Monday, January 17, 2011

Homeschool.

Yes, I just uttered those words.
It is a consideration. And by that, I mean it is not outside the realm of possibilities, whereas before the very mention would incite gales of laughter. Why the change of heart? For one thing, this year I sent my 5-year old off to start a full-time job as a kindergartner. She is gone for 8 hours a day. 5 days a week. That's 40 hours. Selfishly, I enjoy this. I thrive on solitude. It is restorative and quite necessary, and I find myself more able to enjoy her after a separation. Another reason is a book I am nearly finished reading, 'Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers.' I highly recommend it, and it has really changed my perspective on my role as a parent. It also resonated with me and my own experience as an adolescent and has made me question my approach and my goals as a parent. 
Enter: the homeschool question.
Well, actually that's the problem. I have a million questions. So I am turning to any readers who have experience, not the least of which is my sister-in-law. If you have any experience, advice, or references, please share! 
A few of the questions on my mind include:
How do you manage simultaneously teaching children of different ages and abilities? (2 and nearly 6)
Where do you find your curriculum?
How much time a day do you devote to school?
What other activities do you include to resemble 'specials'? (i.e. art, music, gym etc)
Do most people homeschool for the entire education, or turn them loose for highschool (eek) when more in-depth subject matter is introduced, as well as giving them a chance to integrate?
What other, if any, social opportunities do you provide for your kids?

My primary concern is that it would drive me crazy. Like I said, I thrive on solitude, and if I homeschooled, it would effectively reduce that to *zero*. That would be such a sacrifice, and I am afraid it would come at the expense of my sanity, my well-being, and possibly backfire in my desire to maintain an attachment to my children. Basically I'm afraid I would be a cranky, critical, irritable, stressed and unhappy wife and mother. More so than now, that is. I'm also afraid that I would do my kids an injustice because of how insular I am. My social needs are few. (hence the digging on solitude.) I find that most of my social needs are met through my family, or else I just feel like I have nothing left to give after all my energies are expended on my family. Because of that, I am happy to stay at home. Like, all the time. (Hence the almost-agoraphobe status I have given myself.) Any other social needs are easily met with phone conversations with my favorite people, church, blogging, and  occasionally doing stuff with friends. But really quite occasionally. I know it makes me sound freakish, but it is nearly always a bane for me to leave the house. What can I say? I am a consummate and chronic homebody. I like it that way. Most of the time.
So. Advice? Experience? Pros? Cons?

I'm mostly interested in hearing from people with experience with homeschooling, since hitherto now I have been in the camp of 'homeschooling is for weirdos and produces pioneer dress-wearing social misfits.' I know, I'm sorry. I have reformed my opinion, obviously. I've already formed opinions opposing homeschool, but now I am seeking evidence from the other side. Or if you know me well, you might simply offer advice such as "Sorry, but you are so not cut out for it. Do your kids a favor. Let them leave.Let them attach to someone else."

*Edited to Add: If you have any good references for information, let me know! I am overwhelmed by the volume of information there is on homeschooling and don't know where to begin!!*

14 comments:

Hannah said...

I know the Pioneer Woman has a lot of homeschooling info. There is a tab on her site devoted to that and a while back she had a whole week or two about getting started. The OMSH contributor is my favorite!

Good luck with the decision. I have debated doing it since Mya started K and still think about it weekly...and right now she LOVES school so we are sticking with it. I am totally going to follow the comments you get on this topic!

jt said...

See, and Bella complains often. Very often. about not wanting to go. She's even told me several times that she wished she were homeschooled. She still cries when it's time to go sometimes, but she loves it once she's there! She shows no signs of distress at school, but then tells me that she misses me the whole time...

Hannah said...

Maybe she is just too young to be gone all day! Possibly home school until she shows an interest again?

I have so many thoughts (have been thinking about this today and I know quite a few people that HS!) so I will call you tomorrow.

The fact that she is gone 8 hours a day freaks me out! AND, that she still talks of missing you and cries sometimes. Seems like she needs to be heard.

rmt said...

