Where you get a tiny glimpse of what my brain churns up.
When thinking of todays post I struggled with how to start. How do I talk about this without certain people taking offense or simply deciding I must have lost my mind obviously crazy mind. I decided there is no good way to start, but many people have asked me why and MANY more have AN opinion. Some are educated opinions, but I have found most are defiantly not. So here is where I give OUR reasons why...
...WE HAVE DECIDED TO START HOMESCHOOL OUR CHILDREN THIS YEAR.
Upon coming to this decision my husband and I have discovered that we am a rare breed, or are for now. It seems most are either completely for or absolutely against home-schooling. There are those who say starting down this path will make your kids "weird". While the other half of people claim it helps your kids become even more socially capable. While we are right in the middle. Not that we have no opinion, but perhaps I am getting a little ahead of myself.
A LITTLE BIT OF BACKGROUND
With my husband being in the Air Force we move around more than your average family. Beings that my husband is "cross training", or switching to a new career field, we have been moving more than most lately.
The end of the public school year in 2010, our oldest was in Kindergarten. This new adventure pulled her out of 3 weeks shy of "graduating" kindergarten. The hubby was going to Florida for a very intense training that would keep him out of the house from 5 AM until roughly 7 PM everyday. So the kids and I headed to Texas to stay with my parents where I would have some adult help and company. Hopefully we could save some money in the process!
The oldest and middle child were then enrolled in school in Texas. My daughter had a teacher we loved, the my son... He ended up with a 4th grade teacher who was told 2 days before school started, she would be teaching kindergarten that year! Poor lady, poor kids! She was extremely motivated, having a kindergarten age child herself. She very sweet and I am confident that she would have "figured it out" in the next few school weeks. She was part of a fantastic team of teachers at a school that was very supportive. We didn't get to reach that phase though as, the hubby decided he missed us!
You see, all the money we had been saving continued to get spent driving back and forth to visit each other from TX to FL or the other way around. The end of October we decided, who cares if we only see him for 1.5 hours a day. We kinda seriously like that dude and he needs us! So off to Florida we went, where again we enrolled our kids in public school.
This time the school was quite literally a stones throw away. I could see both of my children's classrooms from my front window. My son's teacher was simply amazing this time! But... now it was my daughter on the sad end of things.
A FEW ISSUES WE HAVE HAD...
Apparently the school had run out of teachers and classrooms. Her "first grade" class (note the quotation marks) was in a portable, not horrible, and was a combined class. There were 12 kindergartners and 4 first grade students in the room with a teacher that had only been there a week longer than we had AND was used to teaching higher grade levels. While she was a perfectly lovely person and all the kids adored her, who do you think demanded more attention in that classroom?
My daughter started this journey sad to leave her friends in Kindergarten and WANTING to go to school. She was excited to learn and try to get good grades. She was always excited to see her teachers and friends. She had ALWAYS loved to try and read. Through each move she was happy and willing to take on each challenge. She is an amazing girl.
It now breaks my heart to see her frown at a book. My words can not express the sadness I feel for how her eagerness to learn has changed. I have tears just thinking about it! I was VERY careful to not speak in front of her about when the school tried to hold her back because of her "reading problems". The pressure of the tests she "had" to take and pass were not fun! Especially when the younger kids in the room get to play instead of test. Every-time she got in trouble it was for sneaking a peak at Magic School Bus with the Kindergartners instead of finishing her reading test. By the end of the last six weeks she wouldn't even read the test. She would just bubble in answers. I was doing about 3.5 hours of homework with her everyday. Spelling, reading, math. She never got to play! I thought up tons of ways to make spelling practice fun, but no amount of fun can help when you are stressed at school. She still wanted to go, she still loved her teacher, but learning had gone out the window.
WHAT FINALLY LED US TO THIS DECISION
I complained to many people about the issue. BOTH my Mother and Father-in-Law were elementary school teachers so I went to them for advice first. I tried hard and I think did well at being nice about the issue. We have only every had fantastic public school experiences. I have been as involved as possible with every child's class and teacher as I could be. I tried hard to not blame it all on the teacher or the school and I understand that my daughter could have reached that point where she did have a problem. But it's hard to not feel like she might have never reached that point had she been in a different situation. But I truly feel most the problem was she was all schooled out! After working so hard on school and being constantly drilled the poor kid never got to play!
After speaking with another friend, she commented that I was pretty much home-schooling my daughter after school. What was my daughter learning in school? She used to come home excited about her homework and eager to show me what she had learned. Now I had to pull out of her if the teacher even went over the work with her in class. The idea of schooling at home had always intrigued me, but I never felt that brave. I felt scared that I would "mess up" my kids flow of learning. Did I want to my kids to be "weird".
Then we found out we were going to be staying here in Florida until about halfway through the school year, going to Texas for about 2 months and then moving to Washington State. Not only will we move, but we don't know exactly when this move will happen! I was nervous enough about sending my kids back to public school. But three different public schools in three different states with three different teachers and groups of kids! Umm... no fun. But we had already learned a whole different life lesson for our family. We are in the military and daddy is gone a lot. If we can live with daddy then we are going to! We all need each other.
My husband brought up the real idea of home-schooling. It had been a kind of joke before, but... Our kids, while being in a different environment, would have the same teacher the whole year. This teacher knows them pretty well cause she changed their diapers and breast-feed them. And we could take those tiny bits of vacation in between moves that are seriously nice, without having to worry about how much school they are missing!
WHAT IS MY OPINION ON HOME-SCHOOLING?
The idea excites and scares me at the same time. While opposing forces say my kids will be "weird", what exactly does "weird" entail? If you have ever done Dave Ramsey's Totally Money Makeover then you know that "weird" is a compliment. I am sure my kids could go a little longer with out learning a few choices words they are bound to learn in public school. There was once a time in society where at 14 or 15 you were out in the world as an apprentice actually doing the job you would be working on the rest of your life. With our education system now you adolescent years seem to have extended almost until 25! You are now "weird" if you work! I am fine with "weird".
But, I am also not convinced that our Father in Heaven would have let our countries education system to evolve this way if it weren't for a reason. Perhaps that reason is to force more parents into taking an active role in their child's learning? Mainly I feel it is because He knew there would be a time where many were not as active in their children's learning. I think there are many great things about the system. There are many opportunities I can not recreate for them. There are thousands of good teachers out there who are seriously underpaid and under appreciated for what they do for our children. Why else would they stay there if not because they have a love of teaching those precious little hearts. But they should NOT be the only one responsible for my child's education. Heavenly Father gave my kids to me and only me and my husband have the right to decide what is correct for our family.
I am afraid of schooling at home. My husband says that is what will help drive me to teach our children. I know he will help where he can. He has always been completely supportive. And remember, it is HIS parents who are school teachers!
Is this the right choice for us forever? We don't know. I think right now the plan is to put them in public school when we get to Washington. But again this is mostly because I am a little scared whiney baby! I also feel if I have the chance to give my children a greater education my simply taking that time out of "MY" schedule to help them, then I should. For now, it is what is right for us.
We have not had that spiritual confirmation that this is what is perfect for us forever. Will it be hard. Yes, at times. Will it be fun? Golly I sure hope so!
To all of those who think I am crazy and are sure that I will screw up my kids. To each his own. Not only is every child different, but so is every parent! Most of what I know about home-school is WHAT OTHERS HAVE TOLD ME or WHAT I HAVE SEEN FROM THE OUTSIDE LOOKING IN. None is from first hand experience. So now I say, "Don't knock it till you've tried it!"
Wish me luck and MANY MANY PRAYERS!