Public School at Home

 

Anytime I have difficulty with my homeschooling and I turn to a friend for advice I invariably hear that I am making the age-old mistake of trying to public school at home. The funny thing is they don’t generally stop long enough to hear what my difficulty is before turning to this sage advice “don’t try to public school at home”. Honestly, I don’t even know what that means. See, what a lot of my homeschool friends do not understand is that before college I never stepped foot in a public school. None of my children have either, and other than Hollywood versions I honestly do not know what takes place in a public school. Somehow, I doubt it is anything like what is portrayed on the television, so I fail to see how I am duplicating something I know nothing about.

Yet the advice continues to come in. Friends assure me that the number one mistake parents make when homeschooling is trying to do public school at home. I cannot help but wonder if they even know what that means.

What does it mean to public school at home?

We sit at a desk, some of the times, is that public schooling at home?

This year we broke our subjects down by an hour per subject a day, is that public schooling at home?

We break for an hour at lunch time, if the kids eat fast they can spend the rest of their time playing, but if they don’t eat fast then we go back to work after that hour is up without any play time. Is that public schooling at home?

Before the next person tells me no matter what my difficulty for this week is that my problem is I public school at home, I would really like an explanation of what that is.

The beauty of homeschooling is that there is no right way or wrong way to do it. What works for me and my family might not work for you and your family. Doesn’t mean I am doing it wrong, obviously if it is working for us, and it doesn’t mean that your way is the right way, simply because it is working for you, again; there is no right way or wrong way to homeschool if it is working for you. So, for the people who say that the difficulty lies in trying to duplicate public school at home, perhaps they know what they mean and it didn’t work for them, but it certainly doesn’t mean that it won’t work for someone else.

My oldest struggled for so many years because part of me desperately wanted him to learn the way I did. It took me way longer than it should have to realize that while I need little to no structure to learn he needs a lot of structure.

So, the next time someone tells you not to Public School at Home. Ask them what exactly that means, and then remember just because it doesn’t work for everyone doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for anyone. If you find that what they are describing is the best learning environment for you, then go for it. If the children are learning something you have success.

 

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Homeschool Mom Interview

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Recently I was invited to write a guest post on Faith and Good Works Blog. The series a virtual interview of a homeschool mom invited other homeschool moms to answer various questions that homeschool moms are asked almost on a daily basis. Each mom, of course, has a different answer, and that is partly what makes this series so fabulous, if you are considering homeschooling or if you have homeschool friends, and you want to understand better why they do it and how they do it then I recommend checking out this blog.
The Questions:
Some of the questions we answered were:
How long have you been homeschooling?
What is your motto or Bible verse that your family uses?
Are family members involved in the homeschooling?
What are your favorite and least favorite aspects of homeschooling?
All good questions right? Possibly things that you have wondered.
Curriculum
Probably one of the biggest issues that Homeschool Moms get asked has to do with curriculum. What types of curriculum do you use? Why do you choose this curriculum over that one? The best way I can explain it is that the joy of homeschooling is that it allows you to work your schedule, and curriculum to meet the needs of your family. Growing up my mom had five children. One of my brothers and one of my sisters were already in high school when Mom stumbled on homeschooling. There is a ten-year gap between my oldest brother and my older sister, so when Mom started homeschooling, she had an 18-year-old, a 17-year-old, a six-year-old, and five years old and a four-year-old (me). Part of the reason she started homeschooling had to do with how the public school system was set up, something that has not changed in all these years. For instance, my oldest sister had a great teacher in middle school. Just one of the all time best teachers ever. When her younger brother was old enough for that grade, the school informed my parents that there was no way for him to be put in that teacher’s class. He ended up with a subpar teacher, because as the school put it, it wouldn’t be fair to the subpar teacher if everyone was able to choose the great teacher for their class. Why would you want to send your children to a subpar teacher versus an excellent teacher? The same is true with curriculum; we now know that everyone learns differently. This concept makes a lot of sense because everyone is unique. In public schools twenty to thirty children are all given the same textbooks, the same teaching style from the teacher and all are expected to learn the same way. We as individuals struggle with this, and that is another way that homeschooling works, homeschooling embraces the individuality of each student.
The Point is This
I am going to sum this up, though, because really what I want is for you to go to Faith and Good Works blog and read my blog interview and check out some of the other interviews posted there. I could go on more details with this blog on different aspects of homeschooling, but instead I want you to go read that interview and look next week for my post on Public School versus Homeschool, my opinion might just surprise you. As well as my upcoming post, Myths about Homeschooling.

