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My husband and I have a 13 month old daughter and we have been discussing what to do about her education when the time comes. Right now we live in NYC, which is fabulous and all, but we don't make enough money to afford to live in a decent school district here. We have narrowed our options for schooling down to three choices:
1.) Stay here in our same neighborhood and home school her.
2.) Move somewhere else in the state or country with better schools and affordable housing.
3.) Apply for private school scholarships, magnet schools, charter schools, etc. and hope like hell that she gets accepted.
The third option is really just barely an option as it is based primarily on luck. If we move somewhere else that has wonderful schools and affordable housing we may run into a problem with jobs being available. My husband's career field tends to only really be an option in big cities and the field I had been in before I quit to take care of my daughter is only an option in about a dozen places in the US, which means we may or may not be able to move somewhere else.
Homeschooling sounds like it may be our best option but we have some concerns. Most concerning is that I would be teaching my daughter EVERYTHING. People don't know what they don't know and I am afraid of unintentionally leaving her with gaps in her education. I also don't want to pass my biases on to her either. I have an aunt who home schools her children to prevent them from being exposed to people of other religions and to have complete control over their science curriculum so that they don't ever hear about evolution, which is certainly her choice, but I feel like that sort of thing is the exact opposite of what education is supposed to achieve and I don't want to pass my own biases down to my daughter that way.
How have you avoided these problems when home schooling? What problems have you run into that you weren't expecting when you decided to home school? What made you decide that home schooling was the right choice for you and your family?
Based on what you've said, your concerns aren't really concerns at all.
GAPS: First, you don't have to worry about gaps. Public schools DO have to worry about gaps. Why? You will be the only teacher, so you will know exactly what your kid does/doesn't know from year to year. Having a new teacher every year, the first several weeks are spent reviewing things that may or may not have been taught the previous year. There WILL be gaps. Also, there are TONS of either all-in-one curricula options or separate guideline options to help you make sure you don't miss anything. Finally, there are state standard guidelines, standardized testing options, etc. to make sure nothing is missed. The very BEST teachers don't fill their students with answers; they fill them with questions. Children who are taught how to learn do better than kids who are taught what to learn (like teaching test taking skills rather than teaching the actual material covered on the test).
BIAS: Public and private schools have bias. They're required to teach whatever their curriculum teaches or whatever their state supreme courts authorize. For example, a public school won't teach the option that the world came from a spiritual being, but rather that it evolved over time through evolution. Private schools have to follow the bias handed down by their board of directors (which of course varies widely), so you'd be choosing a school that holds most closely to your own bias. As a homeschooler, you have the option to teach all views of every issue.
Why did we choose homeschooling? Our kids don't fit the mold. Public schools are factories of education, and they fit most kids in the middle of the bell curve. For kids who are too advanced, too far behind, and/or have various disabilites, it just doesn't work. My husband isn't religious, but I am, so I also wanted the option to bring Christianity into our curriclum. Both of my kids are gifted, and both also have disabilities (the older has Asperger's, ADD, visual & hearing delays, and neuro-motor delays, the younger has progressive hearing loss and will go deaf before adulthood). Homeschooling works great for us, and private testing has shown it's extremely effective, because it's molded to fit them rather than molding them to fit a different education system.
For us, there were a few reasons. The main two being, 1) our schools have major bullying problems, huge problems really, and from teachers as well as students. 2) Even in daycare my DS was judged and "diagnosed" (by the teacher) to have several things that I truly believe he shows no signs of. I saw this as something I would deal with for the next 12 years if we continued with public schooling. Other reasons include- I've seen that it works (my brother and sister were homeschooled and excelled, and now my children are too), I don't have to send them away for 8+ hours/day, I like the individualized attention I can give them that teachers just can't, and we can do more field trips, experiments, hands-on learning than a school ever could, etc
I like the one on one. If my child is not understanding something I can stay on that topic until he understands rather then move forward because 20+ other students get it. I feel safe knowing that DS will be home in my care, getting proper nutrition and is being treated with respect all the time. DH and I also do not agree with alot that public schools teach, even private schools. I think a child learns more with hands on vs reading a book and then just talking about it. Yes reading is good but it's more fun to go out and venture off and learn outside too, and touch things. I also do not like forcing a child to sleep when they are not tired. I am very AP and I allow DS to go to bed when he is ready. Home school gives us the freedom to continue to practice that. I like that home school is learning all the time without even realizing it. We can discuss things over breakfast, and then start school meanwhile DS just learned something. I also do not like how school has HOURS worth of homework. IMO, you do not get smarted by constantly doing work. Your mind needs to breath, relax and learn all in different steps. I feel like public school is a cramming session.
