Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I have been reading a lot of blogs and articles lately on homeschooling. As a normal female, I am inherently curious as to what everyone else in the barnyard is doing and am also on the lookout for new helps, advice, curriculum, etc. And of course, I want to evaluate what I am doing to and for my kids. :) One blog in particular I read is the Pioneer Woman Homeschooling blog. She has different moms contribute to this particular facet of her site. It talks about homeschooling, has discussions on general opinion and stigmas, what different homeschool moms face, etc. I have been asked why we homeschool by a few different people. They seem to expect a passionate diatribe about spiritual conviction, the evil of the world, or some kind of mental genius or handicap. So, for personal clarification, this is why WE homeschool.
1) Easy situation. We're different. Not in the, hello, I'm-a-freak-of-nature-way. I am already staying home with a younger child. I am not quitting a job to stay home. It was not a huge sacrifice to keep the older one home and torture him with Phonics. (Ask me that later when I am lying on the floor with a cold compress on my brow, moaning "Why?!" to the ceiling.)
2) Food allergies. We are allergic to a bunch of stuff. It was a pain in the butt to pack breakfast and lunch and various birthday cupcakes and holiday treats last year for Ian. And he still got a hold of stuff that made him sick. So, it was a mark on the + side when we considered homeschooling. (Yes, I made a list with little pluses and minuses.)
3) Concern for our child. Our kid seemed bored in kindergarten and was redoing stuff that he had learned in pre-k. When he was out of school for a week with a broken elbow, he did his entire week of make-up work in a hour. I asked for harder stuff for him to read at home. I didn't get much of a result by asking. I got the feeling that his teachers, who are great ladies, thought I was a pushy parent. I saw my kid getting disinterested and lazy and stop trying.
4) An Inkling. My husband and I homeschooled (but not together, though he did pretend not to understand math so I would 'help' him). I did 11th and 12th grade enrolled in Christian Liberty Academy, which is a correspondence-type school. They send your books and tests, you do the work and mail in the tests. You get graded and graduate when you're done. I liked it. I also tutored a bunch of younger kids in their various subjects. So I know how it feels to get to a point where your parents are no help at all and hide in the closet when they see you enter the room with a textbook. Like...Chemistry! Or Saxon Algebra 2!
No permanent scarring, though it shook my belief that my mom knew everything. Haha, Mom.
With the younger kids that I tutored when I was in high school, it was an eye-opener. There were kids that did just fine. There were kids that were several grade levels behind what they should have been. There were kids that the other kids thought were weird. There were normal(ish) kids. There was one boy with atrocious table manners. Those who were in the tutoring group will remember him as well as their inability to enjoy a meal when they were seated across the table from him. Or next to him. Or in the same room with him.
The point is, it's easy to say that you have these beliefs, opinions or feelings and you're going to homeschool. It's quite another thing to sit at the kitchen table for 5 hours a day, more or less, and try to get your child to understand the rules of plural, why you have to carry the 1, and why qu is spelled with a qu when it makes the 'kw' sound. And that is just first grade, with just one child.
I know the parents meant well and they thought they were doing the best for their children. But I wonder if they would make the same decision again, now that their children are grown and their lives are set. The ones who did not do well homeschooling hated it. They still hate school. Some of them got so far behind that they quit school. The ones who did well may have loved it, or may have secretly pined to be in a public school. Others did fine and went on to trade school or college and lead productive lives. We did not suffer from not going to prom or having a commencement ceremony. [Be honest! When you reach the 3rd hour of any commencement, are you still excited to be there? No! You wanna get it over with and go eat! All during my college graduation, I thought about how nice it was to have skipped the high school one.]
But it is important that I remember to give myself the option and freedom to change my mind if things don't work out the way I have envisioned. One day we may go back to public school. If the kids absolutely want to, then they have a say. But right now it's going pretty well.
5) State laws. We live in Oklahoma, a very accomodating state for homeschoolers. A couple of miles away, and the state our co-op is in, is Arkansas. I'm not exactly sure, but I think they are required to do state testing every year. Different states have different requirements. Some states make it very difficult indeed, like having lesson plans and checking in with a state-certified teacher once a month. We avoided a lot of these difficulties during my childhood in Florida by being enrolled in an actual school, even though I completed it by mail.
6) New oppoortunities! There are some neat things in our area that I wasn't aware of (or interested in) in my time. There's a play group at the library every Tuesday. The library is continuing it now that Cherokee Nation has pulled out. At least it will be a specialized play time and there are books to read and crafts. It is for children 5 and under, but Ian is still welcome. It is good for Erin to be around other kids (sharing is always a noisy debate) and Ian as well. We also joined a homeschool co-op. It costs $20 a year for dues. They have low-priced field trips, learning days, special classes, special ticket prices to performances at the Arts Center in Fayetteville, and more. We went to a swim day at the coolest pool ever in a nearby larger town. There were lots of other homeschool kids there and mine had a blast. Next Friday we're going to a Fire Safety Field trip at the Fire Station there. And October 1 is the Corn Maze in Southwest City, Missouri! There's no way we could find out about (or afford!) these things on our own. And meeting other families that share our daily trial is a great encouragement.
7) Curriculum Choices. I can't give all of the above reasons without mentioning that we get to focus on learning opportunities that would not be an option in public school. Our curriculum includes science from a Creationist's perspective as well as a Bible course. And if we want to take a bunny trail and make a covered wagon out of a shoe box, then we can do it together and have a good time. We take extra time on things we're interested in, like pirates, castles and volcanoes. And it's really nice not to get every question wrong because you skipped a line and wrote all the correct answers on the wrong line. Had to put that one in there.
If anyone is making or considering a decision to homeschool, here is my humble opinion. These are our reasons. I won't gush and say that everyone should homeschool because it's the ONLY way. To quote Pioneer Woman, "It's not for everybody, but it works for us." And obviously, I also don't think that public or private school is the only way. In the end, our goals are the same. We want our children to learn and grow and prosper. And we want to make it through without bald spots and facial twitching. I'll let you know how that goes.