Thinking of switching to homeschooling...need some support - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 10-06-2012, 10:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have 3 young kids (7, 4, and 2 years of age). When my oldest was a baby, I had planned to homeschool all my children. After the birth of my second child, I felt very overwhelmed and couldn't imagine homeschooling. So, when my oldest turned 4, we started Pre-K and now she's in second grade at our local public school. My 4 year old is in Pre-K.

I really don't have any serious problems with the school, but lately, I'm starting to have second thoughts about what is right for our family. I feel like I am constantly hurrying all of the kids to get to 2 different schools with 2 different start and end times. Then, there's homework for my oldest child which takes up a lot of her free time after school. Then we rush through dinner and bedtime to get them off to bed so they can wake up early and start the craziness all over again the next day. I feel like my oldest is growing up so fast and I hardly know her greensad.gif

I am exploring the possibility of homeschooling starting next school year (third grade and Kindergarten). I'm just not sure how to make the switch and get started. I'm also not sure how DH or my mom will react to the idea (my mom once told me she was so relieved I changed my mind about homeschooling...we are VERY close and she's a huge part of our lives).

I guess I need resources, encouragement, and words of wisdom, especially from those who switched from public to home school.


Thanks!
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#2 of 16 Old 10-07-2012, 01:39 AM
 
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I feel like I am constantly hurrying all of the kids to get to 2 different schools with 2 different start and end times. Then, there's homework for my oldest child which takes up a lot of her free time after school. Then we rush through dinner and bedtime to get them off to bed so they can wake up early and start the craziness all over again the next day.

One of the reasons I wanted to homeschool is because of this exact scenario.  I did not want this for our family.  We are very chill people and rushing around tends to pit us against each other.  So, when I looked at scheduling this year, I balked at the early bus hours (7:20 a.m and a long bus ride for the kiddos) and decided to try homeschooling.  And boy, am I glad I did!  Kids are happy. I am happy. Our home is serene.  So far, it has been the best choice for us.  

 

From looking at the ages of your kids, my advice is to start off focusing on your would be 3rd grader.  The transition from school to home may not come so easily for both of you considering that she is used to going to school.  Getting some type of rhythm that works going will take time and trial and error.  Since you are already considering this school year, you should start thinking about what you want for you/your children, how, when etc... right now. Read in this forum and others. You have plenty of time to prepare mentally and I think more than any other preparation, this one is the most important one.  You need to feel like you know what you are doing in order to comfortably take charge.  Otherwise the self-doubt could cause panic which will most def. lead to lots of unnecessary stress. 

 

Also, I would not worry too much about your kindergartner at all for the next year. Some number sense, letter recognition and phonics is all your would be 5 year old needs and there are plenty of online resources for that type of stuff. Kids pick that stuff up fairly quickly when they are ready.  I have a 4 and half year old.  She does tons of drawing and crafting. She is a busy little girl. She is not at all ready to learn letters/numbers in any formal way. But she knows some of them already through incidental learning... Today she asked me how to write "Grandma" and I showed it to her. She wrote it on a drawing she made for her gammy.  She asked what all the letters were and I explained.  Before that, she had cross referenced them with her own name and had already figured out some of them.  She is learning and I am helping her learn but not in any formal way.

 

As for your DH and Mom's reaction, you could just say I want to try it for one year.  I told everyone (including myself) I am trying this for one year.  It took the pressure off me and family members felt at ease with my decision.  I went into it thinking if it did not work for us, then we will just switch back next year; this made it much less stressful because -- how much can I really screw up in one year?!

 

One thing that helps is limiting video/tv time.  In our house, it is not on until after dinner.  That is non-negotiable so there is never arguments/power struggles over it.  However, we do have a well used ipad -- all the apps are low key games (toca boca) educational stuff (smarty pants etc) and a massive amount of books.  The kids love the books and some of the edutainment apps.  

 

I also think activities outside of the home are important.  My kiddos have chosen to do some and they are enjoying them.  

 

Good luck with your decision!

