Saturday, February 9, 2008

What Is Your Reason?

I published this post on *my* other blog. (It's not really mine, I am simlply invited to contribute). I wanted to post it here, also, incase you have never been over there.

I've been thinking alot about this lately and thought this was an appropriate place to think it out.Some of my children would flunk in PS and some of them would thrive. Therefore, I have core reasons that are applicable to all five as well as individual reasons. Ill write about a few of each.

I have been homeschooling for almost seven years now. Throughout the years, I have seen myself change and evolve as a parent and as a teacher....always seeking to balance the two.When we first moved here, Caleb was five, had been to a great preschool in Utah and was excited about riding the bus. He was unaware of the struggle that we were having concerning his education. I had been thinking about HS since he was born. But like everyone, I struggled with the typical questions. Can I give him what he needs? Do I have what it takes? Will it ruin or strengthen our relationship? Will he be missing out? What about all of the good things about PS? Will I be able to adequatley prepare him for mission/college/life out in the big world? My resources are limited, what about exposing him to things I know nothing about? What if he misses his calling in life because he never found out what he really enjoys? What if he falls behind....everyone will say "it's because he is homeschooled." (As if that never happens in PS.) What will my inlaws think? We live in a sheltered community, isn't homeschooling going to make that worse? What am I going to do when he gets smarter than me? Will he resent me when he is grown-up? And many, many more. I've thought about them all. Every good parent has asked themselves similar questions based on the decisions they make for their own children.Innitialy, the bases of my decision was as simple as this: I didn't think he was ready for all day kindergarten, and I certainly wasn't ready for him to be away from home for eight hours every day. I don't mean "not ready" from an academic standpoint....he was doing all the normal stuff (and then some.) I was afraid that he wouldn't get the stimulation he needed. I was afraid that he would be bored and turned off to learning, which is my BIGGEST fear. I feel like the PS system has a conveyor belt way of "processing" students and I didn't feel like Caleb was ready to fit into their mold. Which we all know, if they don't fit, they don't succeed. I feel this way even today. Caleb is not a "traditional learner." Maybe that's because I believe so strongly in "child innitiated learning," so much of the time he learns what he wants to learn. Currently his interests are birds of prey, ancient Egypt, skiing, Legos, (well, that one is constant) the human body and algebra. We will persue these subjects until he has had enough, moved on or loses interest....whatever you want to call it. I'm not sure he would be permitted to learn this way in PS. I apply this same technique to each of my children. They are individuals. I am a firm believer that if they learn it (meaning anything) when they want to learn it, they retain it. For example, each of my children learned to read at different ages. One was six, the next one was five, the third has just recently learned to read (also six) and the fourth one is four and learning to read. (we use the book "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lesons"). I have taught them all when they asked to learn. I don't believe in dumbing them down and I don't believe in pushing them too hard. It is a tricky balance that I feel only a mother can acheive. At home, there are no learning standards, pressure to succeed or the government looking over our shoulder. We learn in freedom.
I understand that Lauren will eventually plateau and be even with her peers. Just because she learns to read at age four doesn't mean that she will always be ahead of her game. I've read all the studies. However....that does NOT mean I should hold her back (or dumb her down) if she is currently thrilled about being empowered to read! Learning is fun and exiting. Many of us have developed a resentment toward learning because we went through the PS system. (I didn't get over this until i was in college). And many of us have had to wait until we are adults to learn how enjoyable learning really is. Think about how much further ahead we would all be if we were never taught that learning was uncool, boring or nerdy. Now.....I know that not everyone had the same, rotten experience in PS that I had. I also know that things have "changed" (for better or worse, depending on who you ask).At this pont in my career as a homeschooling Mom, my reasons are different. I am still evolving and have much to learn. I really enjoy it, they really enjoy it, it is working for us, the Lord has let me know that this is the right thing for our family and at this point there is no reason to change course.
Just to be fair and objective, we revisit this decision every year, with every child. It also helps me feel less intimidated if I remind myself that we are doing this one year at a time.The first year was the hardest, second was better. Now we are in a "groove" and I feel like I have a pretty good handle on our educational persuits. The Lord has blessed us so much and continues to do so.
We will carry on.
For those of you who homeschool......What is your reason?


Shellie said...

Kim, I do both believe it or not. Makayla goes to PS. Every day I ask her about her learning and the things she shows interest in, the things that have peaked her curious mind, we as a family do more research or projects. We take it as far as she wants to go with it. Right now it's dinosaurs. She also wondered about the process of a tadpole turning into a frog. We bought a tadpole/frog habitat, where you can order a tadpole, they send you the intructions for the care of it and you put it in this habitat and watch it grow into a frog. We also are researching everything about the different stages of growth they go through. All this based on something the teacher said in class. It really made her curious.
I also had thought about homeschooling them. My concern was being able to teach them in the subjects that I was weak in. I was worried about them being able to succeed in college, where sometimes things can get competive depending on the course studied. I also didn't know if I had the patients, but I also wanted them to go and think beyond what they learn in school. To know that there is two sides to everything and an infinate learning possiblity. And for our family, I think we have found our perfect balance. Isn't life just the greatest thing? The knowledge and the freedom to choose what and how our children learn.

Kim said...

It's so good to hear from you, I haven't been able to access your blog lately and have been wondering about you.
Can you resend me the link?
Thanks for this sounds like you ahve found a great balance.
Please know that I do not look down on others who choose to send their kids to PS. It is such a personal decision.(Like how many kids you have or whether or not you breast feed.) Nobody can make that decision for you.
I like to hear from people like you who have such open minds. You are one who thinks outside the box. If we keep our options open, we won't be limited to what others see as "traditional" or "normal." You are doing a great service to your kids, that's obvious. If they get to the point where PS is no longer filling their needs, you know there are other options. Many don't acknowledge that and just "go with the flow" because it's all they know. Then their kids end up failing or hating learning and PS ends up being counter-productive. We've all seen this. My hope is that an awareness of this huge problem will benefit the children.
M&M are so blessed to have a Mom like you...keep up the good work. God bless you!!

Shellie said...

Thank you and our new link is

Nicki said...

Hear! Hear!