Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Homeschool?


So, I'm debating homeschooling once again. This is a choice that I've always struggled with, and certain issues (bullying, nearby school shooting, etc.) have brought it to the battlefield once again. Sometimes just putting my thoughts on paper helps, so let's see if this (and hopefully your comments) will bring me some clarity. Currently, Drew attends public school, but we enrolled him only under the pretense that he would be taken out if 1. he asked or 2. there were issues that couldn't be resolved through school leaders. When Drew started school, I was taking classes at UAH, so my selfish needs greatly influenced my decision to enroll him. We have already had several conflicts such as unprofessional substitute teachers, bullying, enforcing that our rules at home continue to govern our actions elsewhere even though others may act foolishly around us, and I've been forced to interact with some pretty pathetic, immature parents, but we've chosen not to pull him out of school yet and instead concentrated on teaching him how to resolve conflicts.
So, here are the main issues that I keep flip-flopping on:
1. In public school I have no influence over what material is being taught. We have balanced that by thoroughly discussing what he learns each day and resolving any moral or intellectual questions he may have, but I feel like there is so much more that he is capable of learning. They can only go as fast as the slowest student, and they are restricted from enhancing their repertoire with any form of spiritual education, so basically they are governed by the weakest students. I feel that at home I would be able to give him a more well-rounded education and be able to both customize it to his interests and move at his own pace.
2. I miss Drew while he's gone. Yes, it gives me time to work, run errands, and clean up with out 'mommy can I have a snack' and 'mommy I'm bored,' but I miss that bonding time and I truly feel like it is my responsibility to not only care for, comfort, and protect him, but to educate him in all aspects of his life. I hate delegating that responsibility, but I am also grateful for the beautiful gifts and talents that other women have been able to share with him.
3. I am super super busy. I juggle 1,452,879 responsibilities. I'm afraid I would have a hard time sticking to a schedule. It would be nice to not be confined by tardy policies and truancy laws, but I fear I might take advantage of the freedom.
4. Public school is free. The books are free. The art and music are free. The socializing is free. Homeschooling is not free. I have amazing ideas of little field trips and learning opportunities, and I'd hate to cheat his education because we're on a budget.
5. We have dealt with teachers calling Drew names, classmates making fun of him, hitting, and kicking him, we've held our breath as trashy parents smoke like freight trains in the car pool line, and have seen students rewarded as they misbehave, but we can not influence the world for good if we do not perform acts of goodness in the world. So, is it fair to submit Drew to injustices in hopes that he can be an influence for good?
6. He will one day be working with these people, and he can't just quit his job because they are dishonest, mean, or judgemental. He will have to learn to resolve conflicts and get along with people he doesn't necessarily like if he wants to be successful in life, but do I really need to let my 7 year old learn such hard lessons so soon? I don't understand why there is such a negative, competitive atmosphere at school. I can only imagine how productive our classes would be if they all worked together as a team, celebrating accomplishments and admiring each other's hard work and kindness. Why, instead, do they chose to degrade one another and act out in anger? Why haven't their parents taught them how to behave!?!
7. Schools aren't safe anymore. School has always been emotionally treacherous, but now it has the potential to be physically dangerous. The world in general is dangerous, but knowing that I'm sending my child, alone, into such an unstable environment every single day scares me. Watching the terrified parents on the news tonight... not knowing if their children were hurt and unable to get to them is a fear I never want to know. Discovery Middle School (where the shooting happened today)is a wonderful school in a wonderful city. It could have easily been Drew's school. Despite today's tragedy, I will try not to act out of fear. I will, however, continue to ponder and research my options, and hopefully I can make a decision that will allow my babies to realize their potential and find happiness in this crazy journey we call life.

4 comments:

Sarah said...

hey drew told me he wanted to be home-schooled, but if he does and you are worried about things like that, but you just cant do it, you can maybe transfer him to my school. grace will be there and in the same grade so things should be easy for him plus he's real cute, so he can find friends quick and next year im allowed to visit the school so i can check on him :)the teachers will be really nice when they know he's my nephew. its not that far of a drive :) im sure you'll make the right decision

Cari said...

