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.