Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why we homeschool: Trusting the feet

by June

Of all the things a homeschooling mama hears from other mamas (and teachers and grandparents and cashiers at the gas station), the most common sentence of all has to be: “I could never do it.”

Depending on the tenor of who’s speaking and depending on my own mood when I hear it, that sentence can carry various meanings... Statement of fact: “I couldn't homeschool because I am the kind of person who is most comfortable with a trained teacher teaching my kids.”Or compliment: “You are made of sterner stuff than I, young’un.” Or insult: “What are you stupid? Taking your child’s education into your own hands like that?”

This last inflection is the one I hear on my worst days. “Could never” is amplified and mixed like a fever chant with my own misgivings because, like most thoughtful homeschooling parents, I have my doubts. And I cling to them. I can't help but think my doubts are the catalyst that will make me do a better job for my children.

Here’s a typical doubt groove in my mind: Are they where they need to be with geography (or math or grammar: pick your worry)? Better check. Google. Tap, tap, tap. Oooh, look at this amazing website! So the kids spend an hour absorbedly practicing their math facts on They earn 20,000 grains of rice for the UN World Food Program. They switch to practicing vocabulary words and earn some more rice. Later, as we eat our own supper, we talk about efforts to end world hunger. We talk about where the problem is most severe and why...and we're back to geography but in a deeply meaningful way: Where do other people live and what are their lives like?

On days when I don’t have the major doubts that send me to Google, I have the lesser kind, the daily kind. For these I have the daily solutions, the little things that remind me that my children are where they should be, learning the way they learn best. They get enough sleep. They read to their hearts' contents. They are rich in time to play. Each can follow her curiosity wherever it leads. The best reminder for me of why we homeschool is watching their feet while they are learning.

Just look at these feet. Don’t they look happy? The kids attached to them look happy too: rapt, engaged, tickled pink by discovery.


Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

What an amazing post! I am proud that you wrote of you doubts..and gave us all a lesson in parenthood! I wish more Moms & Dads could commit to home schooling - but so many have reasons not to. You are doing the hardest, most wonderful scariest, most rewarding job a parent can do - and to have the life experiences of your children? Amazing! Chickens, cooking, running free? Perfection. Bravo YOU!

Wendy said...

I hate that comment "Oh, I could never homeschool." There's just no good response. I used to say, "Sure you can", but as you pointed out, it's not necessarily a commentary on their feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes it's something altogether different.

Personally, I can't imagine my life any different than it is, and while I have my doubts and concerns about whether or not my children are "progressing" like they should, usually it's a pretty short-lived internal struggle. Mostly I know they're where they oughta be, and it's good.

Laura at By the Bushel said...

'their words mixed in a fever chant of my own' I think I said that right, eek... I know! I usually look up bloggers I trust/I'm not smart enough to google cool sites to give me the lesson! I read a great post over at The One Thing about knowing and trusting yourself, and this one completes the thought for the day for me... trusting my best, instilling what's really important to our familiy, and not what the person with the panicked look thinks. what a sweet post! Their feet are so adorable, and they are happy- May you always be blessed in your efforts to shape such precious girls.

sarah in the woods said...

Last night I dreamed that a couple of kids from one of my favorite homeschooling blogs came over to my house, and I was so afraid that they wouldn't approve of the way I homeschool! My doubts are cropping up while I sleep! But you're so right, and this post is such an encouragement. Just yesterday my kids bare feet were running around in sand and mud discovering and learning, happy and free. I never thought about it, but happy feet are good reason to put those worries to rest.

Unknown said...

How funny - my kids feet look like that, too! Never in shoes to do school work. Only colorful and wild socks or bare feet. Ahhh... the joys of homeschooling never cease!

By the way, try this comment that I got from my Dad this week - "Why don't you put those kids back in school?!" Mmmm. Not a confidence builder, but why did I expect otherwise? His priorities are very different. I must follow Christ's lead and be at peace knowing He is in control of even their education.

Wren said...

I applaud you and all of those who choose to homeschool. I think it is fantastic! Keep up the great work!

Sharon said...

that is wonderful. I'm going to remember to look at my little guy's feet - you're right, it's a terrific indicator of learning!

Magnolia Handspun said...

Thank you June. I needed this, and I needed it today.
Good to read posts that are uplifting and it confirms why we do what we do.
The one thing that amazes me me is how one thing leads to another and so it goes, so many interesting ways to learn and the discovery new doors opening every day.
Beats the door the principle held open for his office, ehem.

...those are the some of the cutest tootsies- your perspective is refreshing.

Conny said...

Confession time here: I don't ever say aloud, but think to myself, "Oh, I could never do that." I think this mostly out of fear, fear of letting my child down because I'm not strong in every subject; and fear that I couldn't keep him focused long enough to learn anything. We've already set the pattern that "Mama time" is "play time" - he's six years old now. I teach him what I can about nutrition, manners, being kind to others, spending time outdoors, and how to use his brain to see things in new ways.

June, I applaud you LOUDLY for working with your girls in such a creative way. I love that you use the internet to find new sources. I love that you take them on field trips. I love that they get to go to Chinese school. You are where you're "supposed" to be - and your girls are getting a well-rounded education by your efforts.

Sorry for the long comment. Childhood Education is something I'm very passionate about.

Have a Happy Day.

Anonymous said...

congratulations june. you do your girls a world of good. if i could i would, financially i cannot.

everyday, every experience is one of learning.

farmama said...

Truly is an encouraging post June! We homeschool too, and I can relate to those moments of wondering if they are getting enough!...and then coming to the realization that they are getting so much more than enough!
love, sara

JGH said...

Although we don't homeschool, I really admire people who do and actually enjoy reading their blogs and newsletters (like yours for instance!) I have the same thoughts as you do about whether my kids are where they should be. I so wish the public schools would be a little bit more progressive when it comes to experiential learning and hands-on lessons. Its the rare teacher who brings the kids to the kinds of places you do every day. Your girls are so lucky!

a tasteful garden said...

those little feet radiate giggles and joy. obviously you are doing a terrific job :)

Gwen Buchanan said...

Hi June... Happy feet, for sure, doing things children love to do!!! your approach ensures children love learning... so positive...

while we homeschooled (or unschooled, if I tell the truth)... the most common question we received was..." But how do you know if he is learning anything""???? we had to trust in ourselves that we were making the right decision ... as there were no groups or anyone about that would dare step outside the system... most people thought we were crazy!

you will probably find the experience even better than we did as you have Two little ones challenging each other to succeed...

another benefit; no school peer pressure... trust in yourselves .. you are already far ahead!! it is one of the best things we ever did with our son and for our son... I am amazed at how well versed he is on so many subjects as compared to how they have to stick to the basic curriculum in schools... he really likes learning... I attribute it to letting him absorb into subjects to the depth of his desires till he fulfilled his thirst...

he is back in school now in Gr. 11 as he wanted to chum around with some kids for a while but it built self reliance and determination in him to deal with the things that school dishes out...

that time also let me know him better than ever before...I would do it again in an instant..

I'm so proud of you!!! I know we would be good friends!!!

Corrabelle said...

Oh my, i've heard that comment so many times! And i'm never sure how to take it. (It's usually followed by "aren't you worried about their social life?") haha.

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