Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Random thoughts on home education

Question from a reader:

"I am very curious as to what led you to the decision to want to homeschool your kids. Still, truth be told all the orthodox Jewish families I know in Israel and America send their kids to religious schools, and you are the first Jewish woman I have heard of who home schools her children."

I wouldn't define us as "homeschoolers" just yet, as our older daughter is only 3 years old, not a compulsory education age in Israel, and we aren't doing any official "lessons" yet. However, it is true that the vast majority of children her age in Israel attend preschool, and in the place we have lived previously, people saw it as very odd that our daughter (back then, aged 2.5 years) is "still" at home. 

Yesterday, at a family event, a relative (herself a mother to 4 children, aged 5 years to 2 months) wondered how I can stay home with my two girls without "going crazy", as she herself said happens to her after just one Shabbat with her children. My answer to her was that I, of course, do go crazy, on average ten times a day! When she pressed me for a serious reply, I said that I heard many mothers complain of the same thing, and in my opinion, once you have a certain routine it's far easier to run along with. If your routine is having children around the house during the day, it might be a very messy, very noisy routine, but usually you end up adjusting and even having fun. If having children around is more of an exception, of course having them all land on your head at once might be overwhelming and get you wondering how you will survive the summer vacation. 

Currently we are very blessed to be living in a place where most children are home at least until the age of 3-4, and there is also a family who homeschools. But again, yes, this is vastly different from what is normal throughout Israel. You will not easily find a 1-year-old cared for at home by his mother, in secular and religious families alike. 

On one of my first dates with my husband, he first brought up the subject of home education, how young children should be home with their mothers, and what a waste of time and potential most schools are, serving largely as government-funded babysitters so that mothers can go out to work. I tell all this in a nutshell now, but we remained sitting in the car for hours, discussing this. I was amazed how he voiced the very ideas about childrearing I was hesitant to bring up, as I thought they would sound too unusual. 

Raising children is an ongoing adventure with unexpected turns. I don't think one can say in advance "we'll do things in such and such way exactly"; however, it's true we were interested in learning more about homeschooling from the start. I'm not sure we'll end up actually homeschooling, but for now, I can definitely say I greatly enjoy being home with my girls, aged 3 years and 16 months, and wouldn't trade the time spent with them for anything. I like the approach of delaying academics and allowing young children to be "educated" by nature; by sun, wind, sky, earth, air, plants, birds, animals; and to learn by actively participating in real life and the running of a household, being allowed to "help out" from a very early age. 


Anonymous said...

I can't believe a mother of four said she goes crazy in the presence of her own children!!!

I too love the idea of homeschooling and hope I get to do it someday! I agree that daycares and preschools are not all that and that a lot of natural learning happens to kids at home.

LL said...

Hi Anna

Now I would love to know where you live, my husband and I are searching for just such a place!

I am hesitant to keep my 2 year old home next year (she'll be almost 3) because I know she'd be the only child over 18 months home in our entire area!

I'd be happy to email you, if that would be preferable.

Thank you

Mrs. Anna T said...

LL, if you live in Israel feel free to email me, but the place we live in is only for brave souls! :o)

SubWife said...

I think the best approach to homeschooling is keeping an open mind. I also come from the environment where homeschooling is very odd, but after reading so much about it now find it fascinating. I like what one homeschooling mother, herself a teacher, said on her blog: I have seen kids who were in school and would have been better off homeschooled, and I have seen kids who were homeschooled and would have been better off in school. Just like homeschooling is not for every parent, it is not for every child.

I personally wish I could homeschool. I was sure that it would suit one of my kids much more than the school system, and now I am starting to think that probably another one would have been better off homeschooled part of the day. Alas, it is not currently an option, but one can hope,right?

Lady Anne said...

I kept my girls at home until they started school - at that time, it was the age of six, and kindergarten was not compulsary. I tried to teach my oldest her letters but it really didn't work out. I'm great with older kids; you teach them to read, and I'll take it from there! Still, I was delighted to be home with them, teaching them to cook, playing house under the cardtable, folding laundry. It was great - and all three of our daughters are also stay-at-home moms, so I must have done something right!

Laura :) said...

This is very interesting to me. The family that I have mentioned to you in emails knows we homeschool but I wasn't sure how it works in Israel. Thanks for today's insights.

