26 August 2008

Homeschool Interview

Sunniemom has alerted me to a blogging meme over at Raising Explorers, where a parent is informally gathering information to try to decide if homeschooling is right for her family. Click on over if you want to be part of the self-interview. My answers are in red.

Q1: Have you home studied (whether unschool or home school) from the beginning or after removing your child from public or private school? If the latter, go to Q2. If always home study, go to Q3. We removed Elf from public school after we came to the point where we realized the school wasn't really working in our child's best interests. For background on this, please see the post on why we homeschool on my sidebar.

Q2: Did you remove your child from public or private school during the school term, or during the summer break? Please describe the transition period. Did you and your child(ren) require a long transition before becoming comfortable in your decision and new lifestyle? We had many problems with the school being unable to handle Elf and his needs because of his autism. He only attended school for three hours a day, and most of his classwork was being sent home anyway. I reasoned that with all the trouble we were having, that we could get the work done on our own timetable and in our own manner by homeschooling. When my husband finally agreed after a particularly stressful meeting at our school, I had printed up a sheet simply stating that I was withdrawing my son from the school rolls. I presented this paper an hour after our decision was made to the principal and told Elf to go get his stuff because he wasn't coming back.

This is not a method I would recommend for the average homeschooler. I need to emphasize that this wasn't a spur of the moment decision, but one that had been looming on the horizon for quite some time. When my husband finally gave the OK, I wanted to be sure to start right away. I was ready.

Poor Elf on several occasions before this happened had been begging for me to "take me out of this horrible place" and had expressed his unhappiness on several occasions. He was sad to leave his "friends," but he enjoys being able to cook and do field trips he wouldn't have been able to otherwise.

Q3: Which method of home study has your family chosen to follow? Home school, unschool, or something completely different? We use the curriculum-in-a-box, mostly from Bob Jones. We also use the public school curriculum, but an older edition of what the school is currently using. (They were updating their texts and so I got these for free. At least in this subject, I can be sure that we are comparing apples to apples.) We also add in field trips and study extra things sometimes as my children show interest. Instead of just moving on to the next thing, sometimes we study a subject more in depth or do, say, a short unit study on a sea creature or tree before going to the next chapter.

Q4: I can see many benefits to making the change, though I am sure I am unaware of all of them. It’s more difficult for me to see possible negative effects this may have. Can you list any negative effects that removing the child(ren) from school has had on your family, in any way? I think the biggest negative would be the perception of others who don't homeschool, especially in the beginning. I mean, here I am just getting used to how to do this whole thing, and then being asked things like "how you do it" and that sort of thing gets a little unnerving. Now that I'm less nervous about other people's perceptions about things, this isn't so bad. Another negative, I think, is the idea that other children get that my children are socially weird because they homeschool. They're in fact socially weird because at least two of them are autistic. Growing up with autistic siblings or being autistic yourself doesn't quite make you the most astute creature in this area. I think as the children grow up, they may miss many lower-cost opportunities public school children get such as orchestra and after-school clubs.

Has home study had any unexpected positive effects? If yes, please list a couple. Aaah... doing all the work and teaching things MY WAY instead of the school's way is very refreshing. I'm teaching the public school math, but I teach addition and subtraction from right to left with borrowing and carrying. Public schools now teach it from left to right, and with little lattices and other unwieldy methods. It's very difficult to switch gears and do things the "school's way" when I've already learned it another way. Perhaps this is just a preference on my part.

Q5: What is the most difficult aspect, in your opinion, of your home study method (home school or unschool). The most difficult aspect is actually keeping my cool when the infants are pooping and screaming during key teaching times. It is very unnerving. But that's my individual circumstance and I don't know if you find that information helpful.

Q6. Did you make the decision to home study with your child(ren)’s input about their schooling preference or did you decide to do this without your child(ren)’s opinion about public/private schooling? Why did you decide to include or exclude your child(ren)’s opinion in this matter? Elf was six and felt school was horrible, but he was at an age I wouldn't consider his opinion as being of equal importance to my own. I certainly did understand that school was a bad experience for him, which is WHY we considered this option seriously in the first place.

Q7. Do you ever have the feeling that maybe you’re not living up to the standard, in education, you wish for your child? Why or why not? Oh, sure. That's just good parenting. I have older children in public school and occasionally I feel sad I didn't home educate them because I see several gaps in their schooling. Sometimes I see gaps in my younger homeschooled kids and wish there was time to fill in all of those. There simply are going to be "gaps" in anyone's education. The important things such as reading, writing and being able to balance a checkbook are paramount, but beyond that, my public school children and homeschooled children are more apples n oranges. I hope they both enter the world prepared for its challenges.

Q8. How does your family supplement social interaction (with other children) in your home study method? Not very well. My children are in fact socially odd. They were odd when they attended public school as well, in all fairness.

Q9. Are there any subjects or topics, common in public school curriculum, that you either refuse to teach your child or believe and teach very differently from public school curriculum - or believe to be inappropriate for the age which it is introduced in public school? For example, first grade public school introduces slavery, which I believe to be inappropriate for the age of my son. Oh, boy. I made the mistake of trying to teach about slavery to my son and he went and asked the black lady at Hy-Vee if her boss knew she was away from the farm. Thankfully he was SIX and wath mithhhing hith front teefffth and wasn't very well understood. You're wise to skip this topic until the child doesn't get nightmares about it (yep). Actually, I'm not all that averse to what is being taught in the public schools at this age, but I might wind up teaching something different -- say, on plants rather than the water cycle for now and do the water cycle later. Since I buy my curriculum pre-packaged, I for the most part follow the lessons and add a few of my own.

Q10. Has your child ever shown interest in something that you just don’t know anything about - and would take a long time for you to learn? What was it and what was your solution for aiding them in learning about it? For example, if your child wanted to play an instrument that you do not know - it’s very expensive to get lessons (I would not be able to afford this), where as it is free, outside of instrument cost, in public school. I suppose in theory, I could enroll my children part-time, but *right now* there are many things to learn about that I do feel capable of teaching. This is something I've thought about and would deal with in different ways depending on the situation and how expensive it would be to contract out.

I hope my questions and answers are helpful to you and other readers.







3 comments:

  1. Okay, I almost shot cracker crumbs out of my nose after reading Q9. Ever so slightly embarrassing. Kids say the darndest things. I have a similar story with my little nephew.

    I appreciate this interview as I think of the same questions myself for my future kid. One thing, I know your kids have social issues, as you say, but do you have any recommendations of things to try, even if they don't always work out so great in the area of socializing?

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  2. Great interview, Mrs. C. I, too, am doing mostly Bob Jones this year. I'm learning quite a bit! :)

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  3. I thank you for taking the time to answer the questions. All these interviews have been filled out by such a diverse variety of folks and everyone gives me encouragement, inspiration and information that helps me. Thanks again! Candy

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)