Friday, August 21, 2009

A Homeschooling Lifestyle

Our guest blogger, Cay expresses that homeschooling to her is a lifestyle "clear and simple as that" she says. Of course there's much more to it and she allows us to peer into her slice of life here...

It's a Lifestyle

by Cay Gibson

"I bumped buggies with a friend at the supermarket the other day.
It doesn't matter that she's a public school first grade teacher and I'm a homeschool mother. It doesn't matter than her two girls are cutely dressed and my two girls are still in their playclothes from home. It doesn't matter that her girls have big puffy bows in their well-combed hair while my girls have quickly snatched-up headbands keeping unruly hair out of their eyes.

What matters is that she's glad to see us. Allie is a wonderful, lovely lady. She makes you feel as though you are truly someone special. She makes my girls feel special and she makes me feel as though she has all the time in the day to stand and visit with me in the shopping aisle. Our girls exchange hugs. Allie and I talk school.

She asks how our first day of school was and I ask her how hers was and we exchange notes and plans for the school year.

"You know," she confides to me, "I have a little homeschooled boy this year."

Smiling all the while, because Allie's face is one that naturally smiles all the while, she sighs. "I don't think his mother did as good a job homeschooling him as you're doing with your children."

"Really?" I'm at a loss for what to reply.

I look at my first grader talking with Allie's oldest daughter. It passes through my mind that I'd appreciate a quick critic from Allie of my first grader just to see if she's up-to-par with the "requirements" of first grade. What makes her say, after only one day of observation, that this little homeschooled boy isn't as educated as he should be?

Does she expect him to be able to read? Does he know all his phonic sounds? Surely he knows his alphabet by now.

"You know," Allie continues, "homeschooling is a great option. You can't beat the one-on-one interaction. I have 26 children in my class this year. I can't possibly give that many students what a homeschooling mother can give. But if it isn't done right..." and she kind of shrugs, still smiling.

"But, " I want to say (but don't), "homeschooling isn't about all that. The reasons we homeschool our children are so much more than how they can perform in a classroom compared to 25 other children their age. It's a lifelong process and offers so many opportunities. It's so much more than standards."

But I don't say anything.

I nod, lacking the ability to put my minced thoughts into vocal words. I'm smiling back at a friend whom I see randomly because we are both involved with schooling and children through two different venues. She's not anti-homeschooling so she has my respect. I'm not anti-public/private school so I have her respect. We both agree that the teacher, whether she gives her time to her own children or other children, needs to give her best to these children. We both place children at the top of our priority list.

I like Allie. She likes me. This is not a conversation to defend, justify, or debate the different ways we have chosen to educate our children. It's a friendly meeting of friends.

I nod again and tell her how glad I am that she and the girls were not hurt in their recent fender-bender. We talk a while longer then the girls hug good-bye, Allie gives me one last friendly smile and our buggies roll off in different directions.

That's when I realize the missed opportunity in this friendly exchange of words. I regret that I didn't have the words to share with Allie what homeschooling really is. She is my friend and she's open minded enough to "get it."
Homeschooling isn't about whether the first grader learned to read in Pre-K or at the end of second grade. I had one read at age four, one read at age eight, and the other three at age six. They can now all read. Does it matter when they learned? It isn't about whether the first grader knows how to sit in his seat or not. Some do, some don't. It isn't about whether the child can name the planets this fall or next. Some children can name constellations that are new to me. Does that make the child smarter than me?

Some parents believe in the Better Late Than Early approach. Just because a new child in a new school doesn't know the regimented information when he/she goes into a classroom doesn't mean he/she won't know it tomorrow. If one little fourth grader is taught about electricity in her science class while another little fourth grader is taught about space, it doesn't make the other one uneducated. It means she was only taught something different at a different time than the other. But America's educational system wants everyone on the same page, or at least in the same book.
Homeschoolers prefer to read a different book entirely.

So what is home education?

What home education is, what I wish I had been able to put into words for my friend and what I have tried to articulate to family members in the past twelve years, is a lifestyle. Clear and simple as that. But it isn't clear and simple to the ones outside this free thinking mode of education.

It's a concept most people cannot relate to in today's 21st century or don't allow themselves to relate to.

It's simply a lifestyle and we love it. We surround ourselves with our children and like-minded people and we form a community.

We live a lifestyle where:
• the family, not the government, is the nucleus.
• our rules are based on holy Scripture.
• our discipline is tempered with respect, not fear.
• our children's learning and individual needs---each individual child---is carefully considered, prayed over, and planned accordingly.
• learning happens 24/7.
• travel is considered one of the highest forms of education.
• grandparents teach our children higher ideals and compassion for their fellow human beings than any institution could.
• siblings teach one another the ultimate level of sharing and getting along.
• reading is not a simple "drop-everything-and-read" program but, rather, the cement that holds our other plans together.
• we eat lunch with Daddy (even if it's a spontaneous picnic in the parking lot at work or in his office) instead of going all day not seeing him.
• a trip to the grocery store or post office is considered hands-on learning.
• we don't miss any days of learning due to hurricane evacuation.
• learning is not based on a solitary grade but on a lifetime of "You did it!"
• we don’t depend on “experts”, rather we choose to become the expert.

It's not easy explaining this lifestyle to people who do not live or support this lifestyle, but it does exist and it's a good life.

Visit Cay at her website here
and blog here.


  1. That's very cool! Thanks for sharing! :D

  2. I am one of those moms who has not home-schooled but respects those who do. This was a really nice post about respecting all the different colors of the rainbow God splashed the world with when He created us. Every approach has pros and cons. It's nice we have the option to choose.

  3. Great post about Homeschooling

  4. Donna-Marie,
    A million Thank you's!!!
    My current situation is this way as well and I just started homeschooling full time!

    It's great to know that there are homeschooling moms out there that are going through the same things as other moms everywhere!



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