Thursday, May 07, 2015

Why We're Pulling Our Children Out of Public Schools and Homeschooling Them

Today I'll be opening up a can of worms as homeschooling seems to spark a lot of debate.

My husband and I have been thinking on this for months now. We've discussed it over and over. We both went to public schools and did really well. I, personally, grew up in the school system that my kids attend now and loved it. I excelled in all my classes and had a good group of friends. Matter of fact, our schools were so good that parents would lie about their addresses so that their children could attend school in our county.
But let's be honest...times have changed.

We have weighed the pros and cons. And the pros, by far, outweighed the cons.
So, that's where we are.

After this current school year is over we will be pulling our children out of public school and homeschooling them.

This decision was not made lightly and I was kind of against it until I sat down and talked to other homeschooling parents. I listened intently at the difficulties that come with homeschooling, but what sold me was the very long list of pros and how much more enriched a homeschooled education is.  Then it all clicked. When I think of keeping my children home and teaching them myself it just feels right. It feels like what I am supposed to be doing. There are people in our families and communities who don't really agree with it and that's OK. We're doing the absolute best for our children and I will always be content with that - regardless of what others think.

One on One
One of the best things about home schooling is the one on one ratio. One on one beats one to twenty five - hands down. If my children have trouble with learning something we can spend an extra day or so on it homeschooling, but in regular school if they don't get it they simply get left behind. In home school if they are comfortable with a subject we're learning then we can move on. In regular school they must wait until the teacher decides to move on. This way we get to work at our own pace.

more time for catching tadpoles

Better Prepared For College
There have been studies done that determine how well homeschooled children do in college. And in all the studies that I've seen the homeschooled children do better in college than the children who went to private or public schools. Statistics all the way across the board show that home schooled children excel in college. I'll go with the statistics.
You can find one of these studies HERE.

Choosing Our Own Curriculum
I've made it well known that I'm not fond of the Common Core curriculum. I'll save that can of worms for another post, but just know that it was a big factor in our decision. Since our state adopted the Common Core standards I have witnessed a big change in our school system. I understand the concept, but feel that it won't benefit my children. Basically, every child is different and shouldn't be forced into cookie cutters. I want to work around my children's strengths and weaknesses. And I like knowing exactly what is being presented to my children and knowing first hand if they understand it or not.

We can work on the right grade levels
This is along the same lines as choosing our own curriculum. Our oldest has been in advanced classes since he was in Kindergarten and has been working a grade ahead so instead of teaching him at the 8th grade level next year we'll give him 9th grade material. And if it doesn't work well, then we'll go back over the 8th grade material.
My youngest who is currently in Pre-K has already mastered everything he needs to know in order to pass Kindergarten according to public school standards. So, I'm confident that I can start presenting him first grade material with no problems. My daughter is also doing exceptionally well in her classes so I know I can start presenting her more challenging work.
I love the flexibility.

Limiting Outside Influences
My children are learning things from other children at school that I do not want them to know about yet. Hearing my children come home and say ugly things is discouraging especially when they definitely did NOT learn these things at home. While I know children need to learn how to deal with these types of influences I like being able to shelter them until I feel they are ready to deal with it the right way.

Reading Time in a homemade blanket tent

No More Bullying
There is nothing more heart breaking than dealing with your child being bullied. And the really sad thing about it is that sometimes it's the teacher doing the bullying.
My oldest son had a teacher that would come in once a day and teach a subject. He and she clearly had a personality conflict (which happens), but instead of acting like an adult about it she continued to pick on him and degrade him on a daily basis.
She even picked on him about how he held his eating utensils at lunch. She claimed that it was "improper" and "bad manners" if you didn't hold your spoon or fork like a pencil. Now, we're a southern family. I have been taught southern hospitality my whole life and I have never once heard that it was "proper" to hold an eating utensil like a pencil. My response was "As long as he doesn't throw his eating utensil at another student then you need not comment on how he is using it to eat."

