30 December 2007

Homeschooling is NOT So Hard.

I wish I'd have known this starting out. I wish I'd have known that it's actually LESS work to just homeschool your child, than to be an "involved parent" at school.

We've enjoyed elementary school with our older boys. *Most* of the teachers were actually pretty competent and caring (the others, I save for another blog post, another day...). We had the children involved in extra activities like the Spanish Club or Service Club, or choir, and they got a fair bit out of the experience.

But it's a LOT of work.

You get about a ton of worksheets that must be done by a certain time. Usually on a day when you're sick or have no time. You get the phone calls about this or that, and about a zillion sheets per day that sometimes contain important news, so you MUST go through them daily. The schools also *love* to throw in half days, teacher in-service days and early dismissals. Not so bad, unless you have children at more than one school and the schedules are not co-ordinated. You've written "early dismissal" on the calendar, but don't know which child will show up early at your door until you see him.

Our son Elf is autistic, and by the time he got to first grade, it wasn't worth it any more to send him to public school. Combining the fundraisers, the homework, the sheets, the million conferences and the constant phone calls about my son's "choices," made for an AWFUL start to the school year. (Yes, he wakes up every morning and plots ALL these problem behaviours just to annoy you. Thank you for understanding the nature of autism. You dork.) Can you tell I found myself in an extremely adversarial position with the school staff? D and I began to seriously consider homeschooling.

Once we were in agreement, life became SO much easier. Yes, "hours per day," I suppose I spend more on homeschooling than public schooling. But they're hours *I* get to manage as I wish. Since Elf was in first grade, I was able to practice basic writing skills and math skills while I investigated the curriculum and materials that were available "out there."

And I found a LOT. I had no clue there was so much out there. Anyone even remotely considering homeschooling ought to just take a look and see what's out there. Go to the CBD website, or find a "teachers' supply store" near you if you prefer secular curriculum. Even if you decide to leave your child in public schools, there are just SO many materials out there that will be helpful to your family. You don't need $ylvan tutoring or anything like that to see marked improvements in your child's academic skills.

I hadn't realized how much energy I had been using to participate in my children's school life until Elf came home, either. No more fights about my child telling the entire kindergarten class that Santa is not real, or constantly being hit up for money (United Way, Scholastic book fair, fundraisers, teacher appreciation this, mitten tree that). I think I'm actually SAVING money by homeschooling, and I buy the good stuff from Bob Jones.

One more thing I found out: I *like* teaching my younger children at home. I found out that I can spend 24/7 with these little children and still enjoy their company (most of the time). It's not true that you'd go crazy having everyone home all day. I think after about two weeks everyone is well-adjusted to the new routine. The children DO learn when to go do something in their room and leave Mom alone. FYI, our older two children are still in public schools (8th and 7th grades), so we still have to work around that occasional half-day or teacher in-service.

Are you thinking of homeschooling, or do you homeschool presently? Feel free to share your thoughts.

17 comments:

  1. We plan on homeschooling. I figure with the screwed up government wanting to "raise" our kids, it's better we screw them up and society.

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  2. You really think it's easier? Wow, I've only got one and I can't tell you how busy I am. We're now in our 5th year of homeschooling and I can tell you I run around like a chicken with my head cut off. Between the 6 hours of curriculum a day, American Heritage Girls, pre-teen Bible study, Choir, PE, Basketball, and co-op I'm crazy busy. And that doesn't count time to do laundry, dishes, dusting, moping and making sure my dd (darling daughter) does her chores. We homeschool 9 weeks on, 1 week for fall break, 9 weeks on, 2 weeks for Christmas break, 9 weeks on, 1 week for spring break, 9 weeks on and we're done by Mother's Day. And let me tell you I can hardly wait for Mother's Day by the time we make it to April. I don't know how you do it with 4 and one on the way. Blessings to you for a peaceful New Year.
    J

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  3. Mrs. Knifton, bet you our "screwed up kids" are thinking a lot more straight than we give them credit for. I wish *I* could live life without a lot of those old rock lyrics in my head, or stupid movies I watched as a kid, you know??

    J:

    LOL 5 and one on the way... but who's counting??

