WHY AND HOW
The decision to homeschool my daughter was not mine. It was caused by a series of, well, fortunate events.
I was unhappy with her school at the time she was in 4thGrade. I had her take an entrance exam in another school, and she passed! So, I wrote a letter to her current school saying she will not reenroll for the next school year.
Enrollment day comes in her supposed new school, and they say: “Unfortunately, we are not opening up that grade level, so we cannot accept your daughter.” I threw a fit.
My husband and I frantically went to the “next best” school and tried to enroll her there. No such luck as they were full. Understand, living on my island we don’t have many choices for good schools. Traditional, diploma mills abound, but good, quality schools (that meet MY standards), nada. What to do? I guess, homeschool.
Turned out to be a great idea, only because I have a tutor, a teacher. If I had to do it myself, I wouldn’t be able to.
What do I love about it? She gets to spend time outdoors and with horses, animals for that matter. Not only does this teach her responsibility, it teaches her patience, respect, humility, assertion, ability to work, dedication, and removes gadgets from majority of her day.
We are not bound by eight to nine hours in a classroom, we are free to explore, free to learn LIFE. She isn’t subject to peer pressure, and having to have what the kid next door has. She makes up her own mind. She’s not bound by trends or the latest gadget, she’s generous, mindful, a decent human being. She devours books on her free time, she asks a million and one questions, she is independent, spirited, adventurous. She does have her bad days, and we’re learning to overcome the outbursts and tantrums.
One downside of her being constantly surrounded by her animals is that she gets extremely possessive of them, to the point of being selfish. This aspect of her life we are still working on. She throws fits only when it comes to her horses, she is extremely passionate about them.
My Father asked me to put her back into regular school next year, due to the fact that he was worried about socialization. I explained to him that she has the best means of socialisation. She can play with the kid in the big, grand house, to the kid from the farm. She can interact with adults, and speak her mind. She can debate with adults, and lead other kids.
She can problem solve, assert herself, create action plans. All of which would be restricted in a big school. She helps out at the office, and even has lunch with our office staff. She has well-rounded social skills.
At HHF, she hosts guests at the petting zoo. She’s in charge of animal encounters and feeding. If her pony, Butterscotch, is used in a pony ride, she leads the pony ride. Many of these things I have tried to establish at the Centre for other kids, but Filipino parents don’t seem to understand the value of work. They feel working with animals, mucking out stalls, is beneath their children. I completely disagree! Having her work with horses, and animals, teaches so many aspects of life!
ANIMALS AND SCHOOLING
Though non-horsey folk will have a hard time seeing this, but horses (animals) play such an important role in childhood development. There was never a time, since my daughter was born, that she was not around an animal. Although my daughter is headstrong, and often times defiant, there are positives to her personality.
I do believe animals have helped her stay healthy. The physical activity she has interacting with animals helps keep her in shape. They keep her healthy by exposing her to different forms of bacteria, our home is dirty enough to be happy and healthy! She is not squeamish about playing in dirt, picking up poop, or cleaning up pee.
Animals also help her focus. Because you always have to be on your toes around animals, this has helped in her ability to be aware of things going on around her and follow instructions in multiple layers.
Attempting to train an animal helps in your child’s ability to problem solve. By nature, they help teach kids about habitats, and biology. My daughter has aided in giving birth to piglets in the middle of the night, which was a great lesson in anatomy. She’s constantly being taught about the circle of life. Life lessons other children won’t experience until they are much older.
Our schedules are very loose. But my daughter is much like me. She understands the concept of promptness: that on time is late, and early is on time. So if we scheduled an appointment, we stick to it.
Many of her days start early, and this is out of her own volition. She wakes up at the crack of dawn, ready to head to HHF. She does her chores, then rides one, maybe two horses. Gets ready for “school” which is at 8.30, and that ends at 11.30.
She has her extra-curricular activities such as music and sports, then rides again when those are done. She does her chores after riding, such as feeding the petting zoo animals, turning in the horses, or bathing the horses. Then she plays.
At home she plays with her dogs, and insists on having lunch with the birds. Her household chores includes cleaning the aviary, bathing the dogs, changing the bedding of her hamster, and cooking a few meals in a week. These are all part of “home economics”.
PETS IN THE FAMILY
Even if you’re not homeschooling, animals are great additions to a child’s life. They show unconditional love, friendship, loyalty, not to mention everything else I wrote above.
More and more animals are being considered integral parts in therapy for children with special needs, or who have experienced trauma. If they can be beneficial as therapy aids, what more in day to day interactions?
But horseback riding, now that is a sport that really helps a child develop into themselves. There is nothing greater than the feeling a child gets when he connects with a horse. There is no other sport like it! And I am so happy we can give our little girl the opportunity to be around horses every single day.