I am right on the brink of having to make a final decision on whether or not to homeschool this year. I waited as long as I could, as I will have to get a letter of intent submitted to the school district this week if we decide to HS. :)
BACKGROUND: This is wordy, so feel free to skip down to my QUESTIONS! ;)
I have three kids, ages 6 (nearly 7), 4.5 and 10 months. My 6 year old son completed kindergarten at a nearby public school last year and would be heading into first grade there this year. It was a good experience, as far as public schooling goes. He often stated that he was bored and not challenged but he still enjoyed school. His favorite activities there were PE and recess. :) The reasons I want to homeschool him this year really have nothing to do with that particular school, but school vs. home. The main reasons I want to homeschool are:
-Child-led education - he likes to completely immerse himself in given subjects for hours/days at a time, and I want to encourage that method of learning
-Family bonding - I have seen amazing changes just over the summer and don't want to lose that
-Incorporating our Christianity into his education rather than having it separate/marginalized
-More balanced socialization - he truly enjoys the company of people of all ages and I want to encourage this
-Learning together - I love that this gives me the opportunity to fill the considerable gaps in my own education, particularly in history and mathematics
So...here are the nagging QUESTIONS that keep me from being 100% committed. They are both related to our current family dynamics, and wondering if this is a good learning environment at this time.
-I have a 10 month old who is not a great sleeper. He will wake anywhere from 3-10 times per night. The 10 times per night is extreme but it has happened recently. He has issues with food intolerances and also is cutting four teeth right now. Many mornings, I wake feeling like I have been hit by a bus and coffee brings me to some state of normalcy, though I am noticeably more scatterbrained and less patient. :( I do expect his sleep to improve as he gets older and especially when I can night wean him...BUT for the time being I am really concerned that I won't be able to give my all. Hearing from other homeschoolers who have survived baby-induced sleep deprivation would be most reassuring.
-My oldest two (ages 4.5 and 6) fight a lot. My oldest is very particular about things and cannot tolerate deviation from the way he thinks things are/should be. My daughter, on the other hand, lives completely outside the box, she's very creative and free and also has a temper like a volcano. So the two of them are just at odds a lot of the time. My daughter really benefited from the one on one time she got with me while my son was at school last year. I know this is not a good reason to send him away 32 hours a week but it is a contributing factor that nags at my mind. They seem to do so much better when they can have one on one time with us but that is SO hard to work out in our family. It just doesn't happen on a regular basis. I have tried everything under the sun to help them work out their differences this summer and things are overall better but it is just tough. Every time they get into it (several times a day), I wonder to myself whether or not this is a good learning environment. ???
-My husband is 100% supportive of whatever decision I make. Out of concern for my own happiness/well being he has asked me whether I think it could be a good decision to keep our son in public school another year, til the baby is older. He has made the point that it is much easier to put him in school and then pull him out if it's not working, than to start homeshool and try to get him enrolled mid-year if it's not working. This is a great question and I am utterly STUCK. :) My oldest went to Montessori preschool for a year, where he truly thrived. During that time I had some really great one on one with my daughter, like special uninterrupted story times in the lap and special outings. Now she is set to attend that same Montessori school this year, just 9 hours a week. I think she will love it too. If my oldest was in public school, this would give me some quiet time just to focus on the baby, which almost never happens. I really want to give each one of them the best foundation I possibly can.
I know it has to be my decision based on our unique situation. I am just thinking it could really help to hear from any of you who have had to deal with these issues. I know that all of our options are good enough, it's my dissatisfaction with 'good enough' that is driving all of this in the first place.
If you read through this, I'm impressed and very grateful. :)
We are a home/unschooling family with 3 kids as well. So my take is absolutely biased.
My 3 are currently 13, 9 & 5 1/2.
I remember sooooo clearly when my youngest was a baby having so many of the same thoughts and concerns -- and not feeling like there was enough of me to go around.
