Friday, May 23, 2014

Homeschool: Why we chose to do it

We are asked this many many times, and it seems to be the natural question that follows every time we mention that our children do not attend kindergarden, or that we might not be sending them to Primary school. "Why? Why do you homeschool", we are asked, and hubby once remarked that sometimes he is tempted to ask in return "Why? Why NOT homeschool?"

Anyway, I am writing this because every time we are asked this, my answers come out jumbled and incoherent. I am an introvert, and most of the time I find it hard talking to people, much less go into a detailed discussion about a topic so close to the heart. I am hoping that perhaps I could just ask the inquirer to read this post if they really wanted to know, not because I want to be rude, but because I just can't seem to say what I mean in person.


It all started with Junior J when he was about three years old. His peers were all starting to attend preschool, however, we hesitated because he just didn't seem ready. He was an introvert, and had some difficulty with transitions (we always had to give him lots of notice before we left a place, or changed activities, and getting out of the house was difficult because he stalled so much!), so we figured we would just let him stay home. Then we moved to Germany for a year, and then moved back. And started exploring the possibility of homeschooling the boys. 

Many felt that keeping Junior J at home was actually counterproductive to him learning how to be more "sociable".  Why, if he's reserved, if he's shy, just send him to school! In school, he would get to meet other kids, and he would make friends, and he would learn how to be sociable. Or at least that was how most people saw it. But I was thinking otherwise: for a child that needed lots of space because he was an introvert, for a child that needed time, would putting him amongst other children mean he would learn how to make friends? Would that "cure" his introversion? I felt it might be better for him to learn how to make friends in an environment where he would feel safe, through smaller playdates, through following the example of adults, rather than ape-ing the behaviour of his peers. 

I did worry alot. What if we were wrong? What if keeping him home just meant he would turn him antisocial? One year down the road, and we've learnt that it was all a matter of timing, as well as the boy's personality. Our boy has opened up, and he has friends he plays with. He is still a sensitive soul, he still takes time to warm up to strangers, but he's fine. And no, he doesn't need to be in a classroom of 20 children to learn how to make friends. 

As we more or less stumbled into this alternative of homeschooling (or rather, just not going to school), we've discovered what we hope for our children's education, and have grown to love the idea of learning together as a family. Here's what we hope we'll be able to achieve in the years to come:

:: We hope to grow and learn as a family. As the boys grow older, their schedules would naturally get more packed, and school means we would be apart for most of the day. Homeschooling allows the family to learn together, to explore together, and our schedules would naturally fuse together into one messy, noisy mix. It's a lovely, yet sometimes scary idea: the family being together most of the time, learning to live with each other, learning to learn together. We've been enjoying our read-aloud sessions, our reading time, our time out exploring. The older boys love playing together, and they are learning how to share and get along with each other. 

:: We prefer parent, rather than peer attachment. Children naturally gravitate towards those they spend time with, and we would much rather they be attached to their parents rather than to their peers, especially in their earlier years. 

Then what about socialization? Instead of just seeing it as being able to play with children of the same age group, I prefer this definition (click here to read further about socialization and the case for starting school later):

"Socialization in childrearing means rendering children fit for society so that children can grow and mature into becoming contributing adults, who can respectfully interact with others in community, be it at work or home, with colleagues, family and friends."

I like it that homeschooling allows us to have time to help the boys to see how they can contribute to society. We can take a trip to the old folks home on a weekday, they have the time to plan for a fund-raiser to raise funds for a charity of their choice. Homeschool lets us have the flexibility to meet up with friends on a  weekday, and learn while walking in a park, or having a picnic. We can visit the zoo and potter about, without having to fight the crowds. The boys have friends and get to play with them at co-ops, at playdates, at bible study. Homeschool is certainly not about staying home and doing assessment books!

:: We hope that learning would not be compartmentalized, but weaved into everything we do. We learn everywhere, at the table, at the supermarket, while taking care of our little brother. We don't just learn from books, we learn math through making pancakes. We learn geography while walking in a park. We want them to know it is ok to stand while reading a book, it is ok to fidget because all little boys do. We want to be able to fit learning to the child, and not vice versa. 

