March Madness: Considering the Homeschooling Option

In my city and others around the country, March is the month when urban families learn of public elementary school lottery placements and private school admissions.  In many American cities, school desegregation plans eliminated neighborhood schools to create equity within urban public school districts, and today cities use variations of a complex lottery placement system to ensure school diversity.

For many families who receive a preferred lottery placement or a top-choice private school placement for September, the decision-making process is over.  But for other families who were not assigned or admitted to a top-choice school, the decision-making process has just begun.  Some families will grow satisfied with their lower-choice schools, others will bide their time on the wait-list and hope for a top placement in the fall.  Some families will leave their urban lifestyle for the suburbs and neighborhood schools.  And an increasing number of urban families will look more seriously at the homeschooling option.

Here is my quick list of homeschooling highlights for families considering this education option:

1.  Homeschooling is absolutely doable.  At first glance, homeschooling may seem overwhelming, but as you learn more about the many resources available to you as a homeschooling family, you will find an approach that works best for your learners and lifestyle.  Maybe you will purchase one of the excellent, grade-level curriculum packages available to guide your learning and provide structure and materials.  Maybe you will gravitate more toward "eclectic" homeschooling, relying on packaged or online curriculum for certain subject-areas, and community classes and natural learning for other areas.  Maybe child-led "unschooling" will resonate with you and you will decide to follow your child's lead in determining what and how to learn.  Maybe you will collaborate with other families to form a homeschooling co-op to share homeschooling responsibilities and ideas.  There are many homeschooling structures and approaches to choose from to make homeschooling entirely doable.

2. Homeschooling is immensely rewarding.  Living and learning alongside your children is profoundly gratifying, as you watch their interests develop, their skills flourish, and their talents emerge.

3.  Homeschooling creates community.  One of the first things a prospective homeschooling family should do is become involved with its local homeschooling community, participating in its online message board and attending local park days and other homeschooling community activities.  This process will help families to clarify their homeschooling ambitions and build relationships with other homeschooling families.

4.  Homeschooling strengthens families.  Homeschooling positions family at the center of a child's education, charting a new paradigm for living and learning together as a family unit in an exciting and meaningful way.

5.  Homeschooling maximizes city resources.  Homeschooling enables families to take full advantage of the vast resources of the city on a regular basis, and use these resources daily to create enriching, inspiring, informative learning experiences for children.

6.  Homeschooling individualizes and celebrates learning.  Homeschooling allows families to tailor learning and teaching approaches to each child's specific learning needs and interests, allowing skills to naturally unfold, strengths to naturally emerge, and curiosity to naturally lead the way.

7.  Homeschooling grants time and space.  Homeschooling bestows the gifts of time and space: time and space for children to discover their inborn gifts and true passions; time and space for families to live and learn together in a simpler, more unhurried way; time and space for young learners to grow and develop in their own time, in their own way, with their parents guiding, encouraging, and marveling at it all.