Thank you *Kiliki* for my perfect siggy
When you know better, you do better. And when you do better, you know HINTA.
Thanks for all of the excellent responses! Do any of you hire outside tutors to teach subjects you aren't the best at or do you find other ways to address your educational weak spots when teaching? What do you do to make sure your kids get plenty of socialization?
We haven't had to hire anyone yet, and I don't see us needing to anytime soon. There may also be homeschool co-ops in your area where they can take classes.
The term "socialization" is a sore spot for a lot of homeschool children. Who decided that being "socialized" means sitting in a classroom with 20+ other students for 8+ hours/day? I think children need interaction with all different ages and types of people. My kids see lots of people in our day to day life, because they're always with me when I run errands, visit, etc. I do believe that it's important for them to have friends their own age as well though, and we are involved in a lot of activities that allow them to do that. They play soccer in the summer, and take skating lessons in the winter. DD also has dance from Sept.-May, and we attend church fairly regularly. That's aside from all of the children they see outside of activities (their own friends, and my friends children).
I have been told that I am setting DS up for social failure by keeping him home. I find this so false. He will be with me all the time. The store or whatever. Surrounded by people all day, everyday. I can take him to the museum, zoo or anything like that instead of sitting in a classroom. The social skills that kids get from public schools are not that great so I do not see what the big deal is. For example: When kids are in school they learn that they NEED the best shoes, they NEED the best fashion, they NEED to look a certain way and I do not see how that is teaching a child social skills. I plan to put DS into sports (of course if he wants to continue to do them) and boy scouts. I do not feel like DS will be less social then anyone else.
Thank you *Kiliki* for my perfect siggy
When you know better, you do better. And when you do better, you know HINTA.
Socialization is the ability to interact with people of all backgrounds in any situation. That's exactly what you get with homeschooling. Colleges more and more are seeking out homeschooled kids, because they're better socialized, have their heads on straight, and already know how to study. They're very mature and self-sufficient for the most part. Who goes out to their first job interview and gets placed in a position based on their birthday or gender? You get placed by how well you're able to communicate and do the job at hand. You'll have to communicate with a team of people who might be three times your age when you start out, and you sure as heck better know how to deal with the situation. Socialized children are seen as mature. Unsocialized children are seen in groups, unwilling to part with friends to venture out into something unknown.
So far, we haven't outsourced any classes. We will at some point, I imagine, but not necessarily because I can't teach the material (I'm a former high school teacher). We'll want to work on classroom management skills, working with different teacher styles and classroom sizes, working with different environments (like a science lab), doing group projects, etc. before formal "away" college starts. Those classes might be AP prep or dual credit classes or something like that. I don't know. Right now, I'm seeking out a P.E. class. It's hard to teach your kid how to play basketball if you don't have at least 4-5 other kids his size to play with and don't have the space or net to play with. I'm looking for a general sports class for elementary-aged kids, that will teach the basics of all widely popular sports.
I chose homeschooling because I'm a former elementary school teacher. I have seen the failings of my local schools from both sides of the desk, as a student and as a teacher. I know that in my area schools they are wonderful if you are an athlete or a social butterfly who only wants to skate by. If you are not in the typically developing group, they don't have a clue. My daughter is not typical academically, she is not quite 3 and is already doing kindergarten work. By 4, she will be in first grade or half way through it! My local district would either put her in an age appropriate classroom and let her languish or put her in an academically appropriate classroom and ignore her social needs.
I will not hire out for any academic subjects, I am comfortable and capable of teaching both of my kids through high school. I do have my daughter participate in our homeschool co-op's PE and art classes for fun. I see these parts of her education as social development more than an academic lesson. She also participates in gymnastics and MOMS Club activities. I believe she is more socialized than kids in public school. Just because a group of children sit in the same room 7+ hours a day together does not mean they have time to socialize! Locally, the schools are so worried about state mandated testing they don't worry about best practice, they are too busy cramming the test in their head!
I also use to teach public school. I saw how the system is failing our children. If she asks to go to school at some point, we may let her, but it won't be public school. She did attend kindergarten and part of first grade at the school I worked at, but half way through first we pulled her out and I quit my job so I could homeschool her. I don't personally think that private schools are much better than public. They are still not encouraging our children to be independent, rational thinkers. I have taught in private, public, magnet and charter schools. They are mostly all at the same. They portray an image for the public, but they are not always putting students first.
