Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why do you homeschool?

Homeschooling was not something I thought about until... until my son was in 1st grade and things started to nag at me.

Things like preschool teachers coming to my home and telling me in front of my son that he would never be a "star" student, the same teachers who told me he could not zip his jacket or tie his shoes. The same jacket and shoes I had him zip and tie everyday before heading to school. They told me he didn't climb the stairs correctly, never mind that I had taught him a certain way so that he would be less likely to fall down the 30 or so stair steps he climbed every day several times a day at home. The same teachers that put a 4 year old boy on one side of a large classroom while the rest of the class played on the other side in clear view, and expected him to take a "test" of skills and pay clear attention only to them.

Things like the kindergarten teacher - we took our son to meet her the day before school actually started. On our way home my son was telling me he thought it looked fun except - except that the teacher hugged him. I explained to him that if he did not want hugs he didn't have to hug, and next time to stick out his hand so she could shake it. I took him to school the next day and knowing the teacher meant well but might not catch his signal I told her that he was uncomfortable with her hugging him and our solution. Instead of understanding that he might just be a bit shy, she turned to me and said "well in my experience, it's the kids who don't want the hugs that need them most." WOW, what a slap! I told her to shake his hand until he indicated it was ok to hug, assured her that he would eventually as he was a pretty affectionate kid and left it at that.

Then we had first grade. In first grade they told me he could not read well enough, wanted to put him in title one reading. Ok, I thought, it'll get him extra help in reading how could that possibly be a bad thing? Throughout the year, I noticed him more and more reluctant to read, that was backwards. When we went in for parent teacher conference we had a few discussions that didn't go well. The first was about the reading. They were not taking him out of normal reading time for the title one reading. They would take him out of computer time, or math time, and while the teacher was teaching phonics the title one teacher was using whole word reading. This first grade boy was mixing the rules (imagine that) and getting scolded for it. By the time the year was over, he would not read for me at all.

Also in first grade, they decided on some diversity training at the school. Ok, I figured they would also keep it appropriate to the grade levels. Unfortunately, their idea of appropriate for first grade was much different than mine and that became abundantly clear when our son came home with that weeks button on his chest. "It's ok to be gay." I understand the public school thoughts on diversity and their thoughts on it's necessity, but first grade? That was too much information way too soon. After all it was earlier in that year that I had to explain to him that "no, just because the little first grade girl and the little second grade boy had kissed, did not mean they had sex." How on earth was I going to explain to him what his button meant?

Next first grade tip off was when we decided that summer school might help with the reading block. (What on earth was I thinking?) Through the course of summer school, the teacher decided to let me in on a secret. My son was eligible for FREE ADD/ADHD testing. Isn't that fantastic? Turns out she didn't have any particular reason to offer that to us except that each student tested got money for the school. She presented this to us as if she felt our son NEEDED the testing, all the while there was no real reason, except that my 6/7 year old son could not sit in his chair for the length of every class of the day without fidgeting. Hmm, I've yet to meet a 6/7 year old boy who can do just that.

Throughout that first grade year I was also going to school. I had heard about this homeschooling thing from a couple who lived a few blocks down in our student housing area, and the seed was planted. But who was I to teach my kids? I didn't have a degree, or training beyond the few education classes I had taken so far. I started to do research, and talked about it occasionally with a neighbor. How could I do this AND go to school? The wheels kept spinning. This was 1997, homeschooling was not new, but it was not nearly as popular as it is now. All the research I did showed that tools were available, laws were easy to follow, I might be able to do this...

My neighbor and I went back and forth with this, but one day we both hit on it at the same time. And we thought about how we could work our schedules so that we could help each other, then it was time to let the husbands in on it. I handed all the research I could find to him, told him the summery of what I had learned and let him go do his own research. He was working in the collage admissions office at the time and went in to the office of the head of admissions. I don't know how the conversation went exactly but I imagine it started out something like this: Boss my wife wants to do this crazy thing called homeschooling..." then went the questions about getting into collage after being home schooled etc. The boss handed my husband a file and told him there was a lot of information there, and further he told him something that gave us enough confidence to give this a try. He said that there were actually colleges out there who were actively seeking homeschoolers. Why? Well, not so much because they knew it all, but because they knew HOW to learn and that was even more attractive. Even some Ivy League schools were looking FOR homeschoolers.

We made the decision and let the district know just two weeks before classes started for the fall, and I went out in a mad rush to get workbooks and information so I could begin. My friend did the same. Both of our husbands said to us "we will try it for a year, see how it works out." 12 years (and several kids later for both of us) our families are still homeschooling our children. It has been a roller coaster of a ride as is any adventure when you throw children into the mix. Twice I got serious about quitting, both times God gave me a big slap on the back of the head and told me we were still on the right track and to keep at it. I'm so glad I listened.

My oldest, the only one of my children who has ever gone to public school is currently attending USMAPS, the prep academy for West Point. I am still teaching the others I have children in 7th grade, 4th grade, Kindergarten, and the youngest is 3. I'm also pregnant and due in April. With all that there are sure to be a lot of stories for me to put here, as well as some of my favorite tips, curriculum, and ideas. After all this time I still don't have it all worked out so this should be endless. I hope you enjoy it all and come back often. :)

1 comment:

  1. Kudos! I wonder how many would love to be homeschooling but feel inadequate. Your Blog will certainly give them encouragement!