Saturday, May 15, 2010

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool? That Was the Question, Part Two

Like I said in the last post, I would love honest input from anyone with any sort of experience with homeschooling, whether that's as teacher (past or present), future teacher, or student. Feel free to answer as many or as few of the questions as you'd like. So let the brain picking begin! If you only answer one question, could you answer this one: What is your best piece of advice for a successful homeschool experience? Here are my other questions:

For past/current homeschool parents-
1. Why did you choose to homeschool?
2. How did/do you manage it all without going crazy?
3. Any advice on paying for it?
4. What benefits have you seen from homeschooling?
5. What (if any) are the disadvantages of homeschooling and how do you compensate for those?
6. What about socialization?
7. If you no longer homeschool, why did you stop?
8. If you took your kids out of brick and mortar school in order to homeschool, how did you get your kids on board (especially if they liked school)?
9. Any advice on setting up your school space?
10. If you or your spouse had any reservations about homeschooling, what were they, and how did you address them?
11. How did/do you manage your child if he/she didn't want to cooperate with school time?
12. If you had/have more than one student, how do you manage teaching more than one at a time?
13. What are your favorite homeschooling resources?

For future homeschooling parents-
1. What are your reasons for homeschooling?
2. What is your plan for managing it all?
3. Any advice on paying for it?
4. What are your favorite homeschooling resources?
5. What are your concerns or hesitations?

For past or current homeschool students-
1. Why did your parents choose homeschool for you?
2. Any tips for managing it all?
3. Did/do you like homeschooling?
4. Did/do you ever wish you were in a regular school?
5. Were you in a regular school before homeschool? If so, how did your parents bring you on board?
6. What are the advantages you've seen from your homeschool experience?
7. Do you feel there are any disadvantages to homeschooling?
8. What about socialization?
9. For those who graduated from homeschool, do you feel you were adequately prepared for college or a job?
10. What do you wish your parents had done differently in regards to homeschooling?
11. What are your favorite homeschooling resources?

I am so looking forward to reading your responses. Thanks for your input!

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool? That Was the Question, Part One

Long time, no blog! I know... I'm not sure why life seems to be so much busier this spring than last fall, but my time has been more limited, so it's been harder to find time to blog. As far as Cat Scratch Fever goes, I'm doing very well now. My arm still bothers me some, but the doctors said it can take months to go completely back to normal. The important thing is that I am healing!

So there's a lot going on in life right now, as I said. I've got a beautiful little organic veggie garden going that I'm very excited about. It's been a nice little sanctuary for me – a little time away from it all in my own backyard. I'll have to blog about it soon. I've also been trying to get another developmental evaluation for my son so we can get the therapies he needs from the state and to get funding for his services. We're having to do this all on our own, and it's really hard and time consuming! (I'll blog about this later, too.) And, of course, the school year is winding down so there's a lot going on with that. Which leads me to the next big thing, and the point of this post... (*Fanfare*) Dum du du du Dum daaaa! (*drumroll*): We're homeschooling next year! (*More fanfare*) Dum da da daaaaa!

My original desire for my kids' education was to homeschool them. The more I've learned about public school, the less I've wanted to have to do with it. It was bad enough when I came up through public school, and that was in a small, sheltered mountain community. The education and opportunities were fine. Most of my teachers were at least okay, and many of them were excellent. There was the occasional difficult teacher, but I got through those years okay. I think I got a pretty good, well-rounded education. However, I was teased incessantly from 3rd grade through middle school, as well as bullied on the bus until I started driving myself to school. The things I was exposed to from my peers would probably have made my parents' hair stand on end had they known. But, we had no need for metal detectors, drug-sniffing canines, or even a resource officer on campus. Really, what I was exposed to was pretty tame according to today's standards.

