Sunday, November 9, 2014

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

A while back I posted about putting my kids into public school after homeschooling for 5 1/2 years.   I had my reasons, as you can read about in that post.

We decided to wait until the new year began so that they could start fresh.  I thought it was the answer that I was looking for.  I knew I would have to go to work and I thought it would help me. It would give me a babysitter for 8 hours so I could work and my kids would learn the things that they needed.

Then school started.  My oldest loved it.  The other two... not so much.

When we were homeschooling our kids, we had the freedom to teach what ever we wanted. The kids could ask questions about anything and we could find the answers together.  We had lots of time read beautiful literature and talk about what we learned.  My kids could spend hours playing music on their guitars, they loved being outside in nature exploring and observing what was around them, and they could create artwork without having a time limit. We raise rabbits, and they were able to be involved in that, too.  They were involved in planting and harvesting our vegetable garden. The kids absorbed it all and learned so much.

 At school, life was pushed into the box of what "they" wanted my kids learn.  My kids were expected to sit for 8 hours a day while a teacher taught them about life.  Instead of experiencing the life cycle of plants by watching them grow in our garden, they saw it on a piece of paper.  Instead of counting real money in their hands, they counted it on a piece of paper.  Instead of learning about the moon and stars from sitting outside observing them and talking about it, they saw a picture of it on a piece of paper because they had to be in bed in time to get up for school the next morning.  Instead of learning songs about the multiplication facts, they had a piece of paper.

I know what you are thinking.  Why don't you do all of these things after school, or on the weekends?

Well, this was our schedule:

6:00 Wake up
7:00 Catch the bus
8:00 School Starts
4:00 Get home-start homework
5:00 Play outside if homework is done(it happened occasionally)
6:00 Eat supper
6:30 Clean up
7:00 Finish homework if needed or read (or watch a show on tv)
8:00 Take bath
9:00 Go to bed

If your kids are in school, this may seem normal to you, but to me it seems like prison for a young kid, especially the ones who are right brained, creative thinkers like two of mine are.  During the week they hardly had time to play outside.  During school, they got about 15 minutes of recess.  On the weekends they were so worn out from the week that they didn't want to do any of the fun stuff that they did when they were home.  They did play outside some, but it just wasn't the same.  When kids get a lot of time to play, they engage their imagination.  This is so important in their development.  Imagination helps them process what they are learning.

I have heard so many people say that home school kids have no chance to become socialized, but I don't understand how public school actually gives kids a chance to socialize.  Teachers yell at the class to be quiet all day.  They have 15 minutes to play outside, and part of that is walking in a quiet, straight line to and from the playground.  At lunch they are not allowed to speak.  They must eat in silence.  They are expected to sit still and be quiet all day.  Where is all this social time that everyone says homeschool kids are missing out on? Also, to expand on this social issue, if anyone has ever been around homeschooled kids, they will see that socialization is not an issue.  In every homeschool group I have ever been a part of, the kids were healthy and vibrant.   Not a single one was withdrawn and awkward like the picture that people paint of homeschooled kids. Also, every child that I have experienced that has been schooled at home has a great relationship with their parents.  They have an entirely different view of adults.  Kids in school are treated much like prisoners and the teachers their wardens, controlling every minute of their day.  Kids at home have more of a partnership with their parents.  Even the most strict of parents have the respect of their children, and have a deeper relationship than is able to be experienced when kids are in school 8 hours of the day.

I agree that occasionally there are those parents that don't do what they need to do when homeschooling their kids.  Those same kids would probably be neglected or abused if they were in school, too.  In school and out, unfourtunately there are bad parents, and homeschooling doesn't create bad parents.  Bad parents are just bad parents.   From my experience, a majority of homeschool families are very healthy and do the things they need for their kids.  The neglectful families are the vast minority. Most people school their kids at home so that they can give their children a better life, not to avoid responsibility.

People have asked me if I feel that I can give my kids everything they need by schooling them at home.  Do traditionally schooled kids get everything they need? Do teachers cover everything in every textbook every year? Are there no school kids who fall through the cracks? Do schools instill a love of learning? I may miss out teaching my kids something, but they may miss out on something in school, too.  However, I can create a love of learning in my kids that is much too often missed in public school.  That alone is worth keeping my kids home.  Since they have been home, we have studied Pterodactyls, lunar halos, clouds, direction (NESW), Sacagawea, Lewis and Clark, among other things. We have done math with games on the computer and in books. Spelling, grammar, vocabulary, and reading have been meaningfully studied with literature. My kids have not rolled their eyes or resisted anything because it is what they want.  They love it.  When my parents came for a visit, my 6 yo told my mom details of what we have been studying.  When he was in school, when we would ask him what he was learning, all we would get would be a shrug and "I don't know."

My oldest is still in school.  It is her choice.  She is a left brain thinker and thrives in a school environment.  She is also older and can sit quietly for 8 hours without a problem. She has the attention span for a long school day.  As long as she in enjoying it, I will support her decision even though I miss having her at home.  And for you doubters, I have to brag a little.  When she took her last round of tests, my girl that was homeschooled for the previous 5 1/2 years tested higher than almost all of her peers who have been in public school their whole lives.  Her reading comprehension is at an 11th grade level.  She is in 7th. She made all A's and one B on her first report card.  She was invited into the Beta Club.   She has 270 AR points in reading, and there is only one girl in the whole school with more.  Most of the other kids have 0-10.  So I think I have been doing something right!