Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Will I home school Will?

Exhibit A



Will you be sending Will to Kindergarten this fall? What do you think about home schooling or have you thought about home schooling?

This question comes at the perfect time because this has been on my mind for a long time. I have a short answer and a long answer. The short answer is that I don't know if I will be sending Will to school or if I will home school him. Now, if that's all the answer you want, you can stop reading but if you want to know my reasons you can keep reading but it might be kind of lengthy.

I love the idea of home school. I like the idea of having my kids near me and being a part of their learning. I also like having control over what they will be learning and being able to help them learn on their own time. I'm not stoked about the idea of propaganda being taught to my kids. Nor am I interested in them coming home chanting some silly Barack Obama jingle.

Exhibit A is from about six months ago. Mike, for curiosity sake, gave Will these worksheets and some Good-N-Plenty to see if he could add. He got them all right with minimal help from us. He has since gotten much better at writing his numbers and can whip right through a worksheet without any help from us.

Will is also beginning to read. He is not a super great reader yet but he can read almost all of Hop On Pop by himself. He also has a little notebook like this that he spells his own words on. I also find little notes written to me all over the house. I can't make out everything he is trying to spell in the notes but the majority I can. I am just amazed at how his learning has just exploded.

I asked him why he wanted to go to school and he told me he is "just so excited to learn all about my body and the earth and space." I didn't have the heart to tell him that he would not be learning those things for a long, long time--most definitely not in kindergarten where he will instead be sitting in a seat most of the day learning a letter a week. Of course, he might also learn his colors, shapes, and numbers--things he knew when he was two and a half.

I need to interject here that I do not expect my children to be the smartest or to learn quickly. It wasn't until I was in my last year of college that I was finally diagnosed with a learning disability. I can tell you that I cried a lot of tears before that diagnosis finally came and I berated myself for not being smart. But I was really proud of myself for graduating from high school with a 3.98 GPA and even more proud of myself for graduating from BYU.

All I care about is that they work hard and that they love learning. I don't want to see Will so excited to go to school and learn only to watch him a few months later causing problems or hating school because he is BORED OUT OF HIS MIND.

My biggest concern with homeschooling is just that it is such an overwhelming thing to do. I already feel close to being sent to the looney bin and I think having to have my kids with me every minute of the day just might be the thing to send me there.

So, the decision is still not made. I am talking to moms that home school to find out how they feel about it and I am reading books and doing research so hopefully very soon I will find an answer and be confident it is the right one. The good thing about this is that if I choose to send Will to school and he isn't growing, I can always take him out.

What are your thoughts on home schooling?

26 comments:

Jason said...

We never considered home schooling our children. There are good reasons to do so as you pointed out. But there are also good reasons not to. First, besides learning the basics of reading, writing, and math, the real purpose of elementary school is to help a child learn to socialize properly. Sometimes I think the skills learned on the playground (sharing, problem solving, ideas about fairness, etc...) are just as important as those learned in the classroom. I have more to say but my timer just went off and I need to go finish my experiment. I just got a cell phone so maybe I will give you a call. Love you all.

Mike and Adrianne said...

Jason, I'd love to talk to you about this more so please do call me. I just want to say that I agree about the socialization part and would be more concerned about it except that I am finding that there are so many more kids home schooled now than there were and there are so many new programs set up for home schoolers just for the purpose of socializing--our YMCA has a bunch of home schooling programs right now.

It is still a concern but hopefully as I find out more I will also become more aware of these extra activities. If not, then I will probably not do home schooling.

I guess I just think you should be able to find ways outside of school (church, scouts, etc.) where they can still learn those things.

On the flip side, I can do without the sex talk, the swearing, the teasing, violence, etc. that children learn at school. Which would I rather they be taught at school?

The Duke said...

