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The real question is: Am I smart/patient enough?

January 18th, 2010 · 42 Comments · Daily, Giving Stuff Away, Will it make me sick?

So, I’ve been thinking about homeschooling.

BAM! What?! Where did that come from?!

This is the truth: I adore our elementary school. I’ve come across only one staff member who rubbed me the wrong way (figuratively, obviously), peer advocacy seems to be very important, everyone gets a free breakfast (although I hear the doughnuts really suck), and the extracurricular programs and activities are, well, phenomenal. (Let’s face it: I rarely use the word Phenomenal.)

This is also the truth: A really great friend of mine homeschools her 12-year-old son. They have found a curriculum that works perfectly for their family, they have located social groups in their area so their son still gets to hang out frequently with other kids. They seem to be 100% happy with The Way Things Are, and I’m quite inspired by them.

I’m still telling the truth: I’m scared to death of middle school and high school. Normally, when I am afraid of something, I feel stupid for being afraid. (I’m afraid of people who dress up as animals and cheer at sporting events. I know.) However, I had a conversation with someone last week who made me feel not so stupid (about the middle school thing. We didn’t talk about the animals). The quote that sticks with me? “People are afraid that homeschooled kids don’t get enough socialization, but really—do you completely approve of the socialization they receive in middle and high school?”

So, anyway. We have four more years in our elementary school. I’m planning on immersing myself in The Pool of Other Options during that four year span.

Speaking of The Pool of Other Options (not really. I’m often accused of bumpy segues.), I’m thrilled to be giving away a $100 Visa gift card partnered with Six Months Worth of Eggs!

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42 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Heather // Jan 18, 2010 at 11:18 am

    We homeschool! My son is 11 and daughter is almost 7. They love it… every now and then I look longingly at the big yellow bus in the morning, but for the most part it’s smooth sailing.
    And I agree, middle school is where kids get lost.

  • 2 jen // Jan 18, 2010 at 11:24 am

    We plan to homeschool. I have friends who have homeschooled all of their children, quite successfully. They are smart, well-rounded, socially capable people. A few of these kids are now homeschooling their own kids, who are smart, well-rounded, socially capable people. I’m scared to do it, but I’m more scared not to, especially in the middle school years.

  • 3 Priscilla // Jan 18, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Did it! We started out in public school and finished all three in homeschool. Which is different btw than school at home. It’s a mindset. Find a seasoned pro that doesn’t freak out and you’ll be good to go. A good support group will help you locate appropriate curricula. Public School charter schools will fund you if you go that route.

    It’s not for everyone but you’ll never regret doing it.

  • 4 Wendy // Jan 18, 2010 at 11:42 am

    My girlfriend home schools her 12 year part-time and wants to home school additional kids we have. I definitely see her son getting lost the older he gets… Maybe it’s more of an individual child thing? I’ve never been a huge fan of it, but then again, I’m from a small town where you didn’t get lost in the shuffle. Ever.

  • 5 Nichole // Jan 18, 2010 at 11:56 am

    We started doing preschool at home last year, and we plan to keep homeschooling all the way through until it’s leaving-the-nest time. (14ish years away. and yet. sob.) Here’s something I wrote about it when my dad was giving me grief about the decision.

  • 6 ariel // Jan 18, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Homeschooling is something I would love to do, but also fear the patience, intelligence, etc. I am kind of unhappy with our school, and looking in to other options too, and if your kids are anything like ours I don’t think they will have any problem socializing later in life. Good luck!

  • 7 Mitzi // Jan 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    I was told that I HAVE to read Fluid Pudding this morning. Someone else at our house is a dedicated follower of this blog, besides me!

    Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. My philosophy is that we as parents are responsible for our children’s education. I was very apprehensive at first, but not so apprehensive that I wouldn’t at least try it. I think that is the mindset for us, we choose to remain open minded.

    You hit the nail on the head, Angie when talking about middle school and high school years. I am only speaking from my experiences, but as our son got into the higher grades, the teachers seemed to be more and more “burned out”. Mediocore burned out teachers just weren’t cutting it for me. I did LOTS and LOTS of research and found that homeschooling information is infinite!!!

    You know that you can ask me anything and everything that you like…we can even pick a day to get together and talk more about it. I have yet to find a homeschool mom that isn’t as happy as can be! It’s definitely a life changing experience.

    You’ve made my day!

