Why Home Schooling, You Ask?

© Written September 2004 by Robyn, South Africa


Almost every day people ask me – What are your reasons for home schooling?  I sit there open-mouthed having a million thoughts in my heart but not one in my head.  I stumble over my two sentences and feel like I have lost an opportunity to express something really important in my life. 


I believe that we all choose our quality of life.  We play a big role in who our children grow up to become.  I feel that I am making the very best possible and informed decisions for my family and for my children.  And those decisions include home schooling.  Home schooling is so much more than simply doing school at home ~ it is a lifestyle.  A balanced all-round education is important, but what I am also hoping to instil from a young age is a love of learning that will grow with them for the rest of their lives.  I want my children to understand that it doesn’t really matter what they grow up to become but who they grow up to become.


One of the most important things for a child to grow up with is a good self-image.  If they have this, and truly believe in themselves, then they can do anything!  Who is going to give them their self-worth, this positive understanding that who they are is enough and always will be?  Who is going to teach them that it’s possible to be perfectly at peace with yourself and happy with the way life is at the moment, in the good times and the bad?  That it’s good to take risks and learn from your mistakes?  It’s good to believe that you can do anything, and to deal with the disappointments along the way?  Are the most expensive schools going to teach them this?  The best paid teachers?  Or maybe their peers, the children all born within 6 months of each other?  Or what about the government who choose the curriculum and run the schools?  NO, I am sorry, but I have decided that I am going to be the one who is going to take full responsibility for my children.


Now comes your argument ~ But don’t you think it’s necessary for a child to learn to deal with bullies, competitiveness, failure, being laughed at, judged, ridiculed by authority, exposed to all sorts, and to go through 12 years of worldly experiences so that they can become tougher, face life and cope in the ‘real’ world?  I shouldn’t even need to answer that, but I will if I must.  Is it not better to equip a child with a childhood of positive and happy experiences to prepare them to ‘cope’ in the real world?  A positive, happy, well-balanced child with a great self image who has spent their entire childhood in a secure and loving environment where they have been understood and encouraged, praised and accepted.  Will that person not be able to cope far better with the ‘real’ world?  Many studies done on homeschooled children prove this very point. 


This poem stuck in my mind for years, it confirmed for me that throwing children ‘in the deep end’, or letting them learn to cope is not the way I want to do things.


The Swimming Lesson ~

Feeling the icy kick, the endless waves

Reaching around my life, I moved my arms

And coughed, and in the end saw land.


Somebody, I suppose,

Remembering the medieval maxim,

Had tossed me in,

Had wanted me to learn to swim,


Not knowing that none of us, who ever came back

From that long lonely fall and frenzied rising,

Ever learned anything at all

About swimming, but only

How to put off, one by one,

Dreams and pity, love and grace,-

How to survive in any place.


~ Mary Oliver






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