Monday, August 29, 2011

Your questions: Homeschooling

So today we'll hit the questions that pertain to homeschooling.

Rebecca asks "Dang, Erika stole my question. So, I'll ask this: what made you decide to homeschool? How did you know you'd be good at it? And as your kids get older, how do you deal with the subjects you don't know as much about as you need to? (If there are any such; I am embarrassed to admit how young my son was when I was no longer able to help him with his math homework just out of my own head.)"

 I decided to homeschool while I was in college getting my teaching degree. Yes, amazingly enough I am a certified teacher in my state and can teach in any k-8 classroom. (okay, I *think* my certification expires soon or maybe expired this month so I probably can't say that for much longer and be truthful about it}. Let me preface this by saying there are AMAZING teachers in this world. I know some of the best. I also, sadly, saw some of the worst. I do not think the worst make it for long. I think they quit, give up, but the truth is some kids have them for the year or two they hang in there. When I received my degree, my oldest was 3.5 and my youngest was 9 months old. That colored a lot of what I thought. I didn't want to risk them having the bad teachers. Not even for one year.

So I started looking into homeschooling. Did I know for sure I could do it? Um no. But I figured if the state of IL would let me teach an entire class of kids, I couldn't do much worse for a few kids at home. We started off pretty structured, but then stumbled into unschooling pretty quickly. So for a very long time, most of our homeschooling curriculum, we did whatever we wanted with no worksheets, textbooks, etc. I don't regret one second of it. I think my kids had lots of time to be kids, to learn and explore the world around them in a very nontraditional way. And it works. It works differently than school - by that I mean yes, they are behind in some areas. However, they are ahead in others. So basically, they are like all kids - they have strengths and weaknesses and we work with that.
This year, we left the unschooling behind and are now doing formal learning. It's an adjustment for us all. We now take tests and do worksheets. We study and make note cards. We drill with flashcards. We have due dates for assignments. The transition, especially for my 11yo, has been a lot easier than I anticipated. There is a lot they already knew - and we never had to waste time doing worksheets about 1+2. It's a bit harder for my 8yo - that said, I wish we could wait until she was 10 to make this transition for her as well. However, given both girls are almost positively going to school next year, I can't wait to make the transition for her. In an ideal world though, we'd unschool until 6th grade and then go formal. {That was always the plan, but cancer kind of changed it all}

As to what happens when I don't know something ... I do what I'd do if I was the classroom teacher ... I research it. I try to learn it all before we jump in, but often I'm learning right along with my girls. Here's the thing. When I was in college, I didn't in 2 years learn everything I might possibly have to teach from kindergarten to 8th grade. Often when a curriculum changes or a teacher switches grade level, that teacher has to prelearn what s/he is going to teach his/her class! It's true. So a teacher might have a teacher's guide with all that information in one spot ... but between google, the library and just asking people I know, I can gather up what I need and I'm good to go!

I think I like learning along with the kids the best. I like to tell them I don't know ... I like them to see I'm still learning and curious about things and looking stuff up. That learning doesn't happen only at school and stop once you graduate. I think all parents do this with some stuff. We've all been faced with questions we don't know, I just think I get them more since they are home with me all day.

Tracey asks "What do you like best about homeschooling? What do you like worst about it?"

I like best - having them all home all day =) What I think is worst about it? Is having them home all day!

No really. It's true, although mostly it's the best thing. I love them being home. I love them having more time to just be kids (even now with doing formal learning, we finish in 2-3 hours) and explore and play and just be. I think too many kids are already caught up in the rat race and don't have enough time to just be. Actually, I think too many adults are that way too, but that's a talk for another time!

That said, I'd be lying if I told you there weren't days I long to put them on the bus and get a break. That there aren't days I wonder if I've permanently screwed them up by keeping them home instead of sending them to school. That there weren't days I wonder why we decided to take a path that is not the normal one. But on the other hand, other parents have doubts at times too. So I think most of those doubts don't come from me homeschooling my kids so much as me parenting my kids.

Anymore questions, please feel free to ask! =) 

1 comment:

  1. We ALL feel like that from time to time - however we decide to raise our kids. We feel we failed somewhere, or we haven't done enough, or they're going to resent us. Motherhood is, quite simple, bittersweet.

    I hope the transition goes smoothly for you all this year!


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