As we come to this time of the year I am once again torn as to whether or not to home school my boys next year. It’s a very difficult decision. I’m not unfamiliar to the home school experience as I took the plunge when my oldest son was entering Kindergarten. It’s extremely time consuming and effects the entire household. Here are the pros and cons to my home schooling experience.
First, you may be wondering why I home schooled. Believe me, it was something I thought I would never do (but you know what they say – never say never). My husband and I purchased our first house when my oldest son was 2 1/2 years old. It was a house in a very nice part of our town, however it was just on the cusp of being in the “bad” school district….just our luck! We had heard that the elementary school was rated very good, although it was being compared to the worst. But we thought the house would just be a starter home. We figured he may have two years tops in the elementary school and that didn’t seem too terrible. — I mean how bad could an elementary school be, right?
Well, we signed my son up and when we went to meet the teachers and see the school it was evident to me that I couldn’t send him there. Call it mother’s intuition or just common sense, but I didn’t see how he was going to be able to learn when most of the students there that day didn’t know the English language. I remember walking out in tears with the thought of, “where is the emphasis going to be if the majority of the students didn’t understand what was being said.” My son, very bright and well aware of the English language, would surely fall through the cracks or end up helping to teach the non-English speaking students the language. A burden no child needs in Kindergarten.
I had heard about a virtual charter school from a few parents that I knew and decided to give it a try. Now, I must premise this with the fact that I love my children very much and I love playing with them and teaching them but I am not going to win awards as far as patience is concerned. I knew it would be a huge undertaking, especially with my overly active, impulsive, newly-turned-five-year-old boy. I remember saying “how hard can it be to teach Kindergarten” just to give me the push I needed to enroll him.
I didn’t home school to hide my child from the world so I kept him in the Pre-K program at his preschool. The plan was for him to get some socialization and play time in the mornings, come home and have lunch, then start with the Kindergarten program. Factor into this an 18-month-old toddling around the house, needing a nap and wanting to play with Mom and brother every time I started teaching………….Good Times!!
The virtual charter school I worked with used the “K-12” curriculum, loaned you a computer and printer with internet access (they paid for), and assigned us a teacher that we checked in with every other week. There were also socials organized by the teacher for the children in our area being home schooled. All the materials needed (art materials, geography maps, science experiment tools, books, and workbooks, etc.) were shipped directly to my house a week prior to school starting. I have to say that the curriculum was great. It was a bit advanced; for example art, was not just cutting and pasting but the discussion of paintings by Renoir; Geography was learning the seven continents through song; and Science was knowing the differences between solid, liquids, and gas. A lot for a Kindergartener to take in, but my son seemed to like it and absorb much of it.
The Kindergarten program was approximately 5 hours of schooling a day…basically full-day Kindergarten. It was difficult trying to juggle everything a mother has to do: laundry, cleaning, playing with children, picking my son up from school, making dinner, etc. and then adding Kindergarten in. I remember feeling so stressed everyday, until it got to the point where I was ready to rip my hair out. I’m the kind of person that if you put an assignment in front of me I feel as though I have to finish it….there’s no coming back to it later, it has to be done when it has to be done. Finally I had to tell myself for my own sanity, and my husband’s, that I could only do what my son and I could do that day. I couldn’t push to finish it. I had to be patient (there’s that word again).
The program itself was easy to follow. Each day I would login on the school-loaned computer. Everything that needed to be studied and completed that day was listed. I would go into each individual category we needed to for the particular day and follow the computer guided instructions. There was always an assessment at the end of each assignment to make sure your child understood what they read/learned. Sometimes there was workbook assignments, journals, handwriting practice, etc. added to the computer work. The difficult part about using the curriculum with a Kindergartener is that it all had to be read to him. At the second grade level I’m sure it becomes a little easier.
We took home schooling day-by-day and finally before we knew it (alright, that sounds a little too quick)….finally the end of the year came. We made it and I have to say I remember feeling so much relief….like a heavy weight was off my shoulders. Then I thought….what am I going to do about first grade? My husband emphatically said that I wasn’t going to home school again. I guess it was rougher on him than I thought. Ultimately, we ended up sending my son to a private Lutheran school (1st – 3rd so far), which we have been happy with.
My son is going to enter fourth grade next year and my younger son will be going to Kindergarten. We really like the private school my older son attends but there was a combining of grades this past year that we didn’t know was occuring until a week before school started (the combined grade levels 3rd and 4th is not to our liking – not to mention he will have had the same teacher three years in a row), and quite honestly, having two children in private school really puts a strain on the pockets. So, once again, I struggle with the question of home schooling or not home schooling, and once again, add in another toddler (20 month old). I still have time, but this will now haunt me until next school year.
* You call the shots – you decide how much your child has to do to prove he/she has learned the information, rather than doing 35 redundant problems in math that mentally drain your child.
*You get to know your child and the way they learn better.
*You know exactly what your child is learning.
*You know exactly what your child has problems learning.
*You get to see the sense of accomplishment your child has when he finally understands something you’ve been teaching him.
*You feel a sense of accomplishment in that you taught your child.
*You don’t have to worry about the bad influences your child may be exposed to in a school setting.
*The curriculum is very challenging and fun.
*You are guided every step of the way.
*You can decide what you consider a learning experience; maybe it’s through a family “field trip”, or a social gathering.
*The older the child, the easier it is (depending on the child, of course).
*Depending on your child, it may be less stressful than being in school.
*Depending on the parent, it may be more stressful for the child than being in school.
*Juggling everything a mother has to juggle and adding teacher to the list.
*The lack of exposure to other kids his own age in a learning environment (some kids learn better with other kids around, others are too distracted).
*The time needed to balance among other children in the house.
*The patience needed – it can be difficult to teach your own child.
*You have to be willing to spend just about every day at home.
*TIME – it can be very time consuming, I don’t know how to stress this enough (I’m sure as they get older this lessens).