Homeschooling- It Ain’t For Sissies

Recently, as in today, I got an e-mail from a sweet reader asking me about homeschooling. I probably get at least a question a week asking me about some facet of homeschooling.

And the ones that begin with, “ARE YOU INSANE?” don’t count.

Today, Sara, sent me the following letter:

“Right now I am struggling with the decision to homeschool and go against the grain so to speak! LOL I was a teacher before having my children and now stay home. I know what the public schools are like here…and in my heart know I want to homeschool. The pressure is from all our friends that are getting ready to register for Kindergarten on Thursday. The “peer pressure” is killing me! 🙂 I would love some encouragement from another homeschool mom. How did you make the decision and what was it like in the beginning? Thanks so much!!!”

I love to rehash this story, so bear with me. When Fiddledaddy first broached the subject of homeschooling to me, Emme was 2, and I was sleep deprived with a brand new infant, Cailey. And my nipples may have been bleeding.

Through bloodshot eyes, I said the following words, “Are you insane?” And I may or may not have punched him in the throat. I’m not sure. The events are a bit fuzzy. What with all the lack of sleep, post partum depression, and the fact that my nipples were laying on the floor.

Receptive to the idea? Not so much.

It took me two more years to come around. By that time, I had read my friend, Lisa Whelchel’s book, So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling. She’s a real friend. Not one of my imaginary friends.

Lisa had been a seasoned homeschooler for many years before we started having babies. I think for a good number of years, she was the only person I knew that homeschooled.

She very gently talked to me about homeschooling a kindergartner. And her experiences. She even did it with 2 other preschoolers underfoot. They are teenagers now. Each unique and wonderfully well adjusted. And Lisa’s twitch will disappear in the next few years, I’m sure.

I jest.

Anyhoo, I warmed to the idea. But, it wasn’t until I attended my first homeschool convention, that I really felt like I could do it. I was blown away by the community of homeschoolers in our state. (We’re in Armpit, Florida.) There is a lot of support here, and the resources are numerous.

Sara, the first thing I would tell you is that you can’t do it alone. You need support. I know what you mean about facing all of the inevitable questions from well-meaning family and friends. And some not so well-meaning! You’ve got to thicken your skin a bit, and be prepared. Do a little research. Statistically, find out how homeschoolers fare on test scores alone. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Mostly though, you’ve got to go with your heart. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. And it’s not always easy. But, if you really feel like it is the best thing for YOUR family (not your friends’), then you have to commit to it. And you’ve already earned a teaching degree! Why not apply it to your own children. The student to teacher ratio is excellent in a homeschool!

The hardest obstacle we face right now, is homeschooling with a nearly 3 year old, high maintenance, toddler hanging from the dining room light fixture. It’s a distraction.

I’ve solved this dilemma at present, by assigning a “helper” to Jensen, while I work with one child at a time in 20 minute intervals. This works when you have 3 children. And since their attention span is short at this age anyway, it makes sense for the Fiddle House of Higher Learning.

Sara, I don’t know what your state requires to homeschool. But, that’s the first place to start. Check into the closest homeschool convention. Get involved in a support group. And then enjoy this precious time with your little ones.

There are a lot of books available at the library on homeschooling. You’ll be overwhelmed at first, since there are so many different methods. I wish I had read Cathy Duffy’s “100 Top Curriculum Picks” when I started. (I’ve seen it at the library.)

And that’s another thing. Don’t get bogged down by the curriculum. My first year, I ordered the whole kindergarten kit from A Beka, because I wanted to take the guesswork out of it. I needed someone to lay it all out for me. I’ve since moved on to different curriculum for different subjects, but A Beka was a great jumping off point for me.

I wish I could give you a big old cyber hug. I know what a huge decision this is. The blogosphere is very full of wonderful homeschooling blogs and support.

I want to turn this over to y’all who homeschool. What is the best piece of advice you could offer Sara, or any other mom considering homeschooling?

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February 5, 2008

47 Responses to Homeschooling- It Ain’t For Sissies

  • My best piece of advice is…(drum roll please)…

    Nothing is written in stone.

    When people ask me how long we plan to homeschool, I reply with “Well, we’re planning to do it today and probably tomorrow.”

    You could go ahead and enroll if you’re worried about losing a spot in your neighborhood school, then decide sometime between now and mid-August. That’s what I did. Definitely talk to other homeschoolers and ask if you can come by and just observe during “school hours” (keep in mind that phrase is loosely applied). I visited several and my school looks completely different from theirs. Heck, my school has changed dramatically every year, but my girls are learning and enjoying it, which is what matters. Do what works for you now and don’t beat yourself up if today’s plans don’t line up with what works for you next week. Or next month. Or next decade.

