Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What I Think of Education, Part III (Repost from earlier blog)

Here are the reasons why I have been so grateful to have been schooled at home:

- Lots of free time for creative play; building blocks, Lincoln logs, Tinkertoys, Legos, stuffed animals, and tiny home-made yarn dolls were my favorite toys when I was younger. As I got older, I began to write stories on the computer, write poetry, journal, listen to music, and especially read books.

Favorite memory: My sister and I learned about the Native American culture and used blankets, pillows, cardboard boxes, and chairs to create an awesome fort that took up the entire living room. My mom let us sleep in it overnight and do our schoolwork in it the next day!

Lots of time outside. Recess was more than a half hour time running around an enclosed blacktop! I could play outside for hours by myself or with my sister or other home-schooled friends, in all four seasons; sometimes we would even take our school work outside on a nice day. Kids who are stuck in school all day don't get nearly as much time in the outdoors.

Favorite memory: About once a month, our home-school group (approximately two dozen kids and their moms) would go to a local park and spend the entire day there. We'd pack a picnic, the moms would chat and socialize, and us kids would be free to play in the sun and trees from early morning to late afternoon. Talk about heavenly!

Friends who weren't all exactly my age. In the homeschool group, the kids ranged from toddlers up through junior high and high-school. I think it's important that children have friends who are all different ages, which allows them to see different perspectives and learn how to function well in multiple social situations.

Favorite memory: Some of my best friends have been much older or much younger than me. In second grade, my best friend was a sixth grade girl who lived across the street. When I was ten, my best friend was a twelve-year old boy in our home-school group. Now, two of my very best friends are an eighty-seven year old woman from church and a sixteen year old fellow guitarist.

School work suited to my level of ability. I didn't have too much difficulty with math after I went back to home-schooling when I was eight, but once algebra hit, that was a different story. Geometry was even worse. My mom would try over and over and over to help me learn and understand these things. I even had a private tutor for geometry for a little while.

Favorite memory: I loved doing in-depth studies on specific books! When I read and analyzed "Pride and Prejudice" in junior high for a semester, I was in heaven. Reading was a huge part of my school lessons and I've loved it ever since then.

Time to pursue areas of interest to me, like music and track and field. After beginning guitar lessons when I was eight, I was able to have a lot more time to practice when I was home-schooled as opposed to being in public school. This was especially true in high-school, when I wanted to practice for several hours a day.

Favorite memory: My mom, sister, and I would often go jogging in the neighborhood park with our across-the-street home-schooling friends. It was a good break in the middle of the day, let us run off some energy, and nearly always ended with us climbing trees or playing on the playground. And surprisingly, no police officer ever questioned us about truancy! We were always prepared with an answer, though: "We're having P.E., sir."

Time for volunteer work. This is something that very few kids are involved in nowadays, sadly. It's a benefit to our society and helps establish a sense of local community. Families can use it as a way for the individual members to come together working on a single volunteer project, or a student can volunteer for a cause that interests them.

Favorite Memory: When I was young, my family would sometimes volunteer to serve food at a soup kitchen; I was too little to be of much help, but I remember being impressed that my parents considered it so important to serve those less fortunate than ourselves. Our home-school group would often sing songs and hand out holiday cards at a retirement home several times a year. Also, I volunteered at a community library as an assistant from the time I was thirteen until i was sixteen. I absolutely loved it!

Freedom to make my own school schedule. My sister and I would usually do a small amount of school-work during the summer anyway, just so we wouldn't forget everything we learned and so we could take time off when we really needed to, like around Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, family vacations, weekend camping trips, park days with the home-school group, field trips days (yes, home-schoolers take field trips too), and craft/art/baking/gardening/etc. days. The nice thing was that if I worked diligently right from the time I got up in the morning, I could usually have all my school work for the day completed before lunch time; then I could have the rest of the day to do stuff with my mom around the house, work on a project of my own, practice guitar, read, etc.

Favorite memory: We were always allowed to have snow days off, even if the public schools didn't. No child wants to be indoors when all that snow is calling to be played in! Sledding, snow forts, snowball fights, fox-and-geese, tag, snowmen, shoveling our driveways and the elderly neighbor's driveways... we had fun all day long until it got too dark to see outside.

Quality time with my mom and sister. My mom taught us not just how to read, write, and do math, but also many different practical skills and fun activities. Here is a list of just some of the things we did together:

Berry picking
Fruit picking
House cleaning
Canning (preserving)
Child care
Art projects
Museum trips
Science experiments
Chicken raising
Library trips
Nature walks
Candy making

One of the most important things my mom taught me, though, was self-discipline. 

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