Everyone has their own personal reasons for deciding to homeschool their children and so before I start sharing all the awesome reasons to consider homeschooling, I thought I would share the story of how I went from saying, “NEVER!” to “NEVER say ‘Never'”.
My son and daughter are about 4 years apart and we’ve been homeschooling since 2007.
I used to be totally anti-homeschool!
Maybe you can sympathize with some of the thoughts I used to have about homeschooling;
1) Sending your kids to school is the way it’s always been done.
2) I went to school and I turned out just fine. (Debatable? Perhaps, but we’ll save that for another post.)
3) Most kids who are homeschooled aren’t really well educated, and probably socially awkward.
4) I am not a certified teacher and I personally didn’t see myself as having a natural ability for teaching. I could never (there’s that word again) give my kids a proper education.
5) I love being with my kids but I can’t wait for a little quiet time back in my day!
So, what caused me to consider homeschooling?
Starting in first grade, my son started asking me to homeschool him. At first I didn’t even consider asking him why he wanted me to homeschool him. I assumed I knew the reasons. He was not a fan of the 6:30 am wake-up call and morning hustle to be on the bus by 7:20 am. Neither was I. And most kids would rather be home playing then going to work at school every day.
But he persisted asking me to homeschool him because he was so bored. During the summer between 2nd and 3rd grade I finally decided to at least look into my schooling options.
What was it that made me change my mind?
My son’s teachers confirmed that he was indeed bored. He would finish his work and then had to either put his head down on his desk and wait for the class to finish or sometimes he could help tutor other students.
I asked the teachers why they couldn’t give him something more challenging while he waited. They all explained that with 25 students and one teacher, it was basically impossible to give individual attention to the needs of every student.
Something else they expressed really stuck with me, and anytime anyone asks me why we started homeschooling, I share this with them. When it comes to the planned curriculum, students basically fall into one of the following 3 catagories;
1) students who are right on target
2) students who are behind, and
3) students who are ahead.
Basically what happens in such a scenario is that the students who are behind, continue to fall farther behind. The teacher must stay on schedule and move on. The students who are ahead are usually bored.
Since the teachers were not able to provide challenging work for my child, they suggested I gave him challenging work at home. I was really already doing this but I found that a big challenge was this; after a long day of school and a couple additional hours of homework each night, there really wasn’t much time or ambition to do extra work.
I finally decided, if I was going to be working to challenge him academically at home, maybe should at least take a peek at some homeschooling options. After considering my options, I found an online public home-school program that made me excited about trying it.
Why did I choose the public online school?
Well, I was very new to this whole idea. I literally went from being totally against the idea of homeschooling to being super excited. I knew of 3 possible homeschooling options;
- traditional homeschooling (or as I called it, doing your own thing)
- public online schooling (Books, curriculum, teacher support and computer was provided for free from the state. Diploma is awarded at graduation.)
- private homeschooling (You purchase a curriculum and your child does not receive a diploma upon graduation.)
I chose public online schooling because I did not feel qualified to teach my children and I was afraid that without a planned curriculum, my kids would not learn. Another bonus was that everything I needed to do was paid for by the state! When I started, I was told that my kids could work at their own pace. I found about 4 different public online schools and chose the one I thought looked the best.
So obviously, public online homeschooling works for us….. right?
Well, it used to work for us. The biggest reason I chose homeschooling was so my kids could work at their own pace. We carefully chose the school we did because I liked the idea of working with my kids and helping them learn. We had the option of teacher support, but online classroom sessions were optional. We usually opted out of most classroom connects because like in the brick and mortar school, we were able to master the work in a much shorter time then the class was able to. For example, for an hour long class connect, we might be able to complete the assignment in 20 minutes on our own.
The BIG problem we are having now is that just like public schools, online public schools are feeling more pressure to score high on the state testing and as a result, they are now adding a lot more mandatory busy-work to the students load. Classes that used to be optional are now mandatory. Study Island is a website that helps students prepare for state testing and is also now mandatory for every student. There are also more benchmark and Scantron tests throughout the year, helping the teachers to gauge if the students are going to be ready for the state tests. I’ve been told that it’s only going to get more burdensome next year when the Common Core standards are implemented in our state.
I used to have no issues with State Testing but I’ve learned a lot more recently and now I’m very against it. (More on that in a future post.) While there are still many benefits to having my kids do their schooling at home, they really are not free to learn at their own pace as I once believed.
So now what?
I have been doing a lot of research and I’ve realized that there are other options available. I realize that prior to what I told myself in the past, I am very capable of teaching my children on my own. I may not have a certificate that says I’m qualified, but I know my children. I know what their likes and their goals are and what my hopes are for them. Teaching is a natural thing that we do with our children but I think we have forgotten that because of the fact that we are so used to just sending them off to someone else to do the teaching when they are very young. There are 3 months left in the school year and I’m planning on having them finish the year, but I have found that there are so many resources available to help educate our children without sending them to a public school and I’m really excited to get started. Since I’ve changed my perspective, we already have started.
So that’s where we stand right now on the issue. I wanted to provide a little background for anyone who is reading this blog and considering their options because it seems more and more people I know and meet are very concerned about sending their kids to school for various reasons. This is my back-story but I have a lot more to share on this subject.
I love having conversations about homeschooling and I welcome your comments, thoughts, and questions on the subject!