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Should I Homeschool

Should I homeschool?
The question that I get asked the most by young parents or rather parents of young children is “should I homeschool?” It is either that or some variation of that question, including should I continue to homeschool? Why do so many people ask this question? Well part of it stems from problems they see in other schooling options, and part of it comes from a deep seated desire to homeschool that even they themselves cannot fully explain. The choice to homeschool is a personal one that should be made in the home between the parents, and while it is nice to have support from extended family and friends you should never homeschool because an outside source tells you to.
Growing up homeschooled
I grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s when homeschooling was fairly unheard of. When we told someone that we homeschooled they generally looked at us like we had a second head or a third arm. Still somehow we survived home schooling. What is more we thrived. My brother went on to be a successful engineer, my sister is a book keeper, and I am a blogger/writer. My sister sent her only child to public school, my brother who had his first child this year plans on homeschooling, and like him I am homeschooling my three children. Not all children who homeschooled will choose that path for their children, and not all parents who currently consider homeschooling or who homeschool grew up in a homeschooling family.
So Why Should You Homeschool?
There is a myriad of reasons why a family chooses to homeschool. Some families choose homeschooling for religious reasons, however not all homeschoolers are Christians. We choose homeschooling for several reasons.
• Disagreeing with current education standards
• Desiring to spend more time with my children
• Children can work at their own pace
• The Student to teacher ratio in public schools in my area are 30:1 homeschool for us is 3:1
• Instilling a lifelong love of learning.
The list of reasons could fill an entire blog. Each family has different reasons, and some of those reasons overlap. Most common reasons include:
• Religious Reasons
• Health Reasons
• Educations Standards
• Freedom and Control.
Let’s talk about the last reason for just a moment. A lot of homeschool parents cite wanting the freedom to teach their children what they want them to learn and the control over the education information. In other words, parents want to make sure that they have the freedom to teach their children while controlling information that they deem as dangerous. For people who do not homeschool or who have misinformation about homeschooling this notion can be a little confusing. It could seem like parents are trying to manipulate what their children know. However, most homeschool children develop a deep love of learning, which surpasses their parents control, as homeschool children mature and their love for learning deepens they grow beyond any manipulation that their parents might have. It is true that homeschool children tend to have closer relationships with their parents, and that is not a bad thing.
Should you homeschool?
That is something only you and your spouse can answer. You can write down your reasons why, and discuss them but ultimately the decision is going to have to be yours. I will close with this, once you decided to homeschool you should stick with that decision. The same concept is applied to public school also. Children need stability in their lives, and so if you think that public school is best that is something that you should do consistently, if you believe that homeschool is best that is something that you should do consistently, do not put half the children in one and half in the other, and do not put your children in public school for one year, homeschool the next, then send them back to public school the following year, give them stability in their education. That isn’t to say that public school students should never be homeschooled or homeschool students absolutely should never go to public school but rather a yo-yo effect will do a lot more harm than good.

Faking It

I grew up the youngest of three homeschool children, actually the youngest of five children but my parents didn’t discover homeschooling until my oldest two siblings were in high school, there is a twelve-year gap between my oldest brother and my second oldest sister. So when my sister started Kindergarten my parents discovered homeschooling, pulled her out and decided to homeschool their youngest three children, leaving the older two to finish up high school since they were essentially done with it anyway. That being said I always figured I could homeschool, after all I had been a student how hard could it be to become the teacher. When my son was born it was a given, I knew I was going to homeschool I didn’t really even consult my husband, though we did discuss it a little bit. With our oldest and our next child there was a bit of a gap, our oldest was five when we had our second child, so our oldest started schooling when there was a new born baby in the house, and it was a struggle to find our groove.

