Home as a base for education
I read this quote today on Facebook and it got me thinking about the image people have of homeschooling. Homeschooling sounds like you are trying to run a school in your home. Other countries use the term Home Education which I like better. Yet, both have that word: home, implying that you sit at home all day.
I have always wanted to create a bumper sticker that said, “Never HOME, schooling” but now that I write it, it doesn’t fit. My point is that so often with our homeschool adventure, I feel like we are never at home. And of course, there is the word: school, which I do not feel fits my philosophy of education nor our lifestyle choice.
Reading the above quote carefully, I want to emphasize that it says, “home as a base for children’s growth into the world”.
Home as a base.
People who know me realize that we are not sitting at home all day long. People who know my family, know that my children are not sheltered from the real world. Those who know us well, know when we are home, we are not recreating school at home. Sure, I have a bulletin board in my kitchen that gets changed randomly at inconsistent intervals and we used to have a large chalkboard under the bulletin board. In our kitchen, we also have large white cabinets full of academic and craft supplies. Yet, that is about as close to “school” as we get in our home.
I digress. Home as a base for growth and education. My first thought when I saw this quote was the idea: what does home really mean?
Home is…family. As a family, we go to the grocery store, garbage dump, bank, post office, library, hair salon, and to parks, gas stations, and museums to name a few places. We curl up on the couch in our living room and watch movies and tv shows both for entertainment and for educational value which overlap with each other. We sit at the large oval maple table in our kitchen and eat meals, create birthday cards, complete craft projects, discuss our daily activities, discuss local and world events, negotiate peace between siblings, and yes, we also read and engage in academics. We also do the above-listed activities in our bedroom, living room, basement and in our yard. And… in the car as well as anywhere we go like friends and families houses, the grocery store, the library. I could go on.
Home is where we live in the Charlotte, NC area. My husband, Don and I met here in Charlotte and despite both being from other parts of the country we choose to get married right here in Charlotte. I had lived in Charlotte for less than 2 years when we got married but to me, it was my home and therefore the perfect place to get married. I moved here after graduating from OT school in Pennsylvania where I lived at the time. In 1992, you found a job through media like newspapers and magazines. Within my Occupational Therapy magazines, I found an ad that read, “Shouldn’t You Be In Charlotte?”
We live in a neighborhood and despite not knowing too many of our neighbors, it is a sort of community and therefore it is our home. We have helped our elderly next-door neighbor for years and have known her from the time we moved here. We have known the three different families who have lived across the street from us. Our dog, Olive, came to us from our last neighbors who lived across the street. My oldest son has sold Boy Scout Popcorn in our neighborhood over the past 5 years and my daughter has sold Girl Scout cookies. I have bought items from our neighbor’s kids usually for their school. We have gone Trick-or-treating in our neighborhood.
The first teenage babysitter I ever had for my kids was a neighborhood girl. I had met her grandfather first because he lived in their home and would walk to get the mail at then end of their driveway as I took a walk with my two young children, one in a stroller. I quickly met the mother at the house and we connected over being from NJ as well as her father having Alzheimer’s because I work in geriatrics. And less than 2 years later, I had her 15-year-old daughter babysit my kids who were around the ages of 2 and 6. She turned 16 and got another job and then her younger sister did some babysitting for us.
We live in the Charlotte area. It is a large geographic area with heavily populated surrounding counties. Forbes named Charlotte #8 in its 2014 list of the top 20 fastest growing cities. I have been witness to this growth in the 22 years that I have lived here. Most people do not realize that Charlotte is the 16th largest city in the United States. Uptown is a major banking center. It is home of the Carolina Panthers and the newly re-named Charlotte Hornets. Uptown also has Imaginon, a one of a kind partnership of the Children’s Theater of Charlotte and children’s library, one of the 20 branches in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library system. And of course the NASCAR Hall of Fame the Charlotte Motor Speedway that hosts the Coca-Cola 600 (as seen in the movie, Days of Thunder).
Home is North Carolina, located in the Bible Belt, in the southeastern United States. North Carolina, including the Charlotte area, is home to cities of various sizes, small towns, farms and forests. We are located midway between the mountains and the Carolina Coast. We can fly non-stop from the Charlotte Douglas International Airport to a long list of cities as well as international locations including Munich, Madrid and Rome!
Home is family. My immediate family lives in North Carolina, South Carolina and Pennsylvania and I have close relatives in several locations within North Carolina as well as New Jersey, Georgia, Ohio…and with 23 first cousins, I can’t possibly be expected to remember where everyone lives! My husband is from St. Louis, MO where most of his family lives along with some in Kansas and Texas and he is one of 5 living siblings all with children and many with grandchildren and I won’t even try to guess how many first cousins he has. We have traveled to visit many of our relatives over the years. We have enjoyed many road trips as a couple and as a family from the time my oldest was 6 weeks old. We were crazy when we were young parents. We traveled by car with our 6-week old son from our Charlotte home to St. Louis, MO arriving the week of Christmas and then on Christmas Day drove to Pennsylvania. While in Pennsylvania staying with my parents, we visited my relatives in New Jersey and then drove home to Charlotte, NC. I remember counting the number of states my baby boy had traveled to before he was even 2 months old.
As homeschoolers, we have been able to travel at any time of the year to visit family for weddings, funerals, and holidays. We have enjoyed family vacations in March, October and September as well as during the summer months. We have extended family visits to included visits to the St. Louis arch, Memphis including the National Civil Rights Museum and a quick drive past Graceland, Historic Philadelphia, Dallas and Fort Worth’s National Historic District as well as St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest city in the United States. There are many more places that I hope to travel to with my children to explore, learn and experience.
I grew up living in three different states and five different cities. I learned much from my experiences of moving, changing schools and adjusting to new locations. As a family with my husband and children, we have always lived in Charlotte, NC. And have so far, lived in only two houses located 8 miles apart. With my children, I am getting to experience something new, watching them grow up in one place with friends they have known from a very young age. An experience that came to a new light watching my nearly 17-year-old son at his surprise birthday party surrounded by a variety of friends some of whom have known him from the age of 6. His younger sister was not even 2 when we joined our first homeschool group. She has two close friends now at age 12 who she met when she was 2 and 3 years old. And many of our friends remember the day that my youngest was born. It was a cold winter day in January 2009. I began laboring the day before while attending our weekly homeschool park day. My children were all born in different locations, the first in two different hospitals and my last child was born at home. My children attended their younger siblings’ births. Now that gives the idea of home education a whole new meaning!
We live and we learn together. We learn as a family and when we are apart from each other. My children attend activities with friends and spend nights away from home. We learn every day of our lives both in our home and outside of our home. We learn when my husband had a massive nearly fatal heart attack in 2011 and when I was in a car accident in 2012. We learn when the plumber comes to replace our ruptured copper pipes and when the air conditioning company replaces our heat pump. We learn from library books, board games, online educational sites and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. We learn from each other every day. My husband and I learn alongside our children, learning as much from them, if not more than they do from us. Home is our base for learning.