And Now, We Homeschool

 

As happens whenever I take a nearly yearlong break from blogging, a lot has happened.  Right now, the main change that we are experiencing is that we are now homeschooling Asa (6) and Kael (8).

When I talked with friends and family about our decision, I said something to the effect that it was the longest quick decision we’ve ever made.  Before Kael started school, it was something that I considered very seriously.  At the time, Jason and I ended up deciding it wasn’t the best decision for our family.  Kael had a great kindergarten year with a teacher he enjoyed very much.  The next year, Asa was supposed to start kindergarten.  Because of his summer birthday, he was going to be one of the youngest kids in his class.  I had questions about his readiness.  I thought very seriously about homeschooling Asa.  In the end, we decided not to do it.  He had a great kindergarten year.  Kael had a good first grade year.

Over the summer, I loved having them home, and I think that they loved being home.  I watched them grow both physically and emotionally.  I watched them develop their relationships with each other.  When it was time for them to go back to school, they weren’t ready.  I was sad.  Jonas was *so* sad.  He cried for Asa and Kael every day after they left and before they came home.  As the days passed, he seemed to miss them more and more.  As the days passed, it also became more and more evident that there were certain things that weren’t working for the boys at school.

A friend of mine asked if I was going to blog about our reasons for choosing homeschooling.  I thought about it for awhile.  In the end, I think that I’m going to let this be it.  We had many good experiences with the boys’ teachers and the school.  We also had some that left us very concerned.  By November, Asa was telling me that he didn’t talk at school and that he knew the teachers liked it when he didn’t say a word all day.  Kael was telling me that he knew he wasn’t smart enough for second grade and that he knew he wasn’t a very good reader or writer.

At one point, I started thinking “if only we could homeschool.”  Then, I realized that we could.  We could homeschool.  I started talking with friends who had been homeschooling their children.  I started reading blogs.  I started researching curriculum.  The more I read, the more excited I got.  We talked to Asa and Kael about it.  We weren’t going to let them make the decision whether to continue at school or start homeschooling, but we did want to know if they were excited or anxious about it.  It turns out they were really excited about the idea.

The boys’ last day of school was the day before Thanksgiving.  They have been home since then, and so far it is fantastic!  The hardest part about homeschooling so far has been holding back and not trying to teach them EVERYTHING.  History, math, writing, reading, poetry, literature, Spanish, engineering, geography, chemistry…

School Decisions

Just before Kael turned 3, a friend asked me if I had considered homeschooling my kids.  At the time, my answer was, “I want my kids to be homeschooled, but I don’t want to do it.”  At that point, that meant essentially no, I won’t be homeschooling.  As time has passed, that statement became less flippant and more honest.  I really did (and do) want my children to be homeschooled.  I just don’t want to do it, and as much as I don’t want to, I also feel unprepared to do it.

I’m not unprepared in the sense that I am unqualified.  I am sure that my education and experience qualifies me to homeschool.  I have a degree in elementary and middle level education with a masters degree in special education.  I have the credentials necessary.  I am legally qualified to teach other people’s children.  Somehow teaching my own seems like a much bigger and more daunting responsibility.

So, if I look at my statement a little closer, there’s really two issues.  One, I want my children to be homeschooled.  Why?  I want someone who knows them and cares specifically about them to have a personal stake in their education.  I think that art and music are such important parts of an education, and there are less and less of these each year.  Both of my boys, but Kael in particular, need lots of physical activity.  Two recesses for 10-15 minutes and gym class twice a week are not enough for them.  I also want someone who has time to answer all of the questions they ask, and they ask a LOT.  No matter how loving and dedicated a teacher is, I’m not sure that with 18 other kids there would be any way that anyone would have that kind of time in a day.  Lastly, I want to encourage my children to think in their own ways.  I don’t want them to do an art project that is the same as 18 other projects.  If they want to do a math problem and get the answer in a different way than the “right way,” that’s okay with me.  If they want to wear polish on their toe nails, that’s okay with me, too.

The second part of my statement on homeschooling is that I don’t want to be the one to do it.  What?  I know it sounds a little bit ridiculous.  I also know that part of the benefits of homeschooling come from the parent knowing the child so well.  I guess part of it is that I also know myself.  I am not nearly as patient as I would like to be, nor am I as patient as I would like a teacher of my children to be.  I also tend to procrastinate some things that I don’t want to do.  I really wish I had a dig in and get it done attitude, but too often it’s a last minute, last ditch, not my greatest work effort that I put forth.  Also, I worry about time.  I currently have a 4 1/2 year old, an almost 3 year old, and a baby on the way in October.  Some days I barely get everyone dressed and fed.  That is certainly not enough productivity for a homeschooling family.

Fortunately, Kael has a fall birthday.  This gives me another year before I need to make a decision that I am going to act on.  At this point, I plan to do lots of reading, researching, thinking, and blogging.  I’m hoping for a decision which I feel committed to and can stand behind completely by the time it’s school time for him.