Why would a school teacher homeschool?

Mary Boyer, the first teacher in Upper Arlingt...

Mary Boyer, the first teacher in Upper Arlington, held class in the basement of King Thompson’s home. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of my readers recently wrote and asked me,

“Why would you, a qualified school teacher, homeschool your children?”

Here is some of my  response:

My teaching background and experience:

I am a teacher with 10 years public school teaching experience.  I earned my teaching diploma in Senior Primary Education and later completed my BA degree, majoring in English & Education.  I mostly taught English, History, Art, Bible Education, and Remedial Education.

My first teaching position was in a rural government school, and I served in the school’s boarding hostel as “mommy” to about 65-or-so girls, aged 6-years-old to 14-year-olds.  The social welfare placed many of these children in the boarding school.

My second teaching post was at an elite public school in the capital city.  This school was in the ambassadorial residential area and we had an international and highly educated parent body and an affluent school board.

I was especially inspired to provide key elements in my classes: 

  • differentiation ~ offer different ways for children to approach an activity, to make provision for different learning styles
  • remediation for weaker students
  • and extension for gifted students

My thoughts on public schooling (in no particular order):

  • Students who had involved parents did well and participated in more activities in school.
  • Students with available parents did more comprehensive projects, did the  most consistent homework and scored better in tests.
  • Students with supportive parents coped better with anxiety, pressure and loss in sport and cultural activities.
  • Children with “absent” parents (such as those children living in the boarding hostel, and those with full-time working parents)  struggled more with low self-esteem, anger, emotional immaturity, learning difficulties, failures, frustrations, poor peer relationships, withdrawal, hyper-activity, and discipline issues.
  • Children who needed remediation did best with one-on-one sessions and the school did not offer this.
  • Children with learning problems had low self-esteem issues and “labelled” themselves or were mocked and teased by their peers and they would even resist special lessons or help.
  • Gifted pupils often “slipped through the cracks” because there was little or no opportunity catering for their unique thinking and learning styles, their pace and approach.  They often exhibited similar behavior to learning-disabled students because they did not “fit in”.
  • Children established “cliques” and the shy, isolated child or those that did not “fit in” struggled with terrible self-esteem issues.
  • Teachers favored certain children over others and were sometimes as nasty as the children’s peer groups towards awkward children.
  • Teachers who were passionate about their students inspired them to achieve exceptional standards in scholastic, athletic, in leadership, as well as in their spiritual lives.

    English: Photography of a teacher writing on b...

    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So why did I start homeschooling my first child?

Tess , our eldest daughter , now 17 years old, was born a few weeks premature and at 9 days old became extremely ill with meningitis.  When the spinal tap was taken for lab tests, blood was found in her spinal fluid.  The MIR showed she also had bleeding on her brain.  We were alerted to the need for therapy.

She was diagnosed with right-hemiplegic and cerebral palsy.  We did weekly occupational and physio therapy until she was 11 years old.  By God’s grace she has achieved a full, functional, mainstream life.

Naturally, my plans to return to teaching after a year’s maternity leave were completely abandoned.  I became an “attached” parent; breast-feeding for 2 years, wearing my child in a sling, I was focused and passionate about her needs, interests and development.  Among the sphere of similar parents, I first became aware of homeschooling.

After a few years of kindergartener homeschooling with 2 other families, I placed Tess in a private Christian school for grade 1 to grade 3.

Despite the school’s strict Christian ethos and code and their stringent admissions policy, I was troubled about several issues.  The children were “just children“, prone to all the negative peer influences I had noticed in government public schools.  There was the same type of bullying, cliques, tensions, pride and performances, fears and anxieties, and there was a lack of individual differentiation.

Despite this, Tess thrived at school, but my heart was troubled.  I felt that the Lord wanted me to nurture and disciple my child’s spiritual life.  I was convicted of  “spiritual duplicity”; of the many hours each day of these “other” influences and pressures on my child.

Homeschooling as a family

At this time my husband bought a farm a few kilometers outside a small rural town.  There were no English schools and so we had to homeschooling our 3 children.

By the end of our 2nd year of homeschooling a group of new homeschool families from our district gathered at our farm each month .

Many parents from this group told me that they withdrew their children from school for the following reasons:

  • Parents made spiritual decisions to bring their child up in the fear of the Lord, according to His Word and principles.
  • Parents wanted to spend more time with their young children and nurture their natural desire to learn.
  • Families had met other homeschool families and wanted to bring about the change in their children’s characters that they so admired: loving, supportive, caring relationships, respect for one another, helpful and capable, responsible, involved in family business etc.
  • Their child could not cope academically in the school system.
  • Their child was unhappy socially, bullied or unaccepted.
  • The school could not provide for their child’s interests or learning style.
  • The school insisted on medication for hyperactivity and the parents did not agree with this approach.
  • Negative (and even unlawful) activities at school were a bad influence on their children.
  • Afrikaans families wanted to teach their children in English, or equip them with an international curriculum.
  • Families were considering emigration and wanted to prepare their children as explained in the reason above.
  • Parents were encouraged to homeschool because the trend had become more socially acceptable and well-represented.

Many times over the past 14 years of homeschooling I have declared that our homeschooling decision is NOT cast in stone.

As we navigated our choices for Tess’ high school and her completion certification, we have offered her alternatives ~ an opportunity to study at boarding school or attend college or follow other correspondence courses.  She has chosen to continue to homeschool to matriculation.

My youngest daughter has loved the nurturing and loving relationship of homeschool and tells others that she homeschools because she can “get the most cuddles this way” and she enjoys eating snacks while she learns.