Even as a teacher I don't know everything. I learn along with my daughter. I do plan on her taking some classes at the community college when she gets older. She is only in second grade now. I don't have a problem with having someone else teach her things I may not fully understand. She takes art classes, piano, dance, does Girl Scouts, library book study, field trips...so she gets plenty of socialization. I agree with the logic that it's not really "socialization" to put a bunch of kids the same age in one room all day. This way my daughter learns to interact with kids of all ages.
I love homeschooling and my daughter says she never wants to go back to school. We have a great time together. She was the one encouraging me to teach her at home. She was bored at school and kept telling me that she was only learning new things at school. (I would work with her at home after school.) Every time I hear (from friends) or read (via media) of how our schools are failing I think "I am so glad I don't have to deal with that!"
What made me decide to homeschool my children was being homeschooled myself.
I had such a great experience being homeschooled and now that my children are school aged I am more sure than ever that is the right choice for our family.
DD is only just 6 and already I see girls her age secluding themselves into cliques and not interested in interacting with anyone outside their social circles.
I felt like I had so much more freedom to LEARN being homeschooled and I loved it. I want my kids to grow up like I did - never growing bored or tired of learning new things. I want so much more for them then a public school system can offer.
Home education can be tailored to fit the child, whereas a child, if they are not a natural fit- must be tailored to fit into a public school system.
We chose to homeschool, and by we I mean my children and I, as they played a much larger role in choosing to homeschool than I did(it seems only fair, it is THEIR education, not mine) for a variety of reasons. None of which necessarily holds more importance than the others.
1-The schools here were failing my children. Yes I mean that the way it sounds, they were flat out failing, despite what my children's grades were. As a matter of fact, they're failing a good 80% of the students in this district. This district is now at risk of being completely shut down within the next two years because of poor fiscal management, poor education, misuse of resources, etc.. etc... I could rant all day about it, but I doubt anyone wants to read it. They've reduced everything to state minimums this year and for next year too. Minimums in attendance, bus services, curriculum, extra curricular, PE(and other such physical engagements like recess and whatnot), study halls(which have merit), non-mandatory courses(language, AP, gifted and talented), etc.... Yes minimums in everything. What kind of parent wants the very least for their child? Not me, and not most of the people here now either. That's not a knock on the parents here, most who send their children to these schools don't have other options, for all kinds of reasons. I once didn't either. I really don't want to judge them, despite what it may sound like. But things are changing here for the better-for the children, just not for the schools' benefit. Within a 5 block radius of my house there are now 32 homeschool families. The beginning of the 2011/2012 school year there were 4, including us. Yeah, people can see what these idiots in power are doing here.
2. No school, and no teacher can possibly teach my children the way I can. They can't, because they haven't the time or resources, in some cases the desire. I can, because I have all of the above and then some. They don't have much of a vested interest in my children once out of their care, I do. (again not a knock on teachers generally speaking, I do know there are plenty of wonderful ones-they're just not in as large of numbers as they once were). Even having three children all working on a myriad of things that span multiple grade levels, I can do a far more thorough job than any school or teacher ever could. That's not a boast, brag, or ego stroke, it's simply the truth. It's how I feel about all parents and their children, actually. Even people who think they couldn't, or can't, teach their children. I know they can, if they try. I also know the resources to help them succeed, parent and child, are out there.
3. Freedom. Yep, we're free to do our grocery shopping in the middle of the day, and turn it into lessons. We're free to wander around aimlessly in the woods working on our studies while other kids their age are stuck at desks and tables amidst 25-30 other like aged peers. I can teach them what I like, when I like. We are free to pick up and go when the need arises-and there will come a day when we have to do just that. I don't want red tape preventing us from it, or holding us back in ANY way. It will be hectic enough when it happens. My kids are free to pursue their dreams, their goals and their aspirations without being hindered because everyone else isn't on their timeline. For example, Language Arts my children are all over the map. They are in grades 3, 6 and 8, respectively(age wise) but in LA they are in grades 4/5, 9, and 11/12. Would a public school, or any school for that matter, allow them this freedom to basically do what amounts to jumping grade levels? Absolutely not. Very few schools in this country allow a younger child to advance at all, and certainly not on a larger scale(more than one or two subjects). Even more importantly, the children who aren't necessarily on grade level(age wise) can't go back, can't learn at their own pace. The resources for this just do not exist.
