Then-High School Science Teacher. Now-Homeschool Mom. WHY?
I loved teaching high school physics and chemistry. Science was in my DNA-literally. I can claim this fact since my Mom is a retired chemistry, physics and math teacher. Life growing up revolved around Newton’s laws, periodic table properties and electromagnetic forces. It was my normal. It was the language which surrounded me.
Teaching high school allowed me to speak my language without folks staring at me too weirdly. Trust me, when you are at the playground and chant loudly “Potential Energy, Kinetic Energy” while swinging, expect strange looks. Say you teach physics and looks of understanding replace frightened stares. (Or, folks are just trying to be nice to the crazy woman.)
My students often gave me funny looks. It could have been my two step dance about the standards of measurement. My goal was to instill a delight of science and if it required us to go to the hallway with toy cars-so. be. it. I wanted students to see the wonders of this world and the amazing way small pieces fit together to make a spectacular whole. I was in secret ninja mode to inspire a love of science.
Once a positive relationship forms with a subject, knowledge is sure to follow. I was a Charlotte Mason educator in thought even though I didn’t know it. The science of relations and my dislike of textbooks formed my world.
Textbooks were my achilles heel. Dry, dull, lifeless. During my first year of teaching physics I passed out textbooks like the good teacher I was suppose to be. Irritation got the best of me and the next day I confessed to my students they were smarter than the textbook and we were going to learn real physics. I found out their passions in life and wrote physics questions based upon their interests. Nope, I didn’t sleep my first year of teaching.
Years passed and the world started to eye standardized tests as the saving grace of education. Textbooks crept into my curriculum, I didn’t have a choice. Same page, same day mantra was praised. Everyone must complete this worksheet on day 86. This exact quiz must be given on day 42. Personalization fades. I fight it. I remain free in some classes, but the ones that need it the most-lose the most.
Leaving behind the one size fits all approach, I began teaching at a new school that offered hope to students. Personalization was once again in vogue. Lives were changed.
This was what I wanted for my daughter. A philosophy of teaching to the child, not the curriculum. Freedom. I sought a school that would offer this to her; however, events unfolded that ultimately led to our journey of homeschooling.
Now, the question remains-why did I, a high school teacher, have faith in homeschooling?
Former homeschool students had been in my class. They were completing their high school years at a public school instead of continuing homeschooling. They entered my world and myths were shattered as I began to observe their interactions with others. In fact, here are a few things I noticed.
- Exhibit exceptional social skills. Please ignore the socialization myth, the homeschoolers I knew were the thoughtful leaders in class. They engaged in intelligent conversations with anyone regardless of age and easily made friends.
- Showcase strong content knowledge with a desire to learn. If they had difficulties with homework, they would ask questions. If they didn’t know something, they’d say so while seeking understanding. Being proactive in learning was a life skill pursued.
- Were well rounded. They were in sports, volunteered, played an instrument and/or engaged in other extra curricular activities. Excellence wasn’t limited to the classroom, but also the world around them.
- Had a positive outlook. Life often puts up barriers, yet they sought ways around obstacles. If one way to solve a problem didn’t work, something else was tried. A mistake wasn’t the end, just the start of a new attempt.
- Believed in themselves. Peer pressure was high, yet they remained true to themselves.
These were just a few of the many characteristics I observed. Hopefully, you are seeing how the myth of unsocialized weird homeschooler is busted by my actual experience. Now, you can say I’m painting an overly rosy picture of my students due to bias. I’m merely combining overall traits I’ve observed in my many years of teaching to form this generalization. No one is perfect, nor are we meant to be, yet a pattern emerged.
Taking the plunge to homeschool was intense. I was walking away from everything I had known to enter an unknown. Fortunately, my experience with homeschoolers sustained me. I knew when done right, it would work. Sure, it requires mental preparation along with intense lesson planning, but anything worth doing well requires diligence and energy. Homeschooling is not easy. It’s not a path down the straight and narrow. It takes determination, guts and ample prayer. The benefits of homeschooling has reaped harvests of unimaginable bounty in our world.
I feel fortunate to have taught homeschoolers as they have paved the way to our current reality. A reality I pray will continue, all the way through to our own high school years. By the way, you can homeschool high school!
There are many reasons families homeschool. For more insight, head on over to the iHomeschool Network’s Linkup on “Why We Chose to Homeschool“.