Thursday, August 30, 2012

Homeschooling

This post may contain affiliate links.
This is a guest post from Raegan (you know--the  Chronic 45 Minute Naps and Chronic 45 Minute Naps: One Year Later author). Raegan and I have come to be good friends over the years. Her oldest is just a bit younger than Kaitlyn. Raegan will be homeschooling this year. I always find Raegan to be completely sensible in her decision making. She thinks things through well and takes a path of pondering and prayer. I knew she would be the right one to write on considerations for homeschooling. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For as long as I can remember, I always assumed my kids would start Kindergarten in a public school. I did, my husband did, and I taught Kindergarten and first grade in the public school system before becoming a stay-at-home mom. For us, the dilemma was always whether to send her to Kindergarten at age 5 or age 6 since she has a summer birthday. As time grew closer, I began weighing whether or not to send her at age 5. So I started researching, paying attention to close friends and neighbors (and their children), and asking questions. 

My choices widened with options: public school at 5 or 6, private school (too expensive), a school with a blend of homeschool and private (still too expensive), and homeschooling. I knew the least about homeschooling, so I dove in! I read online, looked at statistics, and asked a million questions to those few I knew that homeschooled. As I researched, I felt increasingly pulled towards homeschooling, not only for academic reasons but personal, religious, and social reasons. There was this nagging feeling that I’m not finished sowing seeds in my children. Parents are never really finished, but I feel like the time to give another person/place thirty (or more) hours a week to sow into my children has not come yet.

BENEFITS
There were a lot of benefits to homeschooling. I could see their weaknesses and move slower if needed. I could also play into strengths and add depth, speed, or more ‘weight to the bar.’ We could do our schooling in the morning and take a field trip the day lessons coincide. I can bring our lessons to the Botanical Gardens, zoo, Aquarium, beach, on vacation. I get to teach life skills like folding, laundry, clipping coupons, making grocery lists, managing money, caring for pets, interacting with adults in stores, patience during appointments, the importance of working together, and so much more. Yes, I’ve been trying to do that all along, but I’m excited to see that now the understanding of a school aged child will merge with accomplishing these things together daily. My five year old understands the importance of teamwork much more than my three year old, I and I have the privilege to continue to develop these areas.

POSSIBLE DOWNSIDES
I had questions, I had concerns, but after my prayer and weighing, my husband and I decided that homeschooling was the route for us, for now.  So we decided…and then came the questions (and opinions, as it is with any choice).

*Isn’t it sheltering your child too much from the real world? You can’t protect them forever! True, we cannot protect them forever. But our job as parents is to discern when they are ready. You put a child on a bike without training wheels when they are ready (either ready for the push or ready by their own growth and initiative) not when they are a certain age. For us, we are taking homeschooling year by year.

*Won’t they miss out on parties, school buses, and the cafeteria fun?  Again, we had to weigh it. This is part of the reason we enrolled our kids in a local homeschool co-op, to be around other kids one day a week, to have field trips with those kids, and to grow up with a familiar group. And like any group of kids, they will not be immune from conflict, the need for conflict resolution, decision making, and personal behavior management.

*What about socialization? I really believe that is a main concern for many people when they consider (or know someone considering) homeschooling. Like I mentioned above, we joined a co-op partly for socialization. My kids also have other siblings, plus other homeschooling families we get together with during the week, church, Sunday school, dance/tumbling/swim, family get togethers (large and small). I’ve heard it commented that in some ways it can be a benefit to socialization because only during the school years do people spend 30+ hours a week with only people their own age. I can see the benefits to socializing with groups that are diverse in age.

*How can I manage schooling for my older child and manage younger children at home too?  There is LOTS of help out there regarding this issue. For me, I can utilize tools I already have been using: independent play, siblings playing together, educational DVDs, and joint learning. For instance, many of the activities I will be doing with my Kindergartener, my preschooler can listen and participate in, too. For my toddler, he can color, sit and look at books, or play with his cars and trucks. We’ve worked on his sitting skills for a long time now, so this shouldn’t be a huge issue. I also needed my friends to remind me that just like public school, I’m not teaching the entire time. I teach, we practice, and then they complete independent work with me close by for answering and helping. While she is working independently, I can help my younger children.