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#3 of 16 Old 10-07-2012, 02:15 PM
 
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I do not have experience transitioning, but I have read many posts saying kids haven't adjusted well. Have you talked to your 7 year old about this? You might check to see if they want to switch to homeschooling. If they don't you can homeschool the 4 and wait for your 7 to change their mind. I hope that isn't the case for you, but I wanted to bring that up in case you hadn't thought about it.

 

I said the same thing as Emaye last year when I did pre-k with my oldest. I told family I was going to try it and if it didn't work she would go to ps next year.

 

As for where to start check out the resource pages on forums like this. It's a good thing you are thinking ahead so far because there are SOOO many options and until you decide what style you want to try or decide what style you think is best for your kids it's hard to point you to resources other than big lists of resources. You might check for homeschool coops in your area, that might make the transition easier for your 7 year old. HTH


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#4 of 16 Old 10-08-2012, 06:49 AM
 
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First off, I apologize for a long and rambly post.

 

We are transitioning right now. At least, that's what I am calling this phase. My 11yo ds and 8yo dd were doing fine in PS, and then we had to make an international move as a family, which led to enrolling them in an international private school, which was a disaster. Again both kids were "doing fine" by the school's standards (validated to the extent it can be by standardized testing), but the experience was just terrible--logistically, socially, financially, and it turns out also academically.

 

I only discovered how academically impaired they were becoming when in the course of another move, we decided to enroll them in an online school for logistical reasons. I didn't want the geographical constraints of a school year to interfere with travel. Dh's work makes it hard to schedule time off, so we pull up stakes and take off when he has the chance, not usually during a scheduled school break. We take long summers back in US, and would miss 2 months in the classroom if we'd stuck with B&M.

 

So, we're doing private online school "at home" (we don't really have a home winky.gif).

 

It was only when I brought them home that the learning gaps emerged for me. Happily, dd is only in third grade, so we are easily able to get her up to speed. On the other hand, ds has had to unlearn habits that had served him to stay on the "upper end" of the class in the school setting, but which did nothing for his learning or skill development.

 

Doing online school privately is more like homeschooling with a purchased curriculum than it is like online school through a state charter. I have control over our schedule, and my kids are not required to be present in online classrooms. But they have teachers and check in with them (ds in subjects, since he is a middle schooler, and dd has a class teacher). This gives me reinforcement if I hit resistance, and it also gives me a second opinion on progress. We turn in occasional work samples. Some testing is online. Offline testing is sometimes scored by me, other times entered into online formats for teachers to assess.

 

I say this is a transition because I'm not certain whether I will stick with online school. A nice thing is that, as the kids get older, we will have records that will enable us to transfer into and out of B&M schools if that needs to happen. That said, I like the freedom so much that I could see us veering off into a relaxed style of year-round study, which wouldn't work within a school system. Also, since we will be required to complete the curriculum for the year, I tend to want to "work ahead," knowing we will have to take long breaks from school when we travel to remote places without Internet access. This puts on pressure that we don't really need.

 

I am thankful we did this when we did, and not later. Ds was slipping through the cracks of the system. Not to say he was at failing levels by any means, but he has higher potential and was nowhere near reaching it. Now, I can give him access to more challenging materials in the subjects where he needs challenge, and I can work more closely with him where he needs remedial help.

 

The other thing I really like is how this program uses an interdisciplinary approach in various subjects, which encourages my students to make connections and see how math applies in science, science to geography, how art intersects with history, how LA applies in Lit.

 

There are things we all miss about B&M school. They miss having daily contact with many friends, as both kids are quite gregarious. They miss an awesome art studio and an excellent school library. In US, we have public libraries, but not in our other country of residence. I suppose they miss the birthday party invites and group field trips, but I think our adventures have their own value. What I have found most helpful in our transition has been to keep a relaxed attitude, to encourage exercise, to keep the TV off, and to get out of the house whenever we can.

 

But both students enthusiastically tell people that they love doing school with me. I worry I'm not the best teacher, but I think we're doing OK.

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#5 of 16 Old 10-08-2012, 07:27 AM
 
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Get the Grandmother on board.  She can be a huge asset for HSing, being so close, and I like the idea of telling her this is on a trial basis.  Because, really it is.  If it isn't working, you should explore changes to improve it, either by changing the HSing style, or by finding a school with a better fit.  

