The Typical Homeschooler

Everyone knows about homeschooled kids. First of all, they spend five days a week trapped inside the house sitting at the kitchen table from 8 am to 2:30, working from textbooks, and being sure to cover every school subject in the allotted time. Because these poor children do not spend this time everyday with other children that are the exact same age as them, they do not learn any social skills, are unable to function in general, and are just plain weird. Their parents are these religious-wacko control freaks who are afraid to give their children any physical or intellectual freedom.

If you meet a homeschooled kid or family exactly like that let me know. Now I must admit that we are little closer to the stereotype because we do tend to stay inside the house most of the day. This is because we make the sacrifice of having a second vehicle so that I can stay home with the kids. We are the exception compared to most of the homeschoolers that I have met or had contact with.

We do happen to do most of our formal school work at the kitchen table, but as our older daughter wouldn’t even be eligible for kindergarten until this August, we only do about 30 minutes a day at most. Even when she officially becomes school-aged, I do not see us doing much more than that most days. I figure we will gradually add more formal learning time as she gets older, especially by the time we’re ready for high school, but even at that level I do not see more than three to four hours being necessary.

The only official textbook I plan to use at this point will be part of the Singapore Math curriculum, but Singapore approaches math slightly different. Each school year is comprised of two thin text books and two thin workbooks and as many supplementary materials as you wish to use. Our daughter is about to begin the last of Singapore’s four-workbook kindergarten program. Otherwise, she is learning to read using home-made worksheets and cards. And we do not need a textbook for reading, literature, history, or science when there is a whole library of real books and periodicals that are more likely to be accurate and offer more varying view points than traditional text books. I see us using some workbooks through the years, as they work well for my older daughter. Of course, I may have to adjust my approach for my younger daughter if workbooks don’t appeal to her. But there is also a lot to be learned by playing games (board, card, computer), watching some television (lately we’ve had lots of discussion about elections and government), and just living life.

We are members of a large homeschooling group that offers a weekly unstructured playgroup. We don’t get to go often because of our car situation, but we have made friends with whom we arrange play dates at more convenient times. We usually keep our older daughter involved in at least one outside activity of her choosing through the parks district; so far she has had classes in painting, digital microscope usage, soccer, tap/ballet/tumbling, and gymnastics. She’s signed up for t-ball this spring. She has always received high marks and compliments for her behavior, manners, and interaction with other children in her classes. And while she sometimes needs a small warm-up period with adults, once she is comfortable she will talk your ear off. Our younger daughter will not be eligible for activity classes (at least on her own) until October when she turns three, so we’ll see where her interests and talents lie. She already is speaking on par with most three-year-olds and plays well with children twice her age.

And as for us, we do not homeschool for religious reasons. We do like having a little more control over our children’s environment and safety than maybe some parents, but I don’t feel that is necessarily a bad thing. And homeschooling can really equal more freedom for our children: the freedom to learn things in an order, at a speed, and using a method that works for them individually; the freedom to learn that sometimes there is more than one right answer or view point (not just the one the teacher or the textbook is fishing for); the freedom to make mistakes with out being embarrassed or humiliated; the freedom to play and enjoy life rather than being bogged down with two hours of homework on top of six hours of school and extra-curricular activities; and the simple freedom of being able to go to the bathroom without having to ask for permission.

So this is how we typically homeschool, for now anyway. In a few years, as circumstances in our lives change, we may end up doing it totally different. Most families do have to make adjustments through the years. I seriously doubt, though, that we will ever match the idea of the “typical homeschooler” that most people who have never studied homeschooling have in their head.

Explore posts in the same categories: Homeschooling/Education


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