So today is a bit bittersweet. I didn’t cry. I didn’t clap my hands or jump up and down with joy, either. I just sent them off to school, and watched them get excited (and not a bit nervous) as they went to meet their classmates. The teacher actually had to ask them if they wanted to hug and kiss mom goodbye. 🙂 (Thank goodness they DID… LOL).
I’m a big proponent of homeschooling. I can battle nearly every argument for the negative you throw at me as to why I believe that homeschooling is the best way to raise a child. And it’s not without some trepidation that I (along with my husband) made the decision to send our smallest ones off to school. We have seven children between us. Two have graduated from public school with varying rates of success. One is in junior high (he started today, too), one is in middle school, two are in elementary, and one is homeschooled. The question could easily be raised as to why so many of my children are in public schools, and it’s a very valid question. I’m not altogether comfortable with the answer, but here’s the breakdown.
My oldest public schooled her entire school career. I was a young mother (barely 19 when she was born). She started Kindergarten too early. It was the law then, so I didn’t have a choice even if I’d been more mature. But she wasn’t ready. She did fine through elementary school, her struggles really didn’t start until junior high. Again, had I been a more mature mom, more educated on the school system itself, as well as maturity levels, I may have chosen to hold her back a year in elementary. It was never offered as an option, so I didn’t. My daughter’s birthday is June 28th, so she was one of the youngest in her class. My feelings now is that the age difference did her a grave disservice. Had she waited to enter school for another year, she would have been more at the level of the other students, may not have struggled as much, and may have been more prepared for the emotional struggles of teenagers. She still would have been 18 when she graduated. She wouldn’t have been perceived as being older than the other students. The older me thinks back on it, and wishes I’d known then what I know now. I’m very proud of her for finishing school on time, bringing her grades up, and getting involved in extra-curricular activities. She did well. I just think I could have helped her have an easier time of it. I believe, that had homeschooling been an option for her, she would have done much better, as she could have taken the time she needed to understand a subject before moving on to the next. She’s a staunch supporter of public education, though, so I would have had a hard time convincing her. 🙂
My husband’s oldest graduated last year. His mind is very well-suited for the public education system. Extremely bright and inquisitive, he chose to homeschool one year while living with his mom, and didn’t do well. He needed the structure of the school day, and the strong oversight of his teachers to be accountable for his work. He has strong beliefs and values and morals, and associated with people that shared those values. This could have made him an outcast in several ways in the public school system, but as he had been in the same schools for his entire school career, he was generally well-known and well-liked. For him, there was no doubt that public school was the right choice.
The next oldest of our brood is the one that I currently homeschool now. He’s just getting started. He has been diagnosed ADD/ADHD, and is extremely inquisitive and bright. His grades while at school were barely passing, if they were even passing. He was held back early on, and was in danger of failing last year, so he is older than most students his age. Although he hasn’t said it, I think that contributed to some of his problems in school. He wasn’t a troublemaker exactly, nor was he the class clown. But he was, according to his teachers, difficult to get to settle down, and outspoken. Some of that is the ADD/ADHD. Some of it is a lack of basic manners and respect for authority. We’ve been working on both. Getting him to settle down to study isn’t much of a problem here (although I do have to initiate it… if left to his own devices, he’ll go days without doing any schoolwork), but he focuses well and retains knowledge well. He does get easily sidetracked, usually because he discovers something else he just has to learn about. That is something I completely understand, and I think we’ve come up with a good system to make sure that he gets back on track, without forgetting what it was that he wanted to learn about that would have taken him off-track. He’s extremely bright and turns every opportunity possible into a learning opportunity. In his case, I firmly feel that homeschooling is the way to go. He will receive a better education this way.
The next in line just started the seventh grade today. He’s lived with his father for a year now, and is a gifted student. Straight A’s as long as you consistently check that he’s doing the required work. If you don’t, his grades will slip because he gets bored. He’s not as yet in any gifted classes, and this is the reason – in my opinion – that his grades slip. He needs to be challenged. He also tends to be a follower, and as of now, is not “hanging out” with a good crowd. This causes me some worry, as I fear it may only get worse as time goes on. I would prefer that he be either in gifted classes, a magnet school, or homeschooled. He has no problem making friends, and is a born athlete. Those are definitely good things, as long as he’s exposed to what’s needed to further the development of it. As of now, public school is the only option for him.
Next is our sixth grader. He has always lived with his mom, although he wants to live with us (and is undecided as to public school or homeschool). He doesn’t seem to have problems in school, but needs supervision to get his homework done. He tends to feel persecuted by his teachers a lot. As we don’t live there, it’s hard to know the whole story. I think, with the right encouragement, he would do well in either a homeschool or public school path. For the time being, public school is the only option for him.
Last, but certainly not least, are the twins. I’ve written a lot about their learning styles, and I think they will do well in either environment. We’ve chosen to encourage them to go to public school in part due to our job situation currently. We’re going to keep a close eye on how things go, and as we do with all of our children, will continue to encourage the home learning environment after school. We’ll re-evaluate how well they in public school as time goes on, and make our decisions based on our current home environment and school environment.
What has been your experience with homeschooling? Do you have all homeschooled, public schooled, or a mix? Do you feel that there is a one-size-fits-all, or that each children needs to be evaluated and considered separately? How do you make the determination to send one to school and keep one homeschooled? I’d love to hear other’s experiences!