  • 8 Kristin // Jan 18, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    NooooOOOoooOOOooo! Just kidding with the melodrama, but I really did do a little one of those in my head when I read your opener. You should, of course, do whatever you feel is right for your children. I’m not much for commenting, usually, but there’s so many homeschoolers around me that I think about this often, and I’m rather against it, and then when someone like you who I think is so fabulous comes out on that side it’s just, you know, et tu, pudding?

    Here is my unsolicited but hopefully not offensive opinion on the matter.

    I understand the urge to protect and to control the influences shaping one’s children, but I don’t think it’s doing them any favors. A world outside of home and parents is so important for development–the parents job, I think, is to teach and prepare the child for that daily venturing out, and then help them cope with what’s thrown at them out there. You’re still with them for a good chunk of each school day to help them process and filter and make sense of their world, to be a true north countering the inevitable bad influences out there. I just don’t think that more insular and safe home-school environment is going to teach kids how to survive and thrive among the harsher realities of the real world.

    Middle school was fairly miserable for me and I’m not looking forward to sending my children off to one, but I will do it, because that sometimes-rotten experience was SO GOOD for me. I was a smart kid, academically, and because I was articulate and fairly mature I’m sure it looked like I was “well-adjusted.” (My mother certainly thought I was.) My peers, though, could see I was a know-it-all trying too hard to be cool. I eventually figured out how to be myself and a likable person, but it took a lot of knocks.

    Of COURSE you don’t “completely approve” of the socialization kids get from other dumb kids. But kids aren’t empty water glasses mindlessly filling up with whatever is poured on them. They’re smart, and resilient, and with parents like you who’ve taught them right and are there for them every step of the way I don’t think you have to worry that they won’t find their own way.

    I’m sure your girls will turn out fantastic, regardless.

  • 9 No Minimom // Jan 18, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Good for you for just educating yourself about options for yourself and your girls! You do whatever feels right for you guys!

  • 10 Scott // Jan 18, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Sorry to horn in on the girls conversation here, but Angie, you’d do great at homeschooling. It’s not about being a genius, it’s about being a caring parent with a desire to see your children become what God intends them to be. We’ve homeschooled since LoriAnn was in first grade, and now she’s headed to college. Here ACT scores were 6 points above the state average, qualifying her for any college she wants. The other 3 kids are doing equally well, and Cheryl and I are certainly not genius material. I pray you give the homeschool option a real close look; it worked for centuries before age-graded public schools came into existence.

  • 11 Jenn // Jan 18, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    I don’t think I am smart enough, patient enough or articulate enough (I tend to say things like “put that thing on the thing”). Of course, I don’t have kids and am not having any anytime soon (or ever?), so I’m glad I don’t have to weigh the education options.

  • 12 Dooley // Jan 18, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    I don’t have a comment on homeschooling, but do want to express my concern — they’re NOT Cadbury eggs. A year’s worth of easter bunny ovas would be the best way to clot my arteries.
    Entered anyway! :)

  • 13 Sandy // Jan 18, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    Here I come to piss in everyone’s pool. As someone who is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel in the teacher education program at UMSL, I find home schooling extremely offensive. I normally don’t care what people do with their children (co-sleeping, breast feeding, what have you), and I don’t think burned-out, mediocre teachers are acceptable, but abandoning the system isn’t a way to change it. I think homeschooling is disrespectful to good teachers; I can’t imagine any other profession that had untrained parents come in and say “I can do your job better than you with no related education” and had an entire community back that assertion up. Yes, middle school and high school is where a lot of kids are “lost.” Those years suck for children, for a myriad of reasons, and they are a time when they need their parents more than ever yet are straining for independence. It’s a tightrope for parents, teachers, and anyone trying to support children at from the ages of 11 to 18. It’s not that I don’t think you’re smart enough, I just hate the idea altogether.

  • 14 JustLinda // Jan 18, 2010 at 9:35 pm

    Hot topic.

    I love to jump in the fray but I’m afraid I can’t be very controversial here. I used to think home schooling was for people who wanted to hide their children away from diversity of thought. I’m sure there are those who do it for this reason, however I have learned that many don’t and I recognize the legitimacy of some people’s reasoning. So if it’s the right approach for the right reasons, then hey…

    However, I am and will continue to put my children in public school. My oldest two (in their 20s now) are products of it and my youngest three (Kindergarten through 8th grade) are in the fray.

    Do I think it’s perfect? No, I have complaints. Most of them are not about the quality of education or the social aspects. They are more logistical in nature. I’ll spare you.