I sometimes marvel at how different the boys are: Junior J, who loves to draw, who is a visual learner that enjoys reading, while Lil J is a kinesthetic learner who picks up every song he listens to. Having a class size of three would mean I can also tailor their learning to fit their learning style, and we won't have to spend so much time telling them to sit still and not talk. They can learn at their own pace, and we can spend more time working on the things that they struggle with.

:: We want them to know and fear God, and not man. We want them to be able to learn about the world through the eyes of a child of God, where all things beautiful are created, where the glorious plumage of the peacock was painted by the Creator and not a random occurance of evolution. To see sin as it really is, not something we are born with and stuck with, but something we can be saved from. To enjoy the wonders of creation, not just through books, but through walks in the park and through art.

:: We hope to teach them that an education is not about certificates, and not about grades. That what matters are not the facts we know, but the person we become. And what better place to build character than at home?

"The question is not, 'how much does the youth know?' when he has finished his education-but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set?" - Charlotte Mason

:: We want to protect them until they are ready for the world. Some would say putting a child in school would toughen him up and teach him to deal with the harsh realities of life. I'd prefer to see my children as seedlings, that need to stay in the safety of the greenhouse for a little longer, so that they might be a little stronger before we put them out into the world to grow into trees. There will come a time where they will not be content to stay home. But I pray they would be strengthened enough by then to go forth. 

I must say I am very excited that we are able to explore this option of homeschooling. That being said, I am rather terrified, because the burden of learning rests rather heavily on our shoulders. I loved teaching, and now nothing is more rewarding than to teach my own little boys! Right now, we will take it step by step, and enjoy the journey as we move on as a family. Please pray for us!


  1. These are all wonderful reasons, and you are a wonderful mama to homeschool all three Js. Every time I read your posts on homeschooling, I feel so inspired to try and do something more meaningful with Noah at home too. I've got lots to learn from you!

  2. You make a very good homeschooling mum! I believe not all families are made the same and there's no need to justify why you made the choice, but thank you for sharing more insight about this topic :)

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

  3. Wonderful wonderful reasons and so true. You have just stablise my rocking boat and have gae me more confidence in what we have chosen.

  4. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post, Jus. It's so heartfelt and sincere! I love it!

    You, my friend, are amazing. I have so much respect for you. We learn a lot through all kinds of activities too, but I just don't feel capable enough to teach them all they need to know.

    I've got extroverted kids as you know, and I'm keeping fingers crossed that they will really enjoy school! Happy weekend :)

  5. Great post, Jus, must have taken you a lot to pen it down! I love how honest and open you are and of course, I totally support your decision! Seriously, I don't know how you do it with three, one being a baby, because for me, I only have two and I already find it hard to find time to homeschool Angel when she comes home at noon. I am extremely not disciplined, don't know where to download resources not up to date with any kind of syllabus and have absolutely no routine. But like you said, I believe learning takes place everywhere. I like to bring her for walks in the parks and go to the supermarket too, in fact, we always have a lot of conversations not on school and homework, but about life in general. So, please know that you are one awesome and inspiring mama! =) All the best to ya and enjoy this phase yeah!

  6. What a meaningful and inspiring post, and all your points strike a strong resonance in me. All the best in your homeschooling journey and your boys will be great men in future because they have an amazing mother (and father)!

  7. I'm always asked the same question too! People seem concerned when I tell them that we homeschool Hannah. I used to explain our reasons and all, but not every one gets it. So I've learned to tailor my answer to different people. :P

    I really admire your dedication to homeschool your three boys! It takes lots of guts, effort and discipline. Something I'm not sure if I'm able to cope with "akan datang" no. 2. Yikes! And I'm totally with you regarding the homeschool jitters - whether I'm doing enough, if the approach is correct etc.

    God is faithful and He'll see us through each season as we put our trust in Him. :)

  8. I really don't know how you do it with three kids. Admire yr resilience!

  9. It is such a great testimony when we live up to the call of what we're supposed to do. In your case, homeschooling. May your family continue to experience His faithfulness in every journey! Great to read your heart in pen form despite you being introvert. : ) And i love Charlotte Mason's education too. God bless!



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