Monday, August 17, 2009

Home is Where the School Is

There has been a lot of interest online and in real life about why and how I am homeschooling the girls. As I sit down to write this, I find that it is very long so consider it an introduction of sorts rather than an all-inclusive list of what we are doing. The best place to start would be in the beginning, so we'll address the favorite question when I mention that we are homeschooling. "Why?"

The easiest answer and the one that people seem to accept with the least argument is that I see my girls every day. I know what they are interested in and where their natural inclinations lie. I cannot picture forcing any of them to learn what the others are. If there is something to take apart or a few things to sort and order Batya is your gal. Want to dance? Need to do a duet? Go see Chaya. Is art more your thing? Would you rather learn why you say "ha adamah," over strawberries and "ha aitz," over cherries? Find Shira.

To put them into the same (or three different) classes learning from the same list of lessons hampers their natural inquisitiveness and abilities. Batya will color if you ask her, but she will stop as soon as possible. Chaya only draws when something sparks her interest. Setting aside time for coloring is pointless to them.

Another reason that drives me is both mine and Aba's experiences in school. He hasn't said much about it beyond, "Just because I had a terrible school experience doesn't mean they will," and I whole-heartily believe that I never learned how to learn in school. I did well enough until I was allowed to participate in classes at my actual level and then, because I had no sense of time management and studying I would fail miserably at whatever assignment was given.

Granted, this might not be the case in any of the girls' educational lives should they go to school, but the fear is still there. I want them to enjoy reading and writing and experimenting and all of learning. I don't believe that that is something I can risk to "might not" or even "likely won't."

Lastly, the stories that I hear about many of the local Jewish schools terrify me. I'm not sure why, but I seem to inspire pre-teen and teen girls to share their lives with me. Perhaps it is my non-judgmental view or the fact that my own youth was as far from Orthodox Jew as you can get? I hear about the random goings on at various schools around town. If I'm going to spend tens of thousands of dollars sending my children to these schools, I want them with people sharing similar values.

I know this may sound like I'm naive or wanting to shelter my children, but I am not. At three years old they already understand that there are people who do different things because they aren't Jewish and there are things we cannot do because we are Jewish. It just seems to me to be very confusing to a young child that some Jews do this and some don't. This is a fact I'd like to be a part of explaining to them rather than hearing about at some point later. I bet of all of my reasons this is the least popular.

Overall I feel that any of these reasons is enough to seriously consider homeschooling and all of them together makes an overwhelming case for keeping school at home. Plus, if they went to school we couldn't head out to play in the park in our fancy dresses whenever we wanted.

Stay tuned for more posts on this topic and if you want to know anything specific about my decision, please ask in the comments or email me.