Saturday, January 20, 2007

choosing to homeschool

In a week I will be a homeschooling mother. The decision to do this was natural, yet it was not easy. I am not anti-school but I am very pro-education. My eldest daughter attends middle school. Her experience at the school has been less than ideal; failing assignments for using the wrong color pen, being physically and verbally attacked at school by another student without teacher repercussions, lack of guidance in areas she needed help, getting into trouble for dropping a pencil.... It seems as if her school was more focused on managing students than teaching them.

Earlier in the year I made the offer to home school. In typical 13 year old fashion, our daughter told me that in no terms would she ever consider homeschooling. She wanted to hang out with friends. Fast forward to about 2 weeks ago. She came to me and told me that she wanted to be home schooled. Huh?

Her arguments:

  • she felt that she was not learning
  • too many kids in her classes - and not enough teacher interaction
  • much of the curriculum was not challenging enough
  • she felt that she was being held back in the areas that she excelled and not getting help where she needed it.
  • she decided that she could visit with friends on the weekends and in the evening.
  • she didn't want to put up with the pressure of looking a certain way any longer

Wow. I did not expect that! I agreed with her that homeschooling would be better than where she is now. So, in a week we will begin this journey. I have already found all of the state laws regarding homeschooling and have filled out paperwork. Fortunately, my husband and I each have post-baccalaureate degrees, which means that we do not have to send quarterly report cards to the school district.

I have found great curriculum - and plan to tailor it to fit her needs. Yes, I teach during the day, however, homeschooling does not mean that school has to take place from 8-3. I am structuring it to fit around a schedule. I never imagined myself doing this. This is going to be another great adventure!

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

That's great! Wow. Nice to see that she's open to new ideas and focused on the right things. If more people realized that the lifestyle you're choosing to lead isn't an oddity that will ruin the economy and stunt the kids' socioemotional development, I think it'd become more popular. Way to lead by example! I'm going to be very interested in how it goes, and what you and she both think of it, after awhile, as I've been toying with the idea of homeschooling my future child(ren) and have only been exposed to one case.

Good luck to you both!

--Shana in Missouri

RAS said...

Congratulations and Good Luck!
I was homeschooled from middle school through high school, via correspondence courses. I found it to be much better than public schools. Not only was I not worried about my safety (I grew up in less than good neighborhoods) or about getting in trouble for stupid things, but I could progress at my own pace and actually finished high school early.
-Rebecca

Emme said...

Shana - Thanks! I am anxious to see how it goes as well. She excels in writing and literature - so we are going to be working on critical literary analysis and rhetoric rather than just the standard middle school english. Of course, we will have the standards of pre-algebra, science (life + anatomy), and ancient civilization (next year middle ages).

Rebecca - It is great to hear that you had such a good experience!

BurdockBoy said...

Good for you. We have never even considered public school as an option. Homeschooling will be a very rewarding experience for both of you. Homeschooling not only can exel her on academic knowledge, if one chooses, but it allows for real world experience such as volunteer work which public education greatly lacks.

Minnesota must have a week homeschool lobby, because here in Wisco all one needs to do is file the paperwork-they never check up on you, no matter who you are.

Anonymous said...

You're a good mom! Good luck with your homeschooling.

wil said...

How exciting! Good luck!

The middle ages! Woo-hoo!

Kim in IN said...

You'll both love it Emme! My 14 yr. old son has never been to a school outside of home. On the other hand,my 9 yr. old daughter begged to go,so we let her. We live in a small town,good schools as far as schools go. Our 7 yr. old wanted to try also but he thinks he'd like to stay home next year. Fine with me. It's alot easier to homeschool when it is their choice.
blessings,
kim

Cheryl said...

Congratulations to you both! We have never regretted making the decision to homeschool, and we love it more every year.
What a lucky girl - I wish homeschooling had been an option when I was that age, I would have done it in a heartbeat.
Good luck!

Jenna said...

Emme:
I hope everything goes well. We are new to homeschooling this year and its a decision we've never regretted. How can you regret spending quality time teaching your child? My prayers are with you this week!

Pea said...

I think I'm sold on the homeschooling idea,too. We already do it to an extent and I think our daughter will end up learning more in the end. I think it's a good choice and good for both of you.

Jenny said...

You really hit a good point in that schools are more focused on student management than education. Good Luck! I'm sure it'll be a great journey.

Sara said...

What a good mama you are...and what a wonderful thing you are doing for your daughter. You'll both love it. She (and you) might like reading the book, The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Lllewellyn. I found it very interesting.

Wendy said...

Awesome for you ... and your daughter! We've been "officially" homeschooling for four years (unofficially for nine). My oldest (now 18) homeschooled during high school. She was an "auto-didact" and started taking college classes when she was sixteen. She loved it! My other three have never been to school. Good luck!

Robert Brinkmann said...

