- Posted August 8, 2013 by
Albany, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your first day of school photos: 2013
The World is Our School House
I would love to share a photo of our "first" day of school for the year. But for us, there is no first day. Everyday is a school day for my children. We made the decision 7 years ago to homeschool. We have never regretted that decision.
We do not have any one specific reason we homeschool. There are a combination of reasons that led us to the diverse culture of homeschooling. We wanted to make sure our children grew up with a strong moral compass. We did not want their morals pulled and tugged on in their early years when they are most impressionable. We wanted them to learn more than just what is taught in books. We wanted them to truly experience the world for what it is. We had and still have no intention of sheltering them from harsh realities. But at the same time we did not want them exposed to bullying that is often improperly handled by many schools. As an adult, if someone bullies me, I have many options I can take. A child is left often times on their own. One just has to look at the news recently where a young teenager was attacked viciously by 3 older teenagers on a bus and the driver just stood by and watched. Yes, what the driver did was not wrong according to policy, and he probably feared for his own life. It is not that I place blame on him for not doing anything. However there needs to be more done to over come bullying in general. We also home school because of our choice of profession.
My husband and I are traveling nurses. We take assignments in hospitals around the country for a minimum of 13 weeks. In some cases we have extended our contracts as long as one year. We started out traveling when our youngest was 18 months old. She is now just a few weeks shy of her 8th birthday. Initially I was a stay at home mom while my husband worked. I took full responsibility of their homeschooling. In 2010 while we were in the Washington D.C. area, I returned to work. I worked 3 days a week and my husband worked another 3 days a week with one day off as a family day. Changes had to be made, where my husband learned to cook more and took on some of the homeschooling responsibilities. But we have made it work and the children continue to get the required work done plus all the extras.
There is no typical day for us. We do use a school based curriculum for the children so that all requirements are met. We "do" school pretty much every day winter, spring, summer, and fall. We do take weeks off for certain occasions like traveling to a new destination, traveling to visit family, doing home improvement projects, etc.
The number of "field trips" we have been on is overwhelming! We lived in and around Washington, D.C. on and off for 2 years. We saw all the national museums, special events like air shows, learned all about animals at the National Zoo, visited the Shenandoah Valley and near by caves, nature walks near the Chesapeake Bay, visited forts, and so much more! In Arizona, the children learned more about the desert than most children as they lived in it for 3 months during the summer. We visited the Painted Rocks, an old desert town, and family in Las Vegas. In Colorado we spent much time with family there and hiked in the mountains. In Pennsylvania, we experienced the life of the Amish, a Dutch Christmas festival, and Christmas Village. We have also taught our children a lot about freedom and the Constitution. They have experienced peaceful rallies in Pennsylvania and D.C. There of course are hundreds more experiences I could talk about!
On top of educational and personal experiences, I also strive to teach our children what I would call "common sense living". I remember going through school and not once being taught how to balance a checkbook, how to be smart with money, how to cook, etc. Granted I was great at math, but learning how to add and subtract did not teach me what it meant to be smart with money. I had to learn that on my own, making mistakes, but thankfully eventually becoming smart in that area. Some parents are more helpful than others when it comes to teaching their children common sense living. My parents were pretty good at it, but it is one thing being shown once or twice, and it is another to live it and learn. We have our kids live and learn it. They do chores for an allowance. They are taught what it means to overspend, borrow, and save. When they want to buy something with their own money, they go through the check out on their own. We talk a lot in the car about what it means to be a good and responsible driver. We allow them to help with cooking (yes, they WANT to help). They learned about fractions before their schoolbooks taught them just by helping me with the baking. They know what it means to be an adult, but are allowed the freedoms to still be a kid.
For fun and recreation, they have been involved in gymnastics. They pretty much make friends where ever we go. They ride their bikes, go on adventures with their walkie talkies and binoculars, paint rocks, climb trees, play water guns in the summer and build snow forts in the winter, play board games, checkers, and chess, and even watch a DVD now and then.
The greatest thing I have enjoyed about homeschooling is being directly involved in watching my children learn. I get to see the joy on their faces when they experience new and fun things. I get to hold them when they fall and hurt themselves. If I am working, then I know their father is right there for them, teaching them how to build or repair things, taking them out for a milkshake, talking to them about the news, teaching them history or math or about the Bible.
The world is our school house. There is so much to learn about the world we live in and everything that came before us. While we do not currently have the means to travel overseas, our children talk constantly about all the countries they want to visit. One of our daughters is determined to go see the pyramids in Egypt, but wants to wait until the region is more politically stable. Our 3 children still do not know what they want to be when they grow up. They change their minds frequently. But they are full of ideas and dreams. Traveling and homeschooling have given them those freedoms of dreaming big while being deeply rooted in family. I look forward to seeing where my children end up. And if they have children of their own, maybe I will have a first day of school picture to share of a grandchild someday. While we make certain decisions for our children and family now, we do tell our kids they can be whatever they want to be, live where they want, and make their own decisions when they become adults. If they choose not to homeschool or choose not even to have kids, or choose to live in another country, I know that they will have the tools, education, and moral compass to make the right decisions for themselves.