 

If she is at all flexible, Grandma will learn to enjoy the increased access to her grandkids.  Purposefully include her on outings during school hours and be a HS cheerleader, just like you would with your kids ("I am so glad we are HSing!  We would never be able to do this if were going to school.")  Stay up late to stargaze.   Sleepovers at Grandma's on Tuesday night.... you get the idea.  My girls love writing letters (addressing and stamping and dropping them in the mailbox, too), especially to their grandma.  Really play up this relationship, since she is so close and has so much influence.  She will be your best ally, if you can get her on your side.

 

The only problem I can see is if your older daughter ends up needing some deschooling time.  In fact, if I were facing this situation (I get easily overwhelmed by too much of too much!) I would probably declare a month-long family staycation, just to pull my $h!t together, free from all the other burdens of school obligations.  Grandma might not be too keen on this, but, you never know.

 

Good luck!


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#6 of 16 Old 10-08-2012, 09:37 AM
 
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I do not have experience transitioning, but I have read many posts saying kids haven't adjusted well. Have you talked to your 7 year old about this? You might check to see if they want to switch to homeschooling.

 

I'm surprised by this, because my experience over many years watching parents pull their kids out of school is that while it often takes some time for families to find their stride educationally moving forward, the kids tend to transition just beautifully. Of course it's a no-brainer that the kids need to be on-side. I can certainly see why a child who was opposed to homeschooling wouldn't transition well! 

 

We didn't transition from school to homeschooling, but we did transition from "grandparents assume kids will go to school" to homeschooling. We treated it exactly as others have suggested: made it clear that we hadn't blindly drunk the homeschooling koolaid, but that this was a decision we were making for the time being, on a sort of medium-term trial, because we believed it was likely in the best interest of the kids.

 

I would tend not to focus on the social negatives of school (because that tends to portray your motivations as fearful and protective) but instead on the opportunities homeschooling presents to focus more deeply on things of interest, to have more time for creativity and play, to individualize the pace and direction of learning, to enjoy flexibility of time for travel and family, and to capitalize on the strength of intra-family relationships. 

 

My parents and MIL had about 4 months of privately-held skepticism before becoming thoroughly and whole-heartedly won over to homeschooling. Once they saw evidence that my kids were thriving socially, creatively and academically, and experienced the benefits of our additional flexibility (time to visit, etc.), they became huge fans. I made some effort to provide that evidence during the first year through photos, blogging, letters, conversation and such. But I don't think it came across as contrived to extended family: it was just newsy updates and regular communication about our family life, which now included homeschooling.

 

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#7 of 16 Old 10-08-2012, 10:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you everyone for your thoughts and sharing your personal experiences. I would love to hear more!
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#8 of 16 Old 10-08-2012, 11:01 AM
 
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I'm surprised by this, because my experience over many years watching parents pull their kids out of school is that while it often takes some time for families to find their stride educationally moving forward, the kids tend to transition just beautifully. Of course it's a no-brainer that the kids need to be on-side. I can certainly see why a child who was opposed to homeschooling wouldn't transition well! 

 

I've been surprised too. Such a thing never occured to me till I read posts on some of the hs boards I haunt. Usually it's preteen kids being pulled out, but I bring it up is since it's not social problems spurring the desire to homeschool.  I have read posts where parents pull their kids out thinking the kid will adjust and it turns into a HUGE headache since the kid doesn't want to be there and the parent is doing everything they can to make it enjoyable with no success. They are pleading for help on boards how to fix it. I am not trying to squish the dream of homeschooling, just bringing up something I would have never thought of until reading posts complaining about it. I've known two families locally that split their kids based on their wishes so some of the kids homeschool and some of the kids go to b&m schools. All of whom started out homeschooling, but then as they kids aged they wanted to go to school. I regularly ask my 6 year old if she would like to try a "real" school like the other kids so far the answer is no. We'll see if that ever changes, fingers crossed that it won't.


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#9 of 16 Old 10-08-2012, 11:17 AM
 
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I have no experience with transitioning, either. One idea is to start this year for the 4 year old. Then you won't be running around as much. Also, then the older child may ask to be homeschooled.

