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Monday, January 16, 2006

Oh! Baby: Is homeschooling just for religious freaks?

As the parent of an almost-three-year-old son, I am often exhausted at the end of the day. I am a mother, art director, grocery shopper, laundry doer, chef, song master, game expert, house-picker-upper, and activity coordinator, so it's hard to imagine putting on yet another hat and be a schoolteacher for Toddler in Chief as well. Especially because when TIC is five and ready for kindergarten, I'll have a two-year-old tearing through the house, causing a lot of distraction for his/her older brother during "school hours."

I really have no desire to homeschool my kid. When he's five and old enough to go to kindergarten, I'm sure I'll be anxious to have him out of the house for a bunch of hours each day. I feel fortunate to have good schools nearby. But not every parent can say the same thing with confidence. It's really sad that our country's schools aren't the best in the world, and they are often sub-par. And if I was faced with sending my kid out into a lacking school or teach him at home, I just might try and figure out how to juggle schooling a big kid and entertaining a small kid all at once. It wouldn't be the most difficult feat for a parent...labor had to be worse, no? But at least that was just one day out of my life, not a school-year's worth. Yikes.

14 comments:

  1. I homeschooled my oldest duaghter with to little ones at home. It was not they made it hard, it was that it made me lazy. Since she was home and her work did not take all day I had her doing a lot of things I normally do for the younger two. Like change a diaper, get a snack or make lunch. She wanted to go back to public school by the end of the year and I let her. I did not want to be lazy anymore and i am glad i realized what I was doing. She is in the sixth grade and is doing great, it shows how much she wants to stay in school!

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  2. In my experience "Home Schooling" is Mommy Schooling, not usually a truly shared endeavor.

    Your family is just the kind of family that our nation's public schools really need. Of course, your child's education is important and you would not want him in a sub-par school.

    One thing that educators know best is that the family that emphasizes learning contributes to success for their child in school.

    You do have to keep after the schools and make sure that they understand that you as a family are primarily responsible for your child's education and that the school is not in charge, but a member of the team so to speak.

    I once was notified that my children were going to have an "illegal absense" when we were taking them somewhere. I wrote back that I never let schooling interfere with my children's education. Not original, but true.

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  3. Anonymous10:26 AM

    I rarely get a chance to read your blog but had to laugh that I just logged and read your latest entry. Jp and I have been home schooling for about a 2 months. I love it. We started a pre-school curriculum in November. I have been looking into it forever even before JP was born. He has such a desire to learn that John and I have been encouraging him. When he isn't interested we don't push it. The place where our house is being built is the one of the lowest rated schools in the state. It all depends on the kid and the parent.Its something that we take day by day and share together.

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  4. We have been homeschooling for 3 years and wouldn't trade it for a minute. Why we homeschool isn't the normal reasons you hear of. Their father goes to schools through work. These schools can be 2 weeks or 12 weeks. The kids had a hard time being away from their father for 9 weeks and with another school (6 weeks ) coming up in 2 months and yet another 9 week school just 4 months later, we decided to homeschool. These schools will continue until he leaves or retires. It's been hard, but it's worth it.

    The homeschool group I'm involved with couldn't been more diverse. Some HS for religious reasons, but more do it because of the rotten schools in Louisiana. There are also a couple of families schooling because their children are handicap and the children at their schools picked on them to the point of depression. Since the schools are more afraid of the bullies parents then anything else, they can no choice.

    Like I said it's hard. It's very hard to school a 10 year old with a active 4 year old, but it works for us. Not everyone needs to or wants to. You go with what works best.

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  5. I don't know if I would send to my kids to public school around here...ever. DC has some of the worst schools in the nation.

    I like the education I received at Catholic school, and if it were available here without the religious non-sense I would opt for it. Maybe homeschooling is a good alternative to the two.

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  6. Schooling my boys at home when they were going into 6th grade was not so much a choice as a necessity. One had been bullied (unbeknownst to us) for two years. The other was falling behind due to some attention deficits (undiagnosed). I had a 2 year old at the time, plus babysat a second 2-year old.

    I did not want to school them at home, but we needed to act fast. Luckily, we were able to take part in a pilot program through the school district (www.k12.com) and now we have the best of both worlds. My other son is stil in public school and doing great--we have good schools, but they weren't meeting the needs of these particular kids.

    But it's still hard. Really really really hard. (And I thought toddlerhood was hard. Ha!)

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  7. My childcare person home schools her two children - a 16-year-old, who started homeschooling in 7th grade, and her 9 year-old- who she has home schooled since kindergarten. The way she does it is interesting though. The curriculum is set by an outside organization. The kids DO go to school two days a week and the other days they do their work at home. She says it is A LOT of work, but it is also very personally rewarding. She knows that she taught her son to read. I never, ever thought about home schooling my children and kind of thought people who did either had no alternatives or were just a bit odd. But this woman is not a religious freak, she's not odd. She's a totally lovely person and her children are just really great kids. It honestly made me start to think about the whole home schooling thing in a different light.