  • Once we decide to homeschool. join Home School Legal Defense (hslda.org). Not only are they there to answer every question about homeschooling in your state, but they are they if, God forbid, you need legal advice due to an uninformed eduction system etc. You can also connect with the homeschool groups in your area (most register with HSLDA) so you cna interact with like minded parents. Learn from them! It a small investment with potentially huge dividends. We’ve been members for almost 5 years now.

    Also, as you interact with your child, look for learning patterns. Are they “do-ers”, “hear-ers”, “read-ers”? You may not hit the right curriculum choices right off. And their needs may change. Be flexible. ENjoy it.

    Take day trips or field trips and turn them into education. If you have a National Park nearby, take your kids to the Ranger desk at any site and get a Junior Ranger book. It wil let them go through the site and answer questions. Once done, return the completed book and they get a Ranger star. Things that that are learning. And fun, for everyone.

    Never be afraid to ask for help. We’re all learning as we go, and happy to share 🙂

    Good luck!

  • AD would love to homeschool, but I’m afraid it would cut into my blogging time. Seriously, what are your thoughts on homeschooling if you just have one kiddo. Do you know anyone? Everyone I know who homeschools (and their kids are remarkable and exactly the kind of kids I want Sean to be) usually have 3 or 4 kids, not just one.

  • Antique Mommy,
    I know lots of moms who homeschool one child. And frankly, IT SOUNDS LIKE HEAVEN TO ME! Honestly, when Cailey was small, my first two years of homeschooling were just with Emme, and I loved that one on one time.

    I won’t lie, being with your kids 24/7 can take you to a whole other level of crazy. But, that can make for better blogging material. You have to carve out time ALONE.

    And, AM, for that all important “socialization” issue, you can get Sean involved in sports and activities through a local homeschooling group. Texas is a great state to homeschool in.

  • Make the decision year-by-year and kid-by-kid! Our oldest (now 12) is “gifted”, and currently homeschools. But she has also done public school, private school, and virtual charter schools. She is an easy child to homeschool as she loves learning, is self-motivated, and responsible. We have 3 others in public school that I wouldn’t homeschool if you PAID me. And two still at home that I would consider homeschooling.

    FWIW, I love the K-12 curriculum (www.k12.com) which can be used through virtual charter schools in many states, or purchased and used as a homeschooler (what we do).

  • I commonly hear “I’d never have the patience to homeschool”. These are probably people who don’t really know the anal, perfectionist, alphabetize your can goods ME. Sometimes I get put in time out.

    The rest of the time I’m thankful I decided to. I feel like I’m connected to my kids in a way I always dreamed about. Every day I’m learning more about their strengths and blessings.

    I have 2 older daughters and their childhood was too short – they now have families of their own. Homeschooling gives you some of that time that so quickly passes, you’re a vital influence in their character and God blesses you in ways you would never imagine.

  • Well written advice.

    I too, started off with Abeka, because it was all laid out, and I still use most of it, but have moved on to other curriculum’s that fit.

    Home schooling is one thing that I have never ever regretted. You couldn’t pay me enough money to stop.

    My son graduates this year. He is doing well, and I can proudly say that it was all my fault.

  • Such good advice. And I’m not even a homeschooler!! 🙂

    I did chuckle when I read the question, though. In my circle of friends, I’m the odd-man out sending my boys to public school. (In a FANTASTIC school district. See? Even public schoolers feel the need to justify our choices to complete strangers!)

    The peer pressure thing is so real, whatever your choices are.

    This is such a big one, though, I strongly believe each family must bring this question to God and hear from Him themselves.

  • I second and third those motions- it is, after all, Super Tuesday!!! I have been homeschooling my 2 lovely ladies for 3 or so years. Most of my friends do not and I find myself struggling with whether or not our kids are “developmentally appropriate”- I worry that I don’t do enough…I could go on but I won’t bore you. The truth is that God is willing and able to provide ALL my needs. He has faithfully tied the strands of my efforts together and sustained us. Given an environment where they have the tools for learning, the girls thrive (art supplies, dictionary, kid’s encyclopedia etc.) ANd learning is something that God seems to have hard-wired into them. Their relationship has benefitted and contrary to the myth that the more time you spend with them, the more you drive each other crazy, I think we generally get a long fairly well…not being as stressed in the times we interact. Did I mention I like to ramble??? Ultimately, each of us will be held accountable for how we have raised out kids. Tune out those voices and focus on One voice. Blessings in your pursuit!

  • I think you gave great advice already. As to Antique Mommy’s question, it doesn’t matter how many kids you have, you can still homeschool. I only have two, but there are several in our homeschool group that have only one, then there are lots that have 5 or more kids.

    I do think that Sarah needs to realize from the beginning ( from experience here) that every child’s learning technique is different for everyone. What works for one family may not work for hers. I learned the hard way.

    We involve the boys in several extra curricular activities and trust me, they are not shy or ‘unsociable’.

