Occasionally, I consider sending my son to private school because the one near our house is straight up amazing. The kids that come out of that establishment are smart, well respected, and they perform well as adults (yes, I am old enough to have seen some of them grow into adulthood. Gracious, when did that happen?)
One thing I know about schools (or governments) is that ridiculous things get hung up in group, socially governed, organizations. You have to consider the welfare of the group first in that environment, which inevitably means the best interest for the individual is lost. That’s why homeschooling appeals to me.
I do not have to consider the best interest of any group. I only have to consider the best interest of my child(ren). His strengths I can enhance, and his weaknesses I can support, without the constant comparison to Jimmy one desk over who reads like a librarian and leaps tall buildings in a single bound. We all have these Jimmy characters in our classrooms (and lives, if we’re honest about it). Developmentally speaking, I don’t want to shield my son from the reality that others will perform better, as well as worse, than he does. I want to teach him how to perform his personal best in all circumstances, but primarily, I want him to learn to perform at his best in an environment that allows him to discover his personal best outside of arbitrary group measuring systems that, by default, create an arbitrary standard which may not always reflect the true value of a student’s performance.
For example: I have a tutoring student that attends a local private school. I tutor him in math. To remind him of the formula for the area of a circle, we created a funny saying. The area formula is pi(r squared). So we laugh and say “Pie are not square. Pie are round.” This helped him remember the formula moving forward and he was able to successfully completely and make good grades on, the lesson concerning areas of a circle. He is now four grades along from that (he was in 7th grade at the time, now he’s in 11th), and it was yesterday when an 11th grade homework assignment had us reviewing that formula (and subsequently, re-laughing about pie being round) that he finally told me, “You know, back in 7th grade when we covered this lesson, I shared in class that saying and my teacher told me not to say it, she said I needed to stop being funny.”
The first conclusion I come to is that the teacher was trying to keep order in a group of 7th graders, and thus discouraging anything that might be taken as sarcasm or distraction from the lesson. Her first concern was the group, not this student. She wanted to be sure no one in the room was confused, and since that was her priority she had to snuff out the creative, and fun, memory aid this student had been using successfully for years.
I am not angry with the teacher in that situation. She was behaving as she needed to in order to fulfill her primary obligations and responsibilities. My point with choosing homeschooling for my son, however, is that in situations like this one where my son might need to use something untraditional or out of the box to remember formulas, or even to grasp concepts in the unique way his brain might process ideas, as a homeschooling educator, my first priority is him. If the memory aid works for him, that’s what we can use. I do not have to consider the group first. For me, this individualized instruction where the learning tools are fully customizable to the strengths, needs, and learning style of the student can only produce a more effective learning environment where the ultimate success of that student is all but guaranteed. Certainly, we can avoid that moment of disappointment and embarrassment my tutoring student felt when he was admonished for opening up and sharing the methods that worked well for him. Remember, it is four years later, he’s one year from graduating high school right now, and he still remembers with embarrassment that moment in 7th grade when he was admonished by his teacher for approaching education unconventionally. I will further share with you that consistently with tutoring, all I have done when working with this student is take the classroom material and re-present it unconventionally and the student is making straight As.
I think any certified education/school teacher would agree that tailoring a lesson to the needs of a student is good. I think research supports that individualized instruction and one-on-one learning environments are better for students overall.
When I think about sending my child to private school (I’ve completely abandoned the idea of public school for reasons I can share later), what brings me back to being sure homechool is the way to go for us is the ability to customize. I want my son to learn the way he learns best, and I want him to have options other students don’t have (like being able to travel during the middle of the week, or stay home when the temperatures are too frigid to be out, etc, etc.)
I will share more later, as my son is now standing next to my computer wanting to read a book (we’re at the library getting materials to learn our days of the week and months of year. Yay for first grade! –yes, we are still 4, but isn’t homeschooling fun? I didn’t have to hold him back to kindergarten when he was ok moving forward into first.)
Like I said, much to say but as Elliot says, “that’s enough.”
🙂 Have a great day, you guys! and if you’re considering homeschooling, or a long time veteran, please share in the comments why you made your choice to homechool. What cover school did you choose, and why? Advice for new homeschooling moms (like me)?