Good morning boys. Your teacher today will be Mommy. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! Ok, so Aug 1 snuck up on me. I am not really as ready as I would like to be for school tomorrow. But here is my random advice - it is ok not to be ready. It is ok not to have finished your research or planning. It is ok to still have questions. Like lots of questions. And really - when are you ever completely ready for something? I am never finished getting ready for a trip. The time just comes for us to leave. Was I finished with evey detail of my wedding - nope. Got married anyway. I don't think you have to have all the answers before you start something.
Next - it is ok to totally ditch your plan and get a new one. I was all about the box set of Sing, Spell & Read....(and maybe write?) Bought it. Used it and I hated it. David didn't like it at all. The idea of it was good but 2 things. 1. I can not sing a bit. Not even a tiny bit. I am bad. Like I sing by myself in the car sometimes and actually say out loud afterwards..."now that was bad." So a program that needs me to sing along with it is not a smart choice. David, very musically inclined, doesn't like to hear other people sing. It is a sensory thing. Gee - I wonder if his mom's voice had anything to do with that?? So not a good program for him. But it was bright and pretty and we had already paid for it and couldn't take it back. I now use parts of it here and there. No singing though.
Next - (lets call this #3 - kay?) look around your community for programs to take advantage of. In our little town we have a nature center, the fire department, the police department, veterans groups, etc. There are a lot of programs out there thru the YMCA, your county (those taxes are going towards them), you town, churches, civic organizations. I started with the home page for my town. Then, when I went to the Nature Center, I picked up brochures about other places. Of course there are places like the zoo, museums, historical spots that are most likely close by as well.
4. Remember - you do not have to teach your child everything all at once. So don't feel like you have to visit a lot of places or sign them up for sports, music, art & pet grooming all at once. My kids still need to have a broad experience in activities. But I can tell you that I am no longer looking to sign David up for sports. He just isn't into it. At 8 he is already starting to specialize in areas where he has strengths.
5. Free time to learn, explore and play is an amazing thing. My kids have lots of free time. It works for us. I have a friend. When I was at her house she changed our activity every 15 minutes. Play here. Snack. Play outside. Snippet of a video. Draw. 15 minutes isn't that long. I mean, stuck in traffic with a crying baby...it is forever. Waiting for your 3 year old to walk down the sidewalk when he has to stop and jump over each crack in the pavement..(Max, dude, come on!)..15 min = years. But I remember each time we went there - I was exhausted. She said we had to keep the kids moving so they wouldn't get bored. Well, I had to check my pulse a couple times. Didn't know I would have to do stretches before I went to a play date. Maybe that works for you - but for us, discovery takes place when I back up and give my boys a chance to soak up information, an experience or just free time. That is when they come to me with a little book they made. (Now, that sounds sweet...usually they are books of zombies coming up out of the dirt....blowing things up; your general carnage) They "invent" games or robots out of boxes. Free time - it's a good thing:)
6. Look for a group in your community. 4-H, boy scouts, a homeschool group. It will be fun for your kids to have a consistent social/learning group. We still haven't found one and this will be our 3rd year. We found a homeschool group close by but they were very unorganized and didn't have any kid's my boy's ages. There is another one farther away that we are trying out this year.
7. I joined Home School Legal Defense Association. It is about $120 a year. That is a lot. After 10 years - you don't have to pay anymore. (woohoo) Here is the web site: www.hslda.org Check it out. I get a monthly magazine (thin) with homeschool articles and the current law cases in each state. Yes. People go to court over homeschooling. Here is what the most common issue is (as far as I have seen): A family homeschools. A well meaning person thinks the family just isn't sending thier kids to school and reports them. Or, a disgruntled neighbor gets mad about the family dog and tries to make trouble by reporting the family for not properly educating the kids. Or, the kids are seen out and about instead of at school and appear truant. A social worker shows up at the door. The can demand to come in or see the kids - but legally (as I understand it) you do not have to let them in. If that were to happen to me, I would close the door. Then I would call the HSLDA hotline. If the lawyer on call couldn't take care of my issure right away over the phone or by sending letter, etc as my lawyer - a lawyer would be dispatched to aid me. This is a situation I think will never happen. But I like to be covered. And I like having a reference for how I need to address situations legally. I have a child that can be considered special needs - I have this organization to help me understand the law as it applies to him and standardized testing. Anyway - I am not saying at all that anyone needs to join this. Look at their web site. I am also not saying people are going to try make you life hard by turning you into social services. Not at all.
