggling to be good parents, to make the right decisions and to feel good about those decisions. When it comes to parenting, nobody gets it right all the time. But let’s not shame each other because our decisions are different. Instead let’s build a COMMUNITY of support for each other with the focus on raising strong, brave and happy children.
That’s my kind of jam.
So here it is. Our dirty little (not so much) secret. We don’t home school our children. But we love the teachers who dedicate their lives to educating our wild brood. They deserve a medal and certainly the encouragement from their community.
And probably some time off.
Great post, thanks for sharing your positive experience with teachers and education in your area. It really is about cherishing the individual experience within the collective, imo, and however any family can make that work is a worthy example. At this point there is so much regional/local difference and we can all try to be models for what’s working and not become ‘organizational man’ by buying into any one system.