I think we all know the horror stories of violence that have happened at schools. It's every parent's nightmare. The last few weeks my oldest son's school has had several lock down's in order to search for drugs and weapons and us parents are not notified of what they find. They now have a police officer out in front of the school every morning. And while some parents find comfort in a police officer being present I ask why is a police officer necessary? It makes it really hard to let him out of the car each morning.

The World Is Our Classroom
I believe that my children will learn better by hand's on experiences. Homeschooling gives us the flexibility to do more field trips and learn valuable lessons through life. They get to learn by investigating first hand. These things can't be learned in a classroom.
The world is our classroom!
My husband occasionally has to travel for his job and before we've never been able to go with him because of school schedules. I'm sure we won't always get to go with him, but now if we want to we can. Going to new places and seeing new things is an important part of learning.

Homeschooled children are generally done with lessons by lunchtime.  That gives us more fun and free time for family activities - less driving time, less time between classes, less time waiting in pickup lines and less pointless busy time. And if they're not done by lunchtime that's cool too. Once again, flexibility is the winning ticket.  
My oldest son did not understand Algebra too well this year so when he got home from school we spent several hours re-teaching him so that he understood the material for the next test. If we were lucky we could get done by 11pm - a time I think is too late for a child to go to bed especially when he had to be up at 6am the next morning.
Now I will know exactly what he's doing during the day which eliminates the "re-teaching" step.

Less Sick Time
My youngest has a rough time with his asthma. Our lives revolve around his breathing treatments and how high the pollen count is outside. He tends to catch every little bug that comes his way and has a much harder time getting over sicknesses than most kids. He had already missed too many days of school according to state standards before Christmas. I keep getting nasty notes from the school about these absences. And if he wasn't in Pre-K we'd have to go before the board for him to pass regardless of how well he's doing in class. I know that some will argue that he needs to build up his immunity, but he can't learn well being so sick all the time.

One alternative to public schools is private schools. But let's face it...private school is expensive!  And I've seen cases that show attending private school doesn't always mean "better" schooling. I have a problem paying someone else so much money to teach my children when I know without a doubt that I could do it just as well if not better. 
Yes, I'll be giving up a full time job outside of the home, but I plan on working from home to supplement our income.
Other ways we'll be saving money is with doctor visit co-pays, lunch, school clothes and gas.

Now, I know that homeschooling is not for everyone. It's just what we feel will be best for our family. The two main concerns that I've heard is about socialization and my ability to teach the material.

I'll tackle the concern about my ability first. I have a Bachelor's degree in Biology and have worked in our local school system. I know that I am very much capable of teaching my children. My strongest subjects are Science, Social Studies and English, whereas my hubby is the Math person. Together, I am confidant that we can tackle anything.
All three of my kids already knew everything they needed to know in Pre-K before they started. Why? Because I taught them at home. You may question my sanity or my fashion choices, but you need not question my ability to teach my children. ;-)

Next, the concern about socialization. I can see how this would concern people, but I know my kids.  My oldest has never been very social and despite being in public schools for nearly 9 years he's still not social at all. My two little ones are very social creatures and were before they even started school. They have no problem getting along with other children or making friends so I'm positive that won't change. Also, in the state of Georgia homeschooled children can still participate in extracurricular activities at the public schools. That's right. I'll be putting my kids in sports and programs that will allow them to interact with other children. We're also members of a really wonderful group that keeps the children busy with other homeschooling children.

I'm saving the cons for another post. I just wanted to throw this out there to my readers. I'm very excited about this new journey for us and I'll be sharing it with you guys as I go along.

UPDATE: Within 10 minutes of me posting this I was getting ugly comments from the local teachers. Let me say this...with the exception of the above mentioned person my kids have had wonderful teachers. But this isn't about the teachers or staff - it's about the statewide system and the times we are living in.

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