Thursday, September 11, 2008

To Homeschool or not to Homeschool

That has been the question for quite a few months around our home. I have read several books on it, I have made multiple lists on the pros and cons about it, I have talked to every homeschooling family I could find that would talk to me, and then I asked Reece what he wanted to do. Reece would go back and forth between wanting to homeschool and wanting to go to public school. In the end, he decided to homeschool.

I know that some people have very strong opinions about homeschooling, and I respect that. But, I would also ask that you respect me and my decision to homeschool my children. I will respect your political stance, religion, your disciplining methods, and your decisions to immunize or not. There are many reasons that I have for wanting to homeschool, and if you have a few hours I could go over them all with you.

But, here is my short and sweet version..... Oh, but first, I have nothing against the school Reece went to, I'm actually very impressed with it, and Maya is attending Kindergarten there. Reece has had wonderful teachers, and I think teachers are amazing and doing a great service to our country. I was a board member of the PTA last year, and I was really impressed with the extra activities the PTA provides.

OK, now here are my reasons....Reece would get home from school at 3:45 in the afternoon, cranky, tired, and exhausted. We would pull out his backpack and his homework and he would be frustrated that he had to sit down and do homework after 7 hours of school. We would do homework, and then it was time to do our 20 mins. of reading and then there were chores on top of that. By the time we were finished, it was time for me to start making dinner which left him just a few minutes of play time because after dinner it was time to start getting ready for bed, and then start the whole routine in the morning.

Reece had expressed interest in taking hip hop again this year, and he wanted to start playing the piano (I told him if he took 2 years of piano, he could take guitar). He wanted to play basketball as well and this year he was able to start cub scouts. I just couldn't even imagine squeezing in anything extra after school, homework, and chores, especially 20 minutes of piano practice!!! Then I started reading some blogs like blue yonder, soule mama, and a simple life and noticed that they were doing all these wonderful and amazing things with their kids and wondered how they were squeezing it in. I finally figured out they were homeschool moms. I always had this weird stereotype about homeschool kids, and I'm sure most of you do as well, socially awkward, weird, sheltered, extreme religious beliefs, and the list could go on and on. But these really cool moms were making an amazing childhood for their kids (in my opinion) and their kids seems so normal.

I started reading homeschool books, there are a gazillion of them out there (some of them written by those homeschool weirdos). After finding out what these other moms from the blogs were reading, I realized that it was a lifestyle that I wanted to embrace. The school was getting the best hours out of Reece and I just got the left overs. Homeschooling doesn't take as long as public school, I found out that for 3rd grade, 2-3 hours is all that it takes. I was already spending an hour after school reading and doing homework/spelling words with him. I realized that maybe he would have some extra time during the day to really explore the things that he was interested in, like science experiments, building with legos, art projects and writing stories. Those were all things that he had expressed interest in, but there was never enough time to really accomplish them.

All summer Reece and I would talk about what he was going to choose. I felt that I was in limbo, I knew I need to prepare, but I didn't want to order curriculum and spend tons of time figuring everything out if he was going to change his mind. Around the beginning of August I had him make a commitment one way or the other. He chose homeschooling. So then I had to really get in gear and figure out what I was going to teach him. A homeschooling friend, Tamy, introduced me to a curriculum called K12. It is a free curriculum through a school district, so Reece technically goes to a public school. The school claims his government money, and we get the curriculum free. K12 is providing our Math, Science, Art and Spanish curriculum. (Another pro for homeschooling was that I could offer Art and Spanish to Reece, those classes are not available at his school) I am using the Charlotte Mason method for handwriting, spelling, and language arts. For History I am using The Story of the World, which I LOVE! My friend Jamie, introduced me to it, and I'm so glad that she did ( I also just found out that The Pioneer Woman uses this curriculum). Jamie also sent me a list of where the bible stories fit in throughout history, so we were able to start with the creation and Adam and Eve. History was never something I was interested in, but Reece and I are having a great time talking about history together. We wait until Maya is home from kindergarten to do history so that she can participate as well, I'm surprised at how much she is picking up.