I have quite strong feelings about this, but can see both sides. If I lived in an area where the schools were failing, I would consider home schooling. However, I have seen so many kids that have been home schooled (no matter their social experiences with other home schooled children) that fail when they leave home. Literally - they can't deal with the harshness of the world they face. They have no idea how to interact with those that think differently and it takes a long time for them to figure it out. Even a young man we knew that came from a very strong LDS family left his mission because he was so homesick. I think he eventually went back, but there are prices to pay on either side.
It's a possibility that you could have Will tested before school to see if he could skip kindergarten.
Some of my kids were pretty bored and that's a difficulty.
About the only child that is really well-served in our schools today is the average kid. Super bright kids get left out and many of the underachievers do as well. I am always irritated with parents that have kids with disabilities who demand that they have rights to whatever....we don't do that. We do what we can to supplement Ammon's education through grants to help the finances in the school, etc. The schools are underfunded, caught in the mess of tenure with under-performing teachers, etc. You might want to consider a charter school where you may have more of a say.
I think it should depend on the quality of the school where he will attend. Because you will be moving in the middle of the year, I think Will might really like being in kindergarten while you assess what kind of experience it will be and then when you move, if you don't like what's happened, then you could home school him at the new place until you see what kind of school he would attend in Colorado.
Just some thoughts -- I purposely didn't home school any of you because I thought you needed to know how to deal with the world and how to solve friendship issues, how to deal with those that were taught differently and had different moral ideas, etc. I figured you needed to learn how to identify what you believed pretty quickly. I think most of you did.
Good luck in your decision. I'm sure you will be guided to make the right one for you and for Will.

Jane of Seagull Fountain said...

I think about it very intensely, but intermittently. My biggest drawback (besides the time commitment on my part) is that my kids love school. (so far).

I wanted to recommend some posts by Mrs. G on the Pioneer Woman site. She addresses socialization, among other things: http://thepioneerwoman.com/homeschooling/2009/09/the-oldest-one-in-the-book/

Another thing that has been a revelation to me recently has been teaching my 5 yo to read using the Engelmann 100 Easy Lessons book. It is cheap, easy, and I have been almost star-struck at how well it works. And it has given me more confidence that, with the right curriculum/resources/etc, I really could teach my kids anything (I have always been sure I could understand and explain anything, but the right curriculum (which will surely differ with children's individual learning style) makes all the difference.

I think talking to other homeschoolers and seeing how they do it day-to-day, year-to-year is a great way to gather information about whether it is right for you, how it would work for you, what some things are that you don't like/agree with, etc. I also like to hear about educational systems in other countries. Just because we have public schools like we do in the U.S. doesn't mean that's the only configuration available.

And finally (sorry) in many states (including Utah, apparently) you can send your kid to half-day school, and that is very appealing to me.

Michelle said...

While there are great arguments on both sides of this issue. I have decided this:

When the prophet of our church tells Moms to home school. Only then will I do it and then it will be with a combination of other moms and we will see who knows more in each subject and switch off homes and such.

Other than that, I wouldn't want to do it. I'd be crazy for sure, just don't have the emotions to take that on unless told to by the Prophet.

politicchic6 said...

You deserve a break. And kids deserve to be exposed to ideas that are different than yours from people that are not you. Send the little guy to school. Even if he is disappointed with what is taught (my mom claimed I shared my own disgust in kindergarten at the foolish 'shape math' because I had already learned to add and subtract) you are there to add to what is missing. That way he won't be one of those kids who think that all the learning that should ever go on happens inside the classroom.

Our little family said...

I'm with you on the homeschooling thing all the way. I wish I could do it, but it's very overwhelming, and I just don't think I have the temperament to do it. I don't want to resent my kids. Our kids go to a charter school, and I've loved it. I'm there almost every day helping, I know what they're learning, and I think it's a better education than the one they could get at our local public school. And they've never come home saying things about Obama. That could partly be due to the fact that we live in Utah, a fairly conservative state.

Another option is some charter schools here have a homeschooling class. You home school a couple days a week, and they go to the charter school 2-3 days of the week.

I also love the charter school because the classes are very small, and they test the kids every week to make sure they're being taught at the right level. If one of my kids is at a 3rd grade level for math, they'll go to the 3rd grade classroom for math, and so on.

There are lots of ways to socialize your children, and I really don't think that homeschooling them will hurt them socially. As you say, there are tons of programs out there now, and you can even send him to the public school for half the day, and home school for half the day. Learn your rights, and ask tons of questions, and keep asking until you're satisfied.

Kristi, Liezl, Quincy, and Josh said...