As we struggled through kindergarten I had so many doubts. Maybe it was fatigue, maybe it was a combination of things, but I really wondered if I was able to do this, and yet we made it through kindergarten with a newborn, and then through first grade with a newborn and a one-year-old. Second grade with two toddlers, now two and three, and as third grade approaches in the fall I will have three in school as we plan to start preschool with our four-year-old and we figure since our youngest is a firm believer in anything my brother can do I can do also, she will probably be joining him in the preschool arena. That being said most days I still feel like I am faking it.

This morning when I woke up, got my coffee and my Homeschool Mom’s Bible I went out on our porch for my meditation time I turned appropriately to the devotional for May 30th titled “Over my head”, where the author writes how she attempted to teach her daughter piano even though she didn’t know much about the instrument sans a few lessons in her own childhood. She was over her head and finally had to find help from an outside source to teach her daughter how to play the piano because she knew that she couldn’t do it alone.

So many times during our homeschool journey I have found myself in over my head. My oldest, though a whiz at math, science and engineering, is entering third grade this fall with a rudimentary understanding of English. It absolutely terrifies me, especially since I have such a love for the written word. I struggle with the notion that he is not a strong reader, even though I know that in many ways he can out do me in Math, and there are days when I feel like a complete failure because he doesn’t read as well as I think he should. Instead of embracing the journey most days I am just faking it.

 

Resident vs. Certified, Choosing a Doctor

Pregnancy-MassageMy friend is pregnant and she asked me the other day which hospital she should deliver at. I felt honored as I explained what I liked about our two local hospitals. My oldest was born at one hospital and my other two at the other hospital. Then the topic changed to one that was near and dear to my heart.

“Hospital A has residents and Hospital B has certified,” she said quite proud to know this. “That’s right,” I responded. Then, “I don’t think I would have a resident deliver my baby.” My heart dropped. It was a resident that delivered my youngest two.

When I found out that I was pregnant the first time I was absolutely over joyed. We weren’t married yet but we were planning on it. We discussed moving the wedding up. Then the worst happened, we lost the baby. Things spiraled out of control and we split up. About two years later I met the father of my children. We dated a short while before finding out that we were expecting. Thrown into parenthood we ended up living at my parents for a short while, and when my oldest was born he was premature. He spent the first week of his life in the NICU and came home on a breathing monitor.

So when a couple years later we found out we were expecting again I was all kinds of nervous. We saw a local doctor for the first five months when they found a problem. I was carrying to much water. We went to see a specialist at the local hospital and decided that since the hospital we were scheduled to deliver at didn’t have a NICU we would change providers. Since I would have to see the high risk doctor through the bigger hospital we decided to not pick another provider and whoever was on call would deliver the baby.

When our son was born almost a week late at the end of July a Resident, second year medical student would be the one to deliver. Delivery went so smooth and the baby and I went home two days later. Only seven months later I was expecting again. I asked the resident if she  would be our doctor and deliver our third baby. There was something about her that made me feel comfortable. She took care of me and the baby and the whole family for the rest of her time in residency and we were all heartbroken when she moved on.

How could I possibly explain this to my friend though? What words could I use to reassure her that a resident could be just as qualified as a certified doctor. They don’t do it alone. There was always another doctor in the delivery room. Would I have been open minded enough with my first baby to listen to someone? Probably, I took a lot of bad advice with my pregnancy. People told me to fear doctors and I did. They told me that Doctors didn’t have my best interest at heart. They scared me into believing that Pitocin was the worst thing ever, and that I should be cautious of any advice my doctor gave me.

I don’t know whether I can convince my friend that Residents are just as good at delivering as Certified Doctors. Here is what I will say to her and to any of you out there reading this, go with your gut. Ask a lot of questions constantly and remember up to the moment the baby is delivered you can ask for someone else if your doctor is making you feel uncomfortable. Take the advice and counsel of Doctors over anything you read on the internet, including my blog. I didn’t spend any time in Medical school, I didn’t go through residency, I don’t know the first thing about delivery other then what I went through with my own children and so my telling you what you need to do with your delivery shouldn’t supersede what a medical professional tells you.

I was happy with my Resident doctor delivering my two youngest and I told her that if she settled down and started a practice in my area I would continue to use her as our family doctor because I trust her decisions and advice. When it comes to your children and family you need to trust your family doctor and if you do not trust your doctor find one that you do trust.

