Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fanatics and Superhumans~priddymomma

First, a confession:
I have been procrastinating.  I had plenty of time the rest of the week to get this typed up, but I waited until the day I should be posting it to get to work.  Now I’m up at six in the morning, WITHOUT COFFEE, trying to get this done before my house turns into a very merry unbirthday party.  Now, you probably have two questions:  1.) Why have I been procrastinating?  and 2.) Why on Earth would I be without coffee?  What is wrong with me? (Okay fanatics.  That’s three questions.  Get off me). 
Sweet, delicious tease.  Curses!

In answer to your second question, I’m attempting to give up coffee.  I love coffee, but I’m quite addicted to it.  I’m to the point where I don’t even enjoy it anymore.  I’ll drink warm urine-tasting coffee and complain the entire time about how it tastes, but I will still finish it.  Alas!  In answer to your illegal third question, they still haven’t found the answers, but they are out there somewhere.

I’ve been procrastinating, because I have too much to say.  My opinions are strong ones, and they are not necissarily representative of anyone but myself.  I hope you find this post helpful.  Here we go.

Home-school vs. Public School

Being a teacher is one of our primary jobs as parents, regardless of whether we chose home-school or public school.  We start teaching our kids the moment we bring them into the world.  We teach them how and what to eat.  We teach them how to love.  We move on with language and potty training and what not, but the point is that from the first day, they look to us to know how the world works.  A lot of parents hear that we home-school and they immediately respond with, “oh, I could never do that!”  Their reasons are usually that they are afraid they’d leave something out or not be smart enough.  What they fail to realize is that they have been teaching their kids from day one!  Moving on to academics is just an easy canter from there. 

Eh.  Not my color.
I went to public school, got an edumacation, and turned into a well-adjusted adult (QUIT LAUGHING!).  I made amazing friends, had wonderful experiences, and really liked many of my teachers.  If I could go back, I would definitely do it again.  Public school can be a wonderful option.  There are great schools out there and great teachers!  The friends your kid makes are vital to his or her growth.  Being away from mom and dad is an important step in gaining independence.  All of that is fantastic.

We chose to home-school. 

Safety was a factor in our decision to home-school.  As a parent, I worry constantly about my child’s safety.  I don’t need to put it down in words all the things to worry about.  I feel like I need to worry a lot less when my kids are home with me, where I can see them and/or hear them at all times.  I know what they’re eating, wearing, doing, and whom they are associating with because I have pre-approved of these aspects.

Another factor was curriculum.  In a home-school setting, you can follow your child’s lead.  If he or she is excelling at a fast pace, move on quickly.  If he or she is struggling, you can afford to take the time.  We as a society push our kids so hard, and we rarely give them a choice in the matter.  Kids are naturally curious and want to learn.  I believe that if the information is there or is presented in the right way, kids will jump at the chance to learn all they can about a subject.  Right now, Cheerio Champ is really interested in presidents.  He’s memorized all of them (I only taught him the first eight!).  In fact, he’s asking for more information to keep learning.  Not only is he learning an astonishing amount (all 44 presidents at age four!), but I’m learning as well.  I learn/relearn my facts before presenting them to him, and then we watch movies, read books, or explore websites together and learn more.  He’s learning and so am I.  I’m teaching him valuable research skills and providing him with a lifelong love of learning.  And there is ample opportunity to become closer through our experience.  The fact that we love homeschooling has been the primary reason we continue to do it. 

Another of our biggest reasons for homeschooling is time.  If my son went to public school, when would I see him?  He’d have to get up earlier than he does now in order to catch a bus to go to school.  He wouldn’t get home until around the time my husband usually gets home from work, leaving us with one hour before I had to start dinner, followed by eating dinner, shower, and bed.  During dinner prep, he would likely be completing homework/running around like a crazy person.  The weekends would be our primary time together, which wouldn’t leave him with much time with his father at all, as hubby works on Saturdays.  Yes, I would have more time to myself during the day, but at what cost?  Sure, it would be easier to just take care of my youngest during school hours, but it would be less enjoyable too.  Some of the most rewarding parts of my day would be missing.  We have much more family time this way.  (We usually don’t do homeschooling on my husband’s days off.  We home-school four days a week nearly all year, for two to three hours a day. )

How can you choose between homeschooling and public schooling?  Here are some factors to consider:
  • How good are the schools in your area?  If they aren’t up to your standards, are you willing to drive week days to another school?
  • Do you have the time to home-school?  Are you a stay-at-home parent, or do you work a 40 + hour week?
  • Do you want to teach your child from home?  If not, don’t!  There are other options.  Don’t want to home-school or public school?  Try charter or private!
  • How deep are your anxieties about the things your child will be exposed to at public school?  Will this affect your sleep and daily life? 
  • Where are you at financially?  Home-school does not equal free school!  There are a lot of things you can do for free, but somewhere you will have to drop some money.  Public school offers tuition assistance programs to those that need them. 
  • Do your kids have severe food allergies?  I personally would never allow my kids out of my sight if they had a food allergy, so I’m including this here as a precaution.  Your kids can take their lunch to school, but what’s to stop them from trading lunches or sharing food at a classroom party?
  • What do your kiddos want?  Are they already in school and love it?  Do they have a lot of friends or want to make friends? 
  • How important is religion in your home?  Do you have the time to teach all that you want to teach about religion while your child attends public school?

I have another bullet, but I’ll make a paragraph to elaborate instead.  How do you feel about being constantly judged and possibly ridiculed?  People feel very strongly about the education they are providing for their children.  If you don’t measure up to their standards, they will not hesitate to tell you.  Oftentimes, people seem to take it as a personal insult if you home-school while they send their kids to public school.  Also, there is still a social stigma associated with homeschooling.  First, people believe that if you home-school, you are either snobs that don’t want your kids associating with the general population, crazy cult religious people, red-necks that don’t believe in education, Quakers, or you have too many kids to count.  People are constantly asking us to justify our choice to home-school.  Why should we have to?

 I should point out there is another side as well.  There are parents out there that hear you home-school and treat you like you are some kind of superhuman.  They hear you home-school and immediately feel the need to justify why they do not, usually elaborating on personal flaws they believe they have.  They start treating you like you have an amazing intellect (maybe you do, maybe you don’t) and try to impress you with some things they are doing “right”.  It’s really quite strange, but true.

Sometimes the other homeschooling parents are the worst.  They tend to go on and on about what junior can do and what methods they are using and “OMG!  I just started prepping him for the SAT!  I should have started MONTHS ago!  He’ll be four in a week!”  Possibly these parents just want to receive a pat on the back for their efforts, but I tend to not care in the slightest what junior is doing.  Good for him, provided he’s having fun.  It isn’t going to change what I do with my kids at all.

It comes down to what you are most comfortable with and what is the best fit for your child.  And remember:  you don’t have to exclusively do either!  You can teach your kids supplementary education to that they receive in school.  You can send your kid to public school one year and home-school the next.  You allow your child to take extracurricular activities or a chemistry class at your local high school and do the rest of his education at home.  The options are endless and the choice is yours.  Don’t let anyone tell you what is best for your child.  You know him or her better than anyone else. 

{Note:  If you wish to home-school, find out what the laws are for your state from the Department of Education.}

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