Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cold feet on homeschooling

I posted this on a couple of non-homeschooling parenting message boards that I'm on today.

We walked the public school today. I talked to the people in the office about what the hours are, when school the school year runs, when you register (for next year registration starts Jan 06 - you can enroll anytime if they have space in the class - the funding is set in advance - so if you live in the area and register in Jan - you are guaranteed a spot). I had already talked to several parents here in the co-op whose children attend this public school. Those kids are are well behaved and modestly dressed adn their parents had only good things to say about the school.

I think I'm going to be registering Michael and Melissa NEXT year for 1st and 2nd grade (not this school year). I had a really good feeling about the school - seemed like a really nice building, nice staff. Not run down or anything.

They said I could register them now - but we already registered for homeschooling and have all the books. Plus it's too far to walk to pick up Michael from K and THEN Melissa from 1st grade. We would be walking all day practically!

Plus Melissa IS going out east for my sister in laws wedding for 2 weeks in Sept/Oct. Then my parents are spending their vacation here in Nov and want to take the kids to do fun stuff. But I'm thinking I still may register her mid-year if I can't improve on how I'm doing with getting homeschooling actually DONE.

Honestly - with the twins and Maddy - I don't feel like I"m really getting much done for homeschool. We do something every day but not even every subject every week so far. We did homeschool K for her last year but the twins napped a LOT more and Maddy was still napping. So I had more time with her. Now they are down to 1 nap a day of only about 90 min and when they are up they are into EVERYTHING.

Plus I think if I'm working with the older ones - my younger ones aren't getting the attention and the twins having been preemies - I think I need to do developmental stuff with them more. Plus Maddy is slightly behind and has been all a long just not enough to qualify for anything. Plus Melissa is REALLY social and I think once other kids in our neighborhood are in school - she's just going to go nuts here at home.

I already am so overwhelmed that I wish I hadn't already officially registered them for homeschool but now that we have dh really wants me to stick it out the year and reassess for next year.

I feel horribly guilty for even thinking this because our church is so strong on Christian schooling but we could NOT afford it at all plus it's quite a drive from us and dh takes the van to work most days so I don't even know how we would get them to the Christian school.

There is a "Traditional school" within walking distance so I"ll be checking there too about their program and how to get in ect. I THINK it's a public school but not sure.

Plus my parents are huge, HUGE homeschooling supporters of the mindset of "public schools are evil". They regularly forward me all sorts of articles about drugs in public schools and other scary stuff. But ALL public schools can't be like that are there? And all kids at public schools can't be like that? I know my personal public school experiences were all postive.

I think I want to TRY it and if it doesn't work out - I can always pull them out to homeschool again. I also realize that my feelings on this may change between now and next year or even now and next semester.

So anyone have anything positive to say about public schools? Or have any thoughts about it? I'm also on homeschooling boards and I don't DARE post this there - they will all tell me I'm doing fine - I really do want another persepective.


mossflower said...

You know how much the Lane did for me in 2nd grade. If it wasn't for them I would never have learned to read, and it gave me such a good base, (friends, self-esteem, ect.) That all the junk that happened at PTA (a CHRISTIAN school!) didn't kill me. (literally)

Sunny said...

It's kind of funny, I had read about your troubles on the swap and was already thinking the bigger kids might be better off to start school. Some kids (Jason was one) are too social and would be bored in homeschool and boredom leads to acting up. You do what works for you. It might work out better for next year d/t the situation of having to walk them over there. Doesn't it rain a lot where you live? You know our kids were educated in both parochial schools and public schools (Never any formal homeschool-but in my opinion all parents are home schooling whether their kids are in school or not) and we had a positive experience in both places. I don't know about up in Canada but down here the public schools aren't exactly free. But, certainly more affordable than private education. As far as the bad influences in public school-all I can say is that my kids experienced just as much of that in the private school. Furthermore, I expect (and find) my kids to BE the influence, and better be a positive one, wherever they find themselves.
If you choose PS you will STILL be homeschooling because you still need to provide the Bible education and spiritual values.
Also, remember, nothing has to be set in stone. Just because you try it one way one year doesn't mean you have to do the same the next year. Unless things are different up there in Canada.

Sunny said...

I forgot to say that I don't see how you could possibly change things until mid-year. There are too many plans in place that depend on flexible scheduling. But you might want to consider it for mid-year so the kids don't get behind. (All you homeschooler's just settle down. I'm not insinuating that homeschooled kids are "behind". I mean behind the other kids at that particular school and whatever they are doing-projects and the like, field trips)

Gail said...

Personally, I wished our parents hadn't worked so many jobs to send us to SDA school. All three of us went, and it cost them an absolute fortune and probably shaved years off their life expectancy. What's the point of parents paying for private school when it prevents them from seeing their children? Lack of funds causes stress, and that is not lost on children, even the young ones.