    There are days when I want to throw in the towel and send them to public school, but then I see all the ‘aha’ moments and that makes it worth it.

  • I don’t homeschool (too chicken or lazy or something), but I just wanted to offer encouragement. I think it is a wonderful gift to your children and a great sacrifice on the part of the parent. You obviously want what is best for your children, and that is all you need to worry about. Good luck!

  • We’ve homeschooled since 1997. That’s 11 years for those of you keeping score at home. And yes, I started when I was 9. 🙂 We have five children ranging in age from embryo (SURPRISE!!) to 16.5. Two of the kids have disabilities, one is a music prodigy (someone else’s term, and I can take NO credit), one is a 3-year-old, and one delights in turning my guts wrong-side out on an hourly basis. The benefits of home education, in my experience, far outweigh the drawbacks. To avoid hijacking the comments, I’ll just say that I look forward to the next 18 or so years of home education for more reasons than I can list. If Embryo is our last, we will graduate him/her in 2026.

    For Antique Mommy, many of our homeschooling friends have “onlies”, and enjoy very short school days because of no interruptions. They take wonderful field trips because two can travel further, cheaper, than 4 or 6. They have active service lives, preparing meals for families in need and visiting assisted living centers to play dominoes.

    My most favorite part of home schooling is the flexibility to schedule vacations, family visits and haircuts at times that are convenient to our family.

    OH! When we began home schooling, we lived across a gravel driveway from the EXCELLENT Christian school founded and operated by my husband’s family. To say that we faced some opposition would be putting it mildly. I discovered that it was best not to try to change people’s minds about our decision. We declined to discuss it at all. Rather, we smiled and thanked them for their concern. Then changed the subject.

  • I have not always liked homeschooling my children, but I have NEVER regretted the decision. I will not lie, it isn’t easy. I have a 5th grader, a 2nd grader, a Pre-K, and a new baby (5 weeks). It is tough to spend time with everyone and to get in everything I feel I should. There are days I feel like a complete failure and fear I am warping my children for life (which I may be 🙂 ) but most days I look at my imperfect brood and I am soooo grateful that I have been the one to see the light click on when they read their first word or when they finally got that math concept we have been working on. I think one of the great benefits of homeschooling is that you do not have to keep moving on just because it is time to do the next page–We keep working until a concept is mastered which is a blessing with my 5th grader who has lots of trouble with math. I cannot even imagine how many late hours we would spend doing homework he didn’t understand if he were in a traditional setting.

    I would also like to say my kids are not the perfect homeschooled stereotype. I always saw these perfectly well-mannered, brilliant children who were homeschooled who were graduating a year or two early etc. My kids are normal kids. They fuss, they fight, they disobey and there are days I long for just five minutes when there are no children in the house. The challenges of homeschooling are so different from other mothering challenges. BUT, for all the frustration and worry, I would do it all again in a heartbeat. There is just no other choice for us. I would say put LOTS of prayer into the decision, talk to other homeschoolers, read lots of info. a book that helped me a lot was “Homeschooling by Heart” and then if you decide to go for it, cut yourself some slack. No one is perfect but I was told once that even a failure to give a great education one on one will result in a better education than an environment of one on thirty.

  • Sara,

    I’m a mom of five in public school, but I wanted to throw in some encouragement, too! I am a former school teacher, and I have homeschooled. It went very badly for me for a number of reasons. But that’s not my point.

    You have great resources as a former teacher. You know something about how kids learn, how to make things interesting, etc. And this is the PERFECT time to give it a try. If you find it is not for you, you have not permanently ruined your child’s educational opportunities. I think among friends and family, you can convey your passion for teaching, your desire to watch your own child’s eyes light up when he learns to read! My parents were not gung-ho about my homeschooling decision, but most other people kind of “got it” because I had been a teacher.

    And like I said, it didn’t work out for us in the long term, but I’m glad I tried it, because now I am 100% confident in our decision to use the public schools. If I had never tried to homeschool, I would always wonder if I was doing the best for my kids.

  • I stumbled across this site at a God given moment! Wow! We have 5 children also with 4 in Private school and we are having to cut out some costs as my husband’s business has taken a big loss of $. We have a great conservative school a mile down the road that only goes to 5th and my oldest will be in 6th grade next yr. I’ve been looking online about homeschooling. I’ve always said, “I could never do it, I need my time during the day and I don’t have the patience for it!” We are considering taking them out of private next yr and putting them in the school nearby and “homeschooling” the oldest. I never thought I’d consider it, but he has wanted to since last yr and it’s so awesome to hear from some of you who do and what a positive experience you’ve had. I will continue to pray about it but this has helped me tremendously! I’m so glad I found this site and to “fiddledeedee”, you have a gift with writing and have brought many laughs to me in the past couple of days.