So obviously there are good and bad things about both. I feel so guilty that Liezl has made a HUGE drop in learning. We have also had issues with other kids at school behaving inappropriately which has given Liezl some anxiety. This has given us some opportunities to teach her about the power of faith and prayer and how to stand up for what is right. Quincy has done so well with Liezl going to school. It has given her an opportunity to be the big sister and has given us the chance for some great one-on-one time. There are some great home schooling opportunities through the childrens' museum and metro parks that I am tempted to just go to - I don't know if that is allowed. I wonder since you are going to be moving halfway through the school year - you could give the home school a try. If it is not working out, you could start in January after the move. I don't know, I have been having this same inner struggle too. I can't decide what would be best for her, our family, and me.

Carolina said...

I have such fond memories of school, that I have a hard time imagining myself homeschooling my children. (Of course, my children might just hate school.)

My approach (and I say this with hesitation, since I don't have school-aged children yet) would be to find ways to supplement the school curriculum for my child to suit his/her interests/needs. I agree that kids who excel may not get to reach their full potential in school. But there are other programs or home activities that could fulfill that.

Another reason why I favor the traditional school approach is that I respond better to instruction from someone other than a family member. (This might also stem from my competitive nature.) I'm sure I would have had a much more strained relationship with my parents if they were the ones who were responsible for my day-to-day school instruction.

I'll have to revisit this post in a few years. My opinions are likely to change with each child. It's like my approach to the cry-it-out method. People ask me if I believe in it. I tell them I don't believe in it for Alex. He has been a phenomenal sleeper since he was nine months old (currently at 2 and a half years old, he sleeps 11 hours at night and a 3-4 hour nap during the day). I may be a huge proponent of the cry-it-out method with my next. You just never know.

Amber and Jesse said...

If the schools are not good around you then it should be a concern. As parents, we often think our kids are the brightest but we find that there are usually plenty of kids in the same boat...some bright in different areas. Socialization is just as important as learning. Other people (adults and children alike) can teach our children things we cannot. Peter is in Kindergarten right now and he has not learned anything that I disagree with yet. I am not against home school, but I believe it should take special circumstances to do it. I have a 2nd cousin who is 10 who is home schooled. He is an only child. His parents tried to do the public school thing and he would come home and tell his mom he wanted to end his life because he just did not fit in. Since he is the only child and his mom does not need to work, she can make home school work. The kid has been around the world. He has been to many historical sights and museums. He is a classically trained musician. His parents truly have given him a better education...but he is still a bit awkward socially. It really depends on Will. Would he benefit from public school or home school? Our jobs as parents is not to prevent our children from learning "bad" things. Rather it is our job to help them understand those things with a clear perspective. Our children have agency too and we need to allow them to choose how they want to live their lives after we have taught them.

Andrea said...

I saw the title on you post and read the whole thing because we were just talking about this today.

We started with the city school, now we're at the charter school. . .

It's a hard decision. I'm with you and Kristi.

Jess and Jason said...

Good luck with making that decision. It is pretty tough.

I do have to say that Layla is in kindergarten now and she started knowing how to read. She goes to a special reading class with other children who already know how to read. It is amazing the things that she is learning in school. But she does get bored. She always does extra things on her class work and probably drives her teacher crazy.

Jess and Jen said...

Abby was bored in school during parts of kindergarten (she would say it was too easy), but I know there's no way she would have wanted to stay home and learn with me. This year is better because she's there all day and they are doing more than just reading and ABCs. They learned how to write story problems this week in math and she came home telling me how exciting it was...I wish she came home excited that excited everyday. I am really hoping that we'll get the girls into the charter school next year!

I think the only thing that would make me home school my kids is the influence of other kids. If it got to the point that it was just a really bad environment for my kids, I would home school them (hopefully in a group like Michelle was talking about), but the public schools here are good enough that I can't see myself ever taking them out for education reasons. Abby craves interaction with others. She loves her teachers and aides and it makes her happy to have other adults in her life who care about her and think she's great!

I like the idea of supplementing what he is learning in school with other things he's interested in. Good luck figuring this out! The good thing is that nothing is permanent and you can make changes as often as you need to!

Life as a Greenstreet said...

