Wednesday, June 19, 2013

why this public school kid will (probably) homeschool her own kids

"...those homeschool kids..."

Someone used this phrase to me recently not realizing that I homeschooled myself for the end of high school and that I plan on homeschooling my kids.  She wasn't rude, but she was stereotyping. I  didn't know exactly how to respond. So I pointed out that kids' "weirdness" or "bad behavior" had more to do with parenting and the child's personality than school choice. Because honestly, a kid is going to be "weird" or social or ornery whether they are in public school, private school or homeschooled. I know. I taught public school for six years. I attended public school till midway through 11th grade. My mom teaches public school.

So when I saw The Gospel Coalition doing a series on school choices, I was excited to say the least. I am a curriculum/education/theology nerd. I love reading about these things. I love discussing and debating. There is a part of me that is passionate about quality public education.  I could have chosen a career in something else (I was encouraged by teachers in my life NOT to waste my life in public ed - I didn't listen.) I majored in elementary ed and then went on to get my masters/certification in administration because I felt called to do so. I wanted to make a difference. Though my teaching years will never be turned into a movie featuring Michelle Pfeifer, I believe that I did make a difference. But I also was discouraged in how little change to the system I was able to make.



These days I'm not teaching in a school. And I am not returning to public education, unless God tells me to. Our plan is to homeschool or combine private school with homeschooling.

Why?

It's not because of bullying. It's not because of secular science curriculum. It's not because I am a stereotypical homeschool mom.  It's because just as teaching in public school was a calling for me during one season, homeschooling looks like it will be a calling for this current and next phase of life.

You want a more detailed answer?

  • I like being with my kids.  Yes, I like breaks. No I do not like housework or many of the other things associate with being a stay-at-home mom. But I do like being with my kids. I only have eighteen years with them - and these first four have gone by so fast.
  • I'm good at teaching. I don't want this to come across as prideful. I am terrible at a lot of things. But I am good at teaching, so I am choosing to use this talent at home.
  • I like curriculum. I like the fact that I can tailor learning experiences for both of my boys. I like that I will get to learn with them.  I like that I am leaning towards a classical education, and I am excited about history and literature and Latin and all of the things I feel I missed out on in my public school years as a student.
  • I like teaching. I like the lightbulb moments. C and I have been working on learning to read and learning some initial math concepts. All the joy I found in lightbulb moments from my old days teaching are even more exciting now.
  • I don't like wasted time. I know how much wasted time there is in a classroom. It terrifies me. (Insert rant about centers, worksheets, students with disruptive behavior and all things public school teachers are required to deal with) This isn't because (most) teachers want their time wasted, it is just the way the system unfortunately works.
  • I lean libertarian.  I don't trust the government to know what is best of my kids. I am anti-Common Core.
  • I have two children who will most likely have very different learning strengths and needs.  C is on track or beyond in many areas. His gross motor skills are below average. He has little interest in handwriting, and I choose not to push that. He has an imagination. He loves books and learning.  G is getting special services for speech, PT and OT. He loves music and water. He is a year or more behind in his cognitive development. I can honestly say I do not know exactly what education will look like for him in the days ahead - this fall he will be assessed for transition to special education preschool, and a lot of thought and prayer will go into how The Hubs and I proceed.  I feel that homeschooling will give me a lot of flexibility with both of my children and allow us all to learn together.
  • We don't live in a great school district/neighborhood school area. Our neighborhood school is a Title school (that means low socio-economic status.) I am not going to sacrifice my sons' education to feel good about myself for doing what society (even some in Christian society) might think my duty should be. I know others choose differently for their families, and they don't feel that their children's education is sacrificed. I respect that.
  • And I will be honest enough to say that fear plays a role in my decision.  If (trained) teachers were allowed to carry weapons to school to protect students from crazy people, I might consider sending my kids to public school if the other factors were favorable. But I don't want my kids to have to hide in a storage closet during a lockdown in a windowless classroom. That terrified me as an adult. I can't imagine what it is like as a first grader.
  • My years as a public school teacher did more to push me to homeschool than anything else. I know this is the opposite for some people, and I respect that. At the end of the day we are all accountable for doing what is best for our own families and our own callings. 
Thoughts? Questions? Opinions?  Feel free to comment (respectfully) here or on my facebook page.

