Homeschooling Progress Report ~ Why I Homeschool

Yesterday, the kids and I went bowling with our homeschooling group and I asked one of the mothers what math curriculum she uses as I’m trying to decide what to use for Ben next year. We chatted for a while and then she asked me why I homeschool. I hedged a bit, as sometimes I feel awkward that we are not religious homeschoolers. The answers didn’t fall easily off my tongue {even though I am very opinionated about the topic!}. What I said went something like this:

I have a philosophical objection to the current state of public education. I think school starts at too young an age, it seems to me that more and more kids are medicated at earlier ages {and I don’t like that}, I don’t like the food served in school, and I don’t like the emphasis on peer pressure. And there I stopped.

All of that is true for me. But it’s much more complicated than that. I also don’t like the cookie cutter approach to education. I don’t believe one size fits all. I HATE the emphasis on teaching to the test. I don’t like that reading is pushed earlier and earlier and kindergarten is now

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    • Homeschooling is becoming more popular across all kinds of people, but I do have a harder time finding secular homeschoolers. In my area at least, most people still homeschool for predominantly religious reasons. Luckily, there are lots of facebook and yahoo groups and the crunchy mama scene and La Leche League are sometimes good places to look! :-)
  1. I homeschool for many of the reasons you do, but mainly because I don't hold American public education in very high regard. I am a product of US public primary and secondary education and after high school, I went to college in both The Netherlands and England and it was clear to me that my peers overseas had enjoyed a much broader and more in-depth education than I had. This includes exposure to varied topics, the type of outside-the-classroom educational experiences, and teachers who were able to challenge kids appropriately. I didn't want substandard education for my kids. Plus, the whole teach to the test concept annoys the hell out of me. As you know, my eldest at age 10 said she wanted to try public school so she has been in a gifted 5th grade class since September, the last year of elementary school here. She's enjoyed some of it, but it's not a challenge. Like Anna, she spends her time at home listening to math and science videos on, asking her dad to discuss math concepts I don't even understand, and reading through all sorts of literature. But as I tucked her in the other night, she said something that made me sad and angry: "Only 3 months until the FCATs now...." What?!?! Where did THAT come from?! So we had a little talk. She should NOT be feeling stress or pressure about these damned exams which are the focus of the teachers all year long. I told her we don't give a damn about those tests. We want her to enjoy learning, read, ask questions, explore - and don't worry about tests. But I resented that I had to work to ease her mind about a test that she'll have no problem passing. This should NOT be the focus of her educational efforts! She had a "benchmark test" a couple of weeks ago where she missed a couple of questions. We asked what she missed and she didn't know. We think it's ridiculous to test children and not share with them what they did right and what they missed. How do they learn from that? What's the point? The point is that it is for the district, not for the best interest of the child. These tests test material for the entire year, including subject matter that the children have not yet learned about in class. So why test them on it halfway through the year? Ugh. It drives me freaking nuts. Anyway, I'm very glad she spent her first ten years at home and I'm glad so far the boys show no interest in public school. I aim to keep them home until at least 5th grade. They're playing, crafting, reading, going to the theatre, taking a hands-on science class at a museum, loving karate and cub scouts and camping.... and along the way learning all they need to know at their young ages.... which is a love of learning. No tests here! We prefer having actual conversations to determine comprehension....
    • Three months to the FCAT??? That's so sad. You made a very good point about exposure to broader concepts. Since I spent elementary and middle school in Germany, I had lots of exposure to other ideas. A VERY important issue, indeed!!
  2. I am always 5 minutes away from homeschooling. I agree with you on every point you made; but my kids are in a public (charter) school with every problem you listed, however, they have an outstanding arts/music/media center program. One of my kids is on the Autism spectrum, and honestly he benefits from the social interactions, however uncomfortable they are (I have pushed - real hard - for a lot of breaks built into his day; OT, social work, etc) but still - I never know if I am doing the right thing. Sometimes I think it is, and sometimes I want to homeschool them. Oh, this is a complicated issue, isn't it? :) I deal with it not even a year at a time; more like a semester at a time. This semester, it is working. Next semester, they might be home with me.
    • One of my kids is also in public school, Jen. Ironic? She wanted to go and I finally stopped arguing with her. She can come home in a heart beat! Right now she's happy there and I guess that's what matters. :-)

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