Friday, January 14, 2011

Schooling the big kid! ~Part 1~

Maybe you already know, or maybe you don't yet know, that we homeschool our children.  It was a decision based on many different things.  Was it something I had always known I would do?  That would be a big fat NO!  In fact, I was appalled at the idea when Anthony and I moved out of state to South Carolina with my parents and my mom decided she was going to homeschool my younger brother.  He was in the 4th grade if I remember correctly.  This came about after first being put into the school system there in SC.  Things are a bit different there than they are here in Utah.  Needless to say, it wasn't going well for my little bro.  He was having a hard time socially and the academic side was not coming any easier for him.  So, the decision was made. 

My thought was, how dare my mom take an already socially awkward child out of the public school system.  After all, isn't that why we go to school?  To socialize?  You would think so considering that is the first question out of almost everyone's mouth when you mention the fact that you are homeschooling.  "What about the socialization?" 

I was no different.  Having grown up in the conveyer belt system, I believed that the only "correct" way to be socialized is to go to school, get picked on, bullied, made fun of, and make sure you find someone weaker than you to do those same things to after it's all been done to you.  Then, once you hit junior high and high school, make sure you have a bunch of classes with all your friends so you can goof off and just be together.  Who cares what the subject is or what the teacher is lecturing on today.  Just make sure we all have fun!  That's what school was for me, just a big, daily social event.  Grades were never very important until the end of high school when I realized that I barely had enough credits to graduate.  Phew!  That was a close one!  I had the potential, it was there!  I tested into the "gifted and talented" programs but didn't care enough about them to do my homework like I should. 

No matter how many times my teachers tried to tell me how important it was to get good grades and learn as much as I could, I didn't want to hear it.  To be honest, the only things I remember from school are the things I was interested in.  If I was forced to learn it, I retained the information long enough to pass the test and then it was gone.  

So, when the time came and my mom pulled my brother out of school, I thought she would ruin him forever.  He was already an awkward kid as it was.  Little did I realize, school itself was only making it worse for him.  Just a few short years after my mom pulled him out of school, he was diagnosed with autism.  He's high-functioning but it explains soooo much.  We now know why he was socially awkward to begin with. 

Well, when the time came for K to go to preschool I had no issues with it.  We found a great one to put her into and she absolutely loved it!  She went for 2 years, did great and Kindergarten was just around the corner.  K was so excited at the prospect of a new backpack, new school, new teacher, new friends, and field trips.  I had even registered her at the local public school already.  But the more research I did about the school she would attend (and consequently, the school I attended as a child), the more I realized what a detriment this could be to her.  The school had a very low report card and the testing scores were horrendous!   

As I asked other parents about their experiences with the school, I heard a lot of people report frustration at the pace of the learning.  So many of the kids were ready and longing to move ahead but were held back because of the fact that the teachers were only allowed to move at the pace of the "average" student.  This meant that even though some children were ready, others were further behind.  So moving ahead too quickly would mean the kids that are behind get even further behind and the "average" ones would fall a little behind as well.  

At that point, I decided to look at my other options.  There was a charter school that I had heard good things about.  They did a lottery pull for enrollment and K was not chosen.  The next thing I did was borrow a whole bunch of books from the library about how children learn best and educational options.  After reading and seeing that homeschool was mentioned several times, I borrowed a bunch of homeschooling books.  Not only that but I researched online.  I probably read a good 12-15 books on homeschooling alone.  And some of the websites I found were incredible!  I learned about so many different methods and curriculums, it was mind-boggling!  During all of this, I had remained pretty quiet about my findings only to surprise Anthony with it one day. 

I remember it was summer and Anthony was up on a ladder outside our garage doing something.  What is was has escaped me but I do remember him on the ladder.  My nerves were getting the best of me at the time as I prepared to ask him what he thought of the idea of homeschooling.  Once the question left my lips I anticipated the answer with somewhat of a hopeful demeanor.  What I got was the look of insanity!!  YEP!  He thought I had gone loony for minute.  His thoughts had been the same as mine when my mom had homeschooled so the idea of doing such a detrimental thing to our own children was outrageous! 

Anthony looked down at me from the ladder and said, "Are you serious?"  Once I told him that I was, he gave me what we commonly refer to around here as 'the stank face'.  I then proceeded to tell him about the research I had done, the methods I had learned of, and the benefits it could have for our family.  The more I talked, the more on-board he was with the whole idea.  This 'talk' of ours went on for more than just the few minutes on the ladder.  He told me to keep researching and we would pray about it and decide what was right for our family.  I was so excited!  I read and researched for several weeks and told him of my findings.  Some GREAT findings, and some not-so-great findings.... opposition in all things, right?  Each time, he would react a little bit kinder to the thought of homeschooling and the prayers began. 

This post could end up being pretty long and I'm super tired to we're going to call this a

~To Be Continued~

1 comment:

LeShel said...

keep it coming. i do like installments.