Thursday, September 2, 2010

Customized Education

I'm spoiled. All week I've heard parents lamenting about watching their children disappear into classrooms and school buses while they stand at a loss. I don't have to do that this year. Darla is now a kindergartener and I get to be her teacher. I never thought about homeschooling even when I majored in Elementary Education...but here I am.

My sister and I came up with a term we like much better: "customized education". When you hear "customized education" I hope you hear what it's about- education. Having Darla home is not due to wanting to shelter her from a big, scary world. It's not an attempt to make her socially awkward or to shield her from anything aside from my hippie world view. It will not require her to only wear denim.

"Customized education" reflects my goal as a mom. I'm not pro-homeschool, pro-public school, or pro-private school. I am pro-picking-what-is-best-for-each-child. In my 17 years of formal education (including college and kindergarten) I attended 4 private schools, 3 public schools, and sort of homeschooled part of 5th grade. I also did teaching internships in both private and public schools and am now taking on the teaching-at-home endeavor.

My own experience coupled with conversations with experienced moms and a lot of prayer have led me to the "customized education" idea. In choosing schooling for my kids I want to consider what is best for them (the season of life, their giftings, desires, and personalities), what is best for our family, and what will give them the best education- specifically the tools and passion to always pursue learning. It will probably be different year to year, kid to kid, but that's why my goal is to be intentional and not default to what 'everyone' does.

I absolutely believe it is not up to a school district or government to educate my children. If I choose to delegate part of my job to them, fine. But ultimately I am accountable and responsible for my own. I cringe at what we require our schools to do that we as parents neglect implementing at home.

Like many things that I contemplate... I came to a point where I realize, "Eesh. Now this requires action." It all sounds noble and then comes time to put feet on it. Suddenly I'm cross eyed from looking at curriculum and trying to plan my days to not only maximize Darla's learning time but also to make it meaningful for my boys. I talk to friends who have time on their hands as their little ones are in school and I evaluate, "How strong are my convictions? Is it really that important that I do this?"

For this year and this daughter, I believe it is. Homeschooling is opening us up to be flexible in other areas. Darla is starting ballet and the school age program at Bible Study Fellowship. She can get class time for all sorts of creative projects and the district will even pay for us to visit the zoo! To add to the fun, Darla's cousin Pearl is home schooled in 1st grade this year. They get to do some classwork, ballet, and Bible Study Fellowship together.

Yesterday was the first day of ballet. Darla counted down the hours all day long and was giggly, giddy on the drive there.
When I picked her up I said, "I want to hear everything. Was it all you expected?"
"It was even WAY funner than I thought it would be, Mom. It was probably the funnest thing ever."
(Mental note: teach Darla that "funner" is not a real word.)
She's been practicing 'first position' and 'second position' quite seriously in front of a mirror and this morning did her 'stretches'.
One of her first assignments this week is to make a calendar. Instead of asking me every 10 minutes when she can go to ballet again, she can refer to her calendar. See how handy this homeschooling thing can be?


  1. Great post!

    When I was in a conversation with a grandma-type lady this morning, and mentioned that I have 12 children and have homeschooled for 21 years, she said, "But ... you look so NORMAL." Too funny! I just didn't fit her mental picture of what a homeschooling mother of 12 should look like. You and Jasmine don't fit "the profile" either. :)

    Hope you're excited to use the Sonlight Curriculum.

    Laurel :)

  2. We're starting our second year of "customized education". I love it for so many reasons... not enough space in this little comment box for them. I joined a homeschool support group too and I HIGHLY recommend it. I've received so much advice, support, curriculum, and taken Bubba on amazing field trips (many times for free).
    There are about a billion books I've either checked out from the library or bought too. My favorites so far are Cathy Duffy's "100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum" and Linda Dobson's "The First Year of Homeschooling your Child".
    Love that your schoolin' at the house too!