She has struggled more than the others learning to read and has difficulty with her spelling.  I’m sure that if she were in a normal school she would have been labelled and she may have negatively compared herself with her peers.  However, with homeschooling, she has progressed at her own pace and has finally become an independent reader, despite it being so difficult for her.

We are able to cater for her unique learning style and provide a safe and nurturing environment for her to grow and mature.

As I mature and gain experience in my journey as a homeschool teacher, I have realized that I can relax more.  As Charlotte Mason suggests, I do not need to direct everything.

I believe that information can be learnt at any time and that there will always be ‘gaps’.   As my children learn to research, read and discover, record and express what they have learnt, they develop the most valuable assets.

We are present, connected and attentive to our children in all areas of their lives.

We can consistently nurture, encourage, disciple and discipline our children.

We are living one-life in His life.

We all consider our homeschooling as a privilege.

It is a joy to live and learn and grow together.

What has motivated your decisions to homeschool?  How have you grown and changed in this journey?  Feel free to share with us in the comments.

Blessings,

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13 thoughts on “Why would a school teacher homeschool?

  1. Pingback: Why would a school teacher homeschool? | Homeschool HUB

  2. I, too, am a qualified teacher, retiring after 32 years in the public school system. I was never able to homeschool my own children but have been given a second chance. I now homeschool 4 of my grandchildren, ages 13 – 4, and have done so from the beginning. We just love our little school and the children do not want to leave it to attend any other school. God is gracious in giving me strength, day by day, to deal with these precious children. (I am 66 years old.)

  3. I first heard about homeschooling when I moved from WI to GA in 1990 and our pastor’s family homeschooled. I loved the concept (I was a K4-K5 teacher in private schools), but had no children of my own. My prayer was that if God gave us children that I would homeschool. 17 years later, through adoption, the Lord gave us two 3 1/2 year olds from Vietnam. I love being my children’s mommy and teacher. I can’t imagine sending my children off to someone else to influence them and explain to them what family is when they had no concept of family. They had never played with toys, imagined anything, used pencil or paper, and so on. To have missed these steps by letting someone else teach them these things–I dread to think what my children could be. Today, five years later, they have incredible imaginations, can write, draw, play unending without the aid of a computer or electronic “toy”, and know that they have a mom and dad that will be there for them for we are glue and stick together. No public school could do that! I apologize for getting a bit long winded, but I am proud to homeschool my children. Lord willing, we will do so the whole distance. I know that how we “school” may change through the years, but there is no doubt in my mind that we will do it together. I appreciate hearing your story, Nadene. Thank you for sharing it.

    • @Rhoda, thanks for sharing your precious reasons for homeschooling! It is a real honor and privilege to experience every moment of growth and discovery with our children! May you continue in grace and strength!

  4. I love this article! We started to homeschool our oldest child when he had trouble with his public school teacher in kindergarten. I thought that when we moved (we were military at the time) we would put the kids back into the government schools, but I loved the homeschooling lifestyle and over time I’ve discovered how superior a one-on-one education is. I still have angst over whether I’m doing it “right” and at least once a year I swear I’m done, but then we take a break and I’m okay again. I get many comments on how mature and respectful and kind my kids are. My oldest, 15, surprised another adult by playing for hours with some little kids he was assigned to help. I told the adult he had never been told he shouldn’t be interested in people who weren’t the same exact age as himself so for him isn’t a sacrifice. I shudder when I think about the garbage that public school kids have to put up with, the violence, the foul language, the bullying, sex, drugs. There was some of that when I was a kid, but it’s so much worse now, especially as half of it seems to come from the teachers, an unheard of development twenty years ago.

    Still, I think homeschooling is not possible for everyone and I don’t blame parents who put their kids in government schools, because you’re right, the deciding factor in success and self-esteem is parents who care.

  5. Pingback: Exercise Two: Where Am I Going? « Oregon Pilgrim

  6. Thank you for sharing this. What you shared here in how things are in both public and private school I had the opportunity to experience. Becoming the wife to my best friend shortly after high school our desire for chidlren was shared. We have been blessed with two and from the time we started talking about children, before merriage, it was always a little thought that we would homeschool. When Father placed it on my beloved’s heart as well I was both richly blessed and very overwhelmed. We have yet to receive support from our families and have not yet made any connection with other homeschoolers in our area due to our passion to live fully for Him. We fall short in many ways but our desire and fire seem to push others away. And for some amazing reason, to be sure, families that have children in pucblic school seem to be comming in the closest to us before the influence is too much for our family. Needless to say, fallowing Christ first seperated us from our peers and homeschooling has done so even more. It’s a manifestation of our goal of doing what we believe we are supposed to do. Though having fellowship is very much a desire of our hearts, we are learning that the more we stand on what we know and believe the harder it is to find kindred spirits face to face. Peace be with you as you share your thoughts and experiences here. Sincerely, Mommy of two growing blessings & so much more!

  7. Thank you so much for this article! My husband and I were just talking about this :) So many of my teacher friends would never consider homeschooling because of the “benefits” of “school”. It is so refreshing to hear that is not always true.

    I am so thankful for the gift of homeschooling. One of my daughters does not know that she has a learning disability. What she does know is that her siblings love her enough to read to her. She can’t read very well, but, as she tells them, “you can’t sew very well. So, who cares, God gave me a different ability!” She has never been teased about her struggles, so she works hard, knowing that reading is just harder for her.

    We home school because our children are our gifts from God. He entrusted them to us. We disagree with many things at schools, whether public or private. We know we are not perfect, but with God’s grace, our children will learn everything they need and grow up to love and serve him.

  8. Pingback: What Does it Mean to “Be a Family?” « Treasures of Life

  9. Pingback: First Week of School, God’s Provision and Moving Forward « The Homestead at Spring Creek

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