Monday, January 7, 2013

Homeschool, ahoy!

School starts back on Tuesday, after a long winter's break. My kids won't be there.

This hasn't been an easy choice. And it hasn't been a quick decision either. It's something my husband and I have discussed for years off and on. There were points where it seemed like the only good decision, like when we were considering a move to Savannah, Georgia, which isn't exactly known for it's awesome school system. It was a consideration when we pondered how our super active younger child, Ansel, would deal with a structured school setting where his every want and desire and urge couldn't be catered to, and there's been considerations for our older son, Kadin, who is gifted, but has a hard time staying focused for various reasons. (I should point out that it has been suggested to us that Ansel is gifted as well, and a lot of his challenges are indicative of those of a young boy who is gifted. He doesn't have problems, just challenges.)

And then Sandy Hook happened, and I'd be lying if I didn't say that brought the discussion up again. It's definitely not the reason, but it's a factor, not gonna lie.

We're also looking to move whenever a job opportunity comes up, and it took Ansel the whole first semester to get even kind of settled in his current school situation. I shudder to think how he would handle a mid-year transfer to a new school and a new class. He knows the current expectations, and he still gets in trouble frequently. He just can't quite contain himself. There's all this energy and spirit balled up in his tiny little person and it just wants out!

First day of school 2012

Over this break, I cobbled together a little makeshift trial curriculum, just to see how things would go. We tried a couple of days of short 'school' sessions, and it went.... well. It'll take some work and some getting used to, and better curriculum options will help a lot. But the boys did really well, and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed watching them figure things out. I enjoyed watching them enjoy what they were learning. Ansel's reading is exploding and he is loving the accomplishments. He wants so badly to read. Kadin and I are diehard readers, and I think the modeling is working on Ansel. He sees that there is this wealth of knowledge and fun in books, and he wants in. Of course I read to him, but he wants access to it even when I can't sit there and work with him. We tried reading these little books with the goal being one a day, and the other evening he just wanted to keep going. He got through five of them before deciding he wanted to move on to something else, and I was so proud of him. But it wasn't a system that would have worked in a formal school setting. A formal setting would have dictated how much time could go into it. And he wouldn't have been allowed to, inch by inch, crawl up onto the table and squirm around and kick and wiggle and flop every which way. But if that gets the words into his brain, all the better! I can put up with the wriggling. A school can't, I get it.

I also realized that Kadin has some major holes in his education. I'm flummoxed, and a little bit disappointed in myself. I hadn't realized how much he didn't know. I was under the ignorant impression that getting As in classes meant that he was learning. I guess not. He did not do anywhere near as well on some evaluations that I gave him as I would have expected. We're going to need to work backwards to try and fill in some blanks. He wants to be a scientist of sorts someday, so he needs a firm foundation in math, and right now I don't think he has that. He also has a lot of scattered interests that I would like to help him delve into.

One problem that I foresee is that we live in a very conservative area. There are homeschooling groups, but they are mostly religion based. I've heard rumor that there are other resources, so I'm going to keep looking and find what I can. I don't worry about socialization. My kids are social to a fault, and it wouldn't hurt them at all to be learning in an environment that doesn't have constant peer distractions. They will not be cut off from the world, we can be quite sure of that.

So, I'm overwhelmed. And I'm confused. And I'm at least a little bit scared. But I'm good with it. It feels right. It'll work ok. And it's not forever. For right now, we're going to finish this school year. Ansel is in kindergarten and Kadin is in fifth grade. We'll re-evaluate at the end of the school year and decide what to do about next year. I'm going to miss my free time. I'm going to miss Ansel's teacher, who has been amazing on every possible level and has really blown every teacher cliche out of the water. I'm going to miss the neighborhood parents I've gotten to know at after-school pick-ups. And I'd be lying if I didn't admit I was going to miss some of the hands off advantages of having someone else direct my children's day to day education. But really that's a cop out, and I am the parent and I can't let someone else steer the boat down the wrong path.

26 comments:

  1. Check out the fort Gordon homeschool group on Facebook. They are secular and just do field trips and gym days, etc.

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    1. That's a good suggestion, thanks! I wonder why that never came up in any of my searches?

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  2. I don't know if you have ever looked into k-12, but a few friends of mine really enjoy it and in most States, their curriculum is free. Good luck! I would like to homeschool but my husband isn't in to the idea.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestion! I did look at it, but it looks a bit too rigid for what we're aiming for. I can see where it could be a great program for a lot of people. My kids are in a spot, too, where they're 'off' grade level. My fifth grader reads far ahead(testing at a ninth grade level) and my kindergartener is ahead on math(probably only about a grade). So I'm choosing curriculum that works for where they are in each subject.

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  3. Brave brave BRAVE! My best friend does the homeschool thing, though her reasons are very different than yours. Good luck on your new adventure!

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    1. Not brave! I'm pretty scared! And thanks for the well wishes!

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  4. Yeah finding a non-relgious HS group can be tough. I'd recommend worst case joining a religious one just for things like the online resources like forums to ask questions etc. Good luck. HS isn't the easiest thing but it has been wonderful for working with my kids. And the socialization issue is a joke. Socialization to so many means putting my kid with 20 kids the same age as him every day. I call socialization going to a friends house or doing a sports thing or learning to talk to adults too.