Since we have started, I feel like I have reclaimed my son, the school is no longer taking his best hours away from me. He is so happy and fun to be around now and I feel like I am really getting to know him again. In the past the only time I felt that I really got to spend with him in a relaxing way was right before bed, but I was tired and wanted to spend time with Michael. I now get to spend a few hours with him, and I love it. I thought that my kids would be fighting all day long, but they don't. They actually get along better than they ever have. I find them laughing, playing, and having a great time together.

I like that we can go at Reece's pace in his education. Reece is really good at math, and we can push ahead, he struggles in Language Arts and we can take the extra time he needs to make sure he is staying on course. He is enjoying his Spanish so much that he did 3 Spanish lessons yesterday and 2 lessons today, just because he wanted to. In the morning he gets up, does his chores, and he practices the piano without me asking! Our mornings used to be so rushed, stressed and most days either I was angry, or he was.

Two of the biggest worries that people have been expressed to me about homeschooling is the lack of socialization and that I have not been trained as a teacher. Lack of socialization is something that I have never worried about with Reece. I am a social person and so is Reece. We have a bazillion kids on our street that he plays with almost every day. Mondays he goes to hip hop with group of boys his age. Tuesday he goes to piano and has a teacher that he works with (so he is learning from someone other than me). Wednesday he has cub scouts with a bunch of boys his age and leaders (again teachers other than me). Sunday he goes to church with a bunch of kids (and again a teacher other than me). We have already been on 2 field trips with other homeschool kids, today we went to the zoo. I honestly don't believe that kids have to be with other kids their exact same age for 7 hours a day 5 days a week in order to be properly socialized.

As for not being trained a teacher.....that is true. I did not go to school to learn how to teach elementary school. However, I have had 8 years to get to know my son and figure out how he functions, what he enjoys, how to motivate him, and how to discipline him. With the curriculum I have chosen, I don't have to worry about missing anything. It is all spelled out for me. Each morning, I can spend maybe 10-20 minutes getting prepared for our lessons.

I understand that homeschooling wouldn't work for every family, and I respect your decision to send your children to public school. You may still think I'm totally crazy for homeschooling, and that is OK as well. Don't worry, my parents and siblings always thinks I'm crazy, I have chickens! I've come to terms with my craziness. Homeschooling is something that is working for us right now in our lives. A lot of people have had some questions about it, so there are some answers.


Vanalee said...

I admire you for deciding what is best for your family right now and going with it. You are a great mom.

Kristi said...

I am so glad to hear it is going so well, I really like everything you wrote, it's why I want to home school too. I am sad that for my sanity I had to put my research on hold for a while.....I loved hearing about your positive experience!

Brandi said...

I would always be afraid that I wouldn't be disciplined enough to do the lessons everyday. I know you are and I think that is awesome! There are many reasons that I am afraid of public school as well. I feel like I will lose the influence I have on my kids and outside influences that don't have my children's best interest will be let in. It's a scary world we live in right now, and I want to make sure that my children are being taught correct principles. You gave me a lot to think about, but still, I'm not as organized as you...

mike said...

I think it is important to note that Marisa and are doing it more for the positive impact that it has on Reece and not because of anything negative that we think about public schools. I think that home schooling will work better for some and public school works better for others. I can envision us even leaving some of our kids in public school( like we have with Maya)and having the others do home school based on what is best for each child.

marisa said...

Brandi, I'm not going to try to convince you why you should homeschool, but there are tons of different homeschooling methods out there, methods that can fit into any teaching style and thinking style. I'm not very organized, and the methods I'm using work really well for me because I don't have to plan curriculum months out. This morning I looked over Reece's curriculum and printed 3 pages out and we are ready to go. It took me 5 minutes of prep time this morning.

Aly said...

So well thoughts and feelings EXACTLY!

I too would never want to TRY to convince anyone to homeschool, but I do wish they could truly see how awesome it can be for their's just not for everyone, and I can recpect that as well!

I love that I have my sweet daughter back too, it has made a world of difference for her and her attitude.

Annie and I have always both been very social, so I have never been worried about that part either. I have noticed though, that she used to be painfully shy around adults that she didn't know, and now she will have full conversations with anyone...very cool:)

Sorry, I didn't mean to turn this into my own post all about us! It is just really great to meet someone else (that happens to be really normal) that has had all of the same thoughts and experiences as us!

I am so happy for your family that this choice is working out so well for you!

