Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We've been talking about homeschooling lately. This is a strange conversation for me, because I am a product of public education - all the way through - and I really loved it. I have no philosophical issue with public school. But we live in a city that doesn't value public education, and all of its resources end up in magnet or private schools. People just don't value public education in my area, and any school whose resources have been sucked dry is going to be dire soil for learning. As much as I would love to be the one to stand up and say, "Let's all use public schools together, and make them a better place for our community," I'm not willing to use my children's lives to prove a point.

I like homeschooling because it allows children to grow in the areas they love, at their own pace, and gives our family more time with each other. It's like an acquaintance wisely said to me - Yes, we all have to learn to function in the real world without our parents. But do we really have to do that when we're five years old? That's my question too. In thinking about socialization, we will still use local (non-religiously affiliated) sports and extracurricular activities for our kids. Also, we had seventeen kids at Silas' birthday party, and Silas is not yet in school. Our social circle is pretty wide already.

Anyway, we've been talking about homeschooling. But I'm having a hard time accepting it. Not because I don't love the philosophy behind it, not because I don't think my children would do well in it. But because I don't own a blue jean jumper. I just don't feel like I'm conservative enough to home school. I have a part-time job that I don't want to leave. I don't hate the government. And if we do homeschool, my children's education will not be solely religious - I don't even know if I would use a religious curriculum.

So I am asking - what are your preconceived notions about homeschooling? Who do you know who home schools successfully? How did they choose their curriculum?

What are your thoughts?


Laura Mielke said...

What a great question. I think it is good to be asking these questions and conversing as early as you are. Here is my opinion.
1) Steph. YOU are an AMAZING mother and can do anything, and do it well. I trust your instincts, your convictions, and your ability
2) Reasons you have listed in supporting the decision to homeschool (though not final) are very sound in my opinion. You have considered your other options and the social and educational effects on your kids. You WILL get criticism from other people but I think I know you well enough by now that I don't have to tell you to tell them what to do ;)
3) My concerns/more like questions:
-time management with 3 children on 3 different levels / the new baby's needs
-how this EXTREME mother/teacher/housewife role could affect your marriage
4) as far as curriculum, i don't know enough about homeschool curriculum but I don't think that your kids will ever NEED or GET their spiritual reinforcements/application moments through their school subjects. (this is hard to communicate) I guess I am saying, it would not hurt to have a "religious curriculum" but honestly, would it hurt not to??? I think your children are smart enough that if there are parallels to be made between their own faith and their school work... they will make them on their own... isn't that what we want our children to be able to do anyway? Your kids are the ones who tell YOU about Jesus when watching a fire truck or whatever ;) Plus they go to Sunday School and Wed. nights and have you and Brian for parents who share Christ with them all of the time.

More about this later I'm sure. Keep us updated on your thought processes.

Cindy said...

Call Mark's sister, Lisa, if you get a chance. (She says she runs into you at a preschool, but is she thinking of someone else? If you need her number let me know.) They've homeschooled for years because it works well with their work schedules so they still get to spend time with the kids. Lisa and I actually had this exact conversation last week because they do not fit the homeschool stereotypes out there. I'm sure she would welcome the conversation with someone thinking through things as you are.

Stephanie said...

Cindy, I did see Lisa at a preschool last year, but we're not there during the summer. Does she have an email address?

Laura, your questions are mine too. Especially time management. What to do with/about toddlers while we're working? Asher and Silas would probably start together, because they are so close in age and because Silas wants to do whatever his brother is doing anyway. But I would still have to plan different things for them to do. And when would I have time to plan? As it is, I struggle to find time for paperwork-related chores. How would I add to that load and still get everything done?

Jamie said...

I threw my preconceived notions out the window when I moved here.

The few families I know that homeschool use Sonlight.

Kendra said...

Did you ever read Angie Smith's post on homeschooling?

Mrs. Shehane said...

msAs an educator, and as Asher's grandmother--and your MOTHER-- i have mixed feelings. Sue Riddle maintained her own kindergarten -- comprised of just her kids.

Then they entered public school at the age of six or seven, as really required by law.

I think you could buy a little time with that. Other than that, you might consider moving to an area, such as Prattville or Redland Road, even Pike Road, that does value education.

Whatever you do I'm sure will be the right decision. You might even check into whether you're zoned for a CHOICE school, that is, because the school in your zone may be a "failing" school, you can choose where you want your child to attend. You've still got plenty of time to choose, and/or move.

Jenia said...

I am (probably) years away from even having kids, let alone deciding how to educate them. At this point, I do want to homeschool though. Like you, I don't own a blue jean jumper or hate the government. I guess, I just want my kids to have a learning experience closer my Shon's (who was homeschooled) than to my own (public school all the way).
As for people who homeschooled... Here's a blog of a friend of mine who just quit working for a public school to homeschool her 4 kids
If you google (or facebook) for David Quine, you will find a guy who successfully homeschooled his nine kids (of which I met 4) and also created at least one curriculum. Both him and his wife and very sweet and neat people. Actually, as I found out later, the parents of one of my good friend used their curriculum.
Hope it helps.
P.S. Shon mentioned that "school day" at home doesn't have to be as long as a school day at, well, school, since less time is wasted. Which means that time management might not be that much of an issue after all.

Mrs. C said...

If you are against using religious curriculum, you may wish to look into virtual charter schools (sometimes called "cyberschooling.") Your child would be a public school student with all the good and bad that entails, but do work (or most of it) at the computer at home.

I've heard mixed reviews on Sonlight. It's more teacher intensive (read: you can't just sit the kid down and expect the work to get done) and doesn't lend itself to people who are poor readers. But also worth looking into.

But honestly? My real opinion is that workbooks from Sam's Club or wherever will suffice until about the end of second grade. You teach the child to read and write with letter sounds and then putting the sounds together. We also used the Dick and Jane books to teach words like "said" that don't follow the "sound it out" rule. There is nothing wrong with *most* packaged curriculum out there, but you can do far cheaper with a ten dollar workbook and some notebooks and art supplies. :)

GL to you! Remember that even the process of looking into things is empowering. Should you decide to enroll in public school, you will at least know a bit about what hs-ing entails and be able to keep it in your back pocket should the need arise.

Jason said...

Well, as the former PTA President of a great magnet school in the area, I want to point out that magnet schools get less money than other public schools. So just because magnet schools exist, it doesn't mean other schools will suffer financially. Of course money isn't the only resource that matters, but the way magnet schools succeed with less of it is one of the main reasons why I believe in school vouchers / school choice. I also like the way magnet schools have put positive pressure on the school system resulting in more magnet schools in our area - giving hundreds more children access to a good education. I believe the success of Montgomery's magnet schools is one of the primary reasons we are expecting more from our education officials.

I know magnet schools are a sub-point and that your main focus is on homeschooling, but social networking allows me to share my 2 cents :)

Regarding your home-school choice, I would only comment on your decision to use, or not use, "religious" curriculum. You and I both don't have good feelings towards the term "religious" but the truth is that everything is just that. All views come from someone's beliefs (religion). As a Christian, I want my children to understand life and all its spheres defined through the bible (biblical worldview). Like the class I taught this winter and spring, I want them to know everything according to God, so that their faith isn't just for the church halls, but also for the halls where science, math, history, philosophy and any other subjects are taught.

Stephanie said...

But Jason, do they best learn that from a certain curriculum? Or from you? I ask you specifically because you are the best teacher I know in person. I can't imagine there is a curriculum written that would better equip your children with a Biblical worldview than you could, just by spending time with them and discussing Scripture (and all that entails) openly.