Come and meet my kids."
Those words from homeschooling parent Dave Barta were the clinching comments that gave my wife Lise and I the courage to homeschool our five children. Rather, Lise homeschooled the kids; I watched and was head cheerleader.
We looked at a number of schooling options, since we were not in favour of the provincial government's then Y2K initiative that called for the elimination of grading from kindergarten to Grade 7. We wanted to be assured we could know how the kids were doing.
I knew Lise would do a good job, as she was a good student in high school and university. We did our homework, and became aware of various support groups. We also had the availability of programs like Learn At Home, and others throughout the province, that provided online curriculum, and accountability and assistance when necessary.
I must say I believe we need a strong, productive public school system. And, obviously, not everyone can homeschool. But what we had hoped for in terms of the quality of education and cultivating an eagerness for learning, was achieved.
Really, the success of homeschooling has a lot to do with the fact the primary teacher is the one who loves the students, their own children, the most, and will do whatever they can to make sure they learn. They can also learn at their own pace.
Lise did a great job. Before the kids attended private school, they all tested well above their grade level. They will all attend post-secondary institutions.
Because most people identified "socialization" as the Achilles heel of homeschooling, we took extra steps to make sure our kids did activities with other children. The concerns we had about socialization weren't realized, and we learned to borrow Dave's quote when asked about it.
There were also some benefits from homeschooling that we received that we didn't notice until later.
A lack of peer dependency.
Because class and playmates are family members and friends, there is no segregation according to age. Because of that, children interact with people of all age groups, and are not intimidated by how old others are or aren't. They are particularly comfortable conversing with people much older than they are.
A closer family. We didn't homeschool for that reason, but that is definitely a good byproduct. We did so many things together, and had lots of time to learn, play and laugh. If a child worked straight through, their daily learning requirements could be finished before noon, so there was more time for other things. The kids enjoy each other, and are good friends.
To me, the ultimate test of homeschooling is asking the kids if they'll homeschool their own children. All of them say they will, which means it was a positive experience that they feel they benefited from.
Contact managing editor Mark A. MacDonald at 250-729-4224 or email: MaMacDonald @nanaimodailynews.com
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