But now I look at these guys and am so grateful that we kept with homeschooling. They all have such amazing relationships with one another. Ok, sometimes their relationships are not exactly harmonious, but they are very, very close to one another, all three of them.
What worked for me to make it happen was remembering that at those ages it was impossible to meet all of their needs at the same time.
So I'd do what I could when I could and know that whatever fell through the cracks we'd manage to take care of later.
just one mama's perspective on the choices she's made...
Thank you SO much Mary. :) I confess I peeked at your Mindful Knitter blog too and love it. I am a daily knitter and have a little Etsy shop where I sell my handknits every now and then. :) I can certainly relate to your use of the word 'addict'.
Your perspective helps a lot and is just what I was looking for. It's impossible for me to guess what things will be like when the kids aren't so little. THANK YOU!
Glad to be of help!
And peek away at the blogs -- that's why I linked to them.
I was thinking back to those days and trying to remember what I wished that someone had been there to tell me. And I guess that's what I tried to do in my previous reply.
But something else came to me. I remembered thinking to myself that FOR ME PERSONALLY (not meaning to judge anyone else's choices) sending any of the children off to school would have broken something within me. It would have severed something -- something I knew could not be repaired.
I knew that for me that reasoning of 'well, we can put him in school now and pull him out if it isn't working -- you know, just to get us through the next few months' would have been a slippery slope.
So we just did it. We just kept making that decision every day that 'just for today, this is working for us' and many, many days became years.
I think we all would have lost something dear if we had chosen differently.
Especially lots of:
as for the baby... well.. next year you will have a toddler which really isn't any easier to get things done with then having a baby around.
And learning to deal with people who don't work on your level or who disrupt YOUR way of doing things (talking about the two older kids but that totally includes having a crawler around as well) is part of life. Not everyone wants to do it your way and learning to adjust as well as get along together is a good thing. Even better to start that learning at home rather then with 20 + strangers.
You could always just commit to the year. He wont miss so much in first grade that if it doesn't work out you can't turn around and send him to PS 2cd next fall. If it works out then
Ak Hippie mama Yamia DSD '03 DS '07 DS2 '09 & DS3 '12
How do you "visualize" homeschooling? If you want "school at home" or if you feel drawn to a method that requires "schedules" and feel that a first grader needs to cover x, y, z, and more in a week, then I think you should send them to school. This isn't because of any negativity towards parents who hs that way, but with the concerns that you have listed. . . I think you would be setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration. If your goals are more relaxed, I personally love homeschooling and think that the baby and sibling issues don't need to be a roadblock. However, you know yourself best. Many of us play games with guilt. Are you going to feel guilty if you send them to school?. . .are you going to feel guilty if you keep them all home and the one on one time becomes less? Do you have support people in the area in case you do need a break?
It can be a challenging decision, good luck to you!
Thanks so much for your replies! My husband and I have decided to try homeschooling this year and I am very excited! It was both a scary and exciting moment this morning when I called the school to tell them he wouldn't be attending this year. We felt like yes, this is the harder route, but it's potentially so rewarding too. We have to at least try.
My approach is pretty laid back, especially considering my son's age (nearly 7). I am not even sure yet if I am going to purchase a curriculum or not. If I do it will be only bits and pieces. He already loves to read and is highly motivated academically so I basically just want to keep that intact! I am starting out with an approach closer to the unschooling end of the spectrum, than to 'school at home' end of the spectrum. I think his love of learning and our family bonds are the MOST important things. We will see what evolves over the course of the year.
He will also be attending a homeschooling enrichment program one day/week, and we'll get together with a nearby homeschooling playgroup one morning a week. His younger sister will be attending a nearby Montessori preschool 3 afternoons/week. It's the same preschool he attended, it's a wonderful place. Anyway, I think our weekly routine is going to have a nice rhythm to it, and I think there are a lot of ingredients for success in there. ;) And I have to say, one of the things I am most excited about is becoming part of the homeschooling community. What an amazing group!
It sounds like you made a good choice. Enjoy and keep visiting with us on this board!