18 Kids and Homeschooling!

You already know that I’m obsessed with homeschooling.  The more I learn, the more I just love the idea!  I’m starting to come around on the idea that it would be good for kids, too…  🙂

I finished reading The Duggars: 20 and Counting, by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.  If you watch the show and enjoy it, you should really read the book, because I feel like the book is a deeper insight into their philosophies about everything from birth control to financial matters, and a very intimate look inside their life as a family.  I really enjoyed it…and I’m looking forward to “quartering” all the recipes and trying them!

I was particularly intrigued by Michelle’s homeschooling practices, and their daily schedule.  Their basis for homeschooling is simple.  They want to teach their children faith and values alonside reading and mathematics.  They want to have a firm handle on guiding their children’s hearts as well as their minds.  I very much respect that.  They have also seen other benefits as well.  Each child can work at his or her own pace, which seems to mean working faster than a school curriculum for homeschoolers, and the Duggars are no exception.  The Duggars have also seen that their children become best friends with their siblings, and there is more peace and less bickering and fighting in their household. 

The daily schedule was of interest to me, because I’m so obsessed with this notion of homeschooling, but I don’t know what it would look like day-to-day.  The Duggars begin the day with breakfast as a family, then work on their “individual studies” (things specific to their “grade level,” so to speak) for the morning.  After lunch, they do their “group studies,” by which they study things like science and history all together.  They fit in piano and violin practice, household chores, and naps for the little ones.  Around 4:00 they seem to be wrapped up and mostly having free time.  After supper it’s more free time, followed by family Bible time, and then bedtime around 10:00. 

As I read this rough schedule and all the stories that go along with it, I had more and more of a feeling of, “That’s the kind of life I want!”  Do I want 18 kids?  No, I think 5 or 6 sounds wonderful.  Although, I’ve heard moms of big families say that if you can handle three, you can handle 30.  In any case, my point is, it’s not about the number of kids I want.  It’s about the life I want, and the life I would want for my children. 

As a teacher, I am constantly plagued by thoughts of how I am failing my students, how we are failing the students, as educators.  Any teacher will tell you, we are doing the best we can with the situation that we have.  And we do.  Every day, I do my absolute best with the situation in front of me.  But it is an impossible battle, and I can’t quite put my finger on why.  The vast majority of parents fall into two categories.  One, “I got them to age 5, they’re your job now.”  Two, “Let me tell you how you’re doing everything wrong for my child.”  Neither of those two parents want to work together with the teachers, as a team, to educate their kids.  Neither of those parents are acting on the idea that they are their child’s first and most important teacher.  It takes about two years of teaching before you give up and learn to avoid parents all together, and that’s not good for anyone, least of all the children.

But the really rotten part of the situation is, kids without values!  Well, I take that back.  All kids have been taught values.  The value of t.v. and video games.  The value of yelling and hitting to get your way.  The value of judging people based on appearance, clothing, etc.  In the situation of a parent-teacher conference, I might discuss hitting, in front of the child.  The parent will turn to the child and say, “No more of that!  I don’t want you to hit at school!”  But if it ends there, the hitting will not end.  A child learns what they see, not what their parents say.  If hitting works to get their way, they will keep doing it.  If hitting is accepted and ignored, it will go on.  And I can’t say it enough, if the media that a child watches includes violence, that is what the child will think they are supposed to behave in the world. 

Children do not learn values at school.  They can learn rules, and they can learn how to act in school, but school is not the place where a child learns a value system.  I would love for my students to be learning the values of kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and courage.  Those four things would go a long way in making it easier for the teachers to teach academics.  But I would be satisfied if the students simply learned the value of working hard for an education!  There is too much of an attitude of “Well, you have to go to school, so put down the Nintendo DS and get out of the car.”  I wish there was more of an attitude of, “School is important and wonderful.  You’re so lucky.  You did your homework, you’re prepared.  Have a great day.”

I totally digress.  Hopping off the soapbox now…

For me personally, I would love to homeschool!  I just love the idea of combining the wonderfulness of education with the wonderfulness of family.  As a teacher, I love the idea of working with the same students for many years, going at each child’s pace, feeding off their interests, etc.  As a potential parent, I love the idea of rooting everything in love for each other.  As a teacher, we have a shallow sort of love for one another, we are a sort of family in my classroom.  But it’s easy to mentally “give up” on a child, because after nine months, I pass the child on to someone else.  If you ask me, it takes longer than nine months to establish a firm and deeply rooted relationship with another human being.  I loop with 3- and 4-year-olds, and I will tell you that sometimes it takes longer than two school years!  As a teacher, I know the best for my students would be if I had a deeply rooted relationship with them, but that doesn’t happen at school.  We do the best we can with a new, somewhat shallow relationship that slowly grows over nine months, until both student and teacher begin all over again.  I know, of course, that with children of my own there would be a deeply rooted relationship whether I homeschooled or sent them to school!  But as a teacher, I would want my kids to have a teacher who has a similarly deep relationship with them, and as a parent, that would be me!  🙂

Did I lose you?

Are you a teacher?  Imagine days and weeks and years with the same students, maybe only 6 of them.  Imagine really preparing them for adulthood, from beginning to end.  Imagine sharing not only their academic time, but their down time, their weekends, their vacations.  Imagine sharing their emotional and spiritual growth.

Are you a parent?  Imagine if you had access to all the tools your child needs to learn the academics that will prepare them for adulthood.  (Because you do!)  Imagine if it were possible for you to stay home with them.  Or go out with them, or whatever, but you don’t have to work at a job, you can devote what used to be your working time to your kids. 

Neither of those scenarios is possible in most families, but…imagine if it were.  Oh, how I would love to be a part of that!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Betty
    Mar 12, 2009 @ 21:41:52

    I do not disagree with you but remember there really are good things about schools also! There are lots of teachers like you who give there absolute best every day and I think it is okay for students to experience some of the “imperfectness” of fellow humans and our world. Without a doubt there is far too much “imperfectness” in the media (and some homes) that our children are exposed to and often at a very young age. But remember that as a classroom teacher you provide some awesome love, attention, and nurturing in addition to all the teaching, measuring and documenting that you do. You teach the children how to share you and be patient when you are listening to someone else, how to develop that relationship with you, and the hope that they will experience many more good teachers. Even if homeschooling will be the best way for you and your children, remember to see the good in the school system also. Maybe my glasses are rose colored… but the parent who “served the first five years” and now he/she is yours–thank goodness they brought he/she to you because they may be at the end of what they are able to provide in 24/7 teaching and nurturing. and as for the parent who tells you “you do it all wrong”–at least they are thinking about what is going on.
    Just keep doing your absolute best–it really is enough!


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