“why do you homeschool?”

I often get asked why I homeschool, and I’m often told my child isn’t getting the right opportunities and that I’m making him anti social as he’s not able to socialise enough.

Why I argue this : firstly, that sort of thinking means that being in a school clearly did nothing for YOUR social skills else you wouldn’t judge me like that or demean what I’m doing. Secondly my child is always friendly and polite. He knows all the people at our local spar and they all love him so much that when I go there without him they ask where he is. He’s polite to ALL people no matter what age, sex or preference of  clothing. My child does not judge, instead he’s a little blunt sometimes but only because that’s how he finds out and makes informed decisions. In this sense my child is not a bully and learns not to be one, though he’s learned how to deal with bullies as my stepdad always makes nasty snide comments and teases him etc. so he knows how to process and not react. (He’s actually so much better at this than I am.) Yesterday he asked me why papa is so mean and we had a discussion about the psychology of bullies. He’s pretty keen on the psychology of how people think, he really likes NCIS and how they catch people, he’s also enamoured with Abbi and how she uses science to figure things out. Although he doesn’t like Bones.

We are more into unschooling than the standard homeschooling though. Fysh and I do not follow a specific curriculum. I believe that reading, writing and basic math are the most import at his age and that’s what we have been concentrating on, at the beginning of last year he had absolutely no interest in school. Now he’s reading, albeit slowly but at HIS pace, he’s writing conversationally even though the spelling is off but he’s always keen to be corrected and learn the real way. We’ve also ascertained that he enjoys math and science experiments and likes to be tactile. He likes taking things apart to see how they work and when we built shelves he was all too keen to help and when he’s interested in something he learns and retains information which means he’s definitely his mama’s boy. Kids these days are taught that they have to be doctors or scientists to be worthy and because of this we’re losing tradesmen. (I absolutely loved taking woodwork in primary school and was sad that when I moved to South Africa that was not an option.)

I know several people argue that kids should learn everything even the boring stuff as it prepares them for life but tell me this, how much of what you learned in school has REALLY helped you be a better adult? What I learned in biology didn’t do too much when I did my medic certification, (in fact when I wrote semi finals the long question was similar to a question I had during one of my tests as a medic and when I answered like I did in that test my bio teacher pulled me aside and actually told me to “dumb down” my answer because I would be penalised by whoever was marking my exam) what did help me was joining first aid. What I learned in art class hasn’t really helped me much for what I do now, in fact my art teacher told me I should drop out of art because I was terrible and would never get anywhere with it. I had to drop science even though I was great at it and really loved it simply because I wasn’t excelling in math due to a horrible teacher (actually he wasn’t horrible he was brilliant, he was a university professor teaching at a high school and would expect us to follow along without explaining what he was doing). I ended up still doing math as a matric subject though and it’s on my certificate (where ever the hell that is) because matriculants are allowed to rewrite a failed exam the following year or write extra subjects around March and so I did 3 years of math and science in 6 weeks and passed the exams.

If you had to take your matric exams today. Would you pass? I sure as fuck wouldn’t. I studied everything myself at home and right before my exams because we had 40 people in class and I learn by using my hands and teaching not by listening to someone lecture me.

Tell me this, did your matric exams teach you how to accurately apply for a job? How to fill out the proper forms to register you with eskom? How to change a tire, check your oil or remember to always make sure your water is topped up or you’ll blow a gasket and cost you 18k. How car loans work and how credit cards can get you into a lot of shit? Did your exams help you get into university for what you actually wanted to study? I know friends who went on to university and said that the huge gap in information between high school and university made them want to drop out. Professors don’t care if you were the best in your class, everyone in their class was the best in their school.

My plans for Fysh might not suit most people but at least we have a plan. We’re going to study the way we are going, learning what we really like to learn with a few important things added in of course and then when he’s about 15 we’ll learn what he needs to know to pass his GED at 16 and at 16 he’s old enough to get his yachtmaster ticket as well which is the one thing I do insist on whether or not he uses it, it’ll come in handy. My dream is to get my art actually paying for things and then pack a backpack and  travel with Fysh. I want him to learn different cultures. Experience life.

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