  • I am an English teacher in a charter/public high school. …(disclaimer: I do not have any children of my own yet)
    I think homeschooling can be wonderful, if it works for you. If you feel like it is where God is leading your family, go for it!
    This is the thing, though…
    Make sure you get help! it’s great that you have a teaching background, but please do not try to be the expert on all things.
    In my (limited) experience teaching in a ratio of 1 to 30 (or 45), my wish is sometimes to go back to when my students lost their love of learning and start from there. If you can teach them a love for learning, exploring, discovering…then it doesn’t matter if you are great in Calculus!
    If it makes you feel any better, I always have to justify my decision to teach high school to others. 🙁

  • I’m just going to chime in as someone who *was* homeschooled. I didn’t start until fifth grade and went through high school. I am so grateful that my mom sacrificed her personal time, her career, her time enjoying my little brothers, to teach me. When I went to college, I was worried I’d be really far behind. That was definitely NOT my experience! In fact, one of my professors told me that I’d made him “eat crow” about homeschoolers.

    I now have children myself. My oldest is in a public charter school, but that’s only because health issues for me prevented me from homeschooling him. My middle child is four and I’m very seriously considering homeschooling her partly for academics, but really because I don’t see her being successful in a traditional school environment. She’s too active, too tactile, too needful of individual attention. We may eventually pull our my son out, but we do like the school he’s in (there are a lot of former homeschoolers there), so he’s there for now.

    I would encourage Sara to do it if she feels inclined that way. I know lots of homeschoolers and no one regrets doing it, even when they stop.

    Good luck!

  • I am a former public school teacher who homeschools–though I seldom use what I learned since we are more unschooling/eclectic than traditional style schooling. That said, my parents are both teachers and if you think peer pressure is bad, and it is, parental pressure is HARD! We went with our gut and homeschooled anyway and it has taken years for my public school parents to be able to that my kids are better off than their students. (For my mom the clincher was when my 4 and 6 year old were WAY ahead of her best kindergarten students ever. My dad still chalks it up to me being a teacher.)

    Go with your gut and keep it fun–burn out occurs when you start stressing instead of learning together.

  • I am currently homeschooling my ds (6). I also have a dd (2), who likes to be my assistant. I did a lot of research re: homeschooling before getting started, and read (somewhere) that 2 hours of homeschool = 6 hours of public school. We actually spend less time than that in our daily activities, around an hour per day at this age. Our focus is reading, writing, and math…just working a little each day.

    I really struggled with the decision to homeschool, but sincerely prayed about it, and sought advice from other homeschoolers at my church (we have many homeschooling families). I finally decided that I could handle first grade material…but stressed if I thought about the years ahead. Then, I resolved to just take it a year at a time. It is not always easy, but who knows my childs strengths/weaknesses better than anyone? That would be me! :)— This motivates me to press on!!!

  • hmmm. . .

    I think it’s a fallacy to say you can’t do it alone.

    We’re military and I homeschooled 4 years “alone” and in countries where homeschooling was illegal for the nationals. And I’m seriously sticking with “alone” as my husband was also frequently deployed during that time.

    I will say, it’s ever SO MUCH nicer to have other homeschoolers around you. For the first time ever, I’m around other (local) homeschoolers. (I don’t have to travel hours to get together with others.) It is ever so enjoyable! And part of the reason, is because I hear straight from the other parent’s mouth, that this isn’t easy! And that “support” is incredibly comforting. (Being able to borrow books and ideas is awful nice too!)

    I agree with another poster. I’ve done this for many years (I’m becoming an old-timer) and it hasn’t always been easy.
    However, whenever I look back over the years, the rewards speak for themselves.

  • I am one of the ones for whom home schooling is not. I do, however, applaud you mothers, and fathers, that do.
    Don’t let anyone tell you you aren’t doing the right thing. You are a teacher. You have first hand experience.

    Good Luck.

  • We live in a state, and city, of MANY homeschoolers. When I tell them I’m sending my kids to public school (Jason is in 2nd grade at public school this year) I get the eye . . . the “really? how could you ever choose to send your kids to public school and trust them to other people?” look. I HATE that. I do NOT give that same reaction to those who homeschool. It really is a personal decision – what is best for you, for your child, for your family. My neighbor across the street homeschools her 7 children (the oldest is 14 this year and the youngest just turned 2) – they are wonderful children and a wonderful family. Two days each week they go to homeschooler classes that meet at a local church. All the mom’s (and one dad) have strengths in a subject so they kind of “trade kids” for a couple hours each week to get assistance . . . and socialize . . . and be around adults. It works great for them. Sending my kids to school and going to work works great for me and my family. Go with what you feel in your heart . . . you can never go wrong when you do that!