Of course, it's today's standards that frighten me about the state of American public school education. I'm frightened not only by what the kids are exposed to from their peers, but what they're exposed to from their teachers, the curriculum that is used, and the terrible stuff they disguise as food in the cafeteria, among other things. We have a friend whose son was in a local charter school in the third grade, and they had to have “The Talk” with him because of what another boy at school told him. The history books of today have huge holes, and are more concerned about “political correctness” than accuracy. Science (if it can really be called that when it denies any of the potential causes for phenomena) tries to destroy any possibility of God in the kids' imaginations. Teachers are required to expose kids to topics that should only be taught at home. Our own daughter had to listen to a story about non-traditional gender roles during her Guidance special in Kindergarten. Of course, unfortunately, a lot of kids would never receive moral education at home–and parents are a big part of the problem with public school education. You should hear some of the horror stories my mom, who teaches public middle school, tells about parents. And when it comes to nutrition, well lets just say I did some scary reading recently in my daughter's school cafeteria when I looked at the back of a food package label that was served there.

So why not private school? Well, affordability is a big factor. Then there's still the nutrition, peer, parent, and even teacher problems. I know a lot of people that went to private Christian schools that have a lot of horror stories. I also believe that according to Deut. 4:9-10, 6:7, 11:18-28, and Prov. 22:6 that God's ideal for education is in the home.

So why did we put Korrynn in public school this past year? Money was a big reason. We constantly had more month than money and couldn't really afford to buy curriculum. And, to be honest, I was scared to death. I am not very good with the whole organization thing, and I have a tendency to get very overwhelmed with the kids and housework. I was a Pampered Chef consultant for a short while which I had to give up because I wasn't able to take care of the kids (and we only had two kids at that time), the house, and the business. We also felt that brick and mortar school could have some benefits for Korrynn. She didn't go to preschool and was very timid in many ways. Eliciting participation from her in new activities, especially away from home, was very difficult. We thought school might toughen her up a bit. So we prayed about it and felt released from any obligation to homeschool this past year. I felt like God was telling me He was giving me a year to get my act together. That was a very hard decision to make. I felt guilty, like I was giving up, and I felt like a hypocrite.

As we got into the school year we did see Korrynn begin to open up and blossom socially. She lost a lot of that timidity that held her back so often (though it's not completely gone). One thing she's good at, despite the shyness, is making friends. She could make friends with a tree if it would play with her once she is comfortable with her surroundings. She has really enjoyed her friends at school. She is also very smart. Her teacher told me that because of everything Korrynn knew when she started school, she had no idea that Korrynn didn't go to preschool. She has learned a lot, and is one of the top students in her class. I also saw school as a great way to meet people, network, and as a great way to be available to people to bring the Gospel to them. And, of course, going into it we didn't know that I was going to get sick, but there were a few weeks when I wouldn't have been able to be her teacher.

So now we're coming to the end of the school year, and I have to admit that it is tempting to let her go back to school next year. In a lot of ways it is the easy way out. There's little upfront cost. And to be honest I don't want to hurt Korrynn's feelings by taking her out of school. She likes school, and she really likes her friends, so I don't like taking those things away from her. But, frankly that's a consequence I need to deal with. I know God is directing me to homeschool next school year. Everywhere I turn He is putting people in my life that homeschool, or He is giving me messages through media. I've had to say, “Okay, God, I get the message! No fleece needed!” Shawn has been a little hesitant, partly because of the expense, partly because of my tendency to get overwhelmed, and because he says that most of the homeschoolers he's ever met are “strange”. (That's his word, not mine.) But, he has taken the time to get on the internet and do some research to “educate himself” (his words again). He is supporting me, and is helping me choose curriculum, work on a schedule, and figure out how to cover the cost. He sees God's undeniable leading in this, too, despite his reservations.

So, the decision is made. We've found an online curriculum, highly recommended by Dr. Dobson, that we like that does a lot of the organization for me, and seems to be very high quality, called It is more expensive than most, but the cost is worth it if it gives us a greater chance of success. So, I'm really excited about bringing my daughter back home! One thing I've realized is that school can be really divisive because it takes her away from me and there's so much in her world right now that I'm not a part of. This year has really solidified the reasons to homeschool in my heart and mind, and has removed any doubts for me. I'm so glad for the people I know that have experience with homeschool. In the next post I'm going to be looking for input. I have a list of questions I want to ask because I can use all the support I can get!