Oh, wow. You are a brave soul to even consider this. I guess for me I have never even had to think about it...being a single working mother sort of took care of that! I know that Bridget does it and is successful. You could try calling her.

Good luck! :)

michelle said...

Your paragraph about your insular nature made me laugh, just because it pretty much describes me to a T. That right there is why I never considered homeschool. I just need some time to myself, in a big way. I've never had too much of it, but I have snippets now, and I treasure them.

And now I'm afraid to read that book!

michelle said...

p.s. Hannah's sentence about Bella needing to be heard just brought tears to my eyes.

Denise said...

Homeschooling is something I never felt prepared, compelled, or desirous to do. Like Michelle, I just need some time to myself--especially when my kids were little. Also, I think there are many non-academic lessons to be learned in school, such as How to Get Along With Irritating People, etc.

That being said, I have to say that I'm not a believer in all-day kindergarten. I know it's all the rage, and in some places the only option offered, but I just don't think children that age are ready to be away from home for 8 hours a day.

linda said...

My dear sweet Jessie, we can talk later... I echo Michelle and Denise's comments but of course have a few of my own! If someone told me I had to homeschool my children I would rather volunteer for a root canal, daily! Not to mention that my children would proabably grow to hate me and would most certainly not be the brightest children in the world! That being said, isn't it wonderful that this decision is all yours to make, you don't have to listen to any of us!

Charlotte said...

I'll admit that I learned a lot going to public school, elementary, middle, and high school. Most important, I think I learned about interacting and holding my own. I also think I had academic experiences (in high school more than in middle or elementary) that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

However, I agree with the other commenters that maybe Bella isn't ready for all-day school—eight hours is a long time for a five-year-old. It sounds like she needs a little more mom-time, and whether that means part-time school or full-on homeschool, I'd take the chance to soak up that Bella time.

Amie said...

Confession time.... sometimes I stalk you. In a I want to comment but have so much to say she will think I am weird way. I feel like you express many of my thoughts and feelings...

Anyway... I have SO MUCH to say about homeschooling. (You are welcome to call me if you want and I sent you an email... see stalker!)

I would say choosing to homeschool was one of my top three parenting choices to date. The best advice I ever received was "make the choice each year for each child" - they don't all have to do the same thing and you don't have to decide now to do it forever. Different kids need different things. It make no sense that one school, one program, etc would be a perfect fit for everyone. Pray about it, you will get answers.

A teacher once told me that she believed every first grader should be homeschooled. It is such a huge foundational reading year and they need one on one. After homeschooling I totally get that.

I wasn't even thinking about homeschool when I found our program but it just made so much sense. I felt like we had kicked the kids out of our family. They were gone all the time, spending most of their waking hours with someone I didn't feel like I wanted to rub off on them. There wasn't time for them to just be kids. They grow up SO fast. Selfishly I wanted more time with them. I also wanted them better prepared to go out in the world. Some criticized me saying they needed to be out in the "missionary field" being good examples. Not at 6! They don't even know who they are yet. I got to spend so much more time with them instilling our values, teaching them who they are, and helping them find their place so when they did go out in the world they had confidence in themselves.

Amie said...

Sorry I am not done yet...

I don't know if you are a Love Language lover like me but after learning that and knowing the kids it made me a bigger believer in that we just push little kids too hard to grow up. They do not need to be out of the house away from their families for hours on end at such a young age. For example, James is words of affirmation and physical touch. He is a good, quiet kid. (I also think you have to be the very brightest or the biggest problem to get any attention in school and my kids were slipping through the cracks.) I knew he was going all day sometimes without the teacher making a comment directly to him. When he would get an answer right or I would give him a compliment (in our school setting) he would throw his arms around me. I cried for months knowing that he had just spent a whole year not being filled and not being able to be himself. (Not that you want the teachers touching your kids... but just proof to me that he wasn't getting what his little soul needed.) Jessica is acts of service (which is hard for me)... she and I butted heads more and she is one of those that fall into the "I can't teach her, she takes it better from someone else category". I was so surprised when I could see her love language coming through too... even though it was a different language. She would constantly say things to me like "so you could be doing anything you want... shopping, scrapbooking all day... but you aren't because you want me to be with you all day." I truly believe that our relationship was changed forever because she felt that I was willing to sacrifice something I value, time, for her. I could not believe that she got that at such a young age. So no matter what the love language as parents we have an ability to fill their tank (especially young) that no one else will ever be able to do.

