Friday, November 7, 2008

Homeschooling

Lisa and Lucie asked about homeschooling. What is our story and why do we do it?

Well I wish I could make this short and sweet, but I feel a long post coming on. (You've been warned).

I started out homeschooling Simeon because he was probably the most hyperactive 5 year old I had ever known. :) I knew he would be labeled ADHD in kindergarten and we'd be pressured to put him on Ritalin. I wanted to give him a year to "settle down" and mature before sending him. Maybe too, I just wasn't quite ready to give him up. :)

Homeschooling ended up being a wonderful time of bonding between the two of us. Knowing he needed more hands-on activities, I was able to tailor his education to fit his needs. For some reason, kindergarten homeschooling turned into first grade, then second. He never really "settled down". He is still a very active and sometimes stubborn 10 year old boy.

We did try public school last year for the first time, and I was glad for it for many reasons, including:
1. I  got a much needed break.
2. I learned of a few academic areas (mainly grammar) where my kids were lacking, and other areas where they were really doing well.
3. It gave me some time to bond with Hope before adopting Ava, and gave me time to bond with Ava after adopting Ava.
4. My kids made some new friends, and got over their fears of the dreaded word, "school".
5. My kids experienced deadlines, consequences, and positive peer pressure to perform in a way that I couldn't reproduce at home.

What I didn't like about my kids in school, I can pretty much sum up in one word. Time. 8 hours a day is an awful long time for kids to be away from home (in my opinion). It seemed like we were always rushing to get them off to school, rushing to get homework done before activities, rushing to get chores and devotions done before bed. And so when they all 3 asked to be homeschooled again this year, I agreed. 

Homeschooling certainly has its ups and downs, as does every other school option in my opinion. Some children are much easier to homeschool than others. One child in particular, which I named previously, while sweet and tenderhearted, can be very stubborn and manipulative at times. I am constantly having to be on my toes to make sure he is not taking advantage of my easy going nature to get out of doing work. I would certainly love to have some time to myself every now and then. My house is messier and louder, and I think the food bill is higher than when the kids were in school. I have to go out of my way to create play dates for what they call "socialization".

Then again, we have the time to focus on what is really important to us. Mainly, incorporating God into everything we study. We talk a lot about character traits of certain historical figures, God's amazing design in science, God's love for us through art and poetry, God's order through math. We talk a lot about honoring our parents, loving our siblings and neighbors. We have more time to learn Bible verses, make crafts, help around the house, learn life skills like cooking and cleaning. And of course, since we are finished around noon or so, there is so much more time for running and playing. I always wonder what Ava's bus drivers are thinking when they come pick her up at 12:30 and my kids are outside fishing, or riding their bikes.

If I could create the perfect school experience, it would be a public, free, half day or 2 day a week program. The kids would do all their book work at home, then on their "school" days, they would have clubs....Math club, science club, art club, chess club, whatever the kids enjoy and want to learn. They would learn some new skills, make some friends, experience a little friendly competition. That would be the perfect school, in my opinion. But nobody has asked me. :)

For us, schooling is something that may change from year to year depending on our kids' needs, our finances, and being obedient to what we feel the Lord is calling us to do, even for Ava. So far private school has not been an option for us, but if it was to be in the future I would be open to that too. In other words, homeschooling is not necessarily a long term commitment. I do hope one day I'll be able to go to the grocery store in the middle of a weekday without any children in my cart. :) But for now I am enjoying the special times we have together, challenges and all.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This post makes me wish I homeschooled when the kids were smaller! The time crunch was really difficult when they were younger. They attend a highschool
a block from our house now and are home by 2:30. In the province
where I live, Catholic schools are fully funded- so they get a free
christian education.
Thanks for answering my question
Lucie

Christina L said...

Thanks for sharing. I have always been scared of the idea of homeschooling. I think I would be the one who would be "lazy" and not put pressure on the kids to perform. We are currently looking at what to do with our kids in the next year and are trying to figure it out. I don't think it will be homeschool, but I guess stranger things have happened.

Dalene said...

Nicely put!

the original Awareness Warrior said...

Do you use any program etc? I use Abeckka Academy, and I have time for nothing (including any time with other kids whatsoever). With all my appointments I am ALWAYS behind, and in such a rush that I learn next to nothing. I can't go to public or private school currently, and am in the 7th grade for the second time due to this all. I really wonder how and if I can do this. I mean, I have to, but at what cost? I already have to cut some corners, skip unnecessary work, but it's more than that as well...I'm just not getting a quality education and there seems to be no way that I can. Do you have any advice on this? What would you do?

Journey to our Ukrainian Angel said...

To original awareness warrior (your blog says your name is Alexandra, is that right?)

I looked at your blog and I get the impression that the doctor's appointments indeed take up a lot of time, but they are needed.

I suspect that if you were in a public or private school you would miss out on a quality education also, simply because of the time missed. The Abeka program is a rigorous one from what I understand ( I am a homeschool mom) so I did some thinking.

Is it possible for your mom to put you in a public independent study program that is affiliated with the local public school for yor grade? If you are using 7th grade Abeka now, I think you might be quite able to do 8th grade work in a public school (yet still at home) setting. Abeka tends to be advanced. You would also get feedback once a week or so form a teacher and that might help you feel more accomplished and in tune with your education.

Another idea I had was, would your mom be okay with switching you to Lifepac curriculum? Lifepacs are a boxed set of 10 workbooks per subject. These workbooks are small, portable and contain all you need to do for that subject. My older son takes his schoolwork with him this way when we have to be away from home during a school day. You can do schoolwork without any trouble in a waitingroom or in the car that way.

I hope this helps:)

kirsten said...

You're a great homeschooling mom!

June Berger said...

Charissa,
I have that perfect "school", it's a homeschool co-op. We do our work during the week and they do their science labs, and other "school" work on Fridays. They have art and music (which I confess to lacking in), science, critical thinking, creative writing and then we head over to the park for "gym/play time". Maybe a homeschool co-op in your area has something like that available? It's really the best of both worlds!

"warrior", if you have access to a computer, better yet a lap top that you could bring with you to appointments, you could use Switched on Schoolhouse by Alpha and Omega, same program as Horizon work books (pretty much anyway) it's the same company. Just another option.

Christina said...

Wow Charissa! I could have written this post(though not so eloquently written!). My girls were both in public school, Kallie longer than Brittany but after just 3 months of homeschooling, I am really enjoying it and we are getting into our groove. I can't say either that it is something I will be able to do forever but something I feel God has led me to do now. Thanks for sharing your story!