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    1. I hate to say 'worst case.' That makes it sound like I'm vilifying them, and really I'm not! But we are definitely secular people and we're wanting to homeschool our kids secularly. There's a homeschool group here that is religious, but says they're 'open' and will let anyone join. But.... You have to sign something agreeing to adhere to all their rules and you're not allowed to ever question or contradict anything religious they say, and if they feel your behavior or lifestyle isn't cohesive with their group, you have to leave. It just.... is challenging.

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  5. Congratulations on homeschooling. My siblings and I were homeschooled off and on throughout our school years and we really enjoyed the best of both worlds. Good luck finding a good group.

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    1. Thank you for the well wishes! I was actually homeschooled for two years, but for varying reasons and not entirely successfully! I was kept home for kindergarten because our neighborhood school wasn't completed yet and my parents weren't comfortable sending me to the further away school, so that year my mom just taught me at home. It went well enough, I'm sure, as I was already reading and I really enjoyed workbooks! Then I was homeschooled in ninth grade because my parents were leery of the high school experience. We soon realized that it was not good for the mother/daughter relationship, and I was back in public school for tenth.

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  6. Awesome! Good luck with it - I look forward to reading about it on here!

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  7. Homeschooling is so much fun! Of course, my youngest is too young for public school, and my oldest would only be in the public pre-school program. But, I do love the freedom that we have to do what works for us. We use Sonlight, which is religious based, but they don't use only religious books, in fact I think they use mainly quality literature. You can check out their book lists, which give a lot of good information on their process etc. But, we are also very interest-led, and plan to be in the future. It is fun to see the kids interested in something and then try and find as much on the subject as you can. And it is nice that homeschooling allows that opportunity. Good luck on your journey!

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    1. Yes, there definitely seems to be a lot of quality material out there. I think we're taking the rest of this school year to just figure out what works for us. I'm definitely open to checking it out and gleaning what is useful for us from it. There's just so much!
      And thank you for the well wishes!

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  8. Good for you for making the best decision for your family! What an exciting journey. I hope you find a great homeschooling group that is a good fit.

    (and your boys are ADORABLE!!)

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    1. Thank you! We're going to keep looking. And even if we don't find it here, we won't live here forever. Other areas likely have better prospects.

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  9. I am also planning to homeschool my child(ren) in the future. I am just so frustrated with the public school system for many reasons, but I do definitely think education holes is a big one. So many children get "left behind" in an area, even if they excel in another, because you of course won't find 25-32 children all in the exact same place on the same day! I wish you the best of luck!

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    1. This is true. A teacher managing a classroom of children can only do so much, no matter how great he/she is. We've encountered some AWESOME teachers, and some that weren't stellar. But there's just limitations on what any single person can do for that many kids.
      And thank you!

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  10. I just started homeschooling my two boys this year... And after I fought through my own worries as well as -others-worries for my children.. I have now made it to the place where I fell joyful about my children's education. I had many reasons for homeschooling one of which was my youngest son Noah... He's just a little ball of energy and it takes a lot of one on one to get his to truly learn. He's very smart but he gets distracted easily... I could never imagine sending him to a teacher that would actually take the time with him that he needed. Our main reason was religion.. But if course our oldest was left in public school since she only has one more year left before she graduates. I guess what I'm trying to say (sorry I ramble) at first it seems overwhelming and scary, but I truly believe that if you feel in your heart it's what your children needs then it will work out to be the best decision you have ever made.... At least I feel that way now about our choice. Good luck in your homeschooling adventure.. And thanks for stopping b my page today. Bye!

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    1. Sorry for all the typing errors.. Auto correct is not my friend. :)

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    2. Exciting! It's such an adventure! A scary but joyful one, it would seem.
      I do 'worry' about what my kids are missing out on. There are great aspects to the public school experience. But there's also some real downsides and some weaknesses in the system that I hope to be able to work through with the one-on-one attention.
      My younger son's teacher has been GREAT and my choice to homeschool by no means has anything to do with her. She got to know him really well quickly and they built a great relationship. The para-professional in the classroom was the same way. I truly believe that they LOVE my child. But they also love 20 other kids in the classroom :) And they want each one to succeed. But when each one needs something so different, it's got to be hard!

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  11. Good luck! Homeschooling is an amazing journey!! I remember being scared, which makes me laugh now! I think so many parents believe good grades equate to knowledge!

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  12. Thanks. And you're right. I did, sort of. I mean, I guess I knew grades don't mean everything. But I guess I thought that him getting As easily at least meant something.

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  13. http://www.secularhomeschool.com/content/ is for homeschoolers who homeschool for reasons other than religion. It's a great site with lots of resources, secular homeschooling links, list of curriculum, weekly articles and giveaways, and a list of secular homeschool support groups around the country. I think it's just the thing you're looking for. :)
    By the way, Nicole, you sound like a natural homeschool mom! You'll do great!
    Janet
    homeschooling 3 using Time4learning.com

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