Thanks for the comments yesterday - I was a little afraid that after I dished all this stuff out there'd be nothing but crickets.
So, to continue yesterday's conversation:
Here are the misgivings or negative comments that people usually have about homeschooling:
What about social skills? Princess has many friends in the neighborhood that
she plays with regularly. She also is involved in many different
activities, like dance, swedish singing, church, and she's starting
piano this year. She has plenty of opportunities to interact with other kids. No worries there for me.
I don't think that school is where you learn your social skills anyway. It's not anything like 'real life' (check out this cool essay by Paul Graham - worth a read).
If you look at awkward homeschooled kids, you'll probably also notice awkward homeschooling parents. Some people homeschool because they were awkward and teased themselves while in school. They don't always impart the best social skills to their kids. It's not so much the homeschooling, as it is the parents, I think, that determine a kids 'awkwardness'. Those poor kids would probably be awkward anyway. These days there is a much larger group of 'normal' homeschoolers. You probably know some. I think that most people would never know by looking at us that we homeschool. And I'm cool with that. Actually, last year at Princess' swimming lessons I was chatting with another mom, and about a week or so into the lessons we realized we both homeschooled. We both were like 'You do?'
I'm not smart enough to homeschool. Whatever. Learn with your kids. If you don't know something, look it up together! Teach your kids how to research and find stuff out for themselves. Also, if you start when they're young, you work up to the higher levels with them. You don't start with calculus, you start with addition. And there are good texts that can help kids learn on their own when they get to higher levels. Also, relatives or neighbors might be willing to help at that point, too. Calculus is not my forte, but my husband is good at it and will be taking on more of the math as it gets harder.
I think I'd go crazy with my kids home all day. Yeah, I worried about that a little bit. But you do not have to entertain your kids all day. I think it's different than when kids are in school for the year and come home for summer vacation. The moms tend to go a little nuts because the kids aren't used to being home all the time either.
Have a routine, when they're old enough give them plenty of chores to help out, and... QUIET TIME. I may have mentioned this, but nap time/quiet time is MY time. What? Too old to take a nap? Well, then you go read (or play quietly) in your room after lunch. It is a lifesaver, trust me. The kids need time to chill/occupy themselves anyway. We are never getting rid of nap/quiet time. NEVER!
The question was raised yesterday about separating the roles of mom and teacher. I guess I don't really separate them. I don't think of myself as a teacher, more like a mom who is helping her children learn.
What I've learned:
Homeschooling is way easier than I thought. Seriously. Especially after they learn to read. I bet I spend less time doing actual school instruction than most people do getting their kids up and ready for school, making lunches and making sure homework is done. I've heard other homeschooling moms say the same thing. I'm lucky, though, in that I have a motivated kid who loves to learn and everything comes easily to her. You have to realize that you don't have to 'do school' all day. One on one instruction gets the job done a lot quicker. And there's no lunch lines, roll call, announcements, etc. Much of what you do anyway is a learning activity, and have other educational or imaginative things on hand for the kids to do on their own.
Princess likes to make lists, so every day we write down the subjects she needs to do, and she picks the order she does them in (unless I'm needed for one, and then it depends on what the boys are up to :). I like that she's learning to schedule her time and be responsible for her own work.
I thought it would seem weird to not send Princess to school. Especially when she was supposed to start Kindergarten and her friends were all starting. It didn't, and doesn't. It feels like the most natural thing in the world to have her learning at home.
You don't have to be involved with the homeschooling 'community' to homeschool. While making this big decision, we attended a homeschooling conference, which was okay, but not great. One of the best things was just seeing all the 'normal' teenagers walking around heading for the teen classes. Reassuring. But we haven't gone back. I've tried local homeschooling mailing lists and went to a playgroup once (ONCE!) but didn't have much in common with the other families (with this one group you could pick them out at the park from the other kids - sad) so haven't returned. And that's fine. At this point we're not involved with any homeschool groups or co-ops.
There is JOY in watching your child learn: All parents know this from watching their baby learn to stick their foot into their mouth or start to speak. But there is something really cool about watching a child's lightbulb turn on, if you will. When they really get something. Princess was 3 when she learned to read. It was all her, she dragged us along every step of the way. I remember when she read her first page of Dick and Jane all by herself. I was SO excited for her! I wrote the date on the page of the book, called Aaron and my mom for her to share her exciting news with, and thought two things: So many people miss this! Their kids make these big steps at school! And: there's sure to be more moments like this - is this what happens when she masters multiplication? :)
Curriculum: I like picking out books for school. I like picking quality books that will work well for my kid instead of the book the buyer from the district picked because the publisher sent him on a cruise or something.
I don't use a packaged curriculum. I like Susan Wise-Bauer's (link below) idea of homeschooling, where you pick good books, not necessarily curriculum. So, for example, we use The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, plus other books we check out from the library, for history. I do buy the Singapore Math books We're really happy with that program.
Classroom: No, we don't have a classroom. When we first were thinking about homeschooling that sounded nice - a room dedicated to studying. Now I'm really more into flexibility and learning at home, instead of school at home, you know?
What are some good books to read about homeschooling?
I'd suggest The Well-trained Mind by Susan Wise-Bauer (don't be intimidated by the size of the book - it's mostly lists of resources. Also, her plan is pretty strict, but we just use it as a guideline and do what works for our family), The First Year of Homeschooling or other books in the series by Linda Dobson. Also The Unschooling Handbook by Mary Grifith is really good. We're NOT unschoolers, but this book has some excellent ideas and was a surprisingly good read.
If you're interested in learning more about homeschooling, the best thing you can do is talk to someone who's doing it. Someone you like. That really was what caused our mindshift from 'No way' to 'Maybe' for us. I met a teenager at Princess' dance studio whom I overheard telling someone she was homeschooled. I'd seen her around and talked to her occasionally over the course of a couple of years and never would have guessed that. So I got her mom's email address and asked a ton of questions. This girl was just such a good example of "Homeschooling can be done well." She was doing her 'high school' work at the community college and would soon be graduating (at 17) with her Associates. Cool. Plus, she didn't stick out and was very happy, social, and close with her family.
People usually ask me when I'll put Princess back in school. Everyone seems to assume this is temporary for some reason. I have no plans on Princess attending school. We have a good community college nearby where she can actually take some classes when she's high school age. Either that or online classes is kind of what I'm thinking at this point.
It's not perfect. This past year was less than ideal in the school department. There was a lot of 'Thomas' this year. :) And it's not always easy, but it is good for us.
Whatever your educational decisions - look at them as decisions! See what your schooling options are and stay involved. Your children can only benefit.
If anyone has any more questions for me today, I'll try and answer them in the comments. Thanks for tuning in - back to a regularly crafting/mommy blog next time! :)