In terms of a cost/benefit ratio, I do believe the cost of a Christian education is prohibitive (for most incomes) and this outweighs any benefits you might perceive for the children by sending them there, especially when the kids are small.

With regards to homeschooling, I do know of one family with 8 kids who are all homeschooled, but the age spread between the first and eighth is 17 years. All but one are introverts... to the extreme. Homeschool works for them, but it's also compatible with their personalities. It can also be argued that homeschooling shaped their personalities.

David has seen more success with homeschooling, but herein lies the bias -- the kids he knows are also cadets in Civil Air Patrol. CAP kids flourish in a small-group environment which requires self-discipline.

I'd like to think it depends more on the individual and the parents rather than the institution. Ultimately, as long as the child thrives in the environment and you're comfortable with values being taught/reinforced there, then why not? (Rather than 'why'?)

I'd never attended public elementary or secondary school, so I can't compare. All I can say is it would've been an absolute shock for me to go to university immediately after 12 years of SDA schooling, because it would've been akin to a farmer sent to work on Wall Street.

David said...

I'm a product of the public schools, and a giant state university. It's definitely a larger world, but I firmly believe that any child can navigate through it; with the support and direction of their parents, at home. Whether public, private or homeschooled, learning starts and ends at home. (Well... literally for me, my mother was a public school teacher.)

My experience with home schooling has pointed out one thing quite clearly; it is a LOT of work, to do properly. My former squadron commander homeschooled all four of his children; his wife took the burden of the schooling, and she described it as working full-time PLUS going to college PLUS being a homemaker. It worked well for their kids, three of them have graduated, but not without the same sort of social troubles that people fear from public schools.

As Jo said, you are still teaching your children every day; values, morals, integrity and love. In the public schools are people who specialize in reading, writing, and arithmetic; and a social environment, which can provide a rich source of ideas and experiences. I suppose you have to decide how your own energies are best spent - but it seems to me that without carrying the whole burden of education yourself, you may find more opportunities for the kind of learning that means the most to you and Allan.

Anonymous said...

I've been trying to think of some survival tactics that may help a bit right now--regardless of what you do or do not do later:

1) I recall hearing you say many, many times that the toddler stage is the most difficult--and right now you are having to deal with that challenging stage times two so life is bound to be challenging these days...and how!!

2) Right now, all you have to do is cope with "today" and let tomorrow worry about itself as the expression goes. One step at a time and, eventually, you really will find your family is in a less stressful "season".

3) I'm not sure if you were hoping/planning to have the older two do more for "school" this year than learn to read and improve their math skills but that really is enough to set them up for future success!

Well, add to that listening to books read aloud; but that's something that doesn't have to be done one on one. You can read to two or three at a time. Hmmm, come to think of it, that would give Maddy more language development time if she listened in on both read-aloud sessions. :-)

4) To keep the older Ms educationally occupied while you work with the younger ones, you can also borrow audio books from your local library--both "chapter books" and picture books with "go-along" tapes.

5) If, during the 90 minutes the twins are napping, you can manage to fit in 10 minutes apiece with each of the older three on either reading skills or, for Maddy, language development activities, you'll definitely see encouraging progress. Hopefully, on more days than not, they'll also be able to fit in some math work for another 10 minutes or so.

And that really is enough "school" for now as they are already learning many of the other lessons taught in the primary grades--things like taking turns, taking care of their environment (cleaning up their messes!), treating others respectfully, and conflict resolution.

6) Be aware that putting the older ones into school isn't going to give them any more individualized attention and you could see a resurgence of the "large groups of people stress me" and "no one's noticing ME" behaviors from M-2.

7) And please, please, whatever you decide to do, please make sure that they are competent readers before they start school!

Sending lots of hugs your way...and wishing there were some way I could be of practical help during this challenging season of your life. (sigh)


Cheryl said...

See this is the thing - homeschooling IS another job. 1st grade is more work than K in any case. I do not think simply doing some reading is enough at all. (though yes - even if they were put in school - I would continue to work with them on reading at home!)

There is math, phonics, handwriting, plus we are required to start teaching social studies and about Canada.

Yes - I work with all three older M's while the babies nap - but it isn't enough. Even if I can keep babies occupied while I more with older ones and vice versa - that still doesn't address the housework, cooking, laundry....

Allan already works more than a full-time job and yet has to come home and help me play catch up on housework. The quality of our meals goes WAY down when I'm spending time working on school. Either that or I"m up until 1am doing housework and cooking.

Cheryl said...

I also wanted to add that I really appreciate the thought out responses and the different perpectives.