Here or on FBk please write about the reasons why YOU would or would not home school a child. NOT specific to your children but generically. Does the local school district available make a difference? What was your school background? What do YOU most like about home schooling your children and what have you found is harder than you expected?My first post was really all about MY kids specifically. I had to get that out of the way first. Generically it's hard for me to answer questions about why or why not kids should (or shouldn't) be homeschooled. Doing school at home is radically different than traditional public school. It really is very personal.
I think the local school district definitely played in to things for me the most. Like I said yesterday, if all of the teachers we met had been like the one TT and Bart had for first grade, they'd probably still be in brick and mortar school. She is an amazing teacher who makes the educational process personal for each kid. When I told her that TT has severe anxiety and that wearing gloves helps him when he's on sensory overload, the gloves were welcome in her classroom. When it became apparent that Bart needed extra work to stay busy, and that it wasn't necessary for him to fully participate in all the classroom activities (because he was more advanced), she accommodated him fully! Instead of sitting through calendar time, he was allowed to stay at his desk and write.
But other than our experience with that one single teacher, things haven't been very positive. I was blown away by how far behind TT was - despite receiving terrific grades in K-2. And I knew that Bart was just going to keep getting in more and more trouble at school because of the unrealistic expectations for boys that need to move during the school day. I'm not opposed to ADHD medication in any way. But I didn't want to immediately drug my kid when I knew a different learning environment would probably help more.
I am homeschooling my kids largely because I want my kids to have a passion for learning. There are so many things that have changed since No Child Left Behind was made law. Teachers, at least the ones I've gotten to know personally, tell me that they are so limited to what and how they can teach. Everything is dictated for them. It is difficult to treat each student or class personally. And those tests...those blasted tests. I knew they would destroy TT due to his anxiety.
Homeschooling has really been a journey for us. That first year with TT and Bart was anything but easy. The fighting was daily and I struggled so much. I wanted school at home to look like brick and mortar. The more I let go of those expectations, the easier things got.
I have read that homeschool moms need to be allowed to have a "grace" week...or month...or in our case - year. I let go of the subjects that caused the extreme fighting. Literally - just let go of them. I worked hard on relationships. And I did everything in my power to decrease TT's anxiety toward school. Children just can't learn when they are in a state of high anxiety. The brain prevents it. When you're stuck in fight/flight/freeze you simply can't transfer knowledge from short term to long term memory. I stopped all testing. I said things over and over to remind TT (and Bart) that my goal for school was for them to get the knowledge in their brains. We did a lot of oral work because writing seemed to bother both of them. And spelling...I stopped that altogether.
We did do math. But I got a different curriculum - one that didn't look like or function like public school curriculum. For what it's worth, I've been incredibly pleased with Math-U-See. We managed to do two year's worth of math last year which totally got TT caught up to what kids his age are doing in public school. And because I slowed things down and personalized how we did math, his anxiety dropped away. He can do word problems now without completely freezing and freaking out. He understands things so much better.
Things this year are going so much smoother than last year. It's complicated to describe really. I can't exactly say why things are better. There are so many possible reasons. But, things are better.
I added more work that looks like curriculum and the boys don't freak out when the books get cracked open. That appeases the teacher in me. Part of me still wants my kids to know and be able to do everything the public schools say they should be able to do. But daily I struggle with all that really is expected in a traditional brick and mortar school. It's unrealistic to expect kids to sit in their desks and regurgitate information all day long without being allowed to move and talk. Learning should come alive.
I'll be honest, I never retained a single bit of American history as a kid. Not from what I learned in elementary or high school. It went in one ear and out the other. I puked the names and dates down on paper and got almost straight A's. But the knowledge didn't stick.
We're watching a simple series I bought on Amazon this year called Liberty's Kids. I've checked out books from the library to supplement the content in the series. And now, for the first time ever, I actually know and will probably retain information about my country's forming history.
The kids dictate some of the things they want to learn and I come up with "curriculum" and/or activities to supplement. We read the book The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler last year and then went to visit the art museum in our town last year. Bart announced that we should have donuts on the first day of school this year and that morphed into an entire "unit" (if you will) of learning about donuts. They read about the history of donuts. They made their own homemade donuts. We visited local bakeries and even got a full backstage tour of a Shipley Donuts location. (The owner had homeschooled his children and took time out of a morning to give my boys a hands-on tour of everything.)
Nothing about homeschooling has really been easy. It took a long time to work out the relationships between mom/teacher/son/student. Bart pushed a LOT. He didn't want to obey. I have threatened to send him back to brick and mortar more times than I can count!!!
I don't feel like I identify with most of the other homeschooling families that we've met either. I'm much too liberal for the homeschool co-op we joined last year. Well...maybe liberal isn't exactly the right word. But I'm definitely much more "free range" than any other homeschool family that I've met locally. So we really do this homeschool thing alone. I'm grateful I've got two boys that are close in age though. I think that makes it easier.
Overall, I really do adore homeschooling. I love the flexibility. I love how personal it can be. When my boys understand a math concept, we move on. There's no principal telling me that they have to do three more worksheets as homework and they have to take a pre-test and a final test to prove that they know how to do long division. When they get a concept, we move on.
And my boys have learned things that aren't taught in public school. Granted, these things can all be done in the evenings and weekends with public schooled kids. I'm not saying my kids know more than others!!! But they are comfortable with stuff that their peers, at least the ones in our neighborhood, don't do. Both Bart and TT know how to light the grill and cook a chicken breast from start to finish. Both boys understand consumer math and know how to grocery shop effectively. They can follow a recipe to make a batch of cookies or mix up something for dinner. Those types of skills are going to help my boys when they graduate and do "life" on their own.
This post is crazy long and I don't feel like I've said much. We're still going 'round and 'round with this homeschool journey. Odds are we won't be homeschooling next year. I've got the boys on a waiting list for a small charter school. And if Mr. Amazing gets the opportunity to move us out of Texas because of his job, I will seriously consider public school again wherever we end up. But I'm flexible enough to know that my boys might stay in homeschool through high school too. I want them to receive the best education possible. And if I feel that's in my home, that's where they will go to school.
But I also have to take TT's passions into consideration. And TT absolutely loves football. He lives and breathes football. I let him play flag football for the first time last year and he became totally hooked. Add to that...the kid is pretty good too. He wants to play in the NFL. Yeah...I know that's a pipe dream. But who am I to deny that to my kid?! So...in order for him to play in the NFL he needs to play in college. In order for him to play in college he needs to play in high school. In order for him to play in high school he needs to play in middle school. And next year, TT is in 6th grade. Texas doesn't allow kids to be homeschooled and to participate in public school activities. So, if TT wants to play ball, he's got to go back to public school. I've got Bart and TT on a waiting list at a small charter school yet this year. They'll go if spots open up. I want them to get used to what formal school feels like again before TT gets thrown to the wolves in middle school. And if middle school is too much for TT, he'll come back home. But I have to let him try.
Again, this post is a bunch of rambling but it does sort of explain why we're doing what we're doing. If anyone has questions or comments feel free to fire away. I think homeschool has benefited my kids tremendously. TT's anxiety is diminished on a day-to-day basis and Bart can move at a speed that works for him without being subjected to tons of repetition. But it's fluid and our needs might change. I take every school year and evaluate what will be best for that year. I'm not stuck that one way is the only way.
I'll leave you with a video of TT playing quarterback (and running for a touchdown). Just because it makes me smile....