Kathy said...

well said marisa. my feelings exactly. we've felt these feelings, and others, about hannah being in school. she's back this year, and we aren't super impressed with what we've seen on many levels this year. sigh. anyway - i'm sure it will go well for you - can't wait to hear of the experiences you have!

Shannon said...

I have one question? Is it homeschooling still if I were to send my oldest to you every day?

Just kidding. I loved reading your thoughts on this! It seems that you guys had made the right decision!

The Bach 9! said...

I know you have been guided to do what fits best for you and your family. Sounds like you have found out for yourself it is what you want for your family.

Feel better knowing that you have expressed it well to all those who will listen and now it is just time to enjoy being a homeschooling mom.

Funny... You don't seem weird to me one bit!

Glad to have met someone who can relate to my life and my desire to spend quality time with my children.

If you are worried about teaching experience for yourself, just remember.. I have a masters degree in Elementary Ed. I will be your private tutor.

Call me anytime if you need help figuring out a lesson.

Stephanie said...

i love your thoughts. i never thought i would even consider homeschool, but i've read a book recently (more geared towards my kids' ages, but definitely making the case for homeschooling, even for preschool) that is changing my outlook and my life. though i'm going to wait and see how noah is at that age before i make any decisions, your experiences are very similar to the reasons i'd have for doing it.

Jamie Smith said...


Great post, I loved it. I am so glad to hear that you are enjoying homeschool. And I’m glad that you are liking the history stuff.

One thing about being different than everyone else…when you are in elementary school it is *weird* but when you are in college it is *interesting*…so I guess it just takes some perspective to appreciate differences in other! J

jennifer said...

Good for you, Marisa and Michael! I've gone back and forth for years whether to homeschool my son (my biggest obstacle has been my husband). I felt very strongly about homeschooling when my son was preparing to enter kindergarten, but I was wiped out with a pregnancy then and didn't think I could do it. Later, as I saw this child's love of learning squashed (in a classroom where I felt he was left to his own devices), I committed to doing lots of enhancement activities with him at home. But like your Reece he came home from school tired, dazed, bored, frustrated . . . you name it. So true about the school getting the best hours of your child, you the leftovers. I've often wondered, had I acted on my interest at the time to homeschool, how my relationship with my son would be now.

Since you live in a community with year-round school, you have the benefit of programs scheduled around those breaks. How cool would it be to do swimming or ice skating lessons, etc. during the day?! Awesome!

Good luck with this worthwhile endeavor!

stressedkris said...

I am very impressed. I wish I could have the dedication and determination that it takes to home school. I think it would work for Johnny although I don't think it would work for our family with Kimmie.

Although if you started home schooling Maya this year Johnny wouldn't have any more cute girls in his class. He says that Maya is the only one.

You are a great mom and I am really glad to see that it is working for you and your family.

Kristi said...

Way to go, Marisa! I think that is great. I know socialization definitely isn't an issue and I think you are one of the most well-rounded and informed people I know, so what difference does a degree make? My mom is a wonderful elementary school teacher, but there are many who are not - a degree doesn't mean you can teach. I've questioned this with both of my kids and it is a big thing back here. I may look into it a little more now. Good luck and enjoy your kids!!!

Dave Smith said...

Way to go Marisa and Michael! I am very impressed with your thorough research and your togetherness on the decision. I found your post both thoughtful and well expressed.

We'd love to have your family over for dinner (or dessert) some time to hear how everything is going.


Shauna said...

I'm so glad you are liking it so far! And I'm so sad I missed the picnic on Friday. Totally spaced it. 3:00 hit and I went, "Oh SHOOT!" Really, one of these days we'll be there. I'm glad you are finding networks...that makes it so much easier. I'll have to talk to you about k12 next time we see each other. I've been a little wary of it, but have heard lots of good things recently. Anyway, enjoy having your son back! :)

Kim said...

I love this...thank you for opening my eyes to something so wonderful. I have been SO stressed and worried about sending my Joth to school...I hate that they get out SO late...this is something I may consider. I would LOVE to know where you are doing hip hop classes as Joth has expressed a severe interest in this as well. Thanks cute Lady!

marisa said...


Reece takes hip hop at Hip Dance Co. they are right by Jordan Landing, I have really liked them.

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