Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Why we may homeschool

There are many homeschooling blogs out in blog world. And I admire every mom (and dad) who has taken on their child's education for the long run. These blogs were very helpful to me last year when I kept Madeline home last year and taught her at home (as I will for Owen next year). Now we are considering homeschooling for next year and while I am excited at the prospect, I am also completely overwhelmed. The idea of being in charge of Madeline's education is a scary thought. Jon and I are already in charge of these tiny people, keeping them safe and loved and teaching them how to be good people. Now I want to take on the additional role of academic teacher as well?

But isn't it all the same? I mean I can teach my kids to be good, kind, loving, productive, moral and ethical people without teaching them academics. But at the same time I can teach them all of those things while teaching them academic skills as well. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

The first reason I considered homeschooling is full day kindergarten. I know the studies (I have read many of them) that children who go to full day kindergarten do well academically. But I haven't seen enough proof that these children would NOT have done well academically if they went to half day kindergarten. I also know that "at some point we need to let our children go." Well, yeah I need to let my kids be who they are and not tie them to my apron strings. But who decided 5 was the age where a child will spend the same number of waking hours at school with their teacher as they will at home with their parents? I read about homeschooling, and this is because it is a 1:1 ratio or something close to that, I learned children that are home schooled need between 30 and 90 minutes of academics a day to learn all they need to know in kindergarten. So why would I send my 5 year old to a school where she will be 1 of 25 (or more) for 6 plus hours a day?

The second reason is my child herself. When she went to preschool this year her teacher thought she was one of the youngest in the class based on her behavior. As a former teacher I know what that means. I means she acts younger than everyone else. She doesn't hinder others' learning time according to her teacher, but she doesn't do what she needs to do. And she needs a lot of individual attention to help her stay on task. And I question is this who she is? Or is this a sign that she needs more time to mature before being in a structured environment all day five days a week? She is doing fine academically so holding her back does not seem to be a great option. We are setting up a conference with her teacher in the next few weeks to get a progress report, but from the quick notes I have been getting I believe she has not grown as much as we had hoped.

The third reason is the schools. Jon thinks public schools are okay. I am wavering. And it isn't just the school district we live in. I think about the large numbers of kids in the classrooms and the 1 teacher. The teachers get an aide, sometimes, but the aide is for the kids who need a LOT of help. And what about the kids who need a little help? Or the kids who need a challenge? They don't always get the attention that they need. I am not bashing teachers, I am one and I am married to one. But my views on the profession definitely have changed in the past few years, partly because I am now a parent and partly because of all of the laws and regulations that are going on. I am sure those teachers are working as hard as they can (as Jon does and I did) but you cannot reach every child all the time. I don't want my child to fall through the cracks. And while Jon and I plan to be involved parents, why do I need to spend a few hours every night reinforcing what was done at school if I can simply spend a little more time during the day teaching it? Of course since Jon and I are on different sides of this belief we have a lot of discussions before any decisions are made.

Right now we are taking it by kindergarten. Jon is in agreement about the maturity factor. He also feels, as do I, that if our children need to be retained at any point it needs to be before grade 3, preferably in kindergarten or 1st grade. But I am concerned about holding a child back due to maturity alone. What happens if Madeline (or Owen or Ben in the future) were held back for maturity but then were bored because they were not academically challenged? I see that Madeline is doing fine with her preK work, except for handwriting but that is an attention issue not an ability issue. I see no reason to have her do preK again, but as I told Jon, I don't want her to hate kindergarten because she is so structured. She already tells me that she doesn't get to play as much on the days she goes to school. If she is aware of that now, what will next year with 5 full days be like?

This was sort of a rambling post. And I am sorry for that. I am sorting out my feelings on the school issue right now. Of course if we do homeschool, even for just kindergarten, it means that we will live off of one income for a longer period of time than originally planned. And that needs to be taken into consideration along with everything else.

1 comment:

Colleen said...

I hear ya! When people ask me why we don't homeschool, I say we can't afford to. It makes more financial sense for me to work and put the kids in a Catholic school at a reduced tuition rate (because I do the accounting work for them). We are blessed really, because we love our schooling situation. I hope you can come to peace with a decision for your family :)