Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Decision to Homeschool - Is It For You?

photo courtesy of Google Images
Deciding to home school for my family was an easy decision and a hard one. How is that so, you ask? Well, let me tell you. When our children were born, my husband and I had a very long conversation about the method of education that we would use. At the top of that list was home schooling.

When our oldest became school age, we did what most first-timers who are considering alternative methods of education do. We told everyone we knew that we were planning or at least contemplating home schooling Madison. If you have done that then you know what happened next. We were inundated with unsolicited opinions, suggestions and advice. Everyone we talked to were close friends, family or neighbors. So needless to say, they were not intending to be obnoxious...they just were. LOL

After, hearing, listening and considering, we decided to enroll her in the cutest little Primary school that I'd ever seen. The halls were shiny and clean. The school SMELLED spotless. There were bright posters and encouraging banners all of the place. The halls were colored coded so that little ones could find their "pod." Oh yes, each grade level had a "pod." The place where all of that grade's classrooms were located. The classrooms were not next door to each other on either side of the hallways. No! After you walked down the hall you entered the "pod." Where only that grade level's classes were; going around the walls in sort of a circle (if you can imagine that). So when a class exited a classroom you were in a kind of "lobby" area for your grade level, in our case, kindergarten. It was cozy in there. Now what truly tilted the scale was the little coy pond in the main lobby of the school just outside of the office with real, live gold fish, clown fish and an albino frog! What parent would NOT send their bright eyed, kindergartener to this school? They had us (not that they were out to get us). Especially since I'd checked on a Christian private school in our area that was drab and under-funded nor was the staff very nice.

So how is it that we ended up here before the school year is even out? It's long story. One I will have to tell in its entirety over a couple of posts. Just suffice it to say that public school was everything we'd heard it has become. Teachers couldn't really "teach" your kid, no matter how badly they wanted to. Every child is expected to fit into the same mold. The system is cookie-cutter and if your child doesn't fit into that mold, it is his or her fault. It is not the responsibility of the teacher to use her "teaching ability" to "reach" your child. No...it's her responsibility to label your child and begin a process of paperwork that will follow your child for the next 12 years.
photo courtesy of Google Images

Now, I don't mean to be negative. I loved our child's teacher. She was very sweet and very tough. She was a stickler for discipline which I LOVED! I mean if you have a room of 21 kids, you need to have some control over the classroom and she did. I LOVED it! And she loved our child. Here's the thing though, or at least one of the things. Madison entered kindergarten as a fluent reader. She'd also mastered simple math like adding, subtracting and greater than and less than. However at the end of the first term, she'd been scored as only meets the grade level standards.  Now the last time I checked, kindergarten standards were simply that the child be able to read by the end of the year. So in my mind, Madison should have scored as exceeds the grade level standards. After speaking with her teacher, I was willing to let it go, for the love of all things sane, it is only kindergarten. Right?  Or is it a system of scoring that will determine how high or how fast your child is allowed to go based on the rest of the class. By the second term she scored exceeds standards in all things Language Arts related and scored meets standards in all things math. While that is wonderful, it is not her fault and she should not be made to go along for 9 weeks in the system until it is time for the class to cover where she was already ready to go. And she was not the only kid in this boat.

It's unfortunate as I would honestly love to keep her in public school for the clubs and plays and functions but not at the expense of her potential to go as far as she absolutely can academically. I am just not willing to stand-by while her love for learning dwindles. She'd expressed early on in the school year that she was bored and didn't like it but in the spirit of "good parenting" we were all for her adjusting and sticking it out until it got better. It did, but only barely.

To Be Continued...


*If you find yourself at the door of decision about homeschooling, let me know. What's your biggest  concern?

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