I think it's more important that your husband be ok with the homeschool decision than other relatives. There's a book by a NYCity high school teacher who homeschools. I can't remember the name right now. Maybe someone else knows it. That book totally sold my husband on the idea of homeschooling!

Good luck, whatever you decide
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#10 of 16 Old 10-08-2012, 12:13 PM
 
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I have read posts where parents pull their kids out thinking the kid will adjust and it turns into a HUGE headache since the kid doesn't want to be there and the parent is doing everything they can to make it enjoyable with no success. 

 

It never occurred to me that the OP would pull her child out to homeschool against her wishes. That's a rather "special case" of transition difficulties. If the child is opposed to the switch to homeschooling, that would be a very very difficult situation -- no wonder the families were facing problems! 

 

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#11 of 16 Old 10-08-2012, 01:17 PM
 
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It never occurred to me that the OP would pull her child out to homeschool against her wishes. That's a rather "special case" of transition difficulties. If the child is opposed to the switch to homeschooling, that would be a very very difficult situation -- no wonder the families were facing problems! 

 

Miranda

 

If the posts were here I'd link to them, but I've been on hiatus from MDC for many months. I've seen that play out before, they pulled another child out due to issues and decided to pull all their kids, one of which was against it from the beginning - eek! Disaster!

 

The other posts I've seen are more the kid has reservations about it, but is willing to try and they never find that groove. The kid then misses school and their friends, like I said though, those cases have all been 10+ yo so they're bound to be difficult anyway :p My only point was before she starts planning has she outright asked the kid if they want to homeschool? I mean if she hasn't discussed it with her husband I wouldn't be surprised if she's not discussed it with her child yet. The moment I say something to my 6 yo everyone in the world knows it :p


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#12 of 16 Old 10-09-2012, 07:57 AM
 
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I fully understand your apprehension. We had the same issues as well, but when you live where we live and you see what the schools are doing, the choice is almost made for you.

 

Now that you are leaning that direction, I understand that there will be some negative thoughts coming into your head...

 

Can I do homeschooling?

How do I teach everything?

 

These questions are very normal. As you can see, just asking the question to the world gets you all these great responses from other moms and dads that have been right there in your shoes.

 

Homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds - driven by the thoughts and actions of parents like yourself.

 

Once we made the decision, the next step for us was EDUCATING OURSELVES!

 

Where do we find ways to teach?

Are there curriculums to use?

Are there ways to keep in touch with other homeschoolers so that we can call upon them?

 

Always questions - yet always the same results whether the answers were readily found or not - Homeschooling is the decision we made that was best for our family and our child.

 

(History Sidebar - our daughter was born premature, we quit everything to be by her side in the NICU, now we do everything to help every moment be the best it can be!)

 

Our decision was a little different, and our relationship with our daughter is a little different, but I have come to meet a lot of homeschoolers and home learning parents who grew into their relationship from a starting point like yours. Traditional school beginnings....now moving to homeschool ... and where the success begins is with communication.

 

Recently, we had to take our daughter to the dentist. Did we begin the trip that morning - NO! We began as soon as the appointment was made, by describing everything that could possibly happen to her.

Dentist tools will vibrate your mouth.

You will have to hold your mouth open.

It may feel numb, what is numb, do you know how your leg feels when it falls asleep?

 

Things like that  - over and over - that way - NOTHING could have scared her or caused her apprehension. She knew about it before hand.

 

You can do that with your children. You can begin the journey of homeschooling today, just by beginning the discussion of the details of the day and the changes it will make in your lives.

 

Now - what happens if there is a place where homeschoolers can get together daily in a safe, social environment? That would help every homeschooler in the world to help each other. It can be found on the web...I know because I created it. It helps us and others everyday!

 

Children are smarter than we give them credit for, and we are stronger and more capable as parents than the world gives us credit for - and you can do this and you can have help whenever you need it.

 

Will it be a breeze? I can't say, but it will be better than not trying it. Who better to know what is best for your children and your family than you?