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  8. Anonymous5:47 PM

    Unfortunately, homeschooling gets pigeon holed into religious freaks, but that's an inaccurate picture. After three kids who went to private, public and home school, I've come to the conclusion that these three choices need to be examined each year for each child. Public should not be the "default" but a conscious choice. Public schools need solid parents with good minds, but the better the schools, the more often the parents hover like little helicopters to make sure their "baby" is getting more-than-equal treatment. (that's my eight years of public school board hat speaking.)

    Just recently in a conversation with my 24 year old about concrete vs. abstract thinking, we realized that the only year (age 9) she was homeschooled -- due to being out of the country and traveling a lot -- I managed to zero in on two specific learning areas where she was not moving beyond concrete. Two very essential areas -- math and reading. We did the leap to abstract and she went forward to be an excellent student. Would those specific lacks have been discovered in a class of 25-30? Doubtful. So, again, for each child, for each year, there are new decisions.

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  9. Homeschooling has been a major blessing and life change within our family. Our son was pulled out of second grade barely knowing how to properly write, being labled ADD, yet not, etc etc. Our son is a "hard headed, strong willed, spirited child" who was well over his grade level in reading and math, yet told each day how he "could'nt focus and that he was inattentive" The final straw was being told that my son was like "someone with arthritis trying to tie his shoe, he just CANT do it!" YES, that was his teacher telling me this. Please note that he was being pulled out for two subjects and had just been tested and was found to not have any learning problems. HE JUST LEARNS DIFFERENTLY. Some people are not wired for a classroom setting 7-8 hours of a day. Some people, like my son, and many boys need to be working, using their hands, exploring and figuring out the world head on. My son is smart, too smart at times! I thank GOD that we were smart enough to realize that he was not made for the school systems cookie cutter classroom. Thank God, looking back I can't believe we waisted so much time having his creative mind locked in that school room! I have LOVED watching him blossom and become so much brighter than he was there! The homeschool community in Louisville is a blessing and I am sure when you take the time to find one in your area you will be shocked. Leaders are there, people with creative minds, take action, take charge individuals who reach out to help and show you as a parent what has worked for them. Homeschool communities are so cool! There are so many planned activites, events, playgroups, etc. Your child may never long for a classroom again!
    Make the choice that is right for your child, whatever that may be! We did!

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  10. Anonymous10:56 AM

    Yes, home Schooling does indeed tend to get pigeon holed into extreme positions. The truth is that there is a continuum that reflects a wide and diverse range of educational philosophies. I must say that the comment that Home Schooling is usually "Mommy Schooling" made me cringe. I'm sure it is for some, but then again, there is an agenda in education regarless of the facilitator (as in public school or private). The other thing I noticed is that none of the commentors seemed to embrace home schooling as a choice, rather by default (i.e., our school sucks, we have to because of one parent's job etc.) I live in a community with what has been called an "excellent" school district. People move here and pay high taxes for the "privilege" of having their kids go to the schools here. I opted out of this privilege because I support freedom of eduation, freedom of movement, freedom to create a culture of life-long learning that is not embedded in and reaking of this sick culture. My daughter gets to choose what she is really interested in studying. We're not religious, we're not hippies, we're not hard core un-schoolers. We just like to live and learn in peace and freedom without Mommy and Daddy School District telling us what is best for us. That is called critical thinking. I embrace freedom from school and life-long learning as my very first choice.

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  11. Anonymous9:30 AM

    I just googled homeschooling and came up with your blog post of 1/16/06. Here's the scary thing: most of the comments from homeschooling people have terrible spelling/grammar mistakes! I've homeschooled for 3 years. I'm done. I had trouble letting go of my "babies" - well, let's just say that I am now MORE THAN READY to let go of the little darlings!!! I wish school went all year long!
    I am not religious at all, in fact we're atheists; I just thought I could do a better job than the schools. NOW I realize they don't NEED nor WANT a better job than the schools can do. They want the everyday contact with friends, they WANT someone other than their mother telling them to do math, they WANT the structure. PUT THEM IN SCHOOL! PUT THEM ALL IN SCHOOL!!! THE WORLD DOES NOT NEED MORE NUTJOBS!!!

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  12. Anonymous8:36 PM

    To the atheist at 9:30 AM:
    Wow. I am really sad for you and your family. From your comments, I surmise that homeschooling is not your problem. The world is an unfulfilling place without meaning. Good luck.

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  14. Anonymous4:35 PM

    It is not true that all children want to go to school. I agree with those who say that you need to take it one child at a time. My first son used to beg me to homeschool him and I did not take it seriously. He's ok now but did fall apart for about 4 years in middle/high school. I still regret not having homeschooled him.
    My daughter has been very successful in school thus far and would never even consider homeschooling. She is getting a great education in the public schools. I have no plans to change anything with her.
    My youngest son is ADHD/anxiety/dysgraphia and was beginning to slide academically and emotionally in school. Bullying was occurring and we had to get him out....period. He was in a dangerous situation emotionally at only 8 years old and nobody was helping him despite numerous evaluations. He was out from recess all the time and had a folder full of unfinished work. I could not believe that this was the same school my other two went through!
    Long story short, I now home school him. What a change:)
    We are so happy as a family now with calmer mornings, afternoons and evenings. He is not hurting himself anymore and my other two kids say he is much easier to deal with.
    This is what has worked for us.

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