Howdy All,
I am a college prof and I must say that I am a fan of homeschooling. I have seen some good students come to the U who have been homeschooled. Some aren't so good as well...typical bell curve. However, the homeschoolers often are very hard working and independent. Some faculty claim that they seem a bit less likely to 'fit' into college life, but I haven't seen that. Plus, the U's are moving more and more to online courses or course components. The current generation is very tech savy so I think if you give them access to technology they should be fine if you want them to have access to a U education down the road.
There is some concern among some of the science profs as to whether or not the homeschoolers are getting enough science/math--particularly key issues of biology and ecosystems dealing with evolution--often topics that cause parents to pull students out of public schools. I haven't seen this as an issue, although I don't have a big sample population.
Good luck!

the veggie paparazzo said...

I understand that home-schooling means your daughter can get away from some elements that she wishes to escape, but I hope you will still strive to do a couple of things:

a) have her be exposed to children of different backgrounds, socioeconomic levels, races, etc., and not always with you around (so that she learns to navigate the world somewhat independently from you, and realizing the differences that exist in the world and the US);

b) have her learn from someone other than a parent for at least some period of time regularly (lest she get too adjusted to one style of learning).

I was around a decent number of home-schooled kids at college, and I do think that many of them are educationally advanced and socially . . . not as well-rounded. In some cases, their worlds have closed in to their families and friends their parents approve, and that appears to have stunted them socially and given them a rather narrow world view. Of course, some home-schoolers have also been educated terribly by parents who did not have the knowledge, skills, or background to teach. (Education is a major for a reason, after all.) And some home-schooled kids do well by all means.

I must admit I would rather see parents make an investment in public schools--volunteering there, lobbying for changes there, etc.--than doing home-schooling. I think it's terribly important for children of all backgrounds to interact with one another in a learning environment that is available to everyone. Though by the time we have children we will be in a financial position to make a variety of choices concerning our kids' schooling, we plan to utilize public schools for our kids. For the health of the US, I think a good public school system is vital, and that will never happen without parents committed to the public schools.

At the same time, I do realize alternatives are a nice option for kids who are having problems. I switched from a private school to a public one in sixth grade. My parents were worried I wouldn't be as academically challenged, but I got into the gifted program, and it worked out fine. I believe my ability to work easily with people very different from myself is rooted in my going to school for so long with kids unlike me and my family. But I've lost the point of this paragraph, which was that a change of schools was the best thing that I could have hoped for. Sometimes you just need a change, and that may be the case with your daughter.

plymster said...

Homeschooling is an interesting choice. Are you concerned that your kids will have trouble adjusting socially once they leave home? Given the nature of your thrifty beliefs, they'll already be philosophically different from their peers. Couple this with a pronounced reduction in contact with others their own age, and there's a good chance that they will be unable to relate to others in the world.

Further, how does homeschooling fit in with your previous post on developing a community? Will you be taking on local kids as a teacher? Will you work with other parents in the area to teach your and their children? Steps like these might help to build the community you seek, educate your children responsibly, and ease the worklad of teaching five children.

Good luck!

Emme said...

Clarification. :)

I am only homeschooling my 13 year old. Not the others. If it is the best option for the others (in the future) then I might do so.

I am fortunate that this area has a rather large homeschooling association. There are a number of homeschool groups with opportunities to share teaching, labs, etc.

My 6 and 8 year old are in a good elementary school. There are pluses and minuses, but the school is good.

We have a lot of children in our neighborhood and our eldest was very popular at school. She has invitations for overnights quite often. I don't worry about her socialization. I do worry about the inadequate education.

One of my students told me yesterday that he was homeschooled. He is a stellar college jr. I was surprised when he told me that most of his friends are high school seniors. He loved his homeschool experience and gave me a lot of advice.

Anonymous said...

congrats on the decision to homeschool! I am have been homeschooling my daughter for three years now and it has been an amazing adventure. Not only am I educating her but I am re-eductating myself. Things that were passed over in traditional school due to time constraints, we are able to really investigate. Please feel free to lean on me for support any time! we need to support one another and recreate our lost communities.

shannon

Anonymous said...

I have homeschooled my 2 children for 8 years now. They have never been to public or private school. They are not socially inept or awkward by any means. In fact, they are more comfortable around people of all ages than their public school friends. They get the individualized attention that they need and deserve. Because we homeschool, the advantages they have are extraordinary. My oldest - 13 yrs - is able to coach younger kids in hockey and be a ref. She has learned life skills that "normal" college kids can only hope of aquiring. Please do not let the negative nay-sayers influence your decision. Only you and your daughter know what is right for you both.

Sandy said...

Welcome to my world Miranda! I was so happy to read this post, as I also home school my three children. There are lots of opportunities for home schooled children in our town -- email me if you want some names of co-ops (I actually founded one for elementary aged kids) or extracurriculars such as choir, basketball, etc.

--Sandy Schroeder (you'll remember me as a Tinsley)

sandyandkurt@gmail.com

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