*Please note that the choices The Hubs and I make regarding education are not in stone. 
*Shout out to my public school family members and friends for continuing to teach and reach your students and community. 
*Someone is sure to point out that we send C to preschool. Yes. Two days a week. So I can have one-on-one time with G. And so someone can teach him to use scissors. I did not major in early childhood for a reason, haha.

11 comments:

  1. I read this post with great interest because I am praying about public school vs. homeschool, myself.

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    1. I thought this blog from someone else had a great guide of questions about how to decide what is best for your family for school. I found it to be more open-ended than some articles for one type of schooling or another.
      http://thechuppies.com/2013/01/where-should-your-kids-go-to-school-25-questions-to-consider/

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  2. You should write on the "Because we can not afford it" argument. That might be the little extra controversy needed to get a good debate going.

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    2. Don't even get me started on that. WE cannot afford for me to stay at home. But we do because it is what we believe is best for our family long term. By the grace of God, we have survived in our little house on the wrong side of town doing what we cannot afford.
      There is a part of the population in America that truly could not afford anything else. However, most people put their money in what they value. Cable? Disneyland? (And you know how I love Disneyland - favorite place!)
      And in regards to the population in America that cannot afford anything else but public education - WHAT is the Church doing to help give them other options? (You know my heart on this - you know my dreams about starting schools, educating more than just our own kids, etc.) Okay, I will stop for now.

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  3. Great thoughts, Amanda. I loved hearing your perspective and reasoning. We are also thinking seriously about homeschooling, for some of the same reasons and for some different ones. Little doubts creep in, making me wonder if I can really commit to it, but I know that I can with God's grace. I just have to keep praying and set my mind to it.

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    1. Thanks, Meg. I think each family has to decide what is best for them. My desire is that everyone (myself included) would seriously think about why they make the choices that they are making - plus add my perspective since I think my background is somewhat unique.

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  4. Great thoughts and reasoning! I am thankful that there is lots of time before my husband and I will even have to consider this question because right now we don't really know what we would want to do. Being homeschooled until high-school and then being enrolled in a private Christian school has provided insight into those systems while my husband was in public school the entire time. I don't think he would have learned in a homeschool environment but that is his personality. It was perfect for me as I was self-motivated from an early age and learned best by reading. I guess we will see how our children develop(when we have them) and base our decisions on that. :)

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    1. My brother would have hated it if when I switched to homeschooling he would have had to do the same. He really liked high school (so opposite of me!). Mike and I have committed to taking things as they come - and obviously involving the boys in the decision making process as they get older. I hope they will see the value in our decisions. So far C is so much like me, I think he will do well with what we are tentatively planning - but who knows. Springfield has a classical school that meets just two days a week, three days at home - I would love that option for C if we can swing it.

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  5. I really thought I would homeschool my kids...but they won't let me! My oldest has learned so much and done so well in public school (and early intervention), and we are starting the second at a private preschool in the fall because he slaps my hand away and throws a fit when I try to teach him! I loved reading this though, I think you present your position very well, and didn't make me feel bad about my own choices...I am not gifted at teaching, I do much better at the cleaning and baking part of staying home! Thank you for sharing your passion here!

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    1. Thanks for your kind words, Rachel. I am terrible at most every aspect of staying at home - so maybe I should look for someone to trade domestic things with for me schooling their children. :)
      We are still unsure after our days with FirstSteps end in December how we will proceed with G. In the coming months I need to do a lot more investigating on our local sped. preschool program.

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Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with me.