Amie said...

one more...

As far as your time alone... we are in different situations because James was also school age when I started teaching them... but I actually felt like I got more time to myself, not less. It is very different. So much gets taken off of your plate not having to be on someone else's schedule. Never being late, not having to do anything you don't want to do... and instead of the crazy afternoon hours the kids are done and free to be kids so I had a lot more time while they were out playing to have my time. I gave them my best hours (I am just better in the morning) and then set them free during the "witching" hours (that became non-existent). After "school" we had done our spiritual part of the day, they had practiced the piano, there was no homework... it was very freeing. I believe that it is all about trades. You will see different breaks in your day that allow you to get your time even though they are home.

I would say a couple of hours a day is plenty of time to plan for when they are young. It increased a little each year but they get more independent so it really didn't become harder for me. School is daycare... if I could have sent them for a few hours, get your stuff done and come home, I would have. But turning my kids over to someone all day and knowing they were just wasting 70% of the time was killing me.

I really miss having them home but they are doing great in school. I homeschooled them both for three years. They went back to school without even missing a beat. School has been so easy for them, I'm still not sure if we were just way ahead or if doing it on their own made them self-motivated and they just have great habits. I wouldn't even say they had a transition period.

We did do a lot of outings, but with church our lifestyle makes the socialization easy. I wouldn't be that worried about it, especially young. My kids are best friends, I wasn't at all sad that they didn't know what the kids on the playground knew. Let's face it, they are not learning anything good from the other kids at school!

Anyway, now I am rambling and crying because I am reminded what a blessing this was for our family. I don't think there are any downsides to Bella spending her time at home with her family when she is young. I feel so grateful that I got all that extra time with my kids. They grow up so fast and it let me really enjoy them and know them. As they get older different factors come into play and they need more than just us... but I say enjoy it while it lasts!

Good luck, go with your gut. Only you know what your child needs. Now that I have spilled my guts you probably don't need to talk to me... but if you have any questions let me know. Hands down, one of the best things I ever did.

Bridget said...

Can I just say 'WOW'!! You are right where I was a year ago. Elise would cry every time I sent her to school and then it was a huge battle to get her to do homework-and she was only 6! I LOVE homeschooling. I am not going to lie-it is a ton of work but it has been so good for Elise and our family. We are a closer family since I started homeschooling. It is hard at times with the younger babies around needing me while trying to teach the older kids but at the same time it is teaching my older two how parenting works. They are learning to be patient and helpful with the younger ones. Did that make any sense?!
Thanks Rachelle for your comment about me being successful-i am not that-but learning all the time!
The best advice I can give is to read, read, read! That is all I did for 6 months before pulling Elise out of school. And I still read anything I can get on educating at home. Some recommended reading: Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver DeMille (all of his home school books are great!) The other one that I couldn't put down is the Well Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer. I recommend any Charlotte Mason methods.
I also agree with Amie-you find that you have more 'me' time for some reason than when Elise was in school. I do school in the morning for 4-5 hours and then chores and then playtime which is when I do stuff that interests me.
Anyway-I have tons to say so I should call you. I support and appreciate school teachers but they just can't give kids all they need with the large class sizes and the required material they have to cover-their hands are tied. And we as moms can give our kids a well rounded education plus so much more!

Hannah said...

I am sooo glad Amie and Bridget commented! I was seriously hoping Amie would! I never thought of the love languages connection- it kinda just blew my mind with some things for Mya. Can't wait to talk more about this with you!

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