Saturday, August 25, 2012

Homeschool: Let's Go There

There are a few topics that get moms all riled up and bent out of shape. Some of which are breastfeeding, birthing options, and educational choices. If you're at playgroup and you're feeling like things are a little too "chummy", bring up one of these topics, and even if things remain civil they will, at best, get awkward. Why is this? Because we all want the best for our kids, and if someone dare imply that what we do isn't the best choice for us or our kids, watch out!!! Mother Bears protect their cubs and will fight to prove it!

So it is with great hesitation that I bring up this topic. Before I go here, let me put a disclaimer on this entire post: I recognize that every child is different and has different needs. Let me also say that every mom is different and has different needs and goals for their children. We are all trying to do what's best and what's best for one, may not be best for all. You should also know that I am a former public educator, so yeah, I'm a little biased.

My oldest child goes to first grade on Monday. I used to teach kids her exact age, and while I am slightly nervous (new school, new teacher), I am also really excited for her. I LOVE the first grade. I love how old the kids think they are, and the funny things they say, and how much they learn at this age, and how they still want to give their teacher gifts and hugs, and how excited they are for school (well, most of them), and how they walk in little kids and leave "not-so" little kids, and how they all want to lose teeth REALLY BADLY. All these things just bring a smile to my heart, so when I hear that someone is going to be homeschooling, my natural instinct is to feel that they may be missing out on something. So, here is a list of reasons I choose to send my daughter to public school.

1. For learning. Do I think that a teacher knows more than I do about how to teach my 6 year- old how to read and write and do math? No. I don't. I am confident that if I had 4 to 5 hours/day of educational time to sit down with my daughter and work with her one on one, she'd probably be just fine educationally. But guess what, I don't. There are meals to prepare, a house to clean, laundry to do, trips to the store to make, a baby to care for, a calling to handle, etc.,etc. (I do, however, know that teachers are more trained in current teaching methods, and if we get to high school then yeah, a calculus teacher knows a whole heck of a lot more than I do. Even a 3rd or 4th grade teacher knows a whole lot more about teaching 3rd or 4th grade than I do.) I am not wonder woman. As a teacher I worked hard and put in a lot of hours. Those are hours that when I am home, I don't have. I am also a bit concerned when kids just start learning out of workbooks, which a lot of home-schooled kids do. Not only that, but on a number of occasions, I could not get my daughter to do things that she would do for her teacher. Teachers can often stretch kids further than parents can.

2. For social reasons. Last year when I went to pick up my daughter from Kindergarten, she'd walk out the front door, see me, and immediately she'd say a hearty good-bye to classmates, her teacher, aides, other teachers, etc. Heck, even the lady that helped all the kids get out of cars and into the school safely knew her by name. It never hurts for a child to have more than one adult who cares about them. I also love the fact that she was involved in a community of people. This is where she learned about appropriate behavior in certain situations, and how to handle herself around people who were different than she was (none of her classmates were Mormon, and it was a very diverse population of kids). All skills that I think are invaluable to kids. Did she learn some questionable things from kids on the playground? Yes. But guess what, I'm confident in the whole "in the world and not of the world" thing. We can still teach kids what is right.

3. For responsibility. School teaches a lot more than ABC's. Life skills lessons like: how to wake up and get to a place on time, how to follow a schedule, how to be responsible by taking something home and finishing it, how to bring something back to the teacher, how to follow directions, how to ask questions, how to study something you don't easily understand and work to understand it, how to meet a deadline. I don't know about you guys, but it is one diligent mom who can set up a time schedule and hold to it rain or shine, sick or not sick, on days when she's tired or pregnant, or when a kid gets sick, with babies and all. Just look at me and summer...it's pj's 'til at least 9:30 around here these days.

4. For my own sanity. I'll admit it. I love my children dearly, but at times (especially in the summer months), I wish I were Dad. Dad walks in the door an hour or so before bedtime, eats dinner with them, plays hide and seek, reads a few stories, gives hugs and sends them to bed. They IDOLIZE him. You'd think that Justin Bieber walked through the front door every day by their reaction. Not so with Mom. I'm the heavy. But when school is in, not only can I hear myself think at the grocery store (I only have one child there with me), but I get to give hugs and after school snacks, and say yes to a quick show (because they need a little down time). This all changes when I demand that homework get done, but for that glorious first hour after school, I AM JUSTIN BIEBER!! Absence makes the heart grow fonder for everyone.

It's true that there is a lot wrong with education, and I understand that not every teacher is fantastic, not every adult there cares, and not every school is cutting it. We can all point to times in our educational experience that were less than stellar, but even with all this I can confidently say that I, for one, still believe in school.

4 comments:

  1. I homeschooled my son for two years. He was in fourth grade and couldn't write a paragraph without crying and tears and tons of help. He wasn't learning in the overcrowded classroom environment. Yes, I felt confident I could teach him for 5th and 6th grade. He needed that one on one for a time. Sometimes the public school system fails our children, labels them special needs. Once I felt he was where he needed to be, then he went back to regular public school. He has graduated high school with a 3.2, can read and write and is now serving a mission.

    Homeschooling isn't all bad, but it is sometimes necessary. (But I did lose my sanity from time to time).

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  2. So guess what? I was homeschooled - K through 12th. I completely agree with your post though. I will never homeschool my children. People ask all the time how I liked being homeschooled. To be honest, I never went to public school so I had nothing to compare it to. I grew up to be a responsible adult being well aware and able to do everything in #3 but it was not due to homeschooling and neither of my siblings ended up as responsible. And I totally agree with #2!!!! I was the social butterfly in my family so I craved outside socializing. My two siblings, however, did not. They both are a little socially awkward now and do not "play" well with others. There is just something there that is great that kids will miss out on. My son will be starting the first grade on Monday and I am so excited for him. He has missed his friends over the summer, he has missed DOING something everyday which kind of surprised me but he craves it. He loves to learn and it just works better when he's learning it from someone other than his mom.
    I am a firm believer in "in the world but not of the world". I am here to teach my children the gospel, to teach them how to be loving and kind and generous. To teach them how to be upstanding citizens who standup for what they believe in. Im here to teach them the importance of a mission, and tithing, and prayer and obedience. The importance of not swearing and loving thy neighbor. All of that will shine through at school and he will make it through the murky depths of evil that live in school and in the world (as my parents saw it) and he will come out okay on the other side. How do I know? Because my husband went to school in an area that a lot of people consider to be the "ghetto" and he knew kids in gangs and people who drank and did drugs and had premarital sex and guess what? He's a great guy who never partook in any of those habits and is alive today and served a mission and serves everyday in his calling.
    Where our kids go to school is not going to define them. What we teach them at home is going to define them.
    Everyone does have different circumstances. This was mine. Thanks for the great post!!!

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  3. I pretty much agree with everything you said. I do, however love to talk to moms who homeschool to understand why they homeschool. That way I can keep an open mind and not go all "natural man" judging and thinking they are crazy :) Which is something I have a weakness for. Because there are several women whom I know, smart, talented women who homeschool. And it seems to be working for them. That being said, it is not on my to-do list, ever. I personally think/feel that my kids would benefit most in a school setting. while I equally commit to doing my part when they come home from school. (ie...following up on their homework, test scores, social pressures, manners, spiritual stuff etc..).

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  4. Yes. I agree. Especially with #2 and #3. To each his (or her) own. But for me, homeschool will be a last resort.

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