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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What is the hardest part of homeschooling?

What I love about homeschooling is the flexibility.
It's a pretty day today and tomorrow is supposed to be awful. I think we should stop early today and do a little extra tomorrow.

What I hate about homeschooling is the guilt. I think every mom deals with some level of "Mommy guilt." We seem to see every bad thing that our kids do as a reflection on ourselves as mothers. "My kid eats crayons-I am a horrible mother. My kid won't eat her veggies - I am a horrible mother. My child wasn't the first to be potty-trained in her class - I am a horrible mother. My kid said a bad word in front of the pastor - I am a horrible mother." And on and on and on . . . .

As a homeschooling mom, there is all the normal guilt plus the added guilt. If Daisy's friend doesn't know how to read in 4th grade than all her teachers have failed her. If Daisy is a struggling reader and her only teacher is me . . . .

So we are afraid to admit our struggles as teachers because then it feel like we have a scarlet letter "F" on our chest.

A year and a half ago Daisy's reading level was about at 1st grade and she was going into the 4th. I felt horrible, like a failure, and I only told 2 people about it. If I said anything it was more just that she was "struggling." Now she is 4th grade 4th month level. While I have given her props for her improvement, I still see the F on my chest.

So what are we doing now with her reading? She is reading a chapter (or so) a day from her choice of chapter books (she just finished a Magic Treehouse and is starting Beezus and Ramona). In addition to that, we spend time with her reading aloud to me, and going over the phonic rules.

She doesn't do well with pressure and it is still fairly easy to get her in deer-in-headlights mode. While she no longer says "I can't read" she doesn't have as much fluency as I would like for her to have. But she is attempting so much more on her own. A few months ago she would hand me her fortune from the cookie, now she tries to read it all and only asks for help with the big words.

Why do I think she has had such a hard time? I think that the first reading program that we purchased was too hard and I pushed too hard. She was left with feeling that reading was too hard and she wasn't smart enough. We tried program after program and didn't have very much success with those either. She was bored with the part she knew (or felt like I thought she was stupid because it kept being re-taught). She would make progress and I would think "yeah! a breakthrough" but then the progress would be gone. We have finally made progress and are no longer seeing the progress disappearing. It just took a long time to knock down the walls she had built up.

Our Homeschool experience

I suppose first I should say that not everyone should homeschool - which is completely different from the "anyone can homeschool" that is usually proclaimed.

Anyone can homeschool - although the barely literate may need some outside help.

But I am not one of those that thinks that only horrible parents send their kids to public school. My thought is, if a parent isn't committed to homeschooling then they shouldn't bother. More on that later but I completely respect people knowing their limitations.

I also think that there are some excellent public school teachers out there (including my sister), there are some that make the classroom fun and kids learn alot. I just don't know that those teachers are the majority. I am afraid that many teachers are overworked, underpaid, under-appreciated and under-supported. We throw them in a class of 20-30 kids, some who belong in reform school, and expect them to work with a largely apathetic group of kids.

That said: Why do we homeschool?

I could give you a laundry list of reasons but the main one is that I feel like this is something God called me to do. Before I got pregnant, I was already getting books to share with the children I would have. Hubby and I were discussing homeschooling even while I was pregnant. Ten years later, I am still pulled to homeschooling in a way I can't describe other than I feel like this is what I am supposed to be doing.

Those of you that know me, know that I have never stuck to anything else that long (other than my marriage). My usual modus operandi is to immerse myself in learning about something (knitting, crocheting, CSS, HTML, etc) until I get bored and move on to something else.

I can give you statisics and studies - many of which reinforce that I am doing the right thing for my children - but I don't think that you are here for that. If you homeschool, I am preaching to the choir; if you don't homeschool they mean very little.

I wouldn't say it is a "religious reason." In fact if I was filling out a survey on why we homeschool, I would check the box marked "academic." Because of being in classes of 20-30, I was either bored (in the classes I was good at) or confused (math). I left school with the idea that I was pretty stupid and then proceeded to prove it the next several years.

My goal with my kids is that they don't feel stupid because of getting behind in a subject (not that I do that perfectly). Also for them to able to research and learn something that they don't know about. For example if I somehow manage to completely miss teaching them anything about WWII, they would know how to find out about it in the library.

Why is this one different from my other blogs?

Well, I am once again going to try to have a blog that is just homeschooling and then one that is personal/family. The difficulty is so much of the family stuff has homeschool applications and visa-versa. Many of my other blog followers are not homeschoolers so a discussion of curriculum or my latest planner design will not interest them. On the other hand, I haven't been posting very much about homeschooling so homeschoolers don't have as much to interest them.

I have been wanting to post more of the info I am finding about homeschooling but as I said, many of my followers are not homeschooling.

So we shall see how this experiment of (yet another) blog goes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Do schools kill creativity?

I just thought this was interesting and thought provoking. Ok, and this guy is also pretty funny.