Monday, October 21, 2013

Why We Decided to Homeschool

When Aiden was three the idea of homeschooling crossed my mind, I did a lot of personal research on it and saw how beneficial it could be, tossed the idea around with my husband, and chalked up the idea to something we would address when we needed to. Fast forward to about two years later, with four children aged five years and younger the idea of homeschooling sounded absolutely miserable.

People often ask me how I "do it," how I handle four children, and I tell them with complete honesty, "I have no idea; I don't get much sleep." Therefore, how in the world would I even find the time to take on the tremendous responsibility of teaching my child his three R's? And if I'm being completely honest, being home watching the kids by myself, more often than not, I counted the days down when my load would get a little easier and Aiden would be enrolled in Kindergarten.

Prior to enrolling in Kindergarten, Aiden had never been enrolled in a formal school setting. I took him to a "preschool playtime" for a little bit but there was never any true focus on learning. So I took it upon myself to teach him how to count, letters, phonics, and basic math; I didn't want him to be behind because we couldn't afford to put him into preschool. 

However, he picked up everything I taught him so fast that it blew my mind. His ability to retain the information so quickly curtailed my guilt over not having the energy and "time" to teach him every single day. It even got to the point that I purposeful stopped teaching him new things because I figured he needed to learn something in Kindergarten so we stopped, just short of learning to read.

September rolled around, we bought him a Mario lunch box, new crayons, and new clothes, and we excitedly took him to his first day of school. He loved school, met his first "love" (side note: the adorableness of this subject deserves it's own blog post so more on that later :) made new friends, and had gym, library days, and music class.

Jarod and I settled into a new routine with our new elementary-student: homework and reading shuffled around the daily grind that is parenthood. I attended curriculum night and became more disappointed each week when I saw none of the work was challenging Aiden. His class was learning to count to 10 and he knows how to count to 100. They're learning how to write the numbers one to ten while he's adding and subtracting like a pro. They're learning their letters and he's beginning the early stages of reading. He more than likely would be reading now if I hadn't decided he "needed" to save some learning for Kindergarten.
I hated how he was spending almost 7 hours at school doing "review" work and wasn't learning anything new. Therefore, in addition to his assigned homework and reading, I would spend almost an hour every night teaching him something new. I wanted and want him to be challenged and grow academically. The unfortunate repercussion of the public school system and almost guaranteed 1 teacher: 25 children ratio is the curriculum will most definitely be geared towards the average student. Children below the average usually fall through the cracks and stay behind; whereas, the children above average fail to be challenged and reach their true potential.

I'm not flat-out criticizing our public school system. Most people find that it works great for their child and their family. It's definitely an option we may readdress later in the kids' academic careers. However, I think it's safe to say everybody would agree smaller classrooms would be beneficial to teachers and students; therefore, I fail to see how a one-on-one approach to teaching could be anything but spectacular. I know exactly what he's struggling on and we can afford to spend as long as necessary on whatever it is we're working on.

Another advantage to homeschooling is we usually cover everything we need to that day in about 2-3 hours and we have the flexibility to adjust our schedule to outside activities. When Aiden was attending public school, he was also taking swimming lessons and playing soccer on a team and the schedule was so hectic, I felt like I rarely saw him.

I, also, felt like I didn't know him as much. I would ask him about his day and receive one-word responses and would often be told he "couldn't remember" when I asked about his day. I would get bits and pieces of his day when they would come to him but it just wasn't the same as when I saw him all the time. I completely and utterly missed him. I would peek at the school calendar to see when the next "no school" day would be so I could more time with him as we have a large, amazing, and very involved extended family that includes 9 grandchildren as well as wonderful friends, some of whom have children themselves; thus, our weekends are almost always already spoken for.

On that note, I think the biggest concern I've received, and most homeschoolers receive, is the case of socialization. To that, I'd like to ask what one classifies as "socialization." Is socialization synonymous and interchangeable with the "typical school environment" of simply placing a decently large number of children in a room so much so that supervision is questionable and children are then governed to teach one another how to behave and how to "fit in"? 

I disagree that socialization can only include same-age peers. Life encounters interactions with people of various ages; therefore, wouldn't "socialization" would be most beneficial if it imitated real-life? Aiden, as well as my other children, regardless of which school system they are enrolled in will be involved in sports and/or other activities. It will always be our intent to place Aiden in natural social settings with his peers but I don't think it's necessary to do so for 7 hours a day to be "socialized."

The biggest advantage for us for homeschooling is time. I get so much time with Aiden these days; unfortunately, it took a good four weeks of not having him around as often for me to realize how lucky I truly am to be right there watching him grow-up before my very eyes. We are free to write our own schedule because we don't need to work around the confines of a school's schedule and I get to teach them values, morals, ideas that are important to our family, and a curriculum that works on our pace.

He has told me he likes being homeschooled more than going to "real" school, I'm excited at the progress he's making academically, and I'm really, really enjoying the time we're fortunate to have with one another.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Vlogtober the 1st

I've decided I don't record the kids enough and want to get into the habit of filming them more so I'm going to do Vlogtober - one video every day in the month of October. Here's the first: