There are plenty of reasons people homeschool, and they roughly break down into these general categories: Religious – People want their religious beliefs and practices woven throughout their children’s education. Parents want the teachings of their church (most families who homeschool tend to be Christian) to be part of their children’s daily school work.
The Super-Advanced Student – Some kids are so advanced academically that it’s impossible for a public or even private school to adequately support them. Kids like this often end up finishing high school way ahead of schedule and start college as a young teenager.
The Military or Traveling Family – When a parent has a military or other career that requires frequent moves, families often homeschool to keep continuity for their kids – the moves are disruptive enough, let alone all those changes in school work and environment.
Poor Schools – In a country as wealthy as the United States it’s shameful that we actually have schools that are inadequate, but we do, and there’s no immediate change in sight. For families that can’t (or don’t want to) afford private school, homeschooling becomes their de facto choice.
School/Child Mismatch – Even the best schools in a community aren’t a good fit for every child. Parents with a child who falls outside the mainstream may find that traditional education just can’t meet their child’s needs the way they’d hoped.
And then there’s my family. We don’t fall into any of the above categories.
We homeschool because of… well… puppies.
We didn’t start off homeschooling because of puppies of course, they came to us somewhere along the journey. But once the parade of puppies began (Henna-Leila-Jammy-Mercy-Oak-Who-Knows-Who’s-Next), there was no turning back.
When the kids were small I’d had the notion to homeschool, even though I didn’t know anyone personally who did. But that didn’t much matter to me, I’d had three kids in three years and we were a little band of four, spending our days together every day. None of the kids went to preschool, though they did spend two days a week with their Nana, so they enjoyed a change of pace and I had a little extra time to get my work done and run errands without kids in tow.
So when Winnie turned four in the Spring and it was time to consider kindergarten for the Fall, we opted out. Truthfully the thought of the four of us not being together every day was more than I could take. So we decided to homeschool.
I also realized that life itself was a lot more educational than the time spent in school could ever be. I wanted my kids to live life all day every day, experience a whole range of activities and not be confined to a classroom with the same group of kids for nine months of the year.
So over the years we’ve balanced school work with field trips and vacations and special projects and just plain goofing off (OK probably more of the latter than the former). We’ve also balanced it with grocery shopping and errands and cooking and chores and pet care. Lots and lots of pet care.
Of course the Labs they care for aren’t pets, they’re here for just over a year for training before leaving us and moving on to careers as service dogs.
Yes, there is heartbreak.
But that’s life.
A little bit harsh? Maybe, but life is what I wanted most for my kids, remember?