Saturday, April 14, 2007

Saying Goodbye to Homeschooling...

This is going to be a freewrite or I may never do it. I literally fell into homeschooling after long drawn out battles while pregnant with out first child over whether or not he would go to public or private school. We ended up homeschooling because we were living in Philadelphia and couldn't afford one alternative and weren't about to consider the other alternative when he became school age. I don't know if I would have even considered homeschooling if I hadn't had a chance encounter with another Mom at McDonald's due to us bonding over breastfeeding which led to me attending a Bible study with her which led to me meeting a whole group of homeschoolers. That day happened almost thirteen years ago and since then I've homeschooled all of my children except for my youngest for at least part of their education. My youngest, dearest Bounce, will most likely not be homeschooled at all. I've never believed in kindergarten, let alone full day kindergarten. Sending her to full day kindergarten goes against almost every educational philosophy that I agree with BUT, and here's the big BUT, philosophy is only philosophy. I am strongest when I research the best everything for each of my children and am weakest at implementing those best things. All while homeschooling I had a vision in my head of how I wanted things to be but that vision never matched the reality of the situation. For years, I homeschooled, nursed babies, was pregnant and helped run a business on and off all while living with extreme fatigue and not knowing that it was related to iron deficiency. My thought level didn't match my energy level. When you live for everyone else and try to maintain your sanity by reading or chatting on the internet late at night in silence in order to feed your soul, someone gets the short end of the stick. In my case, my husband got the short end of the stick and my homeschool never was what I wanted it to be and I rarely did things which inspired me or sparked my creativity. Sure, I'd get inspired reading the teaching methods of Susan Wise Bauer or Charlotte Mason but they also set a bar for me that seemed unattainable. My lack of energy really did affect who I was and I was convinced I was that person. I don't know if I'd still be homeschooling if I had gotten my iron deficiency under control sooner. I tend to think that even with more energy I still might have most of my kids in a charter school because they do learn quite a bit there from the other students and the other teachers. I guess my ultimate idea of education would be a three day charter school week or charter school only in the mornings with the afternoons left for individual pursuits. So, back to full day kindergarten. Philosophically every cell in my body is against it. I don't think a child that young needs to be in a school for 6 hours a day doing structured activities but the charter school has a nice mix of unstructured and structured activities. And, I like being just "mom" to my kids and not "mom" and teacher. I miss the teaching part, don't get me wrong, but I don't miss trying to motivate my children to learn. What I have observed in homeschooling vs. the charter school is that some of my children do seem more motivated at school as opposed to how they were at home. I was convinced one of my son's had a writing disability but he started writing more legibly within a week of entering the school. The projects and writing assignments stretch my children in ways that I didn't stretch them at home. Following their interests, though, is less easy within the charter school atmosphere. The teachers definitely do take into account what each student is interested in but obviously can't meet each student's individual interests daily. Each year the charter school has each student fill out what topics they'd like to study and it took until his third year for my middle son's topics to finally be addressed... Medieval Times and Electricity. What regular public school takes their students interests into account in such a detailed way, though? None as far as I know so I am happy with the compromise between the charter school and homeschooling.

Back to Bounce, though, she has no idea what homeschooling is because she is too young to remember me homeschooling her siblings. When I mention the idea of homeschooling her for kindergarten she is not interested in the least bit due to this lack of knowledge. My husband isn't really interested in the idea of me homeschooling her either for a couple reasons. He really needs help with his business or we at least need additional income and he feels the charter school would be best for her. Bounce is very similar to our oldest son who is strongwilled and has always had a problem with authority. Dh and I both think that our oldest might have learned to respect authority more if he had other teachers from an earlier age. I definitely don't think this is true of all of our children or even all children in general. And, I am not sure if I am even right because it may be that his problem with authority stems purely from how we parented him or from his own unique personality but I guess we are going to try something new with Bounce to see if there is a difference.

4 comments:

Sandie said...

Seeing the posts about your Charter school and hearing how well your others are doing there is very encouraging. I hear the excitment in your post. If for some strange reason it doesn't work, you just approach it from another angle.

Sentient Marrow said...

I am surprised you read it as excitement, but glad, because I honestly read it as fear. I am scared. I am sad. But, I guess I am hopeful, too.

Ampersand said...

It's hard to let go of ideals, even if they aren't actually being realized in our lives...

Marcia said...

One of the most important thing we can do for our children is to recognize they are not all alike -- sounds like you are doing that! Our son is 29 already, homeschooling was not much of an option then, but looking back, I know he was so socially oriented personality wise, keeping him home would have backfired on me and we would have argued most likely a good portion of the day because I could not have met those needs for him at home.

When I changed my attitude with my son he was already in his twenties, it was mostly just not being dragged into an argument or getting drawn into using the same tone he used with me, in other words not getting sucked into his mood. I also told that I did not deserve to be spoken to that way and would speak to him when he could respect that -- but it was the way I said it -- I said it nicely (again not letting him drag me down) and more like with confidence that he would respect it rather than demanding or whiny. . I hope that makes sense, it has been a while now.

I hope you are able to relax now that the charter school is available, it sounds awesome!