  • I think that first year when friends are going to Kindergarten and then again in First Grade, it is HARD! Sometimes I felt like I was actually APOLOGIZING for my decision! But those questions don’t last forever.

    One book I read when I was first considering homeschooling was Debra Bell’s Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. It helped me think through lots of different aspects of it INCLUDING what other people thought.

    Sara… I’ve taught in a Christian school, homeschooled my four children, and now have two in public school. I feel blessed to have experienced all three options and to see some of the pros and cons to all of them. And they ALL have pros and cons. You must simply do what you feel called to; what will be best for YOUR child. And then, surround yourself with people who will support you in your decision! 🙂

  • I love reading about homeschooling. The biggest piece of encouragement I can give is read, read, read. Have them read aloud and read to themselves and you read to them. Reading covers a multitude of “gaps”.

  • Well first of all, AMEN to what DeeDee has said.Followe YOUR heart, not your friends’, estented family, etc. They are not the one’s responsible for your children, YOU ARE! I have a now 17 year old junior, that has been homeschooled since day 1, and I will tell you, sometimes it has been h*ll, and sometimes it has been heaven, and sometimes it has been somewhere between the 2, but I have never regretted my decision or been sorry that I stuck with it. Now he may tell you differently, but I think that he’s just a grumpy teenager! lol Check out homeschool conventions, go places during the day and observe other families out and about, then talk to the mom as well as the kids….find SUPPORT. This will be the 1 thing you CANNOT live without as you decide to homeschool. There are TONS of resources available, just search for them a little and you will find them! May God Bless you in this adventure!

  • We are still relative newbies to the homeschooling system (our son will be 4 in March) but we decided before we ever had children that we wouldn’t have it any other way. We have been scrutinized for our decision since day one-my mother, step dad, sister, grandfather in law, and hubby’s cousin are all school teachers. The majority of our families believe that we are no less than scarring our children by homeschooling. The rest of them constantly express “doubts” that we’re “really the homeschooling type”, saying that because we are young and niether of us are college graduates that we don’t have the patience, dedication, or the proper education to teach our own children. (I think I’m sick, because sometimes that only makes me more excited to do it! Ha) You should see the looks on their faces when we tell them that not only are we homeschooling, but we are in fact UNSCHOOLING. The thought that knowledge and a love of learning can be taught without books, schedules, pre-planned curriculum, worksheets, tests, and a grading system is like trying to convince our families that the sun revolves around the earth.

    My best advice from someone that is relatively new here is to go with what you know is best for your child (after all, you know them best). If you feel that homeschooling-in whatever form-is good for you and your family don’t let other people peer pressure you into submission. JUST SAY NO. (I couldn’t resist)

    Also read as much as you can about homeschooling. I am constantly reading books about the reasoning behind homeschool, the history of schooling (not just homeschooling), the different methods and philosophies of homschooling, and books about child development and learning styles. (Sometimes when he’s interested I even read them aloud to our son! Talk about homeschool!) That information has been priceless to us in making our decisions on why and how to homeschool.

    Good luck! (Okay, I’m done hijacking your comments–great post FiddleDeeDee)

  • You can do it! Go with your gut and your heart. That is my advice. You can always put them back in school at the next break. I know lots of people that take them out of public school to homeschool them, but rarely do I hear about someone homeschooling their kids and then putting them back in. Once you start, you will love it.

    I do homeschool my eight year old son and we have seen some hard days here, but I will never regret spending this time with him. Just so your know I have a six year old 1st grader who I have in a little Montessori school. I think it was the best choice for her this year and the best choice for him this year. Next year will probably be different.

    Take it day by day and year by year. You can do it!

  • What a great country we live in–the freedom to choose how we educate our own children.

    I taught special education for a number of years and when my own children were little I decided that I was a great teacher for other people’s children, but not so much with my own very intense children. It is a good thing I made that choice because I could never do the math that they do as teenagers.

    I do have a suggestion, though. I work for a Jewish Community Center– if there is a subject that a homeschooling parent or group is not comfortable teaching, talk with your community center about what they can do for you. We are now offering a multi-cultural art class and looking at offering hands-on science classes. These classes are open to everyone, but we have homeschoolers that are taking this opportunity to do something they couldn’t do at home. We offer lots of enrichment classes and are thrilled to design classes based on specific needs.

  • I cannot thank you all enough for all the words of encouragement and support. I have been thinking about this decision for years. I have been researching, reading and seeking out homeschool groups. I even have our new tables and chairs being delivered tomorrow that we will be using as desks. I have pulled out my mounds of tubs from teaching. I honestly know that this is my decision…I am just having trouble with all the friends (both my own and my kids) who are all going to Kindergarten next year. I am scared! I am afraid of feeling left out, of my son feeling left out, and so many other fears that I know you all understand. The fear of the unknown. The looks that come over my friends faces when I mention homeschooling. Fortunately I live in an area FULL of homeschooling families, resources and activities everywhere you look and the laws are pretty easy here. I just need to settle in and reach out to new friends and support groups…not easy to do.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to help me. It means the world to me to know others have been / are there and understand. 🙂

    Please keep the discussion going….