    My point is that I want my kids to appreciate all that middle school and high school offer. I want them to socialize and play sports and join clubs and choose electives and go to plays and date boys and attend dances. I WANT all that. I know it doesn’t always work out as a smashing success for some, but there is value to what they learn in the process even so.

    I also do want our school system to succeed and so while I’m usually not one to sacrifice my child to the greater good, I don’t feel I’m doing that here. I feel as if I’m getting what I want AND supporting the greater good.

    But I’m glad we have options. And I wish you the best in your decision.

  • 15 Mine // Jan 18, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    I’m on the side of Sandy and Kristin, and would just like to add my veiwpoint that parents who simply accept their available schools are unsatisfactory and withdraw their kids are avoiding trying to do something to improve these schools. I’m in Australia and we do have a different system, but if you’re prepared to spend that much time and effort homeschooling, couldn’t you and other like-minded parents work just as hard to improve the schools you’ve got? Wouldn’t that benefit the whole community more? Think of how much you’d be helping the single-parent families who can’t even contemplate home-schooling. I really believe home-schooling should be your last option, exercised when you’ve tried everything else to improve the education your children can receive at school. I’m not saying this because I had a perfect education: it wasn’t. But my parents ensured they spent time with me, encouraged me in my efforts, and allowed me to discover – not all teachers (read:bosses) are smart or fair – not all schoolmates (read:colleagues) are helpful or kind. These lessons are better learned in an environment that’s more forgiving than the workplace.

  • 16 Rachael // Jan 19, 2010 at 12:50 am

    I have briefly thought about homeschooling my son, but like you, I don’t have a problem with him going to public school for the early years. I think middle and high school are the areas where children tend to get held back if they’re more advanced, and where they need MORE support. I would definitely be more likely to homeschool at that stage in the game where educational travel could be an option and there are plenty of extracurricular activities to participate in, and where I feel it would make the most difference to my kiddies. I don’t know that I’ll really do that, but I totally get where you’re coming from!

  • 17 Isabella Golightly // Jan 19, 2010 at 5:00 am

    OK, I have no children, I’m up front about it, but I have opinions about everything (there’s no point being alive if you don’t, I reckon…) – I agree with Sandy, Mine & Kristin, that just hating the idea of putting your kids into Middle School is not a good reason to attempt to provide everything, from curriculum to socialisation, that school would give them – I’ve never been able to understand the attraction it holds, especially in societies where there other options…

  • 18 Isabella Golightly // Jan 19, 2010 at 5:01 am

    Damn. “Where there are other options”.

  • 19 Badger // Jan 19, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Dude! Wow! People have opinions, huh?

    I can tell you only this: I, too, was scared to death of Middle School. My oldest has Asperger Syndrome and was bullied in elementary school and I worried myself into an ulcer thinking things would only get WORSE in Middle School, and plus how was he going to handle all that class-changing and all those different teachers when his success in school has always been extremely dependent on the bonds he forms with his teachers? Add about a million other concerns and blegh, yeah. MIDDLE SCHOOL.

    But as it turns out, 99.9% of my fears were unfounded. He did WONDERFULLY well with the transition and absolutely blossomed. Middle School around here is when the kids get to take electives for the first time, and this allowed him to find entire GROUPS of kids with the same interests he had. He absolutely found his niche and found an accepting peer group and he has thrived, I tell you! THRIVED!

    I will also tell you this, now that I have TWO kids in middle school (the boy is in 8th grade and the girl is in 6th): I did not stop parenting my kids or being THE major influence in their lives when they entered middle school. Yes, they do have a bunch of friends and peers and whatnot that are an influence on them, but I still make the rules, yo. I have to agree with the commenters above who said our kids need us even more as they get to be middle and high school aged — they just need us in a different way. My son doesn’t need me to directly intervene and advocate for him as much as he used to, but he absolutely needs me to be there as a sounding board and to help guide him and advise him in making decisions and navigating through his life.

    ANYWAY, all that being said, I have friends who homeschool and they love it and their kids are socialized and well-adjusted and smart as whips and all that. To each his or her own, etc. I’m just saying, middle school might surprise you in a GOOD way, is all. Because I am kind of blown away by the degree to which my kids have excelled there, and mine are definitely NOT the most resilient/adaptable kids on the block, yo.

