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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back to School...Homeschool, that is!

     This is what I have learned from dunking my kids into public school last year.

   There are some teachers and administrators who have a general disdain for homeschoolers, and some who really like them...with almost no middle ground there.  I hope my children represented a good homeschool education by using their manners, being respectful to authority figures and showing kindness to their fellow students. Oh, and doing good schoolwork and getting good grades, blah blah blah.

   Since my kiddos dropped into "the system" after being primarily homeschooled for the previous six years, I had my concerns about their academic success.  After all,  we did not grade every paper, take very many tests, or use a published curriculum for every single subject.  After the first report card, however, my fears were quelled.  9th grader with A's, B's and one C...all you need to know here is that he thoroughly enjoys school...not necessarily school subjects...he just likes to go to school, he did not miss a single day, and I did not have to get him up for the bus one single time. Very responsible kid. He wanted to continue going to public high school (NTI) so we let him.  One comment we got that rubbed me the wrong way was..."thank goodness he's in school".  This was said after he showed off his report card at a family gathering, as if it were the school that whipped him into shape after nine weeks and the previous years of homeschooling, co-ops, daily devotions, library time, activities and etc. had nothing to do with that success. 

5th grader with A's and B's..Carson being a bit shy, had the benefit of having "the nicest teacher at the school". The principal made sure to tell me all about her school being a STEM school (science, technology, engineering, math focused).  I feigned being super-impressed whilst I really don't care.  What good is it for a man to gain the WHOLE WORLD, yet forfeit his soul.  I was just glad he was academically successful, and never had homework.

 My 1st grader had no major issues (N's or check minuses or whatever)  but her teacher was quite zealous about her "trouble spots".  She had a list of sight words that she should "already know" from Kindergarten.  It is no secret around here that Carson and Harmonie both struggled to learn to read.  In fact, after countless phonics workbooks and flash cards and videos being shoved down Carson's throat, I just totally backed off all together...and lo and behold he learned to read fluently as he approached age 8.  With this experience under my belt, I realized Harmonie had the same learning style (some might say difficulty) when she really struggled with letter identification and sounds early on. Sight words...out of the question.  So, I had a meeting with her teacher, shared my thoughts and was sent home with a copy of the list of words, and some activities we could do at home.  I did not tell her I got my teaching degree about the time she was graduating from middle school.  Harmonie had quite a bit of homework, and my thoughts are...if you can't get it done in six hours...call it a day. We have things to do at home, like playing outside until it's dark, eating supper, taking a bath, and reading a story.  The second half of her first grade year, she really gained momentum and her reading and writing improved dramatically AS SHE APPROACHED AGE 8.

So, my insights on this matter have formed a strong opinion that public schools push academics TOO hard on Kindergarteners and first graders...maybe even some second graders.  When I went to college and learned about how kids learn...the professors always stressed that kids had their own developmental time-line and the spectrum could be pretty wide.  I am keenly aware of this since my eldest could read just about any book you handed him at age 4 and the next 2 kids thought the letters F and S made the "eh" sound...eh eh ehf, eh, eh, ehs.  Its all good, don't panic, it will kick in if there are other things being taught at home.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.