Wow-this question got some great responses. Obviously since we have decided to home school our kids I have an opinion on the matter. I believe a few things:
-while they are called "public" schools they are actually government schools and I don't want the government educating my children. Frankly- the average American child is poorly educated. It's also no where to be found in the Constitution that the government should provide education from 8-3 for every child. It's just not in there.
-I don't believe learning to get along with a bunch of kids your same age is perfect socialization- the real world is full of people of different ages and learning to get along with everyone is socialization and that IS a challenge of home school parents- but I think it's a worthwhile trade off.
-I can't stand the thought of my kids coming home knowing dirty jokes, words, crass behavior or having been picked on. I'll make sure they learn how to share, wait their turn and be kind to others but not on the playground. I guess I'm just WAY more protective than some people but I could never put my 5 year old on a bus and send her/him off to someone I don't know for 6-7 hours to learn from books I haven't read and sit next to kids I don't know. I just can't do it. The world is a harsh place and yes they will have to deal with it soon enough. To me kids are like little plants- you don't just throw a seed out into a field and expect it to grow- you take extra care of it when it's a seedling and young with extra protection, water, sun light and only when it's strong enough to take care of itself do you put it in the flower garden.
-I love the idea of being part of what my kids learn! I love reading about the curriculums and different approaches to learning! Plus, because we don't have to deal with all the "extra" stuff they can learn the same amount they would at school in about 2 hours at home and have lots of time for music, family fun, field trips and anything else they want to persue (gymnastics, dance, etc)
-I agree that it's not an easy decision. Before Emma was about 3 I would have laughed at someone who told me I would feel with way shortly- but for me it feels right.
-Plus, I can live anywhere and not have to be directed by what "school district" is the "best." It takes a whole load off! We can also go on vacation anytime and not be locked in by a school schedule- which is a good feeling. With Mike's career of deploying it's good to know we can go visit my family for a month at a time regardless of what time of year it is.
-Good luck! By the way- I think you do a great job with your boys and I can't believe Will did those sheets and even wrote his numbers so well! He is a little smartie!

Mike and Adrianne said...

Wow. I knew this was a subject people all had opinions on but I was surprised to find that many comments that quickly.

I will just say a few things. There is a charter school in Huber Heights that we are also looking into. I've heard really good things about it. It is a lottery and the lottery is held in a few weeks.

A few comments talked about not being prepared for the "real world." I really feel that your kid will be as prepared as you help them to be. If you live under a rock (or in Utah) you might not have opportunities to teach your kid about what the world is like but if you make it a priority, I think you will be fine.

Also, is that really my goal? To introduce them to a world of filth? If I want to teach my kid about the dangers of drugs, do I want to bring them into my home. Of course not! So why do I have to send them to school to be in an environment where they will see things I don't want them to take a part off. (I'm not suggesting that all schools are filth or teaching bad things).

As far as the comment about how all moms think their kids are the brightest and I might find that there are lots of bright kids. Of course. You might not believe what I said in my post but I mean it when I say that my kids don't have to be the brightest or the best. The fact is, Will loves to learn and I don't want to see that stop when he goes to school.

About supplementing, I think that sounds great and Mike and I have talked a lot about that but how many kids do you know want to go to school for 8 hours only to come home and be forced to do more? I think that would also drive Will away from learning.

I like all the comments. I agree on most of the points being brought up, even if it doesn't seem that way. I just want to see both sides put out there.

I flip flop about every hour. When I think about public school I mention to myself all the arguments being posted here by you all.

About the socialization, I do think it might be a challenge but I don't think school is the only place a kid can learn those types of things. And, doesn't it seem silly to say that I need a teacher to teach my kid how to share and be kind to others and take turns? shouldn't all moms do that in their homes anyway?

Lisa said...

This comment is for "Life as a Greenstreet"

It sounds as if you have been brainwashed into believing that homeschooling is best. While it might be best for some in extreme situations. Not all children in the same family should be forced to be homeschooled by their parents just because thier parents decide that's best.

Your children will fail when they leave home. Scared to death of the real world, and ready to hide out in some mountain because they can't make friends or socialize properly.