  • 20 Mitzi // Jan 19, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Sandy, I didn’t mean to offend anyone, especially prospective teachers. There is alot more to my story, but I choose to keep that private. I certainly do not have a teaching certificate, although I did teach for Washington University, Saint Louis (medical terminology and pediatric radiography). The homeschool curriculum that we use is an online one… that is staffed by accredited teachers. Our son has six different teachers. Some homeschool parents scare the HELL out of me…alot are into ” unschooling” or making up their own curriculum. I don’t see how those children learn or gain any knowledge.

    It’s all about having an open mind. Everyone is going to have their opinion and they are just that… opinions.

  • 21 Sugared Harpy // Jan 19, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Sandy, I’m a teacher and I homeschool my 15 year old son. Why? Public school did NOT work for him, he doesn’t learn the way school works. And no teacher, wonderful or not, had the time to tailor his education with no IEP (couldn’t get one to save my a**). My younger son is still in public school and excelling.

    Not all kids are the same, not all fit, we TRIED to make it fit for nine years of public school. You may be an awesome teacher, but your resources and time are limited, as are mine. He needed more than could be offered. Plain and simple. To be offended in this way is odd to me, because it’s just not about you, in any way, it’s about my son needing more and now he gets it. It’s not offensive, it’s about my son, my heart and soul, who deserved a different and better chance. I hope you learn to see this differently someday: it’s not about you. Not everyone homeschools for the same reason and saying you just “hate the idea” means there’s more learning to be done on your part about it.

    As for considering homeschooling, Fluid Pudding, and scared of Middle and High School? Girl, we’re doing it right here!! My son is in 9th grade doing Algebra, Latin, World History, Geology, English I, and P.E. at home with me and takes Theatre Tech (backstage theatre work) at a performing arts school. He is about to start volunteering at the local library and he is in clubs at the local high school, has a girlfriend and loads of friends, and went to homecoming this fall. He’s also building a freaking airplane with my dad.

    When he was in public school, he did virtually no work and had shut down entirely. It was awful, and infuriating, and heartbreaking. Homeschooling brought my son back.

    We looked into private school, but uh, Mama’s salary can’t go 100% to one kid’s schooling. And we had no idea it would be any better than public school anyway.

    If you want a cool compromise, check out DaySpring Performing Arts Center near Westport. They have a three day a week “homeschooling” core they do there, or you can just add arts classes as you please to whatever you do at home. If you need any STL help, just ask!

  • 22 Sugared Harpy // Jan 19, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    As if my comment wasn’t long enough…

    Socialization at school isn’t exactly the kind of socialization they need in the world. I mean, do adult people ever work, play, and socialize in groups solely grouped by age? As adults do we focus in on one person’s obvious difference and torture the shit out of them for a year?

    We’ve noticed that since he’s home he talks to kids his age AND adults, and babies, and children…kind of like how the world works.

  • 23 Sandy // Jan 19, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Sorry, I need to amend my previous statement: Badger, you needn’t apologize for possibly having offended me; I know I came in here guns blazing and probably offended lots of folks. And Sugared Harpy, I need to add that I don’t have a problem with teachers homeschooling their kids. As long as you have the education, have at it. I have a problem with people without any relevant education just striding on in and declaring that they can do my job better than me. People think its funny when people act as their own legal counsel, but declaring yourself a teacher is OK? No way. I want to see a piece of paper from the state.

    And yeah, I know middle school sucks, and I know that experiences vary wildly. But, that’s life, kid. When you’re 11 or 12 and starting middle school, you’re learning an awful lot about life, especially its biological aspects, and I don’t think we should sell our kids short by assuming they can’t handle it.

  • 24 Don // Jan 19, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    @Sandy – in my experience, everyone feels like they can do just about any job (except plumbing and auto repair) without any training. We live in an extraordinarily narcissistic time, where the general belief is that anything not understood simply doesn’t exist – that there is nothing beyond the horizons of ones own understanding. Think about “controversies” surrounding vaccination and evolution and you’ll get where I’m going with this.

  • 25 Sugared Harpy // Jan 19, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    I understand and do respect your point of view, @Sandy…I just also believe it’s not necessarily productive. I totally get that you are hearing that people can do your job better than you, and that sounds certainly insulting. But what about kids like mine who CAN be helped by someone with a different set of training? What if the kind of training you’ve experienced is really one kind of educational model and some kids function better on very different kinds of models? I bring very little teacher training to my homeschooling, because it doesn’t work with him.

