I've gotten a lot of requests as to why I chose to home school. I've always had the idea of home school in my heart for many years, but I let a lot of what ifs stand in the way of making my decision. What if we can't financially afford it? What if it doesn't work out? What if there is not enough socialization? What would others think? Would my girls be treated differently? But then as I talked to more moms who home schooled I changed that to; what if this is the best journey to be on? What if they thrive?
In life we can't always focus on the bad possibly happening, we have to focus on the good things that can happen. Financial was one of our biggest concerns, but worse case scenario is we would have to sign her back up for public school. Something we could deal with IF it were to come instead of worrying ahead of time. Hayley wanted to continue on in high school this year since she's been in public school all along, but admits it's more the social aspect as she too feels the teaching is not there and she learns more at home anyway.
I started my teaching career over 20 years ago and then took time off to raise my girls. I still attended college (17 years) and kept up with all the latest developments in education, am a current member of NAEYC, as well as stayed involved with the girl's schools. Also many of my friends who still teach and we talk about the schools and the changes. Then in 2013-2014 school year I went back for a year before we moved out here. So much has CHANGED, and not for the better. Being on both sides I have a good perception of the direction the schools are headed. I could probably write a book on my opinions/observations there. That's the thing, I truly care about kids and it's hard to see things I don't agree with.
Kathleen was all about being home schooled, and we were not a fan of the school system here. There were more kids being corrected and no teaching being done, among other things. This was not all the teacher's fault to be clear. My girls would come home from school and I'd have to teach them what the teachers threw out during the day as assignments but not teaching. It was all about prepping for one state test or another to meet standards of common core. Again, not a fan of common core. A whole other topic I could go in great detail on.....
So for our first year of transitioning, we chose a virtual school with the K-12 curriculum because in this state they won't recognize a high school diploma with home school and say you still may have to get your child to take their GED, which makes no sense to me. So we do a charter school, but I incorporate so much more into the lessons. I LOVE having the ability to do this and so does Kathleen.
For instance, Science experiments. In school she would say how they skipped the actual experiments because there was no "time". REALLY??? It's Science.... that's one of the best ways to learn is hands on! So we enjoy converting our dining room table into a Science lab! Really pretty cool, and we take trips to enhance the lessons and pull up videos online, like Bill Nye the Science guy. Plus we frequently visit our library and have access to great resources there. Like this Friday we are attending an engineering program for girls.
These moments are precious, our children are only young for so long and education in this rapidly changing world is extremely important. It's a joy for me to be a part of her journey. The flexibility we have is awesome. As for social activities, there are many and she is involved in dance and other community events. When you go for that job interview they are not going to ask "how's your social life?" They want to know what SKILLS you have. Early learning years are so very important! Being involved in the community is important too.
We want our girls to be successful and well adjusted in today's society. So I make sure to involve them in all different experiences that benefit their personalities. We talk as a family about what is important and what goals do they want in their lives. That nothing worth having is ever easy. Even though I am a stay at home mom, a choice my husband and I find very important for our family, I still educate myself and learn all the time. This doesn't necessarily have to be a college course. It can be courses in the community for free and workshops. Libraries offer computer courses, business courses and more for free, it's simply a matter of taking advantage of them. We never know what life will throw at us and we have certainly been through tough times, so I am sure to stay educated in case I would need to go back in the work force. Not to mention I love to learn! :-)
That being said... I want to say I give a ton of credit to working moms as they have one more thing they have to try to balance in everyday life and when I went back for a year it was tough getting all the things done I could do before with out working the extra hours of the job. But I also give credit to the stay at home moms and all they do in a day. We are not all fortunate to be at home with our children, though we may want to and I think as moms we all do the best we can. We need to support each other as we are all on different journeys in our lives. I've always been career driven, and ambitious and I've put a lot of that on hold for my girls by choice. I know that this moment right now is where I am supposed to be. Why I met and married a man that feels the same way I do. Our girls are our everything. And for single moms.... my greatest of respect goes to them because it's tough with two parents some days, I can not imagine balancing it all on my own. For me being home I am busier then I ever was at work. Not having family or friends nearby I am the rock for my family, a lot falls on my shoulders, I'm here so Jerry is able to do his job, whether it's daily or when he has to travel. I'm here for them to go and come back from school, run them to appointments and activities, be here when they are sick and more. I take care of all aspects of running the home, cleaning, cooking, bills, scheduling, etc.
Jerry and I are a great team, he likes the yard work and is very particular in how the yard is mowed, so he enjoys the yard work and building things and projects. He is also an active dad and helps out as much as he can and that is such a big blessing. We want our girls to see how a good man should treat a woman. I met him when I was 16 and married at 19, so many say how can you be with one person that long? I say how can I not? I know he loves me and treats me well and though there are tough times we make it work. We are all about family and taking marriage seriously and setting a good example for our girls.
Art! The messier the better! :-)
Kathleen tells me daily how much she loves home school and how much she is learning. It is also great that I am able to see areas she may struggle in and help her get through it. We make up songs for learning material, we laugh, we have lunch outside, read outside....ride bikes in the middle of the day... regroup and back to work. A classroom should be a learning environment, not a prison. Telling a child they can only learn ONE way is NOT effective, each child is unique and learns in their own way at their own pace. When teachers are told they can't "teach", that's when you lose great teachers in the school system, many go into completely different fields.
This smile, the joy inside her motivates me every day. We take it day by day because we can't predict the future, we have to live in the moment. Is it hard some days? Absolutely it is, it's a good challenge though. I will be posting scheduling and routines and how it helps make the day run smoother soon.
Why do I home school? Because I truly believe in my heart it is the right thing to do, and since I am blessed with the ability to do so, I am going to cherish each day that I can. I wish Hayley would change her mind as we'd love to have her on this journey with us. So since she is still in school I have the worries about riding the bus in bad weather, security issues, overcrowding and more. All I can do is continue to help her when she comes home, when the teachers assign work without teaching it. So to me, school is her social and truly our home is still her learning environment. :-)
Moments like the one below help a lot too. A gift and a lovely note from Kathleen I treasure!
Another cool thing about home school is gardening and caring for the animals and more. Look how awesome this homegrown cabbage turned out! LOL, bigger than she is!
So in conclusion, in our lives will always be others opinions of what to do or what not to do, but we can't live that way. If we strive and put energy into pleasing everyone else we are going to be so burnt out....depleted... and unauthentic. We have to live our lives doing what truly makes us happy. There's a great big world out there with so much to discover and I want both my girls to explore and take time to grow. We can guide them the best we can for the right direction in life, but ultimately it is their life to live and helping them make the right choices is the early years we focus on as parents. Being there for them, encouraging and supporting them....even driving them a little crazy with how much we CARE....because they are our whole hearts and one day as parents they will know this love. Love yourself first, be happy before you can help anyone else.
And smile every single day!!! We are using some great sites to supplement our teachings. Here are a few for today :-)
"Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world" Nelson Mandela
"Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself" John Dewey
"The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education" Martin Luther King
"The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change" Carl Rogers