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.