I have been considering home school for Noah as well when the time comes. My sis, Dawn, really loves the home school program she is using for her 3 kids. It is an online program. I have also heard that there is an LDS based homeschool program. Misty's former boss is using it I think but I haven't heard anything about it. Definitely worth looking into.

Chris and I were just talking tonight about how much the safety in schools have changed just since we were in school. It is crazy...and scary.

Beth said...

We are leaning towards either private school, homeschool, or a combo of the two for Addie. She DEF won't go to the school we are zoned for. There is a family Jarom knows that do 1/2 homeschool and 1/2 private. So some of their classes are at home and the rest are in a private school. It makes it much less expensive than full time private school, the kids get interaction with others, you get a little break each day, etc. If there were enough mom's wanting to homeschool, we could also consider doing a homeschooling group where if we got enough people, we could each do a subject twice or 3 times a week so that the kids have other kids in the "class". Let us know what you decide!

Dawn, said...

I am catching up on your past posts, grin, lost your blog addy and just traced it down through other blogs :)

You are SOOOO dealing with what I did for years. I really feel you are on the right track. I considered homeschooling back when Savannah was entering kindergarten (10 years ago). We chose public. Then again a year later with Christian. We chose to stay public. Year after year, different school systems (since we were in graduate school and then the military, moving around), we evaluated pros and cons of public school. Never getting absolute confirmation of a change needed. Then Ty started kindergarten. Still pondering our options.

My friends with younger kids thought I should be in 'mother heaven' with a quiet home and the kids gone all day. I struggled. I volunteered at the school all the time, very active with the teachers and curriculum.

At the end of the 2008-2009 school year, Savannah had a very frank talk with Shawn and I about the things she experiences at school(she had just finished 7th grade). She was very troubled. Much of it was not new news... we were aware of concerns she and we had. But she presented them to us so maturely and asked that homeschooling be considered. We prayed as a family that whole summer. Christian is more thick skinned about most things but also hoped that he could be homeschooled. Ty was going to be starting 1st grade the following year and did not care one way or another, if he had gone back to public school it had been determined that he should skip a grade and go to 2nd... another decision we weren't quite sure was right or wrong, ugh!

And finally the 'lighting bolt' we had hoped would come. When we wrote down detailed descriptions of the DAILY lives we wanted to experience (family time, free time to just be kids and play, shorter school days, time that would be eliminated doing homework assignment which had spiraled out of control as the kids got older, vacations that could be taken when we wanted to not when school breaks mandated them, farmwork, animals, extracurricular sports/activities, etc) public school was editing too many of those desires from our daily lives. Bingo! So we said we would do a one year trial of staying home. It has been a blessing for us.

Important note is that I do NOT regret the years of public school... those years too offered blessings not just trials.

We have continued to evaluate after each year... homeschooling sure is not a breeze, snort. And I still have friends that think I am crazy. But I have calm reassurance.

Come 4 years from now... Savannah and Christian will be gone to college and mission. Ty will be home alone. I have already begun to pray for direction as to if we will continue to homeschool him here all alone, or possibly at that point we will consider private school. But now having what we have, and knowing what we do, and having the say we do about what is taught to our children... I can say that public school is no longer an option for our family. A big deciding factor being that our children are blessed to have incredible IQs, they get it from their father, grin, and like you stated in your post... public schools must teach at the pace of the slowest learner. Our kids plain and simply need to be challenged... else they get bored or into mischief :).

Sorry for the novel! In a nutshell, Amanda, you are so right on track to be evaluating schooling... no need to rush decisions... but always aware that options ARE out there. We personally do an online Christian program. I feared the lesson planning process with Christian and Savannah since they are now in highschool, so this online program took that fear away. And Ty and I have incredible flexibility. Some days we buckle down and do lots of school work, other day we go outside for hours and hours. It is an absolute joy!