 

I applaud you. Hundreds of people are making this same decision everyday and upon the realization that they can do it, it has risen parents to new levels in their children's lives. Isn't that incredible?

 

I promise you one thing, you CAN do it. You can get help! You can make a difference!

 

I am here for you, I will answer any question anytime to help you and your family. I love seeing these things happen.

 

Thank you for YOU.

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#13 of 16 Old 10-09-2012, 09:56 PM
 
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We're in a place (kind of) of making the transition from traditional full-time school to part-time homeschool right now. My 6 year old is enrolled in a new fine arts program through our local distributed learning school, doing 3 days a week "on campus" with a fine-arts focus, and two days at home (in a six weeks on, one week off learning cycle... just to add to the part-timeness- overall I'd say she's split half and half between school/home days compared to a traditional school calendar). She's in grade 2- late cut offs here and she'll be 7 next month.

 

The transition for us seemed pretty fluid from the summer "off"- as usual we followed her interests and learning through the summer, taking a bit more time to point out and articulate her learning to her so that she could see how she was learning math through baking and knitting and music practice, science when hiking and following up on nature study at the library, etc. She's curious about the world and we're happy to support her curiosity and this is when her best learning and our best home schooling happens.

 

Our biggest challenges were some anxiety about the "new" school and then subsequently dealing with the load of "homeschool" work that they sent home that was not interesting/appropriate or otherwise more formal that suited us. We're still finding our way with the new program and figuring out how to create evidence of her learning for her teachers- much of this is extra burden created by the program that we're using rather than by the nature of homeschooling. It does reflect, however, the most common challenge I've seen with new homeschoolers- too much pressure from curriculum and focus on outcomes/product rather than the *process* of learning.


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#14 of 16 Old 10-10-2012, 05:35 PM
 
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Children are smarter than we give them credit for, and we are stronger and more capable as parents than the world gives us credit for - and you can do this and you can have help whenever you need it.

 

Will it be a breeze? I can't say, but it will be better than not trying it. Who better to know what is best for your children and your family than you?

 

I applaud you. Hundreds of people are making this same decision everyday and upon the realization that they can do it, it has risen parents to new levels in their children's lives. Isn't that incredible?

 

I promise you one thing, you CAN do it. You can get help! You can make a difference!

 

I am here for you, I will answer any question anytime to help you and your family. I love seeing these things happen.

 

Thank you for YOU.

Homeschoolerhub, your post (this part in particular) brought tears to my eyes.  Thank you for the warm sentiments and the statement of faith in children and mothers everywhere.  I know it applies to all of us who walk this path (and even those who only consider it).  And I echo all of your thoughts.  Amen, sister!

 

But back to the OP: GracesMama, you can absolutely do it.  You are on the right path, beginning your inquiry and starting to ask the difficult questions.  Come to see your doubts and your line of questioning as a compass that is guiding you to a new direction.  Go there!  Ask that!  Believe in yourself and know that if you have to ask if there's a better way, THERE IS.

 

We are in transition this year.  I am a new HSg mama to a 4th grader (DD) who was in PS all her life and a kindergartner (DS).  When DD was in PS, I felt the same way that you do about the craziness of our lives.  The schedule driven by the school, the homework, the lack of family time, the lack of time for my child to just be a child - it was all just too much madness for me.  I wanted quality and quantity time with my children (I have that in spades now: be careful what you wish for - LOL).  

 

I started asking the questions last year, started coming to forums, started talking to people - teachers, other moms.  And ultimately, made the decision to try something new, to shift our lives to a more conscious way of educating and being together as a family.  Do I love every moment?  No.  I don't.  It's hard.  But we now have the time and space for meaningful conversations, for lengthy art and science projects, for nature walks, for cuddling on the couch in the middle of the day.   It is a true blessing to have this opportunity and this unhurried time with my children.  At a minimum, I know I will never, ever regret this time spent with my children.  Like another poster, I have told everyone (myself included) that I am doing this for a year.  If I fail, the kids can go back to PS, no harm, no foul.  But at least I know I have given it everything I have.  And I will never have to regret not having at least tried HSg.

