Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Home-School versus Traditional School

A friend shared the following status update on facebook.

I am beginning to truly consider homeschooling Charlie next year for kindergarten. I am looking for advice, criticism, planning, support. I am very interested in what Fatima has to say as well as any other parents who have/do homeschooling and/or people who were homeschooled as kids.

Within a few short hours she was flooded with comments; warnings about homeschooling, praise for homeschooling, some public school bashing, and some teachers defending their profession. I can only imagine that she is now more confused than ever.

And I say, good. It’s good to be confused and unsure. Out of our confusion, we can finally begin to search for answers and begin to have an informed and insightful understanding of an issue. Until we have that, any decision we make will be based on nothing more than feelings and the opinions of others.

So my advice to this friend…

You are on the right track. Explore this issue. Listen to all of your friends, knowing they see clearly only one part of this complex, three-dimensional puzzle. Talk to them and find out more about their part of the puzzle and the reasons behind their opinions. After you exhaust the resources that surround you, go find more.

And when you have learned all you can, come back home and put the puzzle together. Find the spot where you and your son fit best and your family’s needs will best be served. Know that any place you choose will not be a perfect fit. If you home-school, you’ll need to fill the gaps by finding clubs, lessons, and activities to expand his world beyond your doors. If you choose a school you will need to fill the gaps by supporting him emotionally, guarding the little time left for good and active play, and enriching his studies by doing some amazing learning on your own.

In either case, you will have made a good, informed decision.


school room 021

Now… for my part of the school versus home-school puzzle.

I’m a school teacher. I taught fourth and fifth grades at a catholic mission school in a rather rough Louisville neighborhood. I loved it. I poured my heart into that classroom and the fun learning we did, and I loved my students so much that I cried when they were graduated from my class. Nearly ten years later, most of those kids still write me letters and keep me updated on their lives (mostly via facebook).

I quit teaching to start a family. We lost our first baby and it changed our lives. I can’t begin to tell you the heartbreak and the re-evaluating we did after that. I don’t talk about that much, mostly because it’s painful. I tell of it now, because it’s important to the story. See, we thought we had our life figured out. We had a plan and up to that point it had been working for us. It was just the beginning of my time of re-thinking things I thought I knew.

Our little girl came along… A c-section birth followed by months of baby blues where I tore myself apart for not being able to deliver her the “right” way. She was followed by a little brother 22 months later, a sister 22 months after that. I thought we were done. I was enjoying life with my littles as a SAHM. I thought that I’d send my oldest off to school and enjoy a few more years at home. Then, I got that familiar feeling… And a pregnancy test confirmed my suspicions. I was devastated. I was barely keeping up with my three littles. I felt inadequate to the task that was ahead of me. Somehow, knowing that my youngest would, again, be 22 months old when the baby arrived made me feel that it was meant to be. And four kids 22 months apart every time… That must have been meant to be. Glad to say that our final little addition has been an amazing blessing. I’m so glad my plans were changed!

My little one was due to be born in March, so I figured I better get my act together preparing for my oldest to begin school the next fall. I was worried about her. She was to go to kindy, but she was already reading. And by reading, I’m talking about chapter books. She had read most of the Little House books by then. I was quite apprehensive about sending her to kindergarten. Imagine that…

I called the principal of the school. My daughter had only missed the kindergarten cut-off date by five days. I asked that she be evaluated and possibly placed in the first grade rather than kindy. She would only be five days younger than her peers and was quite capable of the work. The principal shot me down. Now, I was a very large and hormonal pregnant lady at the time. Truth be told, I never went back to him to press any harder for further consideration. My baby was born five weeks early and our spring was a bit hectic.

We were faced with a decision I had never wanted to consider. I really wanted my children to get to experience the fun of school. I also wanted to go back to the classroom myself. Still, I needed to do what was best for my girl.

We started our search for answers. We talked to people. We read books. We started reading blogs. In the end, we knew that we had to make the decision that was best for our family.

We chose to home school our family. It isn’t perfect. It is very hard. It’s a lot of work, especially for a momma with four little ones. It’s also very rewarding, fun, exciting, and beautiful.

I’m so glad that life has taught us to make our decisions carefully and thoughtfully. We made the best decision for our family. I wouldn’t change a thing.


For more about our home-school experience, visit this page on my silly little blog. It is an archive of our adventure in home-schooling.


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1 comment:

  1. I'm not into blogs but I love yours! Now that I have grands I so wish I had homeschooled from the beginning. I never heard of it before my oldest was in 3rd grade. By 4th he was labeled as ADD. They wanted to give him drugs! I started seriously considering homeschooling at that time but really didn't know where to begin. Then a teacher talked us into the drugs. It worked but I knew there had to be a better way. When we moved north I started meeting more and more homeschoolers. (Isn't it interesting the way God puts the answers directly in front of us but we keep asking for different answers!)
    When we saw the kaotic school system overwhelm our 2nd and she begged to be brought home we knew it was time. Then the oldest asked to be homeschooled too. We did what we felt God was telling us to do. He spoke through the kids, friends, and even the school system! My only regret is that I didn't listen earlier.
    Yes it was hard sometimes and very good sometimes. We all learned more than we could have ever imagined.
    On another side - I believe you have to be called to it. I had a friend who chose to homeschool because her friends were doing so. It was a disaster in their family. She was not at all self disciplined in any way and therefore could not teach her children to be. Not everyone is called to teach their own.
    The scariest statement ever made to me was a public school teacher who said she could never teach her own kids because she didn't like being with them that much. So why would I want her to try to teach my kids?
    The best advice I got was from the leader of our local homeschool group. It was to write down the reason we wanted to homeschool. Not just to come up with a reason but to have it in written form so it would express our reasons. It is still written in the back of my Bible. "We want to be the most important people influencing our children. We want them to be taught with a Christian world view. We want to teach them to glorify God with every area of their lives."
    Go Dance.


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