    I don't know... I find that the "free" time you get when the children are in school gets eaten up by more frequent doctor visits for Elf (he's asthmatic and COLDS are like death for him) or errands to get stuff and do stuff so that the children have a can of icing for party day or a red shirt to wear to school on Spirit Day or whatever...

    Also b/c I have different children in different schools the schedules would be way off. One kid leaves at 6:45. Next one leaves at 7:10. At 8:10 the next one has to be driven with EVERYONE (other kids too young to be left alone) to school, and picked up at noon.

    3 p.m. Patrick comes home.
    4 p.m. G comes home.

    Dinner, homework, showers, extra activities.

    Bleh! Throw in a few calls from school because of he said this and she said that, the I-forgot-my-binder again thing, sicknesses, half-days or IEP conferences (remember: two kids on the autism spectrum?) and you might as well give up on having a life during that time. I found when I did, that I played Civilization 3 all day long and ate one too many frozen pizzas.

    I will say though, that I'll bet your kiddo is in more activities than all mine put together, and that your house is WAY WAY cleaner. I was going to post on the mess but I'm too disheartened to do it today LOL!

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  4. Hi, Mrs. C.,

    I found you through COH. I am homeschooling a newly 14 year old son with AS and I agree completely! We schooled him through Grade 5, and since we had to be super-involved to make sure he got what he needed, it was an incredible among of work. When he was to go into Grade 6 at the middle school, I realized that I'd have to quit my part-time teaching job just to support him through--6 classes means 6 different teachers!
    And if I had to quit my job, I thought, wouldn't it be easier to just teach him myself. And viola! It is so much easier! And a great deal more fun!

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  5. Hello! I found you through CoH. Your post touches on something I was trying to explain to my parents. (My oldest is 5.5, so we are just starting homeschooling.)

    Homeschooling is a better choice for us precisely because it's a much better use of my husband's and my time. Not to mention my children's time! It's not that it won't take up any time at all--it's that we can choose when and how and what to do. And have a lot of free time, too--I want my kids to just play and play!

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  6. Came over from the carnival...

    I soooo agree with you. And I also noticed that some of the tension in my relationship with my daughter just evaporated. I think that she had had enough of being told what to do and behaving nicely by the end of the school day and took all her frustration out on me. Not that we don't argue (or have those times we just need to do different things, as you say) but it is so much nicer. She is a joy to spend time with and I love spending all day with her.

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  7. I too have wandered over from the carnival--
    Homeschooling has greatly helped our family schedule. When my oldest was in public school – 3rd grade- she was up at 6:20 getting ready for school then she’d come home at 3 pm have an hour or two of homework (lots of math as she was struggling at school and so they sent it all home), then chores and dinner and about 45 minutes of family or play time before going to bed and starting all over again. Our family life was squeezed into weekends and our mother/daughter relationship began to become strained and bitter. Fast forward to our first year homeschooling- 4th grade- the tension and bad attitudes disappeared- our mother/daughter relationship is better than it ever was—our evenings from 4 pm to bed time are free for family time and my husband says his favorite part about homeschooling is I am so much less stressed!!
    I love the flexibility homeschooling gives our family and while we can’t get more hours into our day- we are definitely making better use of them than before.
    I have to add that I got a good chuckle from your thoughts on saving money by homeschooling—I too got tired of all the “ways to give back” to the school system- wasn’t I giving them enough with my tax dollars!?! It was quite unnerving to get the first fundraiser of the school year at the end of the first week of school!
    In order to maintain family harmony etc.- our children are each limited to one outside activity at a time. This greatly reduces our running hither and yon.
    Amy W
    www.homesteadblogger.com/homesweetsimplehome

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  8. I agree that homeschooling allows families to follow their own schedules. I am just finishing my first year of homeschooling my six year old son and 3 year old daughter. My son was enrolled in a charter school last year for kindergarten that went from 8:45 to 4:15. When his behavior began to fall apart (stress of twenty kids and too many hours of school), the staff had the nerve to suggest that taking him to religious meetings two evenings per week was the problem. Now, we just sleep in the mornings after, and I can take care of both his spiritual and academic development in A LOT LESS TIME!