    Sara

  • Wow, some great thoughts here. I replied earlier, but I did want to emphasis one point. Although we have been blessed in our HSing – our children are NOT stepford kids. They bicker, they roughhouse, they spill stuff, they spit toothpaste and don’t rinse it off, they “forget”, they whine….they’re very normal. When I am silently willing them to “act” smart and make a good impression, they inevitably do something off the wall. On the flip side, since they are their only company during the day, they communicate, negotiate and appreciate better than before.

  • Thank you to all of you who have made comments! What an encouragement! I am just getting my feet wet into the homeschooling adventure. Excited, overwhelmed, scared and only wanting the best for our children. I have 2 boys, one who just turned 4 and the other 14 months. God has definately placed it on my heart to homeschool, I just am having a hard time knowing where to begin. A Beka has been introduced to me a couple of times and looking forward to trying it out.

    I could ramble on about my saga of getting started but just want to say thank you to all of you for sharing ideas, experiences and comments.

    God Bless you all!!

  • I highly recommend reading John Taylor Gatto’s books if you haven’t already. He is a former teacher of the year award recepient for NY city. His book Dumbing Us Down was foundational to our decision to begin homeschooling 16 years ago. His book, The Underground History of American Education made my hair stand up on end even more dramatically than the S.K. horror novels I read in my youth.

    It would be interesting to hear what another teacher thinks about Mr. Gatto’s books. Blessings to you as you make your decision.

  • Dumbing Us Down is one of my FAVORITES! I will readily admit that I read it over and over and over again. Just for fun and validation. (I actually did a post about our unschooling philosophy and mentioned “The 7 Lessons” on my blog just last Friday!)

    When I first read the book, it was like it finally gave words to the feelings that had prompted us to unschool. Hubby and I both knew that we were extremely uncomfortable with the government school system, but we had a difficult time figuring out why at first. Then we read that book-it was like the words were taken directly out of our brains!

    Unfortunately, I have yet to lay my hands on any other of Mr. Gatto’s books but once I can get over how cheap I am (or find someone to borrow from!) I plan on reading them all.

  • First – we are to let peace be our umpire. If you feel at peace with your decision than so be it!

    My Mom homeschooled me for high school. It was more like intervention! I’m not a shy person and I’ve been very grateful that my Mom made the effort.

    We decided to homeschool right from the start. It’s been the best decision for us. My older two are twins and right now I have them on SOS that does everything on the computer. That has been a life line for me because I was getting overwhelmed.

    Having your kids 24/7 does give you a whole new level of crazy! And all the scriptures of train up your kid morning and night – if I only saw my kids after school and in the evenings and weekends all they would talk about is bionicles. So I need all that other time to get stuff in them.

    It’s neat to see my kids read or discover something or to listen to them rattle something off.

    There have been tears from both sides of the table. God has used this whole journey of homeschooling to teach me a lot. I often wonder who is the student and who is the teacher.

  • I don’t have time to read each of the comments, so if I repeat anything that has already been said please forgive me. 🙂

    I do homeschool in Texas, and it is wonderful!! I also only homeschool my nephew.

    My advice would be to read the book “Homeschooling: The Right Choice” by Christoper Klicka. I would reccomend that you purchase two copies. One for yourself and one to lend to those who say “What do you mean your homeschooling?!” 🙂

    I also reccomend joining HSLDA, or if you are in Texas the Texas Homeschool Coalition.

    Homeschool Coops are also very important if you are homeschooling only one child. Great resource for socialization. 🙂

    Also, if your child is below 2nd grade don’t worry about purchasing a curriculum. You can teach them whatever they need to know just by using books from the library and things you already have in your home. 🙂

    If anyone would like some info on homeschooling in Texas feel free to e-mail me. 🙂

  • I’ve had a busy week, so I haven’t been able to enjoy the wit and wisdom of DeeDee lately. (Your husband’s point of view on the lizard’s demise was so hilarious!) I’ll be happy to chime in here, too. My kids are 20yo and 18yo and it has been a wonderful adventure. I would not have traded homeschooling them for the WORLD. One point – YOU and your child will not be left out, the kids in school will. They have to march in lock-step everywhere they go. YUCK! 😉 When other kids saw the kinds of things my kids got to do during the week, they were quite envious. And my kids didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to catch a bus and come home all cranky from the long day and all of the over-stimulation.

    We did it in Scotland, Maryland, Korea, Texas and are finishing up in Colorado. I found HSLDA very unresponsive and unhelpful when we were overseas and when we moved to Texas, we just didn’t need the membership. Texas is VERY homeschool friendly. Colorado is too, for the most part.