A Second Generation Home School Family

As a mother of three children, this will be my second experience with homeschooling. First as a student in the 90’s, when it was less than popular. And now teaching my children in 2015, when it seems like just about everyone I meet either home-schools or knows someone who is thinking about it. Now that I am a teacher and preparing three children to go on the wonderous journey of homeschool I wonder if I didn’t somehow luck out.
When I grew up, we were shunned. Homeschool students were made fun of, looked down on by society on a large scale. In Colorado, we had to see a psychologist, this was done in part to determine if homeschool was harming us in any way. I don’t know if the same laws still apply in Colorado. My mom and the moms of the 80’s and 90’s paved the way to make homeschool normal.
You could say that homeschool is in my blood. Except my sister who never homeschooled tried it with her kids before life interfered, and she had to go back to work full time. My other sister who was homeschooled also experienced life’s general interference and therefore never tried it with her daughter. Three of mom’s five children were homeschooled. She didn’t even know it was an option when her older two were school age.
We were ridiculed by people who clearly had no clue how homeschool worked. “What about socialization?” Give me a break we had a ton of friends. My brother excelled at track and football, my sister was a champion at showing horses, she also raised rabbits. We had a garden and the stand to sell our vegetables; we were quintessential “Little House on the Prairie”.
What about me, well I am glad you asked. At sixteen, I got tired of homeschool and decided to try my hand at college. I was in for a rude awakening. The deceit and backstabbing were new to me; I had no idea that someone would lie and try to get you kicked out of school just to have a private dorm room. The school was less than helpful. Well no, that is not completely true I had a pretty good idea that people were horrible I just wasn’t expecting the amount of terror that adult girls would put another young girl through. The admissions rep was awesome. He did everything in his power to make things right for me; the lady in charge of housing was another story altogether. Perhaps homeschool made me willing to stand on my own two feet; it gave me the courage to stand back up after being knocked down. Shortly before my 18th’s birthday during my sophomore year at college I transferred schools.
The new school was okay, but I had lost my focus. At 20, I dropped out of school altogether just one semester shy of my Bachelors in Criminal Justice. I met a man, fell in love and got married. Our son was born, and I started thinking about my life so far. I guess I didn’t want him to be disappointed in his old mama, so I went back to school, changed majors to English and walked in my graduation at 29.
I am not your typical homeschool story though. I like to think that most homeschool students who go to college are not met with the kind of deceit I was, and most don’t drop out.
My brother graduated with highest honors. He was the first student to graduate with all A’s from his program with a degree in AutoCAD. He works for a nice company now as project manager. We all take different paths in life, homeschool students, for the most part, are no different from our public school counterparts. We have the same interests and ambitions, what differs is our learning atmosphere. My good friends send their children to public school; they are smart, sweet, and successful. My good friends also homeschool their children, and they are just as smart sweet and successful. The choices that we make as mom’s, what is best for our family, is simply for our family. I would never tell another Mom that they had to homeschool or not, or that they had to vaccinate or not. We should respect each others choices when it comes to our families. Sure I can quote statistics on homeschool, how students excel, but the research is out there if you are interested. What I hope instead is that I presented a story of a second generation homeschool family that is just trying to figure things out as they go.

From great sorrow, I have brought great joy.

