Thursday, May 28, 2009

Why I finally decided to try homeschooling

Today was homeschool, day 2. I decided to blog about my experience because I figured things would not always go this well and I would need to refresh my memory at some point to remember why I had decided to do this in the first place.

My beautiful daughter is 7 1/2 and just finished the second grade. She is the youngest child in her class and probably one of the brightest. Her birthday fell six days after the state's cutoff for Kindergarten so her father and I had to pay to have her tested by a school psychologist before the local district would allow her to be admitted early. The psychologist spent about an hour with her and declared her ready to go. I have never regretted my decision to send her 'early.' During Kindergarten, she was homeschooled in the afternoons by her grandma and went to 'regular' school in the mornings. Her father and I decided to allow her to attend school full days for first and second grade. I was working at the time and unable to devote the time I felt was required to homeschool her.

My beautiful son is 6 and seventeen months younger than my daughter. He just finished Kindergarten. He is a bright child, too, but isn't as advanced as his sister was at this age. Before attending Kindergarten, he wasn't one of those children that would sit down and 'play' school. He knew his colors and ABC's, of course, but he had absolutely no interest in learning to draw shapes or write. I decided early on not to push him in this regard. He spent full days in Kindergarten and hasn't been formally homeschooled at all up to this point.

My beautiful youngest son is 2 1/2 and constantly on the go. He will prove to be the biggest challenge to homeschooling on most days because he is very demanding of all our time. I notice in him some of the same characteristics I noticed in his older sister at this age. He is able to say his ABC's and identify all of the letters with about 90% accuracy even though I haven't formally done any work with him to help him learn these things. He seems to just pick it up. He prefers to watch his DVD's in Spanish and has been able to count to 10 for months now.

So, why did I finally make the leap to homeschool? I actually was ready to homeschool my daughter at the beginning of this past school year. I had spoken with the elementary school principal and received her okay to send my daughter to school part-time for P.E., art, and music. However, the week before school started I found out that my daughter had been assigned to a good teacher and I decided at the very last minute to go ahead and send her to school. I made a deal with myself that if it wasn't working out I would pull her out of school and go ahead with my original plan to homeschool. Besides, I was still working part-time and I still didn't think I would be able to devote my full attention to homeschooling.

I never had any intention of homeschooling my son this past year. I felt that he needed to learn the structure of a classroom routine if nothing else. Since I couldn't persuade him to sit down and 'play' school, I didn't think there would be any way I could motivate him to 'play' homeschool.

I'm no longer sure if I made the right decision in either case. I don't fault the teachers or question their abilities. I think the entire system needs an overhaul and I don't think I want my children to have to wait for all the wheels to grind into motion. I'm afraid they will fall through the cracks. I think they already may have. In the last couple of weeks, I discovered that my daughter couldn't reliably tell time and had almost no idea what a fraction was. Both concepts had been introduced to her when she was homeschooled during Kindergarten. I then discovered that my older son couldn't accurately count to 100 and wasn't able to read. I felt that by the time a child leaves Kindergarten he should be able to do both. The bottom line was that my children weren't living up to my expectations and neither was the school system.

At that point, I began to seriously research math curricula and found one that was highly recommended by a dear friend who had been homeschooling two of her children for the past couple of years. Since before my daughter was in Kindergarten, I have dabbled in homeschool materials and bought a few things here and there. I also have belonged to a few local online homeschool groups. In that regard, I guess I am what would be labeled a 'lurker.' I read what is going on, but I rarely put in my two cents. I didn't feel my opinion was qualified since I wasn't a full-fledged homeschooling parent.

So my journey has begun. I decided to dip my toe in the water this summer and see how things go. I'm no longer working so I can devote all my attention to homeschooling. I have my schedule all set up, the materials are here, the pencils are sharpened, and the children are eager to get started. If things go well, we will keep right on going in August. Stay tuned. Time will tell.

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