Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Remembering Homeschooling

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My mind has turned to when I used to homeschool.  I remember some of the trials and successes.  It was a bit of a roller coaster at first.  Just becoming comfortable with this lifestyle change took time.  We took it very easy, and I tried to remember they aren't getting a break from me, just as I wasn't getting breaks from them.  I did end up enjoying it for the most part.  I found that there were a lot of other homeschoolers.  Quite a bit I remember being out with my kids and being asked, "No school today?"  We'd proudly say we homeschool, and most people would twinkle and smile.  Other mom's would ask me how I did it.  Just as I hear women today in the work force ask, "How do you stay home?"

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I remember the pains I took in finding "just the right curriculum".  I was so worried I was going to mess up my children's education by choosing one over the other.  I will say I didn't think the PACEs were really any good.  I also did not trust myself to do the history without a curriculum.  I see now that I was wrong.  I'm pretty creative and well-versed in history, and what I don't know, I'm not scared to learn.  Math was a whole other problem.  I stink at math, and I think this is so because I don't like it.  I hate it.  Loathe it.  I ended up going with Singapore math and was pretty happy with it.  It wasn't colorful or creative, but it taught so that I could remember and understand what I had learned to such an extent I could teach it myself.  And my oldest even did some of it all on his own.  My thing was, I wanted to teach critical thinking skills, and most of that comes in teachable moments.  There's not a curriculum really for that, but that goal was kept in the forefront of my mind through the entire year.

Curriculum turned out to be the least of my worries.  New York is one of the hardest states to homeschool in.  There were tests to be taken.  I had to take my kids to a center where they could take these state tests even.  I couldn't just administer them myself!  I also had to provide reports.  I would send in samples of work, written evaluations, and tests.  It got to the point I was answering questions on Yahoo and had a blog of my own.  I don't remember the name of the blog, and it's been years, so it's most assuredly gone anyway.  It's a tough state to be a homeschooler, but it can be done, and just like anything else you get used to the hoops so that they aren't much of a block anymore anyway.

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There was the lifestyle itself.  I had to grocery shop during the day, so away all of us would go to the grocery store an hour away.  That day was shot as far as teaching from curriculum went.  There was the homeschool group we attended once a week and a couple of times during the summer.  This gave them a craft and gym as well as a social outlet.  This group also arranged 3 to 4 really cool field trips a year.  On top of this, each of the children had things they did that were extra-curricular.  Bowling, yoga, archery lessons, cub scouts, etc.  I also took my kids on smaller field trips so we could see things in action.  We were extremely busy.  More busy than kids in public school most assuredly.

We almost always got our work done by noon or so, and the afternoon was left to the children to spend as they pleased.  I had rules for this time though.  No television or video games.  Sometimes they would just play outside building makeshift ramps for their bikes and such, or play in the creek that ran through our property.  Sometimes they would read or build structures out of Popsicle sticks.  Once in a while one of my kids would embark on a bigger project requiring my help.  This time in the afternoon was for them to find and explore their own individual interests.  I figure they would gravitate toward what they wanted to do when they grew up based on what they spent their afternoons doing.
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Things I remember most vividly are going through the Little House books reading a chapter a day out loud while they painted or colored or whatever during the heart of a bad winter, taping a big sheet of paper to the underside of the dining room table so they could paint upside down just like the Sistine Chapel's ceiling was painted, going to an apple cider making factory in the fall, and hanging out with other homeschool moms learning that my failures were not obscure events limited to myself.  We picked blackberries one day, and my daughter and I pummeled those berries all day long to make jam.  What I can barely remember is standing in front of the white board explaining fractions.  What I barely remember is teaching compound sentences.  I guess I'm thankful for the other stuff I do remember.  Who wants to look fondly back at the day of frustration when one of their son's just wasn't understanding?  I guess it's kinda like childbirth or having a colicky baby.  I remember the good.  I don't really remember the bad much.  Only barely, like as if it were in a book I read once.  One time we took a whole week off.  It was needed.  There was much fighting and so forth, so I declared a vacation.  Still no television or video games during the day, and everyone pretty much stayed away from each other, but at the end of it we were ready to climb back in the saddle.

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I think homeschooling is the way to go.  I think parents have more of a vested interest in their children than Michelle Obama or whatever state you live in.  I think the curriculum a school district chooses is based on what company is the lowest bidder.  I say that because I worked for a school district for three years.  A pretty good one, too.  They have smart boards in every classroom.  They have paperless classrooms.  They have indoor batting cages.  Their cheerleaders have a huge building all their own with dressing rooms and mirrors and such.  I see the amenities.  I see the willing teachers who are really good at what they do.  I also know my kids learned more during the time I homeschooled than they would have at a school district like this.  My kids also were able to explore who they were as people.  They actually got more opportunities than public schooled kids in a sense.

At any rate, this post is really just me remembering, than a post meant to try to get women to homeschool their kids.

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  1. Yes, we homeschooled our children. We learnt the 'basics' thoroughly and well and still had lots of time to follow their interests to the desired depths. Freedom, connection, company, love, exploring, playing, reading, learning, growing, discovering, sharing... together. It was good, very good.. :)

  2. Linda!!! I missed you! It's so good to see comments from you again! I know you weren't gone for a long time or anything. I just so look forward to what you have to say, and so you were sorely missed!

  3. Unfortunately I was very anti homeschool when I taught public school. Our son went to public school until 2nd grade. God really did a work in my heart to bring him home and this is our 6th year homeschooling! I love it! Math is still not my thing, but we found a curriculum we love! High school next year makes me nervous, mostly because I don't want to mess up his chances of getting into college, but I know that's the enemy messing with me and we'll be just fine. One of the very few benefits of living in IL is the homeschool laws are extremely lax and we are free to do what we choose with basically zero accountability to the state. I still keep very detailed records, because my state is run by who it's run by.... Just in case! Thank you for sharing your memories of homeschooling! It's always nice to read here!

  4. Yes. It's always a good thing to prepare for a "just in case". It might help to know that there are some colleges that actually prefer homeschoolers. I know (at least as of a few years ago when I lived there) in New York, Cornell is extremely homeschool friendly.

    I admire you for your choice in educating your children. I do understand the pressures. Sometimes, for me, even day by day, it was a choice and a tough one. Yeah, I think you'll be okay. :)