When the hubby and I started discussing an alternative school for our son, who was five at the time, we didn’t bother to think of homeschool. We knew that traditional school was not working for him, and I wanted to find a place for him to grow and be excited about learning. Well, as much excitement as a kindergartner can have.
His first few months in a “traditional” school had been fun, but soon the monotony of singing the same songs and doing the same schedule, became boring for him. He was one of 30 kids (give or take a few), and his almost retired teacher couldn’t keep up with everything on her own.
It was a sad realization when our son came home one day telling me that he wasn’t as smart as the other kids; I believe he used the word “dumb”. He was a very smart five year old, but the teacher had divided the class into groups of appropriate levels. This division made him compare himself to the other children. His attitude about school changed as the year went on, sometimes he would cry as I dropped him off because he didn’t want to stay. After spending six hours in class, he’d spend two hours at home, doing school work in order to catch up for the next day. It’s incredible to see the amount of work a kindergartner has to do on a daily basis.
Because of these reasons, and the threat of having a larger class (close to 40 kids) in first grade, we knew that he might get lost, fall behind, or lose even more interest in school the following year.
As our children’s advocates, parents must help and guide them the best we know how. The best we could do was search for a new school.
Luckily, our school district here in Ramona offers a homeschooling program that gives the best of both worlds, well at least in my opinion. All of the lessons and instructions happen at home during three days, with testing, computer lab, and library happening at school with their teacher during one and a half days.
I was very hesitant to homeschool. Scared. Anxious. What if he stopped learning? And if I failed him? What would my family think, or say? And if we’re labeled “weird”? But after talking about it with my hubby, we decided to give it a try!
We would only commit to ONE semester. If at the end of the fall I couldn’t keep up, or he was not succeeding, we would pull him out and find another way.
Those first few weeks were like a tornado, with papers everywhere, no organization, or schedule, constant interruptions by my two year old, and a messy house. I wanted to quit! When I showed up to my second parent/teacher conference, I was on the verge of tears. Had I made the wrong decision? How badly was I failing my son? What would we do if this didn’t work? All my fears were laid to rest, as the teacher told me that he was doing very well. He was at the appropriate level and higher in most of his fall tests. She encouraged me, and gave me confidence in my ability to teach my son.
Not just about life in general, like coughing into your elbow, or saying “please” and “thank you”. But about everything!
My relationship with my son is very different than that of my older daughter. Because we spend all day together, reading, discussing science and social studies, playing math games, having lunch, these moments have become precious memories for us. Not only with me, but with dad too.
Homeschooling has allowed them time to go hunting in the fall without missing school, to stop by at historical monuments and learn about history, life, outdoors, hunting, hiking, and many other things that a classroom would never do.
Because of the one and a half days at school, he gets to participate in running club, using the library and computer lab. Parents volunteer for cooking classes, art, and singing. All these activities help him grow, learn and get a sense community within his class.
Fieldtrips are great! Lego Land, Safari park, Sea World, San Diego Mission, nature hikes, to name a few. Other activities such as movie nights, mother son night out, father son hikes, keep our family involved with the community at school.
Believe me, he is NOT missing out.
That first year was quite challenging, sometimes too much. But one semester at a time we have been able to complete three years of homeschool and later this month we will begin 4th grade. My goal is to stay organized (a key element when homeschooling), help Alex gain more independence in his learning, but mostly to continue to grow my relationship with him, and survive while doing it.
If you are considering homeshooling, don’t let other people discourage you from doing so. Don’t let fear of “different” stop you from this adventure. Sure it’s not for everyone, and our family is a perfect example. Our oldest daughter is in regular school, our youngest is in Montessori, and Alex…he’s at home with me. Search for online groups for support, ask questions, and advocate for you and your kids.
Over the years I have joined a few local Facebook homeschool groups. I started following The Encouraging homeschool Mom on youtube and her webpage (I love her “real life” videos). I’ve also started to read Ree Drummond’s homeschooling blogs. But there are thousands of pages and sources that you can look for if you decide to take the plunge and become a Homeschool Mom.
Best of luck to all of you as we venture into the new school year! I know I need it 🙂