    Think of this, college teachers (which I later became and don’t use any of my secondary teacher training for) do not teach like a high school teacher at all, they are not trained in all areas or even in education at all. To teach college, I needed no piece of paper from the state. To teach college, I needed no teacher education courses. To teach college, I need a graduate degree in my field ONLY. But people tend to agree that they are qualified to teach. There are multiple ways of learning, so we need to appreciate multiple ways of teaching. Your teaching is probably awesome for a lot of kids, but not all of them. Even if you rock at it.

  • 26 Carroll // Jan 19, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    I’m amazed that there has been no mention here yet of “alternative programs”. Our school district (Bay Area, California) and quite a few other neighboring ones now have parent-participation alternatives (as well as, of course, the high-pressure “back to basics” versions) which, to my way of thinking, represent the best of both worlds. Teachers teach, parents supp0rt like crazy, and kids benefit from vastly greater one-on-one time, very diverse role models in the classroom, oodles of hand-on activities, field trips, art, drama, music… If your area has such a “school-of-choice” (open to kids from all over the district, parents provide transportation) I would encourage you to look into it. In this day and age, there’s no doubt that parents’ involvement with their kids’ education is crucial. My kids, and our family, were among the early “pioneers” of this particular program, and it’s currently thriving with multiple classes and waiting lists at every grade level K-8. My now grown-up kids are thriving too, and I give full credit for their love of learning to the teachers at that school. Three of them came to our younger son’s wedding, and they still hold their annual faculty retreats at our house. OK, so call me biased…but look into it if you have one, Angie — it might be just what you’re after.

    And I second whoever said that no matter what your kids will be fine. Kids are resilient. And if they have good friends now, and are making good choices, they’re not going to go bad on you. Given the firm foundation of self-confidence I suspect you have already instilled in those girls, I have a feeling they’ll turn out just fine!

  • 27 Isabella Golightly // Jan 20, 2010 at 4:34 am

    So, the real question is not “Am I smart/patient enough”, it’s “am I brave enough to let my kids go to Middle School by themselves?”. Be brave. Your kids will thank you for it one day.

  • 28 Liz // Jan 20, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I get the terror, but I think it’s normal to be worried about middle school. I was bullied in middle school, but it me much more resiliant and able to deal with conflict as an adult.

    I think it was worse on my parents than me.

    Our tendency as parents is to want to shelter our children from heartache and trouble. But if you keep them sheltered, what happens when they go to college and, more importantly, what happens when they go to work, when they go out on their own. What happens when you aren’t around to protect them from conflict and social injustice. And there is bullying in the workplace – I’ve seen it.

    I think home school is a great thing – but keep in mind that middle school age acts out at church and sports teams and everywhere else kids that age are present in groups, so homeschooling may or may not eradicate the problem.

  • 29 Windsor Grace // Jan 20, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    While the socialization I received in Middle and High Schools were awful at the time, they did teach me to be stronger. I learned many life lessons that I didn’t have to learn later. I am thankful for the tough things I had to deal with then because they make me who I am today.

  • 30 Sugared Harpy // Jan 20, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    @Carroll, that program sounds amazing! My area has nothing like this. But I believe there is in the city of St. Louis for kids who meet certain requirements. I remember going through the list of magnet and charter schools and getting disappointed we didn’t meet any of the requirements.

  • 31 Sandy // Jan 20, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    @Sugared Harpy I understand what you mean about college professors. Many is the day I have left class wondering who decided that simply a passion for the Romantics was enough to let someone have free reign over a classroom. And I’m not narcissistic enough to believe that my teaching style (though I have, for the record, learned many) will work for every child. But I think there are other avenues to explore, and that SHOULD be explored, before homeschooling. Just because I, a trained professional, my not be able to get through to your child, doesn’t mean that there aren’t hundreds out there who will. I don’t have a problem with parents requesting certain teachers for their children; it’s the wholesale abandonment of schools altogether that really steams my beans. As @Don said, people are under the impression they can do everything. They can’t. My teaching background wouldn’t necessarily make me a great mother, and just because mothers know their children better than anyone else does doesn’t mean they can/should be able to educate them.

  • 32 Sugared Harpy // Jan 20, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    I appreciate your concerns, because I had them. I explored EVERY avenue I found before homeschooling. And was priced out of the most viable solutions super quickly. I never could justify spending my entire yearly salary on one child, and couldn’t entertain the thought anyway due to housing, eating, etc.

