Work Life Balance

Homeschooling As ParentHack: One Mom’s Experience.

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Homeschooling is getting more respect than it used to, but regrettably there’s still large numbers of people out there that think it’s something only weirdos do. My family lives in the Washington, D.C., area, so what that means for us is that education often boils down to a choice between struggling public schools or private schools that cost upwards of $35,000 a year. So circumstances have forced my husband and me to at least discuss homeschooling as a serious option. Fortunately, for us our church has a great K-8 school we can afford with a classical education curriculum that we’re very excited about.

Still, I have enormous respect for many of the parents that choose to homeschool. That’s why I was really excited to stumble across this interview with Asha Dornfest, founder of the terrific Parent Hacks website, over at the Pioneer Woman blog. Dornfest has a child with Aspergers and she’s chosen to homeschool him to better safeguard his development. The interview gets at some basic questions, such as “What curriculum approach/teaching style do you use and how did you determine it?” and “Summarize your homeschool philosophy in a few sentences.” Here’s Dornfest on “What’s been the most surprising part of homeschooling?”:

“How much *I* love it. I was afraid my sense of balance would fly out the window. When Luke left school, that balance had already been tenuous for years given our near constant state of crisis. But, once we got settled in, homeschool has given our entire family a *greater* sense of balance. We’re all closer, we’re all calmer, and we’re all happier. That goes for Mimi as well.

I still struggle with the logistics of fitting in work, school, home, friends, and time for myself. But I was doing that when both kids were in school. There’s a feeling of peace and continuity that homeschooling has given us that just never existed before.”

From the looks of things, this will be the first in a series of interviews with Homeschooling moms over at the Pioneer Woman blog. I’m really excited to read more of these, as I think it will go a long way toward providing some good advice as well as showing the world that homeschooling moms aren’t just normal — they’re a pretty remarkable bunch of people.

My husband and I have also done lots of research and reporting on education related issues and have very strong opinions on what constitutes a good education, and believe me, having much more control over what your kids learn — and how they learn — is appealing. America’s contemporary education model strikes us as one that largely wastes time, institutionalizes kids, discourages creative thinking and prevents exploration and cultivation of personal interests. (If you really want to know more about why we think this I highly recommend this essay, “Against School” from educator John Taylor Gatto’s that appeared in Harper’s in 2003. He goes through much of the history of educational development in this country, and it’s eye-opening to say the least.) Given the educational alternatives, if you’re still sneering at the decision of others homeschooling you might want to rethink your opinions on the matter.


  1. chexmixitup

    May 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    My husband and I chose to homeschool our daughter after a military move put us in a place where the schools were less than optimal. We jumped in with both feet, and although there were many times I felt like I might drown, it was utimately a successful venture. Oneof the first things I did was find local homeschooling groups that fit our personality/style (nonsecular, child-directed learning) and that honestly was the best choice I ever made, aside from choosing to homeschool. Not only did I have resources in the form of other experienced homeschoolers, but it was a fantastic opportunity for us to break out of our self-imposed comfort zone and really get to know people and places that we would’ve never sought out if we hadn’t homeschooled.

    We were also lucky enough to live in a city that had great museums with daytime programs geared specifically for homeschoolers and were affordable. My daughter learned so much more in those few months than she’d ever done sitting in her previous classrooms, and it was amazing to watch her blossom and grow into an actual learner. Although she’s back in public school (we’ve since moved to an area with great schools), homeschooling her for those few months was the greatest gift we’ve ever given ourselves and her. Our bonds as a family tightened, my husband and I had to learn to work together in different ways, and we were able to spend some wonderful quality time with our child.

    I definitely think that if you feel it’s the right choice for your family then you should go for it.

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