Friday, January 9, 2009

The Homeschool Debate

I'm back on the homeschooling idea.  Monkey's teacher, who came up with an accelerated program for Monkey and two other advanced readers in her class, had to move back to where she had moved here from.  I don't know the whole story, but it had to do with a job for her husband.  
Anyway, so Monkey has a new teacher.  She's also getting bored in school.  She likes learning and she's doing very well, but that's just it.  She'll finish her math before the other kids and quietly draw on her paper.  She got in trouble for it.  Twice.  Unfortunately, I never got a chance to talk to the teacher to get her story before she left, so I don't know both sides.  I only know that Monkey had finished her work, correctly, and was trying to occupy her own time while waiting on the other students to catch up.  At least that's what she told me.
So, now I'm looking again at homeschooling for next year.  Can I just tell you there is way. too. much. information out there about homeschooling.  I have never felt so overwhelmed about one "simple" topic in my life.  Except for maybe statistics.  That was pretty overwhelming.  Thankfully, I have friends who homeschool and are enjoying it, so it's not like I would be out there all on my own.
So, as I see it, here are a few of the perks:  The "school day" is shorter.  The state where we live only requires four hours of study for it to count as a full day.  This would allow for more free time with Monkey to do things like sports/dance/girl scouts without having to rush, rush, rush after school and before dinner and/or bed time.  I wouldn't have to get up quite so early every morning, since we'd be on our own schedule (selfish, I know, but it's true).  I could teach to her skills.  She's reading on a 3rd or 4th grade level (she's only 6, remember) and she does really well with math.  She's even started doing simple multiplication in her head.  In her HEAD!  Another perk is that in this area, there are lots of homeschool groups and enrichment programs, so she'd still get that classroom feeling with other students two or three times a week.  She's a very social girl, so I know that would be important.  We'd be able to take field trips to museums and such and I'd be able to teach through involvement.  She'd also get to stay in her current Girl Scout troop, so she wouldn't lose that connection with her current friends.  And if it doesn't work out after a year, she can go back to school for third grade.
Naturally, just as there are some upsides, there are downsides as well.  I would lose a good bit of my own free time.  I know, that sounds horribly selfish, but anyone with children will agree (even if they don't want to) that downtime away from one's children is very important to one's sanity.  One way to "fix" this would be to make sure Monkey is in one of those enrichment programs (which I would do, anyway).  The trick will be getting it to coincide with preschool with Little Man so that when Monkey is at school, Little Man would be, too.  That would give me a couple days a week to have my "mommy time" without both children.  The idea of coming up with a curriculum is daunting, at best.  There is really so much out there - how would I know what to choose?  Also, I'm not a very organized person.  I know one doesn't HAVE to be organized to teach, but it certainly helps.  And will Monkey and I be able to slide into the student/teacher roles?  Will I be able to be the teacher without being the mommy?  Will she be able to accept and respect me as the teacher when it's time to learn?
All these questions and doubts are floating around.  There's a reason I never wanted to homeschool - I just don't know if I "have it."  But, if this is something that Monkey needs to succeed, I'll do it.  I can't screw her up that bad in a year, can I?
What do you think?  Any words of wisdom out there? 


TN Mama said...

Your feelings are completely valid. You are not selfish for wanting time to yourself (or if you are selfish, so am I and most other moms I know). And it is most certainly overwhelming, but as you said, there are options. If you decide to homeschool you won't be alone and you won't be tied to Monkey 24/7. I promise.

I crave alone time. I used to get upset when school was cancelled for any reason. And as afraid as I was that I'd mess my own child up by a) not wanting to be with her as often as I knew I would be and b) not having any clue as how to teach her, this year has been nothing like I expected. Get this - it has been better! I'm not saying homeschooling is the answer for every family. But it has been life-changing for us.

Once you take the plunge and commit to trying it out, the rest will fall into place.

Oh and be prepared for your friends to question whether or not you've lost your mind. :)

Good luck with your decision.

Kool Aid said...

Thank you, TN Mama, for your encouragement and for visiting! Everything you say, I know deep down is true, but it's still scary to think of how different things will be.

I'm sure there are times when my friends already question my sanity. ;)

thanks again.

Ryan said...

I'm no expert, as my only son is just one, but I've thought about home school and I've had friends that were home schooled. I'm all for the idea. (My wife isn't, but that's probably because she sees the extra work that it would be....)

I think in your case it seems like a good thing to do--your child needs that extra attention and direction that I think only homeschooling can accomplish.

What I worry about most with homeschooling is the interaction part. Aside from church and family activities, my child would get little time to interact with kids in a large group social setting. Personally for my self, I could care less, but he may like to be more social than me, and who knows, it might mess him up if he doesn't get it.

Kool Aid said...

Hi Ryan,
THanks for visiting! I am concerned about Monkey getting that social interaction. She's more social than I am (which is saying alot) so that's another reason I would put her in an enrichment program as well as some organized sports.

We're also very active in our church so with combining the class setting of the enrichment programs, church and sports/dance, she'd get a lot of interaction with others her age.

But I still don't know.... Thanks for the encouraging words!

Linda said...

I made the decision to homeschool my daughter when she was entering kindergarten because--and get this--she was so sweet, I didn't want her negatively influenced on the school bus! I had many friends who had already been homeschooling and I expressed many of the same concerns to them as you've mentioned. I was terrified that I wouldn't keep her up to par with the kids in school.

So here's what transpired. I talked with the computer teacher and got permission to bring her to computer class with one of the kindergarten classes. I still took her to library story hour. She was involved with things at church. She played town soccer. And we belonged to the local L.E.A.H. group. (fyi Loving Education At Home). Believe me, she didn't lack for socialization. And when her brother napped, I made her do a quiet time in her room so that I could have some alone time during the day.

At the end of kindergarten, when she had to take some state tests, I arranged to have her sit in a classroom with the other kids--she not only was up to par with them, she excelled. So the one-on-one learning experience paid off.

By the end of second grade, I'd had it and I put both kids in school for a couple of years. (they participated in band during that time). Then a few years later, took them both out (during which time they still were in marching and concert band), then later put them in Christian School. True, they were bounced around a little, but they both survived and did well.

Don't get sucked into the "but what about socialization" criticism. None of the homeschooled kids I know have suffered in that area. They play sports, they are secure, they know how to carry on conversations with adults, they're polite, considerate, are usually high achievers, most of them are musical, some are involved in acting, a good number of them have gone to college and/or graduate school.

My daughter has been on 4 short-term mission trips, a band tour in Europe, graduate school in Hawaii, and right now she's serving in Kenya in the Peace Corps.

I know this is long, but I hope it's helped a little. I firmly believe that you'd be doing your child an immense favor by homeschooling her at least through grade school.

God bless and good luck with your decision. Linda from upstate NY.

Kool Aid said...

Hi Linda!

First, thanks for visiting! Second, thank you for your perspective. I really appreciate it. Sometime in the last few days, I decided to go for it. We're going to homeschool for second grade. Hopefully things will go well for us. I do keep myself (and thus, my kids) pretty busy socially, so I'm not as concerned about that as I was before. Now I'm focusing on figuring out a curriculum.

That's my next challenge. I'll be posting on my blog periodically how things are going, so I hope you'll come back and offer more thoughts.

Thanks again!

Anonymous said...

Goodness, Ninks, what decisions!!!!! What can grandmas do for such an undertaking??? I am somewhat overwhelmed myself just thinking of the commitment but have all the faith in your abilities--I guess as your respondents stated, it works out once you get started... Love to all, dgl

Kool Aid said...

Look at it this way, mom, we'll be able to come visit and bring school with us!