Мы учимся просто очевидным истинам. Многое из того из чего состоит обучение, совсем не образование, а ритуал. В действительности мы образовываемся там, где мы имеем минимальные знания. Дэвид П. Гарднер, 1995


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Homeschooling as a way to child and parent well-being. Part 1

Veronika Mikhalko
psyhologist, homeschool-mother of two kids,
translated by: L'Inconnue

 

Promulgation of ideas of home education is interconnected with one serious, but not obvious problem – it cannot be advocated by itself. The same way as a school system is not a goal as it is, homeschooling is not a goal, but merely a tool.


And when you are trying to advertise the excellent tool, without addressing the purposes of its use, you inevitably face misunderstanding, doubts, and sometimes even aggression, animosities. Therefore, for me the most important question is - WHAT FOR this home-based, family form of children education occurs in the given family? It is accompanied by the question HOW other forms of education (day-care, school) WILL PREVENT achievement of those purposes, which the family puts before itself when raising their children. Thus, I put the emphasis on the first question and only sometimes address the second, i.e. I focus on pluses of what I have chosen for my children, instead of on minuses which I rejected. In this article I want to address the question how home education and well-being are connected.


Usually, speaking of health, we mean its physical part – whether the person is strong, has good immune system, how often he gets ill, whether he has a good body posture, sight, his internal organs are working properly etc. However, as a person exists not only in physical dimension, but also in mental, social and spiritual dimensions, it would be correct to consider all those aspects as well.


Well-being of a person is influenced by his lifestyle, by food he is eating, his occupation, and hobbies. Large part of the life of the child consist of learning in different forms, therefore the way this process is organized is directly reflected on all aspects of his health.

What possibilities homeschooling gives to a child and how it is reflected on his well-being?

  • *Homeschooling, in this case, is the education of the child by his parents at home with periodic testing in the basic subjects at school. In Belarus such a way of education is called «Learning According to the Individual Curriculum».
  • Advantages of home education from the point of view of PHYSICAL HEALTH are most obvious:
  • * A child has an opportunity to follow his own schedule (to get up at comfortable for him time and not to use an alarm clock; he can independently make and change his schedule of activities etc.)
  • * A child has an opportunity to follow a healthy diet (to eat when he wants, instead of to be a subject to scheduled lunch time with the whole class; to have enough time for a meal, instead of trying to grab something quickly during short break), and to eat food of good quality chosen according to his taste by his parents (it’s hard to control the quality and the choice of food in the school cafeteria).
  • * A child has an opportunity to move freely, while at school he spends hours sitting at the school desk. As a result, he does not have any problem with his body posture, sight etc.
  • * A child has a lot of free time – for playing outdoors, visits to his friends, participation in the clubs, reading, games, trips, free activities.


How homeschooling is enhancing MENTAL HEALTH of the child?


Here some examples from my experience in the elementary school.

  • * In elementary school children have serious physical challenge – to learn new difficult skills (reading, writing). Patience and diligence are expected from the children and it can put emotional pressure on them. In the home environment, this pressure can be diminished dramatically. Parents and child can regulate this emotional pressure according to specific needs and requirements of the child.
  • * Necessity to conform to somebody else learning pace can put additional mental pressure on children. The learning efficiency decreases as result – much time can be spent in mastering simple tasks and it can reduce the pleasure from learning. Homeschoolers can adjust the pace of learning to the needs of their children.

Homeschooled children feel more secure and confident, because their life and learning environment remains in the family – the familiar place. These children do not have to put a lot of efforts into creating forced upon them relationships with a large quantity of people – adults and other children, who are not always very pleasant and necessary. Relationships with the teacher (teachers) also can demand a lot of emotional energy from the children. I will talk about it further.

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