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  9. Thanks so much for the kind and supportive comments, everyone! It's nice to know other families who have found what I've blogged in this entry to be true as well.

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  10. Hi! My husband and I are thinking seriously about homeschooling our daughter (5th grade). I work as a marine police officer (busy summers) and he is a deputy sheriff. We both work weekends. Our off days are in the middle of the week. I make my own schedule -my job includes alot of evening work. He basically works 4 to 12. Do you think this is something we are capable of doing? Lana

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  11. Lana: Click on the "Homeschool and Etc." bar at the top of the page. This will bring you to recent posts on my blog. I thought this was a worthy enough question to deserve its own post, so please watch for comments in the next few days. Bless you!

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  12. Mrs. C, So glad you left this link on my blog. You are right I've never sent my kids to school, but have imagined much of what you are discussing here...especially on those days when I need to take a break from my family. It would be a LOT more work to be an active parent with four children in the public school system... And with all of my children following a "different" educational timeline than what is considered average, I know I would be spending a lot of time talking with teachers and administration, and special programs (both gifted and delayed, depending on the child)...homeschooling is a much simpler option for us in this area because if one of the kids need special help than I just need to make sure it gets taken care of. When I close my eyes I know that sending the kids would be so much stressful for us as a family. I love our flexibility, our ability to delve into what we need to delve into and have anyone feel like they are "behind the curve" or "special needs".

    Thanks again for sharing this!

    ...Shannon

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  13. I am seriously considering home school for our son but will also have to work part time and am wondering if that is realistic.
    Our son is two and will probably be our only. My husband will be working a lot in Mexico indefinitely and I am an ER doctor and can't make a living in Mexico but can make a good income working an average of 20 hours a week in my home state of Oklahoma where my family is (ie I get family help with childcare while I work and my son and I get to stay close to my family) So far we have been going back and forth between Oklahoma and Mexico (time divided 50/50), I work about 40 hours a week in Oklahoma and am a stay at home mom in Mexico.
    We have been planning on him going to private school in Oklahoma and for several practical reasons don't intend to send him to school in Mexico. I really like the idea of homeschooling and it would let my son and I travel back and forth freely. I can't imagine not working, though I could be happy continuing to work part-time.
    I certainly want my son to be academically competative and competent. I consider myself academic, but realize that being a good teacher is much more complicated than that. I know that when I have worked all night and only slept a few hours, I am much less effective at good parenting, and when I am rested I feel very patient and effective.
    Does anyone know of any successful homeschool moms who also work parttime? Or have an opinion on how realistic that is? We're a year away from possibly starting formal preschool, and I would appreciate any advice.

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  14. Hello, mom/doc!

    I'm going to *guess* that you will be just fine! And preschool is a lovely, relaxed way to test those waters. Preschool doesn't even have to be formal, but I know what you mean.

    I do know some moms who work part time and homeschool. I also know a full-time homeschool mom, though her children are older and they homeschooled through a divorce. Only thing is, they're not connected to the internet, so my information is rather secondhand. :]

    You might go to bloggedabout.com and type in some search words to see if you can find others who are working and homeschooling as well. I just don't want to give a bunch of stupid and impractical advice if I'm not in the same boat. :]

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  15. This is a great post. My children have never been to school, so I can't comment on how much work it is. But I recently was showing some of my homeschooling books and stuff to a teacher, and she said 'Wow - we don't get to use great resources like that'.
    Nuff said!!

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  16. Hi Mrs. C,

    I decided to homeschool my child (1st grade) in the fall. This will be my first time and I have questions about the curriculum. I have fears if I can do it!... I have a degree in Accounting back home in my Asian country. English is my second language but of course curriculum here is different from where I was. My question is " when I get the chosen curriculum for my son, does those materials for teaching have answers with it?"... I am scared I wouldn't know the answer if it doesn't!..

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    LadyH

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    1. Hi, LadyH!

      Most stuff you buy contains the answers. But first grade stuff especially, you should be fine without the answers. I've seen curriculum from Singapore and Korea and Japan, so (and here I'm generalizing) Asian curriculum is likely much harder than what you would be teaching here.

      PS Good luck to you!

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