I had to make a weighty decision this year about how to school my children. Before having children of my own, I never fully understood the responsibility of a parent. Now I know that the buck really does stop here; academics are no exception.
Unless you count a six month stint of a first-grade teacher, I have always been perfectly happy with my children’s teachers. I truly think all teacher’s deserve a raise and full cooperation from parents. I’ve substituted and spent enough time in classrooms to know they have a tough job. Spending the day with twenty-five kids and actually getting them to learn something is quite the challenge. Teachers have my utmost respect. Unfortunately that does not change the fact that my daughter cannot add and my son is bored to death.
All year I’ve watched my daughter struggle with concepts she either does not understand or does not have time to master. Time restraints and curriculums cause teachers to transition from topic to topic before everyone has mastered the concept being taught. I understand. There is only so much time for each subject and the teachers must progress through material. Although in her teacher’s estimation, my daughter is doing fine. Everybody loves her and she gets along smashingly with other children. She’s helpful in the classroom and obeys. I am super pleased by her behavior, but I am not as pleased with her education. I know too many kids who are failing when they hit junior high, and I do not want my daughter to be in that number. I am firm believer in learning the basics. If you don’t master the basics, school will always be difficult. I don’t ever want my kids to lose their love of learning, because they are struggling.
That’s why I decided to homeschool FringeKid this year. Believe me, it was no easy decision. I am not one of those moms who has always wanted to educate her children at home. I am more like the mom from the Staples commercial who sings and dances her way down the aisles while buying school supplies; however, I am convinced this is the right decision for my daughter at this time.
When FringeBoy found out I was planning on homeschooling FringeKid, he was upset because I wasn’t going to homeschool him too. I was surprised. Although I know he’s bored to death in school, I never thought he would want the alternative. Like in so many families, my children are polar opposites. FringeBoy has always been at the top of the learning curve. He excels in everything and gets frustrated when he’s taught things he already knows.
He’s a nerd. Believe me that is not a negative statement; it is truth. This summer he decided to learn more about Greek Mythology, so he went to the library, read books, and used the internet to research this topic. He filled an entire notebook with facts, and subsequently beat an online video game before a seventh grade friend. He’s a motivated learner who wants to know about everything. Unfortunately my school district does not offer advanced classes, and his teachers do not have time to think up projects that will keep him busy during the school day.
So at his request, I agreed to homeschool him this year. He will certainly be my challenge, because he is strong-willed, determined, and relentless. I know those characteristics can be assets, but I often feel like a lawyer in a trial. My argument needs to be airtight and convince more than a jury. It needs to convince him. That being said, homeschooling was his idea, so he’ll most likely excel beyond my expectations.
I know the good and bad aspects of homeschooling. I am not going into this year blindly. I realize my children will sacrifice some things that public education can provide; however, I think the benefits will outweigh the negatives for us.
Am I worried about socialization?
In short, No. We are probably involved in far more groups and activities than any child or parent needs.
Am I qualified to teach third and fifth grades?
Well, I played along with high-school Jeopardy and kicked their butts. I may not be smarter than a fifth grader, but I have enough diplomas to deem me qualified to be in charge of their education.
Will I feel like pulling my hair out by October?
Probably. I know there will be both good and bad days. Hopefully the good days will outweigh the bad.
The questions can go on all day, but the bottom line is that educating my children is my responsiblity. When my child is a sophomore in high-school, I will not be able to blame his/her third grade teacher for what he/she did or did not learn. I am fully committed to giving them the best education I can provide. I want them to be well-equipped to one day follow God’s will and be exactly what He wants them to be. My concern is not that they become doctors, layers, or astronauts. My mission is to educate them well enough, so that they can become a doctor, lawyer, astronaut, electrician, small business owner, missionary, hair-stylist, or whatever they want to be. I want their education to help them advance, not hold them back.
That’s why I needed a thousand dollars. Many will gasp at how much I spent on books, but I purchased what I think my children need to do well this year.
I know it’s a radical decision, so feel free to ask questions. I’ll do my best to answer away. If you have experience in homeschooling, I’m open to advice.
Now for a laugh, go watch this video. It’s short, I promise.