Saturday, August 21, 2010

Our Homeschooling Story

It seems like I've been asked about homeschooling quite a bit, lately. So, I decided to write an entry about why we homeschool, how we homeschool, and what we use.
I'll be the first to admit that I am a paranoid mom. No one is going to hurt my babies. When Matthew was getting to be school age, the school shootings were at an all time high. Either that, or we were just hearing about it on the news a lot more.
Growing up, I went to a great school. The country school that was "safe". I'll never forget seeing the brother of one of my classmates on the Sally Jesse Rafael show. He had been expelled because he had a hit list of who he was going to kill in the school. Around the same time, there was another shooting in a small town a couple hours away, another "safe" school.
If all this was happening at these schools, how could any school be safe for my kids??
Along with all of my fears, was the fact that Matthew was born with some facial differences. We learned very quickly that kids were cruel, very cruel. We also knew that Matthew would be facing surgeries during his early years of school. We couldn't figure out how he would manage to stay caught up in school with all the doctor's appointments we would be dealing with.
And finally, there was the fact that I really enjoy my kids. I couldn't fathom sending them to school for eight hours a day. I couldn't figure out how we could have a meaningful relationship if we only saw them a couple hours a day.
The idea of homeschooling appealed more and more to us, and we decided to give it a go. My kids have never been in public school, we've homeschooled from the word Go.
Over the years, our reasons for keeping them home have definitely changed. Yes, we still deal with the doctor's appointments, we still like being with our kids, and we still worry about their safety, but now it has become so much more.
We started learning about schools and how they teach for the tests. The higher the test scores, the more money they get. The schools have also started dictating what an acceptable absence is. When I was a kid, we could go on vacation, and my parents saying that we were with them, was enough to excuse the absence. Now, if you go on vacation, you get zeros for the time missed. When did the schools take the right to determine what is OK for their kids away from the parents?
There is also the fact that some of my kids have struggled a bit. I have been able to help them through, but worry if they had been in school they would have been left behind. Now, I don't know that for sure, but it seems like something that could easily happen.
Most importantly for us, is that we control what our children learn. Yes, my kids know about evolution, but we haven't taught it as truth. We believe in creation, and so those are the beliefs we've instilled in our kids. We like being able to pray whenever we want. On many occasions, we say a prayer before a test, or if things are getting difficult. We are allowed to talk about God whenever we want.
We have never said we will homeschool forever, we've always said we will homeschool for as long as it works for us. It still works for us, so we are still homeschooling.
As for what we do, I'm schooling four different levels right now. Matthew and Dillon are old enough that they are quite independent. Don't get me wrong, I help them whenever they need it, but for example, I don't have to sit and walk them through every math problem. They have instruction and then can pretty much go on their own.
I am using the workbox system for Collin and Zachary. I started it last year, towards the end of the year, and it seems to be what they need. Collin is one of my kids that struggles. Last year, and probably this year, I sit Zachy and Emily down with an activity (lacing beads in a pattern, or playing Jr boggle, etc) and I work with Collin. Then I switch. Collin plays with the girls and I work with Zachy. We switch back and forth until they are done with their school.
How we choose our curriculum could be it's own post, but I'm lazy so I'll pop a bit in here. In short, it has been years of trial and error.
We have stuck with Math U See our math, but everything else changes yearly. I keep coming back to Alpha Omega Lifepacs, though. Also,. Apologia Science is our science curriculum of choice. This year, we are using Switched on Schoolhouse for the older two boys. Not for all subjects, but some. We'll see how they like it. I'm not sure that Matthew is going to dig doing his schoolwork on the computer, but we'll give it a whirl. We are also using Horizons this year for Zachy. Emily is only 3, but I'll be working on letters and crafty goodness with her.
Is it easy? Nope. Am I organized? Not really. In fact, in most things, I'm quite lazy and I never follow through. This is how I know that God wants us to do this. We pray about it all the time. I couldn't do it without being able to go to God on a daily basis and lean on Him.
I hope this answered some questions. I want to add that I know there are wonderful schools out there, and since my kids have never been to public school the things I said are all things that I've heard from other parents. I don't mean to knock the public school system at all, it just isn't for us.

1 comment:

Mrs B said...

We also use Apologia and are just about to start with Math-U-See - really looking forward to it. I just need to unpack the starter set of blocks!!

Isn't if funny how the reasons for homeschooling grow... there were a few things we started doing it for and God has shown me so many other reasons it would take a day to go over them all LOL
We we're planning in assessing every 6mo to make sure it was working well for us but now my husband is so on board even he gulps in discomfort at just the thought of them being in mainstream school.

Thanks for sharing - it's always good to hear where others are at with their homeschooling journey.

How long do you spend each day/week on home school?

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