    One thing I recommend. Don’t try to push everything into an “educational box.” Living a normal life is an amazing educational experience. No need for desks, workbooks, or textbooks for every subject. We’ve pretty much unschooled the whole way, using some co-op classes when they fit the place we were in at the time.

    My daughter got some wonderful high school lab science courses this way. She also loves cutting things open and finding out what’s inside. And she got impatient with the other girls who were giggling and gossiping, so she’d put the rat skin on her hand and talk to them with it.

    My kids are amazingly literate, have incredible senses of humor (that’s occasionally pretty odd and at times wicked, like their parents!) 😀 and they still love learning, mainly because I didn’t beat them over the head with it. It was a complete lifestyle of learning.

    My daughter is basically homeschooling college, getting her bachelor’s in much less time and much less money. I highly recommend the book “Accelerated Distance Learning” for those of you with teens.

    Other good books for anyone:
    Anything by Raymond and Dorothy Moore. Anything by Mary Hood, the Relaxed Homeschooler. Anything by Mary Griffith, but especially The Unschooler’s Handbook. 😉 -0-[pp

  • Sorry if I repeat what anyone else has said (don’t have time to read all the comments!).

    First, don’t stress over Kindergarten. Check out a copy of the Well Trained Mind for a good approach to Kindergarten. That book helped me to settle down a bit (even though we do not do the Classical Education model – still learned a lot from her book!).

    Build up relationships with other homeschoolers. We moved from a huge city to a very small town last year. There are very few homeschoolers in our new town, but the moms make an effort to get together once a month to connect. We get our kids together whenever possible and travel to a nearby town to do things with their group (which is significantly larger than ours). It helps to have those relationships on the days when you’re feeling the pressure!

    One little tidbit – at our last meeting, one of the women mentioned a friend asking her what she loved about homeschooling and what she regretted. We could all think of times we regretted being too uptight, or losing our cool, etc. Yet, none of us had any regrets about the education and social atmosphere our children received – none of us!

    I’m about to finish out my fifth year of homeschooling. Some days it’s a butt whoopin’ but I wouldn’t trade it.

  • I’m not going to post my pen name or site because I don’t want a bunch of hate mail or other problems…

    I’m sure there are some lovely people out there acting as public school teachers. Unfortunately, I don’t know you, and I don’t get to pick you for my child. That said, why on *Earth* would I turn my child–innocent and vulnerable–to the government’s “care” for more waking hours than *I’ll* have with her?

    Lock-step, I tell you.

    Government schools are subject to employing on an equal opportunity basis. Nevermind the se%ual deviants that make the news every year (with many more episodes of inappropriate behavior going unreported).

    This means your child’s teacher could be a Wiccan or an adulterer or a drag queen.

    Oh, you think that the teaching they offer won’t sift through that depraved filter?

    Then maybe your public school education didn’t teach you to think very critically.

    As a homeschool mom, and *not* a degreed teacher (which I’m convinced is to my benefit from watching the pros burn-out) let me tell you–you have no idea how much moment-to-moment correction and supervision a child needs until you commit to doing it.

    For those who know better and can do better and just don’t choose to, I implore you! Take back your children before it is too late.

  • great conversation going on here. i don’t think i could add anything better.

  • Hi, I thought I would chime in. I am a certified teacher and taught for six years before having my own children. We decided to homeschool. I must dispel the myth that being a teacher has made it easier. Teaching a classroom full of children versus your own child/children is very different. I have had to unload my pre-conceived ideas of teaching. Bringing a classroom into your home is confining; just teach your child/ren to love to learn! This can be SO freeing! And, guess what….you can teach them whatever you want in whatever order you want! There is NO golden age to learn certain things. Know your child/ren and teach them at their level with their learning styles and interests in mind. They WILL soar.

    The only qualification for homeschooling is that you love your child/ren. I loved classroom teaching and loved my students, but that is nothing compared to how much I love my children. YOU are the only one fully qualified to fully love your child/ren. No one can/will have your child/ren’s best interest in mind as fully as you do. No one can “read” your child/ren like you can. And, no one can know your child/ren’s hearts like you can. With that in mind, know that you are the most qualified teacher for your child/ren regardless whether you have a college degree or not.

    Besides, you managed to teach your child/ren to talk, to go potty on the toilet, and to tie his/her shoes. Nothing is more difficult to teach than those things. You took your time with those things; take your time with other things as well and wait for your child/ren’s time.

    A great community of homeschoolers can be found at http://www.homeschoolblogger.com if you find yourself feeling isolated.

    You CAN do it!
    Holly

  • I’m not sure how old this post is, since I’m just catching up, but I must say how surprised I am that there have been no comments against homeschooling! Pleasantly surprised, but surprised nonetheless.

