I've been corresponding with a retired Lt. Col that we might be renting from at our next base. He wanted to know how old our kids were and to plug that the schools in the area were the best in southern New Mexico. I let him know that we were homeschooling (just because that meant the kids would be home all the time and I thought he had a right to know in case that made a difference). He thought that was fine for now, but would hate to see our kids miss out on the great schools so he wanted to know why we homeschool. I just sent him my response and thought I'd add my explanation here for you too (as long as it was already written!) We do homeschool for a lot more reasons then I mentioned in the email, but these are the basics.....
We chose to homeschool for lots of different reasons... and I don't know how much sense I'm going to make, but I'll try to lay some of them out.
Nathan and I literally made the decision over 3 years, and it started when I was pregnant with our oldest. We were stationed in CA at the time and had about an hours drive to my doctors appointments each way. We'd listen to talk radio along the way and we were hearing a lot of crazy stories about things that were happening all around the country within public schools and the challenging of parental rights. That didn't sit so well with us at the time, so we started considered alternatives after that. As time progressed we'd continue to catch news here and there with the same problems, and were seeing similar problems with our DOD school while stationed in Korea. We still hadn't made a decision about what we wanted to do for our kids until we moved back to the states and I ran into a master violin maker that sparked a little fire within me. He told me about Leadership Education and the different path it takes from traditional learning.
Just a side note about me.... I went to public school and college in CA and was known as "the smart kid." However, looking back over my bookshelves I honestly can't remember when I acquired most of my books or what classes they corresponded with. I really don't know a thing now, and I didn't at the time either, but I could fake it well, and I hated that! I ended up graduating 2 1/2 years early from High School because I wanted someone to really challenge me and not give me A's just because, and I still didn't find that too much in a University. Anyway, I wanted something different, but didn't know what that was and everything seemed like a huge waste of time.
Back to my master violin maker. He suggested that I read A Thomas Jefferson Education and look into George Wythe University. So, I found a copy of the book at the library and set to work! What I found in there completely changed how I looked at what an education was, and how to go about getting one! My husband understood it at the time as learning from classics, and he was all about that because that meant adding to our library, but he didn't have a desire to read the book at the time. A couple months later he found a copy of A Thomas Jefferson Education in a thrift store and thought he'd pick it up for me so I could have my own... well, he started reading it and it stayed with him for a couple weeks as he'd ride the bus to school... he was hooked too! The author, Oliver DeMille, was able to put into words what we had only hoped for and didn't know how to attain.
Okay, I think that's enough back story... here's just a few points as to why we do what we do, and if you're still curious you're welcome to ask specifics:
-We want our kids to love learning, be able to develop their talents, and have free time to study what truly drives them. We feel like learning from classics and being mentored (like Thomas Jefferson was by George Wythe and many of our founders for that matter), will create a life long love of learning for our kids and that they'll retain the information that they glean. That dynamic also allows us to follow our kids pace and doesn't require them to speed up or slow down to meet an average, which regularly happens in larger classroom settings of peers. (That's not a criticism, it's just an observation, and it makes sense why it happens. A teacher, as good as they are, is trying to meet a lot of requirements and has to teach at a certain level to get everything in. I respect what they're trying to do even though it's not what we want at this time.) So, academics or education really is a top priority for us and how that information is presented to our children. This probably isn't the best explanation of what's on my mind, but I can try better if you'd like, or I'd be happy to lend a copy of A Thomas Jefferson Education to you! I should note that this book isn't pro-homeschooling, it's pro-leadership education and implementing that no matter what your school situation is, public, private, or home.
-Secondly we homeschool because it works well for our family. Previously we were moving every year, and at odd times of the year. We've watched the struggles that have ensued in other military families with kids moving to different states with different requirements, having to take a bunch of classes to "catch up", or just having to leave at weird times of the year. That just wasn't for us! We figured that having the kids at home would bond them together as good friends, and that no matter where or when we move, that they'd always have their support system and their school would go right along with them. Even now that we won't be moving quite as much as a family, Nathan will be gone a lot more, and homeschooling allows us flexibility to be able to go on trips or just spend time with him when he is home... and that's important to us. We don't have to ask permission of anyone to leave for a certain amount of time and our kids won't be missing out on anything. In fact, we're trying to instill in them the knowledge that learning is all around us all the time, so even family trips are a time of exploration and truly learning things that will stay with them.
-The last thing I'll throw out there is that we think our home is a great social learning environment. People always wonder about socialization when it comes to homeschooled kids... I'll tell you right now that ours will probably be weird in lots of ways, but that's inevitable even if they did go to public school because Nathan and I aren't the most normal people you've met. :-) Anyway, to us learning proper social behaviors don't get taught in a classroom of same age peers. Proper social behaviors are learned as you are out among people of all ages and backgrounds and you are taught to adapt to different situations. The world is our classroom and between exploring it and learning to function well in the home with different ages and abilities, we feel like we've got "social learning" pretty well covered.