Since homeschool is on my mind a lot these days- okay who am I kidding, it pretty much encompasses half of my waking thoughts- my 7 Quick Takes are the reasons we are switching.
1. Common Core State Standards. Four words I have come to loathe hearing about. From my reading I know they are not all bad. There are
2. The size of our oldest son's class. He is in a classroom with 22 other kids. In kindergarten. While not "overcrowded" it is still a little too full for my taste. I understand budget constraints and not being able to hire another teacher, but two adults to 25 kids while legally allowed) is not the best ratio. At home we have a 1:4 ratio. They may be different ages and at different levels but with a 1:4 ratio they will get more 1 on 1 time than in a classroom.
3. Testing, testing and more testing. MCAS, PARCC, it never seems to end. What if our kids don't test well? Then their academic future could be hindered by these scores. And don't get me started on the secrecy of the test and the results. Want to see how well your kid did? Here's a score but don't ask us what they got wrong so you can offer remediation. That's classified information. Even the TEACHERS are not supposed to know what is on the test. At home we will use the a standardized test that has been used for many years and has not come under the fire that the recent tests have and it will used simply to see hat areas the kids did well in and where they need to spend more time. I will know and be able to use the results.
4. Reading is required by the end of kindergarten. There are kids who are ready for this no doubt. Our oldest son is not having an easy time with this skill. He is working hard and proud of his accomplishments but he is behind his peers here. Does that mean something is wrong with him? Not in this educator-mom's opinion. It simply means he needs more time. But time is not allowed, he must have extra remediation to help him catch up. Pushing kids too hard and too much can make them loath something- this has been proven time and time again. Yet we do it frequently in the classrooms. At home he will be able to go at his own pace, he will be encouraged to work hard and do his best but if he doesn't get it we will take the time he needs. It's not a race.
5. The one size fits all approach to education today. Everyone will go to college. Everyone will do well in school. Everyone will pass the test. I'm sorry but it isn't true. Not everyone is college bound, not everyone does well in the classroom. We hope that our kids do but if they don't that's okay as long as the effort is there. We would love for my kids to go to college but if they choose a career that does not entail college that's
6. The length of the day. Talk to lengthening the school day or adding days to the school week or creating year round schools are heard. Not in our town yet, but we worry that it is coming. And kids have a cap to how long they can sit and learn in a day. If we extend the day what happens to after school activities? Or homework? What happens to family time and after school jobs(for older kids)? And what happens to free time? At home the kids will spend less than 6 hours a day doing academics, from my reading and talking to other homeschool parents they will work somewhere around 4 hours a day. There won't be homework (aside from show Dad what we did today). There will be free time to run and play and be kids.
7. Control. I'll admit that while I trust the teachers that my kids have (I love their teachers this year) I also relinquish quite a bit of control when they go to school. While this is good, with the issues I have with the curriculum choices in our schools today this is no longer working for me. If I trusted those who make the decisions on what and how and when my kids will learn I would better be able to give up control in this area. But the fact is when I read that classroom teachers are not involved in the creation of standards, that experts in the field are ignored when they express their concerns, that we are told this is coming whether we like it or not, that our towns are told that if they choose to ignore the mandates they the lose the funding...When all of that is happening I no longer have the faith to give up my control. I want to control what my kids learn and when and how. We want to take their needs and wants and learning styles into consideration. We cannot afford to send them to private schools so we are homeschooling.
We realize that homeschooling is not a walk in the park (although we will take many of those). We know there will be easy days as well as trying days. I know that I will question my ability and it will be that much harder since I pushed for this change. But for the reasons I listed above, and all the reasons I did not mention here, I truly believe this is the best decision that Jon and I can make for our kids right now. We hope the kids agree!