Friday, January 22, 2010

More Thoughts About Homeschooling

As I continue to struggle with the educational choices that I have before me I am reading more and more that is steering me toward homeschooling, at least for Gabby. That, along with happenings- like her getting 3 check marks, the worst punishment in the class, for not putting her chair up on the table and such- is really making me question what is really going on. The best part was, Gabby didn't even feel remorseful for getting those three checks... she knew that they were for something that was not awful or hurtful, therefore, she didn't care. And I was not mad at her in the least because to me they were pretty insignificant. More than likely she was off in "Gabby Dreamland" and not even meaning to be disobedient.

Well, sometimes I just surf around the web checking out random links and such and I thought that I would share this lovely post with you from Bloom regarding her own homeschooling experience. It really made me think about school in general and how kids learn. Hopefully it is interesting to you as well! 
I often get the question; how do you do it?
How do you home school?

So I thought maybe this is something I could write about and maybe spur you on to try it...or run the other way.

At least tell you why it works for us and how it is part of our life.

I guess I'll start with some background on me and what made me want to.

I grew up in Norway with your regular school system.
School bored the heck out me. I was there to socialize.
I didn't find much challenging or remotely interesting except art class and Norwegian Mythology.
Hated math...not to mention English...ever tried to listen to a Norwegian try to teach English...good grief.
Science, dissecting animals...NEVER!
I really liked P.E especially skiing, also home economics was really fun.
Other than that, school was a chore....dread.

When I was on my last years of high school I had enough....I name was "the tourist" I came to school when ever I felt like it.
That is when the black Mohawk showed up and I did many notsogood things...

Well wasn't I the proudest student on the last day of high school ?
-I failed. Surprised?

So that is when my ever absent dad said California was the solution!
Packed my bags and flew to Coronado and enrolled in high school....whoa!
Was that a life change or what?

Talk about a fish out of water.

However there was a kindness and sincerity about a few of the teachers that would reach out to me. I worked my rear end off....every single extra credit homework I could do, I did...I was hell bent on graduating.
I amerced my self in Ulysses and Shakespeare...even U.S. Government.

My stepmonster hired a french tutor that helped me so much.

Well this sad story has a great ending.
I 10% of my class.

All this to say...I am not sure if the system failed me or I failed to be the "norm".
I swore this was never going to happen to my children.
It is amazing what you can achieve when someone "gets you".

When I became a mother I wanted to stay home with my children. As they grew older and were getting ready for school I found out that you could hold them back a year and also that kindergarten was not mandatory...hmmm.
So I held Jules back one year and enrolled him in a private alternative school.

All I can say is when I walked in those doors I never wanted to leave (good sign)
The basis for the school was constructivism. Based on the books of Holt and Gardner.
They would let the kids think for them self and learn based on their own personality type and style. The idea of the school was teaching the "whole student".
What a concept...
They grew an organic garden that the children tended. Music i.e violin, flute etc. Math with chickens...(don't ask) and so on. The students would go grocerie shopping, prepare snack and lunch...just to name a few.
Julian had the year of his life...learning real life skills.

We moved to Montana and Jules started 1st grade....yep.

I knew there had to be something else out there..
Armed with books on homeschooling and Gardener and Reggio Amelia...I set forth to make a plan over the summer that I would home school Jules and Sophia.

That fall we dove in.

So the question I am trying to answer is why?

I love my children, spending time with them. I want them to have a wonderful and meaningful childhood free to be themselves who they are without all this peer pressure carp.

I don't want them to be motivated by treats, bribes and check marks. I don't want them to react because a bell rings,wanting them to think for themselves learn life skills understand how the world really works. Learn thru experience, exploration and travel.
I am also an advocate for children having a childhood...playing. Perserving it a little longer. Climbing trees, making forts, shooting hoops, biking, playing with dolls, coloring and so forth all good things...I think.

You ask can I home school?
- I don't know, can you?
Do you like your kids?
-Do you have patience to stay home with your child/children can you forgo your own schedule of having coffee with friends, workouts etc....
100s of questions pummeling at you all day long, screaming shouting, laughter & tears.
- Oh yeah...NOISE.
Add a few babies in the mix...there were times when I was nursing and reading history at the same time.

Sometimes a messy house, laundry piles that are the size of mount Everest.
Can you put things you would rather do at the moment aside and focus on your kids...can you live your life in organized chaos?

How do you feel about teaching your kid to read.. how about algebra?
(How 'bout not getting paid for it...bitter pill in some cases)

You home school everyday when you teach your child to do laundry when you read to your child...go skiing..baking, help them with their math homework, gardening, playing chess, building something in the woodshop...sewing, knitting..talking about your childhood or family history.

