Tuesday, June 21, 2011

To Homeschool or Public School

As my daughter gets older, the closer we get to the decision everyone seems to be pushing us toward.

When will she be enrolled in Kindergarten?

You can only lead people on for so long without actually deciding.

The choices seem so endless and terrifying.  This isn't just a choice deciding on what's for dinner.  This involves my child's learning.  Her growth, her development, how she sees the world.

And I understand I don't really have that much control in any of that, but the idea that my choice in how to school her or not school her makes me clam up and worry.

I've researched homeschooling and public schooling and unschooling.  I've read everything.  I've tried planning lessons or just letting her do her own thing.  And then my amazing daughter will hit me with a curve ball.

She was watching a cartoon, and I can't even remember which one.  As we are watching, they go to school in a yellow school bus and she got so excited.  She told me that she couldn't wait to ride in one and go to school.

Everything I'd learned, everything I had thought I knew, the decision I was so close to making, all of it went up in smoke.  My daughter doesn't know what she wants, she just sees these shows and hears talk about going to school and that's all she can think about.  I feel unable to breathe.

So do you go with what your child sees on television and wants to do, or do you go with your gut about what would be best for your child?

My husband is severely dyslexic, and I have always been worried our children would have it.  Now, most people have some form of dyslexia, but the idea of my child not being able to read because of a decision on how to school her is daunting.

Sending her to a school that is overcrowded with teachers that can't spend time with her one on one is one of the big reasons I want to homeschool.  But, if she has a great teacher, thrives in the environment with other children, would I be making the wrong choice to keep her home and teach her myself?

Has anyone else struggled with this choice?  Any sites or books or even insight to help would be amazing.

This decision is so much harder than I thought it would be.


Frogs Mom said... [Reply to comment]

My son wants to 'school school' because he sees the playgrounds and that is also where our neighbor boy is during the day. All he sees are the yellow buses and all of the children. He is super social.

We are going to homeschool - it's something we feel incredibly strong about. I think once we are plugged into the homeschooling community more it will help. We are currently moving from a small town to a much larger one. I think to start we may do more things that look like 'school' even though I am drawn to unschooling.

A while back DS was saying that he wanted me to go to work so could go to daycare (he'd see the kids outside while we were driving somewhere) but I would never do that. It's the same for me with homeschooling. I am sure he would have some great teachers. But for us, the very real and potential drawbacks don't make any of it worth it.

Tara said... [Reply to comment]

My sister is dyslexic - it works out. Oddly, while my sister received amazing help and early diagnosis from her school's principal and she still received outside tutoring from a consultant company and spent a lot of afternoons with our parents getting help. She's fine, reads and loves to read. AND the help she got in the public school system 30 years ago isn't necessarily there in a lot of school districts thanks to funding cuts.

Honestly, I'd lean towards home school, but limit the television and replace the tv time with outdoor playground time or talk to her about it, that some kids take school buses, some walk, and some stay home or some spend the day at the museum.

I'm reading Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting; Moving from Rewards and Punishment to love and reason (it's outstanding - one I think all parents should read) and while it's mainly about parenting, he also talks about the use of grades and rewards in school systems (he makes the point kids are no longer socialized to learn or enjoy it - they're too pressured to get good grades). It has us steering clear of schools.

I also read Diana Ravitch's The Life and Death of the Great American School System. It's outstanding, well-researched, but mostly she points to what a quagmire the schools are.

And Mem Fox's Reading Magic ( a quick read) - I think you're just as qualified to spot if your child is having troubles reading.

Oh and this link is another favorite: http://www.naturalchild.org/common_objections/

Good luck!

Kayce Pearson said... [Reply to comment]

Thank you thank you thank you Tara!!! My husband actually had to go to a special private school that specifically helped those with dyslexia. He was in third grade before he could read, which was the year he was sent to the private school. The public school system completely failed him and his twin for that.

I do think I could find issues with reading/comprehension/etc better than the public school system could. Spending time with her I already know what she struggles with, what she is great at, it would just be a little more advanced when we actually start to learn, though unschooling seems so appealing.

The decisions we make for our kids are soo hard. Much harder than I thought they would be.

Kacie said... [Reply to comment]

If you feel really strongly about homeschooling, you should do that. She can't yet understand that there's more to it than a big yellow bus and a playground. You know what is the right choice for your family. Get her involved with other children and she will enjoy it and learn and thrive!

Breanna said... [Reply to comment]

Does your local school district support homeschooling at all? Where I grew up, the district had a program they called "Connections" that allowed homeschooling families to send their children to a limited number of classes at the school, gave them full access to the sports teams and extra-curriculars, and provided a stipend to be spent on books or lessons or equipment.

I understand that sort of integration is rare, but maybe your local area has something that could let your daughter have a bit of the school experience without putting so much of her education there.

TenderHeartMom said... [Reply to comment]

My LO is much younger but I have this debate with myself all the time. Will she miss out on sports and friendships, or drama and bullying? Will she be inspired by amazing teachers and learn so much or be another number in a school that gives more and more tests to get the schools scores to par? I have no answers for you, good luck I am sure you will decide what is best for you and your child

Rachel Lyn said... [Reply to comment]

I have been doing the same research since my daughter was born nearly 6 years ago. Now that she is of age, we're sending her to a university model school with a classical curriculum that sends her to school 2 days/week and assigns home lessons with me (and daddy) 2 days a week. I am beyond thrilled b/c I feel like we're getting the best of both worlds. The school is Veritas academy in Austin, tx. Perhaps you could check out schools/co-ops like that in your area. Whatever doesn't tie your gut up in knots is the right way to go. I will say, though, that many of our friends and family feel that making a different schooling choice from them somehow implies that their choice is wrong. Be prepared to deal with some pushback. I highly recommend any books by Linda Dobson when exploring homeschooling. Good luck!

Shawna said... [Reply to comment]

As someone who worked in schools for years, I'd suggest actually visiting the school where you live. Sometimes you can be pleasantly surprised by what you see there. Reading and researching will only get you generalities. If it turns out your school is really amazing, you wouldn't want to miss that, either. On the other hand, if you visit and it's just as bad as you thought it was (or worse), you will rest easy knowing you made the right decision for you. Most schools will allow you to visit or do classroom observations (with or without your daughter) as long as you are a parent considering the school. Just contact the school for details. I would recommend visiting during the school year so you can get the full "vibe" from the place.

Mandi Spencer said... [Reply to comment]

It sounds like your gut is telling you to homeschool. My son will start Kindergarten at home this year. This wasn't a hard decision to make, as our public schools are not great here. Even if they were amazing, I still think I would keep him home. He has learned so much in the past 5 years, mostly on his own. It's working, so I figure, why change it?

One book that I found really inspiring (even though I read it when I was no longer a teen) was The Teenage Liberation Handbook by Grace Llewelyn. It tells about all sort of things that teens can do when they are not in a traditional classroom. I wished I had those sort of opportunities and decided to give them to my kids.

John Holt has written many good titles. I liked Learning All the Time, which tells how kids can learn practically anything without a lot of formal instruction--much the same way they learn to walk and talk.

The last one is a little more controversial, but pretty enlightening. If you're leaning toward homeschooling, it just might tip you over the edge. John Gatto is a former teacher who exposes some real problems with compulsory education in The Underground History of American Education. You can read the entire thing online at his website.

Kayce Pearson said... [Reply to comment]

Wow, thank you guys so so so much!!! I never thought I would get such amazing responses.

I will for sure be checking out everything suggested. Need to make a choice based on all the information I can :)

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