    I was a reluctant homeschooler, and now I GET it so much more from this side of the experience. I really haven’t met too many parents who do everything, though. I mean, I’m an art historian and not a mathematician…so when the math gets more than I can do, I know better to then find him a tutor who can or have him take a community college course. Same for higher sciences, we don’t have a lab here, so we’ll be outsourcing that too. He now does theatre outside the home. I’m not everything, and boy, do I know it! I haven’t met too many parents who do everything, maybe in the elementary years, but not by the time they get to high school. I think that happens, but it may not be the majority.

  • 33 Amy in StL // Jan 21, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I just have two comments.

    First, all the home-schooled kids I met at UMR were weird. Considering that we were all engineers and scientists, that they managed to stand out in oddities and inability to mesh well is a feat.

    Second, I was a painfully shy child in gradeschool. Highschool (we didnt’ have middle school in parochial land) was hard. I learned that there were people who would be mean to me for sport and that not everyone like me. I had a good school experience but some parts were hard. However, that has soooo prepared me for the real world. At age almost-40 there are people I work with who are just like the cool kids in school. They make fun of others when they’re not around and sometimes they make me feel un-cool, weird or like a loser. If I hadn’t had that high school experience I might spend days in my cube crying because they hurt my feelings. I really think learning this lesson when I was young from girls not raised like me; is what makes me a stronger woman today.

    Oh yeah, one more thing. That said, I’m sure you’ll fret and worry and in the end do what’s best for your two girls.

  • 34 flatflo // Jan 21, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Saint Louis has a lot of parochial school options. Lutheran, Catholic, Jewish are the ones just off the top of my head. Even if you aren’t the specific religion, the schools and classrooms are usually smaller and offer a good solid education. You may just need to offset the religious aspects with “that is what the school teaches, and this how it relates to what we believe.”

    My older sister went to the STL city public school up the street for kindergarten, and at that point my parents moved her to the Lutheran grade school attached to their church. My younger sister and I followed in her footsteps even in attending a Catholic high school that saw itself as a college prep, with mandatory curriculum that met the standards of even ivy league schools.

    My younger sister attended the CCLS middle school in Kirkwood for a couple of years and would highly recommend.

  • 35 Carroll // Jan 21, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Sugared Happy, is *is* amazing! All these years later I still feel so fortunate that we found it. That school is the reason we moved to our current town from just across the border where there was no similar program at the time. It’s very child-centered. Kids are allowed to learn at their own pace, and because of all the adult help, the teachers are able to really tailor various activities to the varied learning styles of all the different kids. When my older son was in 1st grade, he really wasn’t interested much in reading. At any other school, I would have been forced into worrying like heck that he was “falling behind” instead, his very wise teacher said “Don’t worry, he’ll read when he’s ready. Right now he’s the most advanced spatial-reasoning kid I’ve ever taught, and that’s because of all the time he spends playing with blocks and getting to know what things *feel* like.” At the end of third grade, he was reading at a second grade level. That summer, he discovered a series of books that he absolutely loved, and totally devoured. By the time he started 4th grade, he tested at an early 5th reading level — all because he was allowed to wait until he fell in love with reading. If he’d had it crammed down his throat when he was younger, that might never have happened, and I’m sure I would easily have been convinced to have him evaluated for Special Ed because he was “so far behind”. So yeah, I’m biased, but I owe that school for everything my two entirely wonderful now-adult children have become. I would encourage any of you readers whose children are still young enough to benefit from this type of education to look into it, and if there is not one in your area, consider getting a group of like-minded folks together and petitioning your district to start one. They are no longer considered “weird” — there’s tons of research out there to support how well children thrive in this type of environment. Mind you, it’s not for everyone — nor is it for every teacher. We ask SO much of our teachers. Not only do they have to consider the needs of every child, but also the strengths and potential contributions of every parent, since their lesson plans need to incorporate 3-4 parents in the classroom at all times. Do the Math…that’s 4-5 adults in every classroom. Trained adults, mind you — we all go through parent education classes, and classroom participation sessions as part of the deal. It’s pretty amazing!

    OK, getting down off the soapbox now. Can you tell I’m passionate about this topic?

    Good luck to all — your children will definitely benefit from the very fact that you are even reading about all this stuff. If you care about your kids enough to be concerned that school is more than just a place to drop them off every morning, that’s half the battle!