 

I started talking with my husband last winter.  I am fortunate that he agrees with me about the public schools and that we share the same value system of 'family first.'  Perhaps your husband can be brought around on one platform only - more family time? better education? safer environment?  There are many reasons to homeschool.  Find the one that resonates with him and run with it.  Same with your mom, although if you are as close as you say, I have a  feeling she won't be far behind you once you take the plunge.  My mom and I are also close and though she used to have reservations about homeschooling, once I decided to do it, she was fully on board.  She's been very supportive of me.

 

It's great that you are starting to do your research now.  You have almost an entire year to prepare.  I took about 6 months myself.  I knew by early spring of last year that we would not be coming back to PS this year.  It made the transition a little easier.

 

Please feel free to PM me if you have more detailed questions.  I don't post a lot (I am too busy HSg!) but I do come for support occasionally.  And I would be happy to pay forward the support I have received over the last 6-9 months of my journey (if I can).  Best wishes to you.  Whatever decision you make, you are making it thoughtfully and that's the best any of us can do - make our decisions consciously, whatever those decisions are.  Blessings.

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#15 of 16 Old 10-11-2012, 08:22 AM
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We didn't have issues with transition, but both my kids (oldest two) were on-board with coming home.  My oldest was mid-third grade.  My second was the following year, but she was mid-first.  My third child had the choice of ps or hs.  Right now she is at ps.  I have found that (for us) it is important that everyone feels a sense of ownership over their education.  Of course, that being said, I did put the idea in their heads.  :-)

 

I agree that with both dh and your mom (and yourself), you go into this on a "trial" basis.  I know that when I first pulled my oldest out, that I was committed to the rest of that school year.  Then, I signed on for one more, etc.  Now, she plans to attend high school, but I am ok if she changes her mind.  Sometimes we do have slumps and moments of doubt, but overall it has been great.  Last year (entering middle school), my oldest had sudden doubts.  Her friends were getting a new school, lockers, electives, etc. and they were all very excited about it.  She almost decided to try it out too (I was cringing, middle school was not a good place for me).  Within two weeks, several of her friends were having a rough time adapting.  We also found a homeschool book club for tweens/teens and she made the dance team.  The dance team is almost all public school kids and this experience cemented her desire to be at home.  She is happy that when she goes to dance, that she isn't trying to rush through homework on breaks, she is happy to be free of lunch room drama, and she is happy to see that she is ahead of the game academically (she sees their homework).  

 

If you think this is what you want to do, let your dd know that you are thinking about it and want to know what she thinks.  Her initial response might be one thing and then she might change her pov.  If she isn't for it at all, start hs with the younger one.  Kindergarten can be loads of fun at home; your oldest might see that and want to come home too.  Or, she might not.  Either way, you are only driving like mad for one less school, one less schedule, etc.

 

Amy


Mom to three very active girls Anna (14), Kayla (11), Maya (8). 
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#16 of 16 Old 10-14-2012, 10:57 AM
 
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A book your mom might like: Love in a Time of Homeschooling, by an academic mom who took her elementary age daughter out for a year. Really nice read on the nuts and bolts (written from the point of view of someone not tempermentally inclined to homeschool) and on the mother-daughter relationship that year.

 

Can you get involved with the local homeschool community beforehand? Our transition from K at school to 1st at home was really helped by going to many, many park days during that year in school.

 

In some ways, 3rd grade seems like a reasonably good time to pull out, as children at that age (in my town, anyway) start to get less starry-eyed about the work and the homework and the routines and the learning at that point. I strongly second the recommendations to deschool initially, to do field trips and reading and projects. Partly for her. But also because, at least in our house, the most rigorous and joyful learning happens when we stumble upon something and pursue it deeply. But that takes time to emerge. We're pretty classical around here, I'm not talking about unschooling even, but that it takes time even for a more formal approach to narrow down a theme or topic and an approach. New homeschoolers are sometimes reluctant to spend time doing "nothing," but that time of curious attentiveness can actually help shape even formal learning. For instance, DS is doing some medieval history this year, and the combination of me noticing how he learns and what he likes, and reading around, helped me narrow down to a current focus on heroes and legends (tied into the history of the time) and medieval buildings.

 

Good luck!

Heather

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