Homeschooling: The Hardest Job You'll Ever Love
There really is no reason to debate the issue of whether or not to homeschool. The question to homeschool is an age-old, G-D given matter of choice. It also happens to be an actual necessity for thousands of geographically challenged individuals--located in far away lands. Many choose to homeschool for a plethora of other valid reasons as well. Some families start homeschooling due to budgetary restraints (although homeschooling can be costlier than day-schooling--if not done wisely). Others may start because they truly believe in the philosophies behind homeschooling. Some may join up for a combination of reasons. We originally started homeschooling to increase the amount of time spent with our children. Eventually, we came to realize other benefits that came along with the territory. We now *truly* believe that the optimum learning environment for our children starts in the home--with Mommy (and many times Abba). BUT...we also had the determination and financial ability to make a go of it. Yup... you heard me right. Don't forget to take that lost job into consideration. But don't forget that life is more than just fancy cars and swimming pools. It's about investing into your children and family--as no one else can. You may be shocked to learn that you can actually save money (even with a lost job) by homeschooling at least three or more kids. Again, the money shouldn't be the primary factor in your decision. These are prereqs for anyone who might be considering this derech. I have to respect mothers who admit they don't *want* to make this kind of commitment--WHEN THEY CAN. But I do not (for one second) believe a mother that tells me she simply doesn't have enough ability to properly do the job. This attitude comes from a complete lack of understanding of what homeschooling is (and is not).
Homeschooling doesn't mean a child is limited to his/her home. In addition, there is no law that excludes homeschoolers from participating in every kind of social activity you can think of. Homeschoolers may have tutors or participate (part time) in the Bet Knesset, camp and day-school activities.
Homeschooling may or may not be right for everyone. It takes a big emotional commitment and lots of patience --just like every teacher must have. Just like every MOTHER and ABBA must have. In addition, many homeschoolers still work day-school into their educational programs. There are pros and cons to each approach. As a homeschooler, I can only tell you about the positives (as well as challenges) we have encountered along the way. I could spend this whole article writing about the multitude of real-life problems we've observed with our neighbors who day-school. But what would this accomplish? My goal is not to bash day-schools (although I really could). Most of them are as fine as a modern day-school can possibly be.
But there is another side to this coin you should be aware of. Unfortunately, many of today's homeschoolers face sarcasm and ignorance after revealing their choice to homeschool to others. Although, this depends on the type and maturity of people you tell. In addition, it doesn't really matter what others think. Although it might matter to you -- AT FIRST.
Its all about what we (as homeschoolers) have come to realize. The sarcasm no longer flanks confident, veteran homeschoolers anymore. Because in our hearts, we understand that we have become teachers. Deep down inside, we know how special it *truly* is for both the parent and child (on the good days--that is).
Sarcasm (as well as misinformation about the nature of homeschooling) usually involves the actual popularity and *so-called* social detriments of Jewish Homeschooling for Jews. If only these people would do their "homework" (pun intended), they might be surprised at what they actually found. Many times, our homeschooled kids are over socialized!
In the past, networking with fellow homeschoolers or creating a new lesson-plan was quite a challenge without a support system. Finding and accessing quality products can still be challenging at times. However, we are happy to say that specific tools for homeschoolers are now readily available. They are just waiting for us to find them. Some people are hesitant to the idea of Homeschooling. It can seem like a scary proposition. But when they really do their homework, they find that most of the challenges presented by skeptics are unfounded.
Shlomo ha Melech zs"l said that we must "train a youth according to his way (chanoch la-na'ar al pi darko)." Rabbi S.R. Hirsch comments on this, saying that we must instruct a student according to the way he learns best-- (The Art of Teaching, Elaine Rubinoff). In our case, homeschooling really is the best situation. Homeschooling comes to teach us the nature of the way a child learns and absorbs best. We (my wife and I) have studied everything from unschooling and Holt to Montessori. We've even dabbled in the old Yemenite & Ashkenaz Jewish cheder and yeshivah models-to see what we might be missing. In the end, we've learned quite a bit about the natural spark of a child that (if harnessed correctly) leads to a thirst for learning. My wifeís teaching certification didnít hurt things either. But it really wasn't necessary. This is not say that we don't push our children to learn math and English and script Hebrew. As our Rav said two Shabbatoth ago... the trick is to teach our kids to love to learn. Have a good week!
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League of Observant Jewish Homeschooling