    I’ve homeschooled all of my children from the beginning, and although there are times when it seems that sending them off in the morning and enjoying peace and quiet for 8 whole hours seems like heaven…I know I’m doing the right thing for my kids. I’m not concerned that they learn latin, or calculus, or any of that stuff (unless they choose to), I’m concerned with making sure that they know how to learn. I figure if I can teach them how to learn, and to be independent learners, their college professors will bow down and kiss my feet. In fact I’ve heard that these days some college professors have admitted that they actually prefer homeschooled kids because they are independent learners. There was a time when it was difficult to even get a homeschooler admitted to a college without a GED.

    Basically, no one ever does it completely “right” and no one does it well every day, but if God has put the desire in your heart to teach your own children, then you should do it! I heard that a man spoke before Congress to support homeschooling, and I think he said it best. “Anyone who can potty train a 2-year-old, can teach anything!” To which I say “AMEN and AMEN”! Teaching a 2 year old to use the potty is by far the toughest teaching I’ve ever done!

  • DeeDee, I am enjoying reading this conversation, but just had to leave a message to 3 girls’ mom. If this causes problems I’m so sorry.
    3 Girls’ Mom,
    I hope you (or anyone else) doesn’t read this as hate mail. That is by no means my intent. I know many people who homeschool for various reasons and they are doing well.
    With that said, I have been a teacher in the public schools for 14 years. You obviously have had a very bad experience in the public schools. For that you have my deepest apologies. The majority of the men and women I have had the priviledge of working with have not only been dedicated educators who truly care about children, but committed Christians as well. It is unfortunate that there are a few “crazies” out there that the media etc. jump on and sterotype the rest of us. To be honest before I started reading this and a few other blogs, my view of homeschooling was VERY different. Because up to that point, I had only heard about the “crazies” in the homeschooling world.
    I am not trying to change your view. I just wanted you to hear from one public school teacher who is a Christian, loves her job, and loves children.
    Blessings to you!
    Jana

  • Jana…I didn’t take that badly at all. As I said, I’m sure you’re out there. But there are no guarantees, are there?

    Frankly, my husband first came on board with the homeschool idea as soon as my sister got her teaching degree. It’s not that she’s a horrible person or anything–quite the contrary, she’s disciplined and smart and a hard worker. But we still didn’t want someone like her (for issues of character that I won’t speak of) wielding undue influence over our children’s thinking.

    I’m glad there are Christian public school teachers out there. I believe them to be God’s grace to the children of Christian parents whose circumstances actually DO preclude them from being homeschooled for whatever good reason.

    Btw…I loved, loved, loved what Holly had to say a few comments back! Spot-on!

  • I would love to find other parents who are homeschooling a child with disabilities.

    Right now we are homeschooling Parker. In our state kids with Down syndrome begin preschool at 3. With Parker’s health issues there is no way he can go to school. And it will be several years before we could ever even consider sending him to a public school.

    And truthfully, I’m not sure if I even ever want to consider it.

    Our blog addy is above. I’d love to hear from those who may be homeschooling a child with special needs…and blogging about it.

  • I homeschooled my son for 2 years. They were blessed years. He has been in pulblic school for 2 years. They have also been blessed years. I would homeschool him again in a second if I felt that he needed it.

    My middle girl has Down Syndrome. I foresee homeschooling her when the school system fails to offer her opportunities.

    My youngest has a driven personality. I believe that she would thrive in a homeschool situation.

    I would agree with the lady who said make the decision child-by-child and year-by-year. Pray and research and know your child’s needs and then meet them, however that would be best.

  • To 3 girls’ mom…

    I’ve homeschooled, still do with two of my children, and two are in public school this year. We have been INCREDIBLY blessed by our public school experience as well as our homeschool experience. I also believe my own public school experience DID teach me to think critically. More than that, though, I believe that my God is bigger than the public school. He is bigger than the issues you describe. He can be trusted with my child. For years we specifically prayed for the right teachers for my children, and God –as His word says— heard my prayers. And was faithful. He has blown me away with his goodness. The teachers my girls were placed with are amazing Christians. The principal is an amazing Christian. They are good, wonderful people, serving, using their gifts, and blessing people. They are called to be there, and I am thankful for it.

    And I see God working in that school. I’m proud of my girls for being a light in those hallways. I did not send them until I was confident they were STRONG enough to be a light. But I do not think, as you said, that I need to pull them out “before it is too late.” On the contrary, I believe they will make a difference for His kingdom while being at the school. There are children there, families there, who need Christians in their lives on a daily basis.

    That said, if I believed my children were in danger or no longer had peace, or felt God was calling me to bring them back home, I would be obedient. Right now I am being obedient to His calling to have two of my children in those hallways, and I believe they are being salt and light.