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS
Before beginning a homeschool journey, I do think it’s important to consider a few points. For each person the answer (and the importance of the question) will vary, but these were key for me to answer honestly, putting all superhero “I can do it no matter what” ego issues aside.

*The time commitment- Though it isn’t huge at first, it is an adjustment if you aren’t used to setting a decent amount of time aside for learning.

*Commitment to learning- My goal is to teach my children to love to learn, to be lifelong learners. Learning and discovery can be fun, and it should be. It takes time for me to prepare. (Side note: I prepared the first week of Kindergarten starting next week. It took me 30 minutes to prep the entire week. And saying I have a passion for teaching is putting it mildly, so it isn’t a huge time commitment unless you intend to generate all the curricula yourself.)

*You don’t have to say you’ll homeschool through high school. In general I like to make decisions that are concrete, so having a start and end date works for me. Not in this case, however. I plan on tracking her academic, social, emotional maturity progression to make that evaluation year by year.

*For me, if I’m saying that I’m taking this responsibility that means I’m saying that I can do it just as well or better than public school. It doesn’t mean that you need to have a teaching degree to do it. I am the only homeschooling parent that I know that actually does have a degree in education. There is a lot (a ton) of premade curricula out there. It takes a little passion and some willingness.

CONCLUSION
I don’t see a lot of negatives when it comes to homeschooling as long as kids have a chance to be around other kids and learn some conflict mediation through natural trials in life. Academically overall homeschool children outperform public school children in testing (there are always exceptions). 

To quote a family member of mine, “They aren’t going to be weird are they?” I guess if I’m weird, they will be too. J We have the saying ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ for a reason. The negatives I could find were less geared towards my children and more for me and other adults. Remember not to stereotype; every homeschool kid is no stranger than every private school kid is spoiled and every public school kid is wild. I won’t judge you for choosing public school and you won’t judge me for homeschooling; we are both choosing what we think is best for our children. And lastly, especially me, try not to feel the need to justify choosing homeschool every time I get that funny look.

I am so excited to get the opportunity to teach my children more than just academics as they learn from home this year. I look forward to seeing them succeed firsthand, to work on weaknesses and tap into their strengths. It’s an honor to live in a country that let us all choose what our family needs. 

11 comments:

Katie {My Paisley Apron} said...

Yes! I have waited all week for this post and I LOVE it, and am bookmarking it for the future.

We are also feeling drawn toward homeschooling, and for nearly identical reasons. I love how clearly and succinctly you typed it out. Thank you for this post - very helpful!

sbcvmi06 said...

My brother and I were homeschooled for 3 years, me grade 4,5,6 and him 2,3,4. We both LOVED it. I have never had more friends then those years I was homeschooled. We had homeschool art class by another homeschool mom, we had gym class twice a week at the Y, we were in homeschool choir, we did homeschool fieldtrips all the time. Our formal school was 9-12 in the morning and then afternoon was for the activities I mentioned above. It was the BEST! I am seriously considering it for when my child (and future children) become school age.

hollymariesweet said...

I was homeschooled after 2nd grade (so 3rd-12th) and loved it. Socialization was not a problem- in fact, the homeschoolers I knew had more friends, and more diverse friends, than those who weren't. Because Homeschoolers are around people of all ages all the time, age isn't a barrier for friendships as it could tend to be in a traditional school setting as kids of one grade are all together.

Kristy Powers said...

We just decided to homeschool this year. My son had gone to public school kindergarten and loved it. We loved his school. That made the decision much harder. What eventually influenced us to make the decision was that my husband's job is becoming more travel-oriented and now we can go with him instead of being without him for periods of time.