Ok - that is pretty much all I got. My first day of 2nd grade with David and 1st grade with Alex is in the morning. We have brand new Star Wars underwear for the boys. I am super excited. I am not super ready. But that is ok:) I can only share from my experience...which is minimal. BUT - Stacey Kingman, Abbie and Abbie's mom all can answer stuff I can't. Like Mrs. Smith - she has been homeschooling since before it was cool. Yeah. And I promise that they all can spell a lot better than me. So I can pass along questions to them. Oh, like a group blog. Or guest bloggers. Ooooooh. Kelli
**pic of my boys on a snow day last winter...and yes, we canceled school for the day**
Here are a few misconceptions about homeschooling I have come across. This is not an exhaustive list. This is what I have found.
1. Homeschooling is too hard
2. I don't know enough
3. I could never handle the kids all day long
4. It is expensive
5. It is cheap
6. I will really mess up my kids
7. I could never do it
8. I will need to wear long denim skirts and learn to bake bread
9. My kids will seem weird
10. Socialization concerns
11. My family will never go for it
12. I don't know where to start
13. Homeschool parents think their kids are smarter and that everyone should homeschool
Ok - so these are just off the top of my head. Lets begin with #1.
1. Homeschooling is too hard. Well, it is a big thing to think about. If you think about it in 1 year increments it is less of a scary beast. It is hard some days. It is easy some days. Like parenting or a job. Nothing is a walk in the park except a walk in the park. So don't expect it to be easy or hard. Expect both...like in life.
2. I don't know enough. No one does. You would have to recall everything from K-12th grade. Don't panic. You don't need to know that much. You just need to know where to get it. You will answer some questions your kids ask wrong. You may do that if they attend school. As a parent, you have probably figured out how little you really know already. Albert Einstein said he didn't need to clutter his mind with information he could look up. Or was that Thomas Jefferson who said it? One of them did, and I know a web site where I can go and look it up if I want. I don't. So let go of that concern. I am a terrible speller. I can't remember why I walked up the stairs much less where Bunker Hill is. It is OK.
3. I could never handle the kids all day long. Ok - only you know the answer to that one. I have some friends who are so worn out this summer. They keep saying they just don't know how I do this every day - "being with the kids ALL DAY LONG." I know they love their kids just like I do. I figured something out though - my kids are USED to being home. They know the drill. I am not entertaining them all day. If your kids are used to a school environment then they are used to more stimulation. (Stimulation is not good or bad here - it just is) Lots of parents try to keep up this level of stimulation thru the summer - camps, swimming, baseball, etc. It is exhausting to hear some people's days. You just can't re-create a classroom with a bunch of kids in it) Well, if your family thrives on that - go for it. I know plenty who really do. My family thrives on quantity time. (Again - quantity time and baseball are not good or bad - they just are. Ever visit a family pretty different than your own? You leave saying, "How do they live like that?" Well, they are talking about you too. Every family has to find their sweet spot of existence. I say this so I don't have to keep telling you I am not judging this stuff as good or bad - ok?) So, the kids get used to staying at home and you do too and you adjust.
4. It is expensive. It can be. Depends on what you use for curric, projects, field trips, etc. I love reference books. I always have. So I like to own books instead of borrowing books from the library. Remember how fun it was to buy new school supplies in the fall? A fresh stack of notebook paper. A new Trapper Keeper. Oh yeah. Well, buying school supplies for home can be like that. You can get too much. Research first. Ask others. Then buy. I do not recommend going to a Homeschool Expo or store with no plan and to just start buying what looks good. I speak from experience here.
5. It is cheap. It can be. We were all for putting our first son in private school. The second one..ok. Then we had the third...we thought about just picking our favorite and sending him. (JK) TO send all 3 to private school would be very tight and almost impossible to save for college for them. So with that respect - yeah, my Husband was all for homeschooling. There are books like "Homeschooling on a Shoestring Budget." I keep all kinds of boxes, egg cartons, etc. for craft projects with the kids. I buy paint and supplies when it is on sale. I plan and save and prioritize just like with other things. I have a monthly allotment in my budget for hs (homeschool) stuff. And some stuff isn't like you use it up and never get it back. A dictionary is forever.
