Lately, I’ve spent much of my time focused on Homeschooling. I’m going to start with Freckles for the first time as she begins Middle school this August while Smiley finishes her last two years of public Elementary. I’m reading books, searching curriculum, following blogs, talking with my husband and other homeschooling Moms and praying. This is a big deal.
The topic of homeschooling, though gaining popularity by leaps and bounds, is still controversial. You have those that think it’s absolutely crazy and then others who are all for it. You have those friends who are silently thinking you’re making a big mistake and then others who will tell you it’s been the best decision they’ve ever made for their children. I’m not saying anything against the public school system. I’m a product of public school, I have good friends who teach in public school and my children currently attend public school. I believe my teacher friends are good at their jobs and truly want what’s best for their students. My children have enjoyed (for the most part, I’ll expand on that) attending school and have learned successfully how to read and write. So how did I ever come to think I would homeschool my children? Every parent’s reasons are different but let me tell you mine.
When Freckles was in 2nd grade she kept coming home saying she didn’t like school. I thought there might be a lack of friend issue that was contributing to this attitude but I found that wasn’t the case. She wasn’t enjoying school because she felt she wasn’t as smart as everyone else. Hearing her say that brought back a vivid memory of me in 4th grade. I was sitting in class, looking across the hall at a 5th grade class and wondering, “Am I going to make it next year?” My poor girl, I could relate to her feelings of self-doubt. While my parents didn’t take me out of public school, looking back I think I coasted through not really reaching my full potential. I was too busy labeling myself ‘not as smart’ as my friends, my brother, etc. My sweet girl has been doing that to herself since 2nd grade.
When our kids are young we have this flexible timetable that we assign certain accomplishments. Some kids crawl early, some crawl late. Some walk before their first birthday, some don’t. Some kids read at age 2, some don’t until age 5. There are all these differences but we don’t really think much of it. We recognize that they will all learn these things when they’re ready. However, once our children start school we seem to forget that logic. We expect them to be able to do certain things within a certain grade and if they aren’t we label them “delayed.” Forget that kids still learn at different paces.
I have two, very different learners. Smiley, is a great reader, good at spelling, loves math and remembers facts well. At one point she had a perfect score in math. Clearly, she did not get that from her mother. She’s your typical “good student” who makes pretty much straight A’s. Meanwhile, Freckles loves art. She’s a dreamer. She doesn’t enjoy reading and, therefore, her spelling suffers. She’d rather be doing cartwheels outside and chasing butterflies than read a book. She’s curious about nature and learns better by doing or seeing. She’s shy and therefore doesn’t like to be the center of attention. Unfortunately, that last one is what hinders her in the academic setting. It’s not that she isn’t smart (she has consistently made Honor Roll throughout Elementary) she is just afraid to ask questions. Because of this, it makes the amount of “re-schooling” we’ve done at home over the last few years enough to make me think we need a different approach to her learning.
I’ve learned that my daughter will coast by doing just ‘OK’ but not reaching her full potential because she’s afraid to ask for help. She thinks everyone else is smarter than her but what she fails to understand, right now, is that some people just have to work harder than others. Her friend might be able to read something once and understand it while she’ll need to read it twice. Maybe, three times. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that but she hasn’t learned that yet.
I want to make something clear. I have two different learners but one expectation of them both: that they do their best.
Smiley’s best and Freckle’s best will be different and that’s OK. I don’t need my kids to have straight A’s on their report cards. If their best is an ‘A’ that’s great, but if their best is a ‘C’ then I’m ok with that as well. I will never make my child feel they have failed or disappointed us because they don’t have perfect grades. If I know they have given everything they’ve got and earned a ‘C’, I am proud of their effort. Now, if my child is typically an ‘A’ student and they get a ‘C’, that’s a different story. My husband and I encourage hard work and effort not specific grades or laziness.
I decided since no one wants my child to succeed more than I do, I would help her learn. I realize that teachers don’t have the luxury of accommodating each student individually. Homeschooling will afford us the time to slow the curriculum down, starting at her success level and then moving towards mastery. We can’t move on until she understands it and that’s something public school can’t offer. I want to instill in her the tools she’ll need to realize her potential. I don’t want her to just get by, I want her to succeed. I want her to be proud of herself. Unfortunately, many people believe that if she isn’t in the public school setting being taught by certified teachers who have been trained then she won’t succeed. I used to think that myself before I had my two different learners. Truth is, if I had two learners like Smiley then I probably wouldn’t have thought about homeschooling at all. Yet, I think, what if Freckles was in public school getting C’s when she had the potential to make B’s or even A’s. Would that be considered success? I don’t think so.
There are pros and cons to homeschooling as with everything else under the sun. I’m not trying to convince you one way or the other, I’m just sharing how we got here. If you homeschool, I’d love your feedback and encouragement. If you think I’m crazy, feel free to keep that opinion to yourself. After all, I’m sure I could think you’re crazy for something too. 😉
At the end of the day, we should all be striving to do the best for our children and encouraging others as they do the same.