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November 17th, 2004 started normally as any other day had for me. Then when I was walking through my dining room to my living room I felt a funny sensation and realized that I was bleeding. I quickly woke my then fiance, and we rushed to the hospital. I was only seven weeks pregnant. The words “threatened abortion” were used so callously by doctors and nurses, exam after exam yielded the same results. Seven weeks pregnant with a strong heart beat. “Go home,” they said and hopefully the bleeding will stop. Early on the morning of November 18th I was back at the hospital. The doctor, my doctor at the time came in, he told me that I had an ectopic pregnancy. He explained that the baby, or in is terms the fetus, implanted in my cervix and that there was nothing that he could do. My only hope was to go through surgery to remove the baby (fetus). My baby was still alive. I was heart broken and crushed. Never in my life would I have agreed to an abortion. The doctor explained under no uncertain terms that my blood pressure was dropping. I was dying and before they let me bleed to death they would remove the baby whether I consented to treatment or if they had to wait and perform life-saving measures. He also warned that if it came to that they might not be able to save my uterus and I may never have children again. I was twenty years old. All I ever wanted was a big family. I agreed to treatment knowing that as I went into the surgery the baby whose heartbeat inside me would soon no more. There would be nothing left by tears.
The surgery took a lot longer than the doctor expected. There were serious complications. He had to keep giving me transfusions. They were finally able to stop the bleeding. I didn’t have to have a hysterectomy. I didn’t lose my uterus, though, at the time, I felt like I had lost everything.
I might have only been seven weeks along, but I coped by naming my baby. I had to put a name to the baby that I lost because it was the only way I could deal with my grief. At seven weeks there is no way to know, at least not yet, whether the baby would be a boy or a girl. I imagined she would be a girl. I named her Bethany Anne. I am not sure why I picked out that name it just seemed right. I didn’t like to refer to her as the baby that I lost. I needed to give that baby a name, even if I had only been carrying her for seven weeks.

Part of losing a baby at any point in the development is that the mother goes through the grieving process. Dad’s do too, but this story my story is about how a mom grieves for her child. I did not know at the time that a miscarriage of an ectopic pregnancy in my case would mean grieving as though I had lost a child. I did not know at the time that the child I had lost was as much a part of me as any of my children are. I knew I was sad. I blamed myself and doubted my bodies ability to carry a baby. I went through all of the stages of grief and did so alone because I didn’t know that I could talk to people about what I was going through. My then fiance was no help. He didn’t understand what I was going through; he couldn’t fathom why I was so upset over a baby that we had barely acknowledged. We knew we were pregnant when we went into the hospital, and we knew when I went home that the pregnancy was no more. He didn’t understand what I was going through and quite frankly neither did I. Our relationship ended shortly after that. A series of fights gave way to his leaving, and later conversations revealed that he didn’t like the new depressed me. I had no one to talk to, and so I didn’t know until later that I was grieving. I couldn’t explain to him. I didn’t know how to explain it to anyone else. I had lost a grandmother when I was twelve but other than that I had not been touched by grief. I had no idea what the process as all about. They say that the death of a child is one of the most difficult things a couple can go through, and most relationships do not make it.

That is not to say that the grieving process has a set time limit. I do not believe that. I do now fully believe that grief occurs in stages. I also believe that we go through these different stages, not in any particular order. That when we finish the depression stage and move into the next stage, it is not necessarily finished. As we can move from bargaining to depression to acceptance right back to depression and then through bargaining again. I went through all of these stages for over two years then something happened.
September 2006

I moved, and I met an amazing man. He changed my life, before that I thought that I would be alone forever the mother of a dead baby. We dated for a short while before we found out I was pregnant again and on November 1st 2007 our son was born premature. He weighed just five pounds and nine ounces and had to spend time in the NICU. He was born with sleep apnea and came home on a machine that alarmed if he stopped breathing. It alarmed twice. After everything that happened I still thought of him as a miracle. My miracle baby just turned seven.

While it is true that our fairy tale romance had it’s problems. We were separated. We had a lot of issues. We got over those issues and were married on July 2nd 2011. It was on July 31st 2012 I gave birth to another son that was born healthy although he was a week late. He is light and sunshine the cutest sweetest little man that I have ever met (takes after his older brother that way).

Last November I was due to have my third child a daughter on November 10th. The due date came and went without her arrival. My doctor said that they would schedule an induction and that the only time that we could do it was on November 18th. With a heavy heart I weighed asking her to wait, just one day or two. I couldn’t possibly go into the hospital and have a baby on the anniversary of the day I lost my first child. I asked so many people what they thought I should do and then finally I kept quiet. I didn’t say anything and on November 17th, 2013 just nine years after I lost my first baby I went into the hospital to be induced.
My daughter was born healthy, sweet and perfect on November 18th. It was only after she was born I told the doctor what happened. I told her that there was something, perhaps even God, that propelled me into staying quiet. I felt that perhaps he was saying after nine years of grieving let me give you a reason to celebrate. You lost your baby but from that loss I have given you a wonderful man and three perfectly wonderful children. From great sorrow, I have brought great joy.