Every day is different...good,bad or in between....
We are human beings and our moods and needs change on a daily basis the sooner you accept that, the easier it will be for you to ease into a just have to relax into it.

It took me a good 3 years until I got the swing of it. The first year it was way more structured.

Now we have a plan for the week and try to stick with it...but if the kids find something along the way that they want to investigative...then that is what we do, it leads to some interesting places.
There are also times when we just need a break and we'll watch DVDs on the, play games and go for walks. Do art, listen to music.
Unit studies are also really great to mix things up.

There are days when you just want rip your hair out (being honest here) and nothing works...take a break, take a personal day...a sick day. It's important to give yourself credit for all the good you do and remember that tomorrow a new day is a fresh new day.
It's also important to take care of yourself here...make sure YOU get break from kids and house. I used to run, now I do yoga every day for an hour...keeps my head clear and it relieves stress.

Homeschooling is also about other things as respect, goals and patience.
Just because your book smart does not mean you can negotiate or conduct yourself well in a business meeting. It's the every day experiences and interactions that are important too....and the burning questions being answered...Questions...huge! Finding the answers.

Also home school is so much fun!
Think about get to rediscover your childhood..brush up on math, do science experiments (and understand it this time around) learn a foreign language,there are fringe benefits here people.
Throw paint on a canvas....
Sew, cook and dive into history and maybe even focus on countries that you would like to explore more, plan a vacation visiting these foreign places.
Learn about cultures and people from far away.
Read folklore and fairy tales.

You have strengths and weaknesses focus on your strengths...the rest will come.
I have an easier time with languages and the arts.

I hate science and Math...guess what, I am teaching 8 th grader algebra...and I am loving it...I am actually good at much so that I get hugs after lessons thanking me for making it clear and easy to understand, maybe because I have had such difficulty I can feel the pain(go me!)
Science...bring it on...we found a fantastic curriculum and as a bonus planning a 10 day trip where we are studying the ocean more in depth...somewhere warm and beautiful surrounded by ocean.

Okay, so now you have read some of my reasons and your either intrigued or not so much...

Here is some things to think about.
Be aware of your kids socialization...note did you see I said "be aware" make sure they get plenty of playtime with other kids...maybe soccer, dance and other fun things away from house and home with other children.
Field trips are good...excellent way of learning; post office, fisheries, theater, hospitals etc. real life learning.

I have also heard some pretty hurtful things such as; "you're home must be stupid".
I feel sorry for people that are unable to think out of the box and teach their children to be just as ignorant.
(For the record...I had to put my kids in public school for a year...they were on the honor roll...nuff said)

The first year is the hardest. The second year a little easier and so it goes...
Try to find like minded people and other families who home school. Getting support is very important. Maybe there is a home school group in your area.

Get used to your kids not doing things that are the "norm" daughter is learning quilting from a lady in her 70's with her posse of older women...she is not only learning quilting but listening to stories of "the old days" (history) and socializing & interacting with some of our finest citizens...yes, the elderly.
My kids pick apart old telephones and computers to see "whats inside and how they work".

Some famous home schoolers...
Alexander Graham Bell
George Patton
Thomas Edison
Claude Monet
Leonardo Da Vinci
Albert Einstein
Pierre Curie
Charles Dickens
Mark Twain
Abraham Lincoln
John Muir
Ansel Adams
Louis Armstrong
LeAnne Rimes
Venus and Serena Williams
the list goes're in good company.

So if you have read this far....and you are still interested...tune in next week I'll tackle books, curriculum and whatever else I can think of.
Email, comment.

...and last but not do what you do, what works for your family.
Public school, private school, home school...what ever, I am not here to judge or persuade...I am just telling you like it is in our little world...

Art and chilli in the's a good thing.

Isn't that such an interesting post? I love how candid and real Camilla is about the whole thing- the good, the bad, and the "oh my God, why the heck am I doing this" moments. All I know is that it really hit home with me, and I feel like something just clicked.... =)


Melissa said...

What a wonderful post. Gabby was just telling me about how the bad kids get checks by their name the other day. Poor kid. Combined with the tv babysitting after lunch- ugh.

Anonymous said...

I agree a wonderful post indeed! I homeschooled for a yr and miss it now that they are in public school.. Whatever decision you make will be the right one. 80)

Prasti said...

thanks for sharing that post. we're in the process of prayerfully making a decision with homeschooling as well. i've e-mailed a few homeschooling mamas and asked them a huge list of questions to help in the decision making process :).

i'm sure the decision you make will be one that will be the best fit for you and your family.

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