Leah Brand-Burks said...

"On one of my first dates with my husband, he first brought up the subject of home education, how young children should be home with their mothers, and what a waste of time and potential most schools are, serving largely as government-funded babysitters so that mothers can go out to work."

This sentiment, while not until well into our dating, happened to come out in my husband too. I knew he was on to something, as he'd been homeschooled, and I was educated in the public school system. We have two sons and another son on the way, and we plan to homeschool. To us, the advantages are far too great to pass up.

Bethany said...

My Mom had five kids and home schooled four of them (Three of us are all grown up, and there's a 12-year-old still at home :) We homeschooled through an international move as well as living in areas where no one else homeschooled and where there were literally hundreds of homeschooling families! I know it wasn't easy for her, but I know that she really believes in what she's doing (and has done) and that she feels it's extremely rewarding. I picked up so much about cooking and running a house just by watching her example. Homeschooling has made our family much closer than many of the other non-homeschooling families around us. The one-on-one teaching and (when the kids are older) self-directed learning have been invaluable for me in so many ways. I didn't always appreciate it as much as I should have, but I certainly plan to homeschool my own children (when they come along...) and really look forward to spending time with them and helping them love and appreciate knowledge and learning.

Best of luck! :)

Rose said...

A thoughtful post, as always. I suspect that your children will be blessed, and you as well, whatever path you choose because you have decided to be content in whatever you endeavor to do.

angela said...

Hey... I'm a mom of 4 who homeschools and I tell you that I agree with you since we are fresh off of christmas break around here it is very recent that we were without a routine and it is crazy when no one knows what they are supposed to be doing. I find it MUCH easier to school, clean, do laundry and all that than to be totally free. I hear comments all the time about women not being able to handle what I do, and I laugh. It's not like this happened all at once. God's grace has been sufficient as needed and I have learned alot through the years. I have because more patient and all those things because I had to be. It's sad to me that they don't even want to try...

Analytical Adam said...

Part 1:

Hi Mrs. Anna,

Thanks for sharing as I think that is terrific about your husband that he realizes this as I agree with him and I hope you share more about your husband as that is what you are really suppose to do as your husbands helpmate. You are suppose to promote his idea's. :)

To be honest growing up my mother did stay at home till I was 9 or 10 but regardless my mother picked on me once my younger sister was of certain age and my mother for most of my adult life in my 20's and 30's from what I have seen has cared more about my sister being able to work then me.

The biggest problem is this actually is taking money from men and giving it to women. As men have to pay higher taxes to pay for this (women too but men overall since they make more pay more taxes) and these taxes go for so called "women causes' so they can so called "eqaulity". That should be what is most bothersome about it as the men in the government are taking from other men and giving it to women and that is wrong and undermines the man who is not in politics.

10 years ago I was naive about this as my mother stayed home when I was young but I see it more common now although among some it is the Grandmother who raises the children of the oldest daughter which goes on by a aunt (by marriage) who is father is a pulpit Rabbi.

I would also think though this is reducing the marriage rate (the Orthodox in my view use dishonest methods to count their birth rates) as they exclude those unmarried as they aren't sending a kid to Yeshiva which is how they can't it and that gives a false figure. They have a birthrate of zero and if 35-40% are unmarried this seriously lowers the birth figures and also is very unequal in having some with many children and others with zero.As with any figure you would want more in the middle. By forcing equality you end up with more "inequality".

Analytical Adam said...

Part 2:

I as a man see little to want to marry a woman that is fully financial independent as she doesn't need me in any way or wants to focus on her job first and foremost and I am aware that when a woman has little need for a man she has no problem divorcing him as well.

So if this is the case in the Orthodox world I would bet there is a significant number of those raised in Orthodoxy who are unmarried. The Orthodox like to inflate their numbers but they are only 15% of the population and not getting bigger which suggests the Orthodox use dishonest methods to count their birth rates. And Orthodoxy covers up its problems and focuses you to hate everyone else so you don't realize your own group has serious problems. Me and my sister are unmarried and I have never been contacted for any population study and I grew up in an Orthodox that keeps Shabbs according to the rules of the Orthodox Rabbis for good and/or for bad.