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.

 

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.

 

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.

I Quit

Depression is a strange thing. For example, in the last few weeks things have been rather difficult. So difficult that I have stopped blogging. So difficult that I want to stop writing, stop home school, stop just about everything. Some days I do not want to get out of bed. I am so worried about money that I do not want to work. Wait, what? Worried about money that I do not want to work. See, that is why I say that depression is a strange thing. Instead of saying or thinking ‘well things are difficult I will just try harder’, the more difficult things become, the harder it is to try.
I have written and re-written this post. Because I feel like I need to explain myself. I am not sure exactly how to go about doing that. You see I do not believe in depression as a disease. I firmly believe that we can control our moods, and that if I am feeling melancholy than I can change that. Generally speaking, I am a very happy person. While these last few weeks have been difficult, I can always find a moment to smile throughout the day, so I do not believe that I am suffering from depression.
To explain how I have been feeling I wrote the other day that:

It’s funny how our words and actions can make someone feel. Things that are totally overwhelming a person can also play a part in how we view simple comments made that the wrong time. Take, for example, this last week. For me, it has been one of those hard to breathe weeks. I just haven’t wanted to do anything at all. Not write, not take care of the kids, most days I do not even want to get out of bed. It has just been one of those weeks. I have been building for awhile now. Various things happening that have made it hard for me to stay focused. Things that just made it hard to breathe. Some mornings I wake up and feel like there is an elephant on my chest. I do not want to do school work with my son, or even take him bowling or do AWANA. Sunday rolled around after this long, difficult week, and we went to church. My favorite part of the day, I am blessed with three wonderful children and doubly blessed with being able to teach Sunday school to the best age group out there. Three-year-olds fill my classroom. Filled with the wonder of God, to me this is the best age. So I am in my classroom getting ready to start the lesson when the preschool director comes to get me. My two-year-old is sick, and they need me to come get him before he makes others in his class sick.
I can completely understand where she is coming from; I used to do daycare. I was careful not to take children who were infectious, I always felt a certain amount of guilt if a child in my care was sick and then others got sick. I rushed from my classroom to pick up my son only to be told by his teacher that he was fine, and I could go back to my room. There was no need; she said to pick him up. I was instantly confused, hurt and angry. They pulled me out of my classroom because they were concerned he would make others sick. Someone in his classroom was worried enough to alert the preschool director. Now I was being treated like an over protective mom. Finally after being able to convince the teacher that I was there only because I was told I had to pick him up we left church early. I felt hurt, I felt angry, and I felt now more than ever ready to quit. quit AWANA, quit teaching Sunday School, and quit the church that I love. I could do all of that and justify it in my mind. I might not be able to quit any of the other things that were bringing me down, but I could quit this.

Before people reading this get the wrong idea, I am neither depressed, by the clinical definition or planning on quitting any of my activities including church or homeschooling. I just needed to show how the struggle has been.
Life is a struggle. If it were easy anyone could do it. Struggling isn’t a bad thing; neither is quitting. When you know that you are doing too much, there is nothing wrong with saying, I need a day off today. I need to not do this activity, or that. It is perfectly okay to reassess and revisit issues. It is okay to have a bad day, bad week or even a bad month. At the end of the day, I hope this reaches someone who is also ready just to quit, and they know that it is okay to feel that way. I also hope that if you are reading this that you know it does get better. If you have depression, please do not think that I am making light of your situation, I simply do not believe that I am struggling with depression. Instead of quitting the things that I love I think I will just quit the struggle. Quit letting things I love make me miserable and start enjoying them again. Quit struggling against home-school and start loving it. Quitting the struggle just makes more sense than quitting anything else.

Justification

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Some days it seems like all I do is make justifications. Why do I homeschool, why do I have three children instead of two. Why, why, why…Why should I justify myself to you? No, I am serious, why should I justify myself to you? The question was raised last week about homeschool. As I was drawn into this conversation the main thing the other person wanted to know was what my justifications were. Which then made me wonder, why I should justify homeschool to them or anyone for that matter. Homeschool moms and students all know what I am talking about, that moment when we are put on the defensive and have to explain to someone, most likely a stranger why we decided to homeschool.
It is not just home education that I am constantly defending. Vaccinations are another hot button topic. Do you find yourself defending your decision to vaccinate? What about defending your decision not to vaccinate? Do you ever wonder why these people have so much free time? What about circumcision. I was floored when I learned what a huge issue this is. First of all, my child’s body is none of your business so do not even ask if either of my sons are circumcised. Secondly, that mother over that that you are reprimanding for not circumcising, the same argument applies, her child’s body, none of your business. The mom who chooses a circumcision, can you guess where this is going? That is right it is still none of your business.
My point is this, we Mom’s spend a lot of time justifying decisions to total strangers. We agree to do things a certain way with our spouses and then they go off to work and we are left having to defend those decisions. No, I do not have to justify any choice I made for my children to you or anyone else. No, my child does not have a say in major life decisions, they are 6,2, and nine months respectively and therefore in my opinion incapable of making major life decisions. If children were able to decide things such as circumcision, vaccinations, and where they go to school then there would be no need for parents, our young could survive on their own without us. However, from a biological standpoint we can all agree that our young require parents to care for them. Part of that care means making those tough decisions like what they are allowed to do with their bodies until they reach such an age where they are capable of making that decision on their own. Where they go to school, church, and who they spend their time with is also up to us as parents. Please stop asking me to justify my decisions, and I will do the same for you.