6. I will really mess up my kids. You may. But you could do that without homeschooling them. You love them. You want the best for them. You will not mess them up. I am not comparing my kid's reading skills to the kids in public school. I compare them to my goals for each of them. I learned to read in 2nd grade. Some kids learn before kindergarten. Both are just fine and normal. There is so much emphasis on teaching kids the right thing at the right time. It is important. This is true. But the window isn't as tiny as it sounds in the magazine articles.
7. I could never do it. Maybe. You know yourself. For me, I have my hubby ask the kids and me what we did each day over dinner. I knew my greatest weakness would be the follow thru with all that I had planned. I like planning. You need to figure out your goals. You need to figure out your strengths. Get help in the other areas. Oh - and you may yell at your kids. You know what, sometimes teachers do that. Or they want to. No one is going to fire you. Do not yell at your kids. I am not saying that is ok. But wanting to yell at them is just part of parenting. (And please do not e-mail me to say you have never wanted to yell. I just might scream.)
8. I need to wear long denim skirts and learn to bake bread. Well, this is true. To join the cult you really must do this. NO WAY! My denim skirt hits about the knee. I buy my bread. Hey - to take my kid's to their very very private school - I felt like I had to drive a SUV and play tennis. (We are mini van folk) So everyone has a perception of what another person or role should be like. Get over it.
9. My kids will seem weird. They may seem different. They "do" school instead of "go" to school. Ooooo. I was pretty weird and I went to school. I never really fit in there. So. If you make it seem normal to do school at home or go to school - either one is just fine - then you kids will do the same. Hs is really prevalent enough that it doesn't seem weird to people anymore..just different. Gap just released their fall clothes on line. There is a shirt that says "Too cool 4 school." See.
10. Socialization. One of the biggest questions you will get asked. Big because you never know what the other person means by socialization. I got 3 boys. I don't need play group. They are a play group. Getting along with your siblings is one of the most valuable lessons I can teach my kids. They have play dates. They have played sports, take lessons like drama and art. We live near other people with kids. We are members of a pool. Man, like everywhere I look, socialization. And not all socialization is good. Ever have to un-teach your kid something another kid or TV taught them? People give school too much credit for socialization and not enough to the parents. You can not re-create the social aspects of a classroom with 20 kids in it...unless you go out and get 19 kids to add to your own. Don't underestimate their time with YOU & family members. When else in your life, except in k-12, are you in a room with 20 other people all your age? (all facing forward and doing the same thing?) You can do web searches for homeschool groups in your area. There are some in Atlanta that have their own marching bands and sports groups and proms.
11. My family will never get it. Do your research. Listen to questions. If you have an answer, say it. If you don't, don't panic. Don't lie. Don't pretend that you have already figured it all out. Say, "we are still processing how we are going to take care of that/ experience that/ etc." You can show your family links to homeschool groups in your area, refer them to books that were helpful. People probably questioned some of your parenting choices too that you felt like they didn't get and you needed to defend. Nursing. Everyone has an opinion. Too long, too short, I had that problem and solved it XYZ. You figured out how to get them on board or ignore them in other things. This isn't any different.
12. I don't know where to start. Ok, this is the first good one. I will talk about how I started in another blog entry...seeing as how this is soooo long already.
13. Homeschool parents think that their kids are smarter and that everyone should homeschool. Homeschool parents really don't care that you send your kids to school. Public school isn't a terrible thing. They are not judging you all the time. So you don't have to tell them how you could never do it or stick them on a pedestal. If you want to say nice things about me...say something about my hair...or how well behaved my kids are (heehee) or how lovely the scrapbook page I just finished is. I am lazy. I could turn right back around and say "I could never get up early, get the kids fed and out the door and delivered to their schools. I am just not a morning person. I really don't know how you do it. Oh, and the homework - how do I know how to help the kids? What if I don't know the answer and tell them something wrong?" See how it goes both ways? Ok - so those are the ones off the top of my head. Most of the things people say to me that they think are big deals about homeschooling are not big deals at all when you really think about them one at a time. Parenting is a learn as you go process. You'll figure it out. You'll adjust what doesn't work.