When I pulled my kids out in 2010 my son was in first grade. He couldn't read. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. It wasn't for lack of trying at home, because heaven knows I was all but pulling my own hair out on that one. Everything I taught, they counteracted. He got in class with other students, and froze. It was awful. We had already been deciding to possibly homeschool anyway. That, and a few other things, sealed the deal. By January 2011, after being homeschooled formally for less than a month, he could read. By the end of the school year, he was reading at a first grade level, right on target. Over the next school year he stayed right on target, and then slowly moved forward. This year, he's a grade and a half ahead(roughly). That's progress if ever I've seen it.
In Science all three of my kids are on the same grade level, well grade area. We use 9-12th grade level Science. There are a few things here and there they each do individually, but for the most part they are all on the same page. A school can't do that for them. Science is a huge thing for us, we love it. They love exploring, they love learning, they love inventing. Schools squish that love of learning without even trying. It's not always intentional on their part, I know. But that doesn't change the fact that it happens.
If I ever find that I am lacking enough knowledge to truly teach a subject I either learn it, or I find someone (or some resource in some cases) that can assist me. No teacher knows everything. No teacher even knows everything in their own textbooks. They too have to plan what they are going to teach. They have to read and study their material, even if it covers something they do know. We're no different than them, in that right. We too need to understand what we're teaching, before we can teach it to someone else.
My children are learning Spanish as their foreign language this year. I can speak it, but certainly not fluently(and I am far better at reading and writing it than speaking). So we have a friend who made them an entire Spanish course on audio cd. It's absolutely brilliant, and they love it. I even play it for my nieces when they're here.
As for socialization...that's not what school is for. Children are to sit down, shut up and pay attention. That's hardly conducive to a social atmosphere. All children get the bulk of their socialization outside of the classroom. People just don't realize it. Recess, lunch, activities and other such things are not part of "school", they are additional bonuses they can, but don't always, receive IF they attend a school. Most homeschool kids get that, and so much more. This is why most are more socialized, even if they aren't social butterflies.
My kids have friends their ages that live nearby they can play with, just like kids in classrooms. They interact with people everywhere we go. They can be put in a variety of situations and still be able to manage being social(even when shy). Or at least they possess the knowledge to, whether or not they employ it. The same applies to children in classrooms, don't get me wrong. What I am trying to say is whether in a brick and mortar school or a less traditional school, nearly ALL kids get socialization outside of their "school".
Finally, my initial reason for homeschooling is that I want the world to be their classroom. I want them to soak in all that is around them. There are not enough hours in the day to have them stuck in one place for 6-8 hours and still be able to maintain this ability. There just isn't. Children in classrooms also lose out on a lot too, it's just not a fact widely accepted by many. Slowly and slowly homeschool is gaining momentum. It's not because we're all hippie freaks, weirdos, castoffs from society, think we're way more uber-special than anyone else, or any other of the numerous degrading things people say. It's because the benefits for the children, are greater. More and more people are starting to realize that the world we are leaving for our children is seriously lacking. We're giving them sub-par on so many levels, it's unreal. Not because we're mean, not because we're lazy, not because we don't think our children deserve the best...but because we don't know any better. When we know better, we do better.
That's what I am doing.
I am always learning, right alongside them. All parents are. Perfection isn't something any human can, or will, ever achieve. We can only learn from history-ours and others'-to provide a better present, and future. Homeschooling is really just one part of that, for me. Being able to know better, so I can do better, is all encompassing in my life, and theirs.
We originally decided to homeschool for two reasons:
1. My oldest was ready for kindergarten/1st grade level at 4 years old. Public schools here wouldn't let me enroll her that early. Some private schools here will but there's no way we could afford that.
2. We've recently moved to a district where all the schools are HUGE, over crowded, and under funded. I worried about my children's physical safety in that kind of environment as much as I worried about them not getting the education, nurturing and personal attention that they need and deserve.
Since we've actually started homeschooling I've discovered soooo many other benefits! There are way too many to list but here are a few big ones.
1. Flexibility. We can do school whenever and wherever we need to. Even in a hospital bed or family waiting room. For us this has been an incredible blessing.
2. We can incorporate our faith into all of our lessons if we want to.
3. Every life experience is a learning opportunity!
4. Anyone can teach my children. The curriculum we are using is very simple to use so my kids don't have to miss out on school when I can't be with them for a day. And I think they learn more from having a variety of teachers. I plan on continuing to encourage friends and family to share their time and talents with my kids in the future.
5. Health! Even with this awful flu bug going around right now, my children haven't had a sniffle all year. I don't have to worry about them bringing nasty germs home from school. In our case this could literally be a lifesaver.
Good luck with your decision. I hope whatever you choose will be a blessing for you and your children.
__________________ Audrey ~Daughter of the Most High King
~Wife to my Best Friend
~Mother of Miracles