Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Thoughts of Homeschooling
I've been writing this post in my mind for several months now, and have finally worked up the courage to put it on paper....
My thoughts lately have been full of thoughts of home schooling Nora for kindergarten. When I told my sister, Ella, this I could hear her gasp through the phone, in disbelief. She, like many others, asked me how could I teach my child better than a trained educator? I am glad for her honest response. It is good to have a devils advocate in my life-and that person is often Ella.
Nora turns 5 this coming August 19th-she'll be a VERY new 5 and not ready for kindergarten (both her speech therapist and director of the preschool have noted this as well). Everyone in her life believes that waiting a year before kindergarten would give her better footing. So I figure, why not try to do a little homeschooling next year? From what I've learned, such a large part of preschool and kindergarten is free play and learning how to read. That part is intimidating to me. I looked at a few homeschool phonics programs online and was freaked out by the intense phonics lessons. A conversation with a client who homeschools assured me that the beginnings of teaching reading is reading a lot to kids, working on letters then progressing gradually. She put me at ease that I didn't have to necessarily follow a regimented phonics curriculum for the kids to succeed. Recently when I read books, I make letter recognition a fun game and say, "in this book, when you see a W, point it out to me!". The kids LOVE this and start getting excited about pointing out the letters.
Recently, in doing activities with Nora and Stuey, I"ve noticed that Stuey loves doing whatever Nora is doing. If Nora is writing her name, Stuey writes his version of his name. If Nora is reading books, Stuey will sit down and flip through books. They are so close in age, that I don't think it'd be a far stretch to teach to both of them at the same time. And they are able to sit and do an activity fov 20-30 minutes, which has been such a relief for me-to have larger chunks of activity time.
The thing I've learned in my basic home school research is that it can be done on a continuum of highly structured to less structured. I think I'd be somewhere in the middle. And as many of my friends and clients who homeschool have reminded me, learning occurs best when kids don't realize they're learning. And that some of the biggest benefits of homeschooling is the 1:1 teacher, child ratio. In a classroom, it can be anywhere from 15:1 or 20:1. And much of the time can be spent re-directing, regrouping kids.
My reasons for wanting to investigate home school further include a desire to be with my kids, to cook, go on walks, read, do fun things together. Yes, you can do those things with kids in school, but the reality is that after a long day at school, they are going to be tired, hungry and ready for a break. I"ve read several books on homeschool and have leaned so much from friends (and friends who are educators). Everyone offers a different perspective and it has been a fun topic to ponder. It just seems like it would be fun. I like being with Nora and Stuey and they like learning from me (and Patrick and other adults!). I know it wouldn't be fun and roses all the time, but I think I at least want to give it a try.
The biggest concern people have about homeschooling is socialization. I'm not concerned about this with our kids. We have plenty of people around our house and if they are involved in a few activities, that will be plenty. Not to mention a home schooling group sometime during the week where they could learn from another adult. Nora's first long time babysitter was home schooled and Patrick and I were always impressed by her maturity, intelligence and work ethic. Plus, she had friends of all ages-from 8-18. Not just friends exactly her age.
So where does Patrick stand on this, you may ask? He doesn't have rose-tinted glasses. He knows there will be difficult days for me, and doesn't want me saying, "I'm busy this week, can you do the homeschooling?" Patrick is Mr. Science/Math guy, which will be really fun to tap into as we start learning all about the world together. Take home message is he supports me in the endeavor. Patrick's the best.
My family will largely disapprove-I'm prepared for this. And thats ok. I've done things with my parenting which I'm sure they haven't always agreed with (co-sleeping and breastfeeding a toddler, to name a few). But when you feel something deep inside---I can't ignore that feeling of at least exploring this option with the kids. At least I'll be able to look back and know that I tried it. Plus, its a decision which can be taken one semester at at time. Its not as if once you decide to try homeschooling, you sign a dotted line for 18 years of homeschooling. You can change your mind along the way if its not working.
I'll start the journey and see where it takes us....