At first, I felt confident about the academics and unsure about him missing the class parties, recess, school P.E., and all that. We have also made this decision for a year and will reevaluate next year. We plan to use curriculum (from a few of my favorite sources) but also all those tasks and places you mentioned in Benefits.

My son learned a LOT in kindergarten with his wonderful teacher. The more days we do homeschool, though, the more I get excited by how much we can tailor it to him specifically. It seems like he will have so much time throughout the year to learn and do amazing things.

Shannon Stevenson said...

I am a teacher (oops. I WAS a teacher - now a SAHM) at a Christian school. We have seen many homeschool students start our school in middle or high school ages. Many moms feel they cant teach those ages, so we got them. I have seen those who come in and know more than most kids in their grade and those who are super way behind. I have concluded that it had nothing to do with the education of the one homeschooling them, but the organization and seriousness of the teacher. Some moms have no schedule and therefore it is more kid led teaching. Or they do not take it serious and do it just to get it done. Definitely have a room designated to homeschooling. Teach them the same rules as a school such as no leaving the room without permission, and no eating while doing schoolwork, etc.
I will be homeschooling my DD, and plan to get involved in the amazing CO-OPs they have for homeshool families. My church even has events and activities for the families that homeschool. Makes those who do not HS jealous! We also have a sports program for HS sudents. They play other schools and have set practice times just like a school. Look into your church, city, and state information as to what organization there are out there. The state of VA, which is where I live, has an amazing CO-OP for homeschoolers. So glad you devoted a blog to homeschooling. Many people think their child will receive less than par education. That is a statement from someone who has not looked into homeschooling. Also, check your public school out!!! In my area 9 out of 10 of our public schools are unaccredited!! YEP!!! The state does not consider them credited because of their test scores. THe school does not have to promote that, but has to tell you when you ask! SO ASK!! Schools that are not accredited teach strictly the SOLs or test at the end of the year so they can get their accredidation back.
So sorry this is long!!!!

Ruth Lanciano said...

Wow! Thanks for this blog. I have a 3 yr. old & a newborn. I'm an elementary school teacher, and currently at stay-at-home-mom. I'm loving it...on most days ;) My hubby, a music teacher, and I have been considering homeschooling and charter schools. So this post is timely.

Thanks to Shannon for all your info & honest input.

God bless,
Ruth

Brittany W. said...

I was also waiting all week for this post & will bookmark it! My husband and I are both feeling prepared to homeschool our children when they're school-aged.. My aunt did it for all four of her daughters and they all four loved it very much! I'm very relieved when I read about all the support there is out there for parents who choose this and that there are plenty of social opportunities. Even though I was an elementary teacher for many years, I don't feel equipped to teach all grades. Thanks for your insight and encouragement!

Raegan said...

Sure! :) Glad it was helpful! I was surprised to learn that there are over 2 million homeschooled children in the US. When I started looking for co-ops and other things for my children, I was overwhelmed by all there is to choose from. It was really encouraging to me, too! :)

Amanda said...

Thanks for the post Raegan, I enjoyed it! We're also homeschooling our kids. It started as a just Kindergarten/1st grade because with full-day kindergarten I just really felt my kids could benefit from an extra year or two at home before being gone that long. But then it's sort of spiraled into us probably homeschooling all the way through just because I'm not sure how we'd get Tobias transitioned back into a mainstream public school. Plus I'm really excited about doing a Classical education with the kids all the way through high school :)

Cindy said...

Hi. Thanks for the post. Curious if there are any homeschooling curriculum books you recommend? My friend suggested Five Days in a Row but some of the review comments seem to suggest it's unstructured and boring. Thanks!

Mimi Rothschild said...

There were a lot of benefits to homeschooling. I've spent a lot of time reading about different homeschooling techniques. Last year we basically did school at home. We followed the 6th grade curriculum for the most part. As an govt employee I have no time to spent with my kids but I need to home schooled them very soon. So I need to know more homeschooling from here I have got something which really helpful to me.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails