I want to homeschool my kids.
Before we go on, you should know that. I’ve wanted to homeschool since Jack was four. We ended up sending him to a Montessori preschool for a bit, and then another (less expensive) preschool the next year, then we homeschooled for a couple of years.
Jack has been in grades 1-4 in public school, and Middle Kid has been in K-2. (Fourth and second are their current grades.)
Lou does not want me to homeschool.
He think our kids will end up being weirdos, or that I might lose my mind. I’m not saying those aren’t valid points, but I think being aware of those possibilities makes a difference.
We know people who were homeschooled that don’t quite blend in – and some that are excelling in life far beyond us. We also know public schooled people that are struggling to integrate into society. I think education has very little to do with that, in comparison to things like home life and emotional support and nurturing. Know what I mean?
And yes, having all three kids home full time tests every tiny bit of patience I have. I don’t get my necessary recharging time, and I feel a little frayed. But my MIL will take the kids literally any second of any day – something I was too proud to accept when we homeschooled before. I didn’t want Lou to think I couldn’t handle it on my own.
The kids aren’t entirely happy in school this year. Jack is probably doing the best because he’s a social kid. How two extreme introverts ended up with two extroverted children is beyond me… Jack and Girlchild love people and enjoy being in large groups.
J complains that he’s bored a lot, and misses the fact that homeschooling is finished much faster than a typical school day. He can work very quickly and move on to things he wants to do. Middle Kid tells me almost every single day he hates school and begs me not to make him go every Monday. He has friends, he does well grade-wise, he’d just rather be at home – reading dinosaur books, if I had to guess. That kid loves him some dinos…
It’s not unusual for me to be attracted to things that are sort of on the fringe… but homeschooling isn’t really a fringe thing anymore. It’s gaining popularity all the time, and I think we really need to examine that. Not just my family, but society as a whole.
Is school really serving kids well anymore? Basic, public, one-size-fits-all school I mean.
I don’t think it does.
The kids have all had amazing teachers. I have absolutely no complaints there. Both boys had the same first grade teacher and still adore her. They wish they could have her every year! And we’re fortunate our kids learn very easily and don’t have extra hurdles to overcome (like dyslexia for instance). The boys are avid readers and actually enjoy learning. They’re like their mama that way. 😉
But… the TESTING. If there’s one thing that drives me crazy it’s the amount of standardized testing these kids go through. I mean… our kids always score high and it doesn’t phase them too much because it’s all they know. What about the kids that struggle? Some of these tests they repeat a few times through the year and set goals and all these things… Do tests really reflect how much a kid is learning??
I had a friend in school that had horrible test anxiety. She was super smart, but when it came to tests she wouldn’t perform to her usual ability. She totally freaked out. This culture of testing kids to death would have been hell for her, and I know there are kids like that now.
Even Jack, who almost always scores above-average, gets test anxiety. He feels like these tests dictate if he’s smart or not, and have a lot of say in who he gets to be. I’m not just inferring this – he told me so himself. The possibility of not doing well really bothers him.
He’s not learning for the joy of it.
And that, my friends, is how we burn kids out on their basic love of exploring new concepts.
I’ve never met a kid that doesn’t like to learn stuff. It may not be algebra, but there is always something that just lights a kid up. For Jack it’s S.T.E.A.M – Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. He loves to paint and draw as much as he loves to learn coding and build stuff. Middle Kid loves history and science – dinos and geology especially. He knows more about dinos than is humanly possible. I think he might have a separate brain just for storing dino info.
Homeschooling allowed us a lot of flexibility when it came to their independent work. It took us 2-3 hours to do our required work, then they had the rest of the day to play or explore their own interests. We were also able to incorporate a lot of it into our school work.
I also think public school can perpetuate this idea of busy-ness in our lives. Kids have a more active social life than a lot of adults anymore. Clubs, sports, after school programs… These kids are running themselves (and their parents) ragged. Add in all of the screen time and we’re raising very different kids than I grew up with.
Some of that is what it is… Each generation is going to change. But I’m worried that some of these changes are to the detriment of our children.
I mentioned before the boys each got a Nintendo DS for Christmas, as a gift from their grandpa. Over Christmas break, they had unrestrained access. It was new, they were excited… Now that we’re back to our routine, they only get about an hour a day of allowed time. We also disabled any online access. It’s for games only.
Until this year, video games were a no-no in our house. We had a game that plugged into the TV (Ms Pac-Man), but it died a few months ago so we replaced it with an NES Classic this year (the cute mini version). Still, it usually only gets action on the weekend. It was never a daily thing before, and it’s not now.
I’m not saying this is the perfect solution, but our insistence on no video games forced our kids to get more creative. They would complain that so and so had this or that…and then we’d send them outside to roam the woods. They will spend hours outside and come in filthy and worn out… just like kids should.
They climb trees. Hike to the four corners of the woods. Find all kinds of weird things (like the skull of what we think was a raccoon…) and do other outdoorsy things.
That was another advantage of homeschooling – lots and lots of time outside. On nice days we’d take our work outside, too. They could get plenty of sunshine and fresh air and play.
Have you talked to a ten year old recently? They’re basically adults. They worry about politics and the economy and things I didn’t have the slightest idea about when I was ten. We’re raising kids that are already stressed out. Kids that are overweight. Kids that have a lower life expectancy than us!
Is school the only issue? Definitely not. But education is a good place to start… It’s our method of training our kids, after all. What kind of life are we setting them up for?
It’s been a hot debate in our house lately, and I’m pushing to bring the kids home next year. I’m actually intending to start in June and already have quite a bit of curriculum stockpiled… Even though Lou is still on the fence. (Okay, maybe he’s on the other side of the fence…all the way across the field…)
I feel like a year-round approach can be really helpful. I mean, one argument for public school (from Lou, anyway) is that it prepares kids for real life. Who gets a three month vacation every year?? Keeping a balanced schedule year-round is way more realistic.
My last argument for homeschooling is the lack of soul and spirit in public schools. That’s required by law, obviously, and makes it an even playing field for kids from all backgrounds… But I want more for my kids. I want a holistic education that nourishes their body, mind and spirit. Learning that combines all of these things (the Waldorf method really interests me).
Spiritual growth is one of my values, and I really hope the kids learn to make it a priority in their own life. When the majority of their time is spent in school, where it’s not allowed to factor in, how can they?? Yes, we have time with them at home, but I think you get my point. If school is the standard, it’s not setting the bar very high in that regard.
You guys… I could go on about this for hours. I’m already up to over 1500 words, so I guess I’d better stop myself.
My point is, we have to start looking at each kid individually. Even when we break kids into groups based on ability, we’re not really reaching each kid on a heart level. Kids are getting missed, believing they’re not good enough, when they just haven’t found the thing that makes them shine… This isn’t the fault of the teachers – it’s the standards they are held to.
Part of my calling on this earth is to raise my kids and prepare them for life, to the best of my ability. That means I have to do what I think is best for them. And it may not look like what everyone else is doing.
And that’s okay.