Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Home Schooling Considerations

Dana, a homeschooling mom, asked me why I am considering home schooling and what it meant to worry about my "last neuron". I'll answer the second question first. I'm a person who needs silence and solitude and lots of it. Some people would argue that parenthood is antithetical to either silence or solitude and I would agree. I look forward to summer vacation and then look forward to school starting again. The kids go back to school. The odds improve. (Only one toddler at home.) Blessed peace during nap time. Blessed peace during Mothers Morning Out when I take the toddler to a church developmental program (play time with a teacher). I love these times. I actually get to finish a task uninterrupted. Bliss. So yes, I worry about my mental health with home schooling. When would I get this time?

The die-hard home-schoolers will snort derisively at my selfishness. I've heard a pious home schooling mom say, "You wanted children, right? Why would you entrust their education to the state?" It could be argued that the responsible decision is to send a child to public school. I could easily retort that with some home-schooled children I see, the only teacher they have stinks. Home schooling isn't magical. Or rather, it's as magical as the parent who teaches. Let's face it, some parent's aren't magical or even adequate.

My daughter has had truly magical teachers the last two years. Her teacher last year should be bottled and replicated. She was amazing. Her team-teachers this year taught with energy and sensitivity. My son, on the other hand, has suffered in education purgatory, aka Special Education. Special Education is a special hell where no one takes responsibility and the customer gets condemned and excused for performance simultaneously. Finally, we prevailed in getting him placed in a regular education classroom where his teachers and I attempted to make up for two years of under-achievement--by his teachers. He worked doubly hard this year, essentially learning two years of curriculum in one year. All that and he was described by the school as mentally retarded. Right. How many "normal" children learned their times tables up to 12 in one month?

Here's more about why home schooling appeals:

  • My son does get exhausted working so hard at school, but then we spend one to two hours per night slogging through what he didn't "get" during school.
  • My son cannot share when awkward or dangerous social situations occur, so we can't talk about it.
  • My daughter is already talking about other girls and boys who are "boyfriend and girlfriend". There is kissing. These are second graders.
  • My children can extensively discuss the injustices of slavery and the tragedy visited upon Martin Luther King, but cannot discuss the significance of democracy or freedom.
  • My children can walk in line like soldiers, they can follow rules, but they are having independent thought driven out of them. What happens when they stop coming home and asking questions--all the p.c. garbage gets funneled in unchecked.
  • The educational emphasis is crazy. Content that I learned in college, they're cramming in in second grade. Earth science to weather to biology to anatomy and physiology to astronomy--you name it, the scientific concept was covered. Why? I suppose it's for the 50% of kids who drop out of high school. At least they'll know the parts of a bee. Sheesh!
Anyway, these are the ideas I'm batting around. More thoughts?


Anonymous said...

I don't think it is selfish to want your quiet and peace. I think it is wise that you recognize that need, in order to make a pudent choice.

tess said...

To homeschool or not isn't an either/or question. You're allowed to give it a try, and if it doesn't work for you, send your kids back to school. Or maybe you'll decide to just homeschool one of your kids. It sounds to me like if you don't try it, you'll forever wonder if you made the right decision.

Anonymous said...

Tess, could you explain why it was reinforced for you that home schooling is the way to go when you were studying to become an educator. I would be really interested to hear your response to that. You mentioned that on the last homeschool post that Melissa did.

Anonymous said...

I am a speech pathologist, worked in the lower elementary grades. I also was a homeschooling mom of one son (grades 1-2). Then we did christian school for 3-5 and now he is in a public middle school. I think the key is you do what your child needs, when he needs it.

My son was way ahead in K. Bored to tears and started hating school (at 5). So, I homeschooled him (followed a fairly strict routine, curriculum etc.)during the early years. This allowed him to work at a faster pace (in some subjects) and learn to love learning. Took each year at a time. Once 3rd grade hit, we placed he and his Kindergarten aged sister in a christian school. Was ok, not perfect but ok. Finally had to decide on 6th grade. Terrified of public school option but he really has thrived. He has had a fantastic year and so has our 3rd grade daughter. Again, we took/take each year at a time.

I understand your need for quiet time. The beauty of homeschooling is you get SO much more done in a shorter period of time. You would still have your afternoon quiet...you can structure his school day with breaks and quiet reading time etc. built in. Not totally the same but once you both get in a routine, it isn't so bad.

Will talk soon!!! :O)


antoinette said...

I homeschool because I want peace and quiet. Everyone I know with kids in schools, public or private, have been through battles royal with those schools. Sometimes the battles went on for months. Maybe this is just California, we have terrible schools here. But after watching friends and family battling it out with schools I knew the best way to peace and quiet is to teach my son myself. Nope he isn't the perfect child and sometimes we have our less than peaceful moments, but they are still less stressful than what I have seen other people go through with principals and teachers. But I am one of those "if you want somethine done right, do it yourself" kind of people. I find it far less stressful to tackle something myself than to sit by and let others do for me. But that's me, if any of this sounds like you, well then homseschooling might be right for you.

tess said...

I was really unimpressed with the quality of the upcoming teachers. I attended a school that was known for it's education program, so one would assume that it would attract those most interested in teaching; what I found was that the type of student that gravitated towards an education degree was more of the "well, I can't figure what else to get a degree in" bent.

I was also really discouraged by the amount of indoctrination. In my very first "education" class, the professor had a union rep come in for a 2 hour presentation. The rep basically said, "If you don't join the union, don't think about getting a job." I personally disagree with most of the NEA's politics, so I was really disappointed. Add to that the political correctness, the "everyone is special" pedagogy, and the movement away from traditional concepts of education (teachers were not to consider themselves authority figures, but rather "guides"), and all I saw was a recipe for disaster.

All of the old-school teachers(no pun intended) will be retiring-- and as far as I'm concerned, there's a real luck-of-the-draw factor in whether or not my children will see enough quality educators in a public school setting.

Hope that helps.

Dana said...

The reason I asked about your last neuron is because so many people think, "I could never do that," because they have a false impression of what it is to homeschool. It isn't magical and it isn't impossible. It isn't a herculean task...at least my children seem to be doing fine and I'm certainly not perfect. Nor do I strive to be, really.

Any difficulty can be overcome if you believe it is the best for your child. Your son sounds like he might need some of that kind of attention, but I'm certainly not one to judge based on a blog entry.

But like someone else said, if you need quiet time, it can be built in to the schedule. Kids need that, too. My children sit down to an hour of quiet time every day where they either watch a show, read or listen to their tapes. And I look forward to karate two nights a week when the little ones are in childwatch and my oldest is in karate.

I am reflective by nature and need time to reflect. I get that then, and after the children go to bed.

But do protect that neuron. The last one is very valuable!

Anonymous said...

Tess, thank you for sharing your experience. It is a lot to think about. My children are happy in public school but as soon as we feel that they are not gettign the education we feel they need to have we will certainly look at other options. For now though, we have been very lucky with some termendous teachers.