  • 36 Sarah // Jan 21, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    As you have discovered this is certainly a hot topic. I home school our 2 younger kids while their sister goes to middle school. I did not start home schooling because I always wanted to but because they took away all of my son’s extra help he needed and when we went to the principal we were told to buzz off and then we went to the school board and were told the same thing. In going back to the principal she basically told us that she was going to make sure that everything that they were doing wrong (which neither had ever caused trouble) we caught and they were punished (My daughter was going into 1st grade). It hasn’t been easy and I hate that it came to this but parents need the respect of the whole staff in order to make it work.
    mean while our oldest goes to middle school, and it is hard. it is hard to listen to some of the things going on. But she needs to learn how to cope. Sigh. Things will be better when we head to Vermont, while not perfect the school staff generally listen better.

  • 37 Alli // Jan 22, 2010 at 8:00 am

    I briefly pondered this issue as well. If you really want to you should try it. If it doesn’t work you re-enroll the girls into school. I know I am just too lazy. I think that you could really manage it!

  • 38 Jennifer // Jan 22, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    When your kids get to middle-school age, you could give them the choice… My friend homeschooled her 2 b/c they wanted it. After a year, they were bored and wanted to go back to school.

    I’m very shy and middle school and high school were not fun for me. But there are parts of it that I would not take back. For one thing, choosing electives was awesome – shop, drama, photography, debate, gourmet cooking and on and on. I hated PE, but where else would I have been able to try out all the different sports – bowling, archery, basketball, softball, tennis, etc.

    Also, there was interesting stuff going on – the kids had so many different personalities… As for the teachers, some were forgettable and others were awesome.

    One thing to ask yourself would be this: did you go to public school? If you had it to do over again, would you choose to be homeschooled instead?

    Of course there are pros and cons to both, but I lean towards public school.

  • 39 twebsterarmstrong // Jan 23, 2010 at 10:37 pm

    My husband and I have three kids in college this year. We moved from one very large high school, and opted to “out-of-district-transfer” our kids from a small rural school into another large high school. Why?

    We, who enjoyed a nightly evening meal together at the dining room table, knew we would rather our kids bring their social and religious questions to us at the table, rather than their facing them as college freshmen in some unknown atmosphere without any parental guidance.

    Has this theory worked? I think so. Our kids are very open and we five can discuss life and religion in a comfortable atmosphere. And our kids feel comfortable bringing fellow students home to “the parents”.

  • 40 inglesidebelle // Jan 24, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    An interesting fact: my 23 yo son, who was homeschooled through high school (with the exception of K-half of second grade and 7th and half of 8th grades) is now teaching 6th grade at a brick and mortar school. He’s seen some mean and hurtful behavior among students at that school. Although he and I butted heads many times especially during his high school years, he always knew that I had his best interests at heart and now that he’s a teacher, he’s glad that he was homeschooled. He had quite an active social life in high school and easily adjusted to the college scene. Research shows that homeschooled students do well in college. Colleges welcome them because they have good study skills, thinking skills and writing skills.

    To get back to the original question: do you have enough patience and smarts. I am not a patient person, but I have learned to listen to my children, both what they say in words and what they tell me non-verbally. I have learned to be reasonable in my expectations of what they can do. I know that we’re not running one race, rather a long marathon and that sometimes it takes time to learn a new concept or skill. In addition, I am willing to apologize to my children when I have been too impatient, demanding, etc. Teachers in brick and mortar schools are just as flawed as the rest of us – they get impatient, too. Do they apologize to their students? Do they care as much about any student as a parent cares about her children?

    And you don’t need to know everything you teach, and you don’t even need to teach everything yourself. There are local co-ops, on-line classes and phone conference classes. What you do need to know is where to go for help and resources. Today there is a great abundance of resources for homeschoolers in every imaginable subject.

  • 41 OMSH // Jan 27, 2010 at 2:32 am

    We’ve done Montessori, then public, then homeschool, then back to public b/c I let myself get buried and overwhelmed, then back to homeschool because middle school DOES suck and was literally pulling the creative, inspiring, hilarious nature from my (then) 5th grader.

    Been back at it nearly 2 years now and would not trade it for the world.

    Some days rock.
    Some days suck.
    We can do it all in pjs if we want.
    Socialization in public schools – BWAHAHAHA! Sorry, had to laugh at that one.

  • 42 orooni on ravelry // Jan 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    You spelled doughnut ‘doughnut’! You are awesome.