If you are afraid of what the real world brings then teach them correctly at home, but don't hide them from public, charter or other types of "government" schools just because you can't handle it.

Mike and Adrianne said...

P.S. I was joking with my comment about living under or rock (or Utah). I love Utah and would love to be there with my kids....I'm just giving you a hard time. Because really, my kids see stuff like smoking and all that every day. I don't feel like I'm sheltering them too much.

Frances said...

Wo! I sure asked a great question! So, the reason I asked is because as you know Lilian is scheduled to start K this fall too and for the past year it has really been troubling me. I had committed to home schooling and started preparing myself for it by doing some reading and sitting down with Lilian time to time to teach her somet things.

But over Christmas I was so worried as I watched her interact with all her little cousins and I realized how behind she is socially and how difficult it was for her to get along with and be natural around the kids. I cried. I felt so concerned for her. Not to mention how occassionally I want to jump out the window because I need some space from my kids.

I've talked to ALOT of moms and it seems that everyone's little kids pretty much like school. The home school moms seem really sold on home schooling and the kids seem to like it too. And I've come across kids that hate being home schooled and beg their parents to go to school?! I don't know.

I have talked with Brook about this at length and I've finally decided to send her to school. I broke down crying and told Brook that I actualy don't want to home school. I know it's selfish but I want more freedom. And I want my kids to have their own life.

We'll see how it goes. I am willing to have an open mind and do what's best for my girls. If things aren't going well, I will bring them home.

Thanks for answering my question!!

Frances said...

I forgot to add:

Pray and scripture study will have to be a priority in our family when we send our kids to school. Prepare them for the day with the spirit. That's my last comment!

Again...wowza.

JC Choate said...

Thank you to the question-er, the responder, and the commenter-ees.

We've talked about this as well, and it's nice to see everyone's opinion out there in an environment that's welcoming to opposition! :)

I don't have a strong opinion yet, but I think that if the kids are in school, I'd be involved as much as possible, and they wouldn't take the bus. I think that's where most of the problems come up.

Considering one of us is a school teacher, the scheduling of vacation time vs. school time works out quite well.

Lisa said...

I just wanted to add that I too was home schooled and that is one of the reasons I hate it. It took me until after college to socialize. I wish I would have had public school.

Pitcher Family said...

I'm totally grateful for public schools and teachers who are doing the teaching in them. Kids do not spend their the entire day sitting in a class at a desk being bored. They do lots of interactive activities and are able to have more experiences than I can provide for them at home. I say if you want to homeschool your kids, go for it, you'd do a great job! I would not!!

Mandi said...

As you may or may not know, we just started homeschooling our kids a few months ago because we felt it was right for our family. There are a lot of very strong opinions both ways. But what it boils down to is weighing them for YOUR circumstances and your family. I love having my kids around me all day, even though sometimes it wears me out and I think it would be great to send them off to school again. Personally, I would love to do half and half, like some of the charter schools offer. At the moment though, we're enjoying the time we have with our kids while they're small. We know we won't homeschool forever, and we know it's wrong to keep them from failure and conversely success in every situation presented to them. And honestly, I don't think anyone who struggles with this question ever stops wondering if they're doing the right thing, but you'll get your answer through prayer. And then you just have to run with it.

Life as a Greenstreet said...

Lisa,

I respectfully disagree with everything you said.

I have not been brainwashed into believing anything. In fact, I have read more on the subject on both sides than many. I have talked to many on both sides of this issue as well. My feeling on the matter is not brainwashing. I went to public schools and enjoyed myself.

I am wondering how you can be so confident my children will fail? I completely disagree with your assumption. They will be just fine and I'm sure never need to hide under anything.

Jess and Jen said...

What's the Obama jingle you're talking about? Hah! I win as the shortest comment so far! -Jess

Lisa said...

This topic gives me anxiety. I HATE the idea of sending Heidi off to kindergarten next year, but I'm also not sure that I have the energy, patience and foresight to provide her with the educational opportunities she deserves while still being a devoted and attentive mother to our other children. That being said, I don't know that sending her off to kindergarten will provide her all the educational opportunities she deserves either. Ooooh, it's tough being a parent! (PS-I don't know who the other Lisa that commented was, but it wasn't me.)