Tuesday, July 24, 2012

National Geographic presents: Home-schoolers - The Creatures Exposed

It took me two hours to organize this space yesterday, but I am pleased to present our "Learning Nook."

(Note: The dog bone on the floor is NOT part of the "nook.")

In two weeks Shea and I will officially begin our journey into home-schooling. I know, I know what you're thinking. And trust me, you're not the only one to roll their eyes at me or to look at me like I've just said we're converting to satanism. Friends and family have all put in their two cents about me putting my children at a disadvantage by not placing them in public schools or have prematurely predicted my children's future social awkwardness, but I have done a lot of soul searching, a lot of research and a TON of curriculum development/ lesson planning and have decided that my children's absolute best chance is for me to home-school them. And this has nothing to do with our public school district. From what I hear, ours is very good and the teachers are great. Quite simply, we can... so why not? I have a degree in secondary education, English, German and teaching foreign language. I have interned in the public school system as well as taught in a private foreign language school in Japan. I have experience substitute teaching at all grade levels and all subjects. I feel completely confident and competent when it comes to this. I don't think homeschooling is for everyone, but I DO think it is for us.

As I've said before, my kid is a genius. No, seriously - he's incredibly smart, articulate and intuitive. Ask anyone. When we first started toying with the idea of homeschooling, I decided it may help me gain some perspective if I took Shea to one of the local preschools and we observed a class. The school was lovely - it was very clean, the kids were happy, it seemed safe, the staff and teachers looked friendly and caring. But Shea was beyond what the kids were learning. It was the middle of the school year and the kids were learning shapes and colors, which is exactly what preschoolers should be learning... but my preschooler mastered those things when he was 2. (I'm completely serious). Shea was already starting to read, doing first grade math and could tell you the anatomy and physiology of his digestive tract. I decided then and there that we were definitely homeschooling. Shea needs to be challenged to keep this momentum going and we cannot afford a private "gifted" school... so here we are.

I created his curriculum and we will not be learning preschool topics, most of his curriculum is Kindergarten and First grade subjects, that I developed myself. I had a really hard time finding a pre-made store bought curriculum that I liked. Almost 95% of the curriculum for sale was Christian Bible study based (nothing wrong with that, just not for us). And I eagerly began collecting and hoarding school supplies. Here is out Art drawer:

And a drawer full of other teaching tools:

I am so excited and Shea is too. I think there are a  lot of misconceptions about kids who are home-schooled, simply because people don't know what it really is.They think that all home-schooled kids are Amish or something, so let me dispel some of the rumors and accusations I have heard recently....

New List: Common myths associated with Homeschooling (and YES, some of these things have actually been said to me....)

1. All home-schooled kids are extremely religious bible thumpers
      This is not true. While the majority of home-school families ARE christian and may be extreme, there are several families, mine included, who are homeschooling simply because they want to, they enjoy it and they think that they will be able to give their kids an advantage that they won't find in public schools. We are not religious and will not be using a Bible Study curriculum... so this accusation is officially debunked.

2. Home-school kids are behind in a lot of things and when their parents eventually give up and dump them in a public school, they don't know how to read or write and are clinically retarded..... (a teacher said this one to me...in more words or less)

     Really? I've know just as many public school kids who made it to high school graduation who couldn't read or write, what's their excuse? I'm sure there are parents who are currently home-schooling their kids who SHOULD NOT be. I personally believe that it's a great advantage to have some kind of background in education in order to properly home-school, but I've personally known people who did not have a teaching degree, home-schooled their kids and churned out some brilliant, kind-hearted and thoughtful children. Home-schooling is what you make it and the effort you put into it but it is unfair to paint all home-schooled kids with the same brush.... Next!

3. People who home-school are doing it just because they want to sleep in, stay in their pajamas all day and watch TV.....

     I suppose some of them do, but we will be following a structured schedule.... whether or not we get dressed in the morning, well, that's none of your business....

4. All home-schooled kids are weird.

     It doesn't matter if your kid is home-schooled or public schooled, weird is weird. Your kid is only going to be as messed up as you make them. Most "normal" people have this vision of home-schooled kids being locked in bamboo cages all day and reciting bible verses. They think that kids who are home-schooled are missing out on the social aspect of school and have no friends. The truth is, I've met several hundred public school students and would be incredibly proud if my children NEVER acted like them. My kids will have plenty of opportunity to socialize, there are sports and clubs for them to join, as well as home-school "clubs" that organize field trips and play dates to make sure that these kids get plenty of opportunity to spend time with kids their own age.

And my kids will probably get some "real" classroom time if there's ever a subject I don't feel qualified to teach them and if they ever tell me that they want to switch over to public school, I will respect their wishes and let them do so. 

In conclusion, I'm really excited to start this new journey and I think it will be both fun and advantageous not just for my kids, but for me as well. I'll get to have a part in their education and learning experiences and I'll get to watch them grow and acquire the knowledge that they'll use for the rest of their lives. I won't feel like I've wasted a college degree by being a stay-at-home-mom and I'll get to teach (which is what I love to do) without having to deal with other people's crappy kids. We won't have to schedule our lives around the public school's calendar. If we ever want to take a family vacation... Field Trip! So wish us luck and I'll let ya'll know how it goes!

1 comment:

  1. Good for you!! We are also considering homeschooling when Rory gets to the right age. I already sit down with her and do a sort of preschool curriculum now and as you know she's only 17 months old. I too think she is a very intelligent child, above average. I'm not just saying that because she is my kid either!

    My nieces and nephews are homeschooled and they do use a religious curriculumn with a mix of others. If we h.s I do not plan to do that.

    Good Luck with schooling! I'm sure you all will do great!