Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Lightly-Taken Decision

Originally posted 4/21/11

I have to say, I've been questioning lately the impression I leave on my friends and acquaintences. Apparently, many people believe me to be shallow and think that I take critical decisions very lightly. Mark & I have decided that we want to be in charge of our children's education. The last couple of years, I thought by being more involved at school volunteering/joining and being active in the PTA/being in the kid's classrooms that I would know more about what was going on and how to help my kids deal with their stresses. However, being more involved has shown me that I don't want my kids dealing with these stresses. There is a fundamental problem in the education system today, many fundamental problems. No, I don't have my degree in education, but I do believe I know my children very well. I know their strengths and weaknesses and I believe that I am capable and qualified to teach them. I'm already teaching them. I spend an average of 22 hours per week either in their classrooms or at home helping them with homework/projects/etc. Plus, there must have been 10 field trips this year. 16 hours per week. If I add 8 more hours in, that is the amount I agree to instruct my children if I pull them out of school and home educate them.

30 hours. Let's examine this. At school, part of their day includes lunch...ok, 30 minutes per day for lunch, got it (2.5 hours). They inevitably listen to an audiobook (1.5 hours). Often (2-3 times per week) they watch an educational dvd (2 hours). They read silently at their desks (20 minutes per day at least) (1.5 hours). They have recess (20 min/5 days per week) (1.5 hours). That's 9 more hours for a total of 25.

Mark & I work full-time (40-50 hours each per week). We do work at the family business though, so we can take the kids to work with us and keep them close to us. We see our kids currently after work (I get home around 6:30, he gets home around 7:45). All together, including busy morning time and after work time, we get to see our kids for 1 hour in the morning and 3 hours at night for me and an hour and 45 minutes at night for Mark. I guess we're weird, but I WANT to see my kids. I WANT the majority of their time to be spent with me and their father and their siblings. I MISS them when they're at school. They're at school for 7 hours, they're with a babysitter another 2-3 hours, 9-10 hours a day, 5 days a week that I don't get to see them, but other people do.

Friends of ours, people I thought knew me pretty well, act as though I'm
a.) An idiot who has no idea what it takes to teach a child
b.) Trying homeschooling as though I'm switching sandals
c.) Not even considering what's best for my children

If you've been paying attention, I've been researching this every waking non-working moment for 3 months. I've read the entirety of the Kentucky Core Content for the kids' current grades and the next two grades for each of them as well. I've read Virginia's core content/scope and sequence/curriculum documents and Iowa's. I've looked at no less than 300 different boxed homeschool curricula and compared them one to another. I've read reviews of each of them, discussed them on yahoo groups/company forums/other homeschooling parents. I've had several meetings and discussions with people who have homeschooled successfully. By successful, I mean parents who homeschooled "normal" acting children who were well-spoken and pleasant kids who eventually went to college. I've discussed homeschooling with those same college going kids (do you feel like you missed out on things? Were you deficient in anything heading into college? etc). On top of that, I've read or digested no less than 30 homeschooling how to books. I would have read more, but I maxed out my fines at the library, so I'm cut off at the moment.

Does that sound as though I'm taking this lightly?

I am very aware that I DON'T have a degree in education. I also know kids who are homeschooled who have no social skills. MY kids are NOT like those kids. They are extremely social. We're playing baseball, softball, soccer and we're going to start art lessons/gymnastics/karate in the fall when those other commitments slow down.
No, dad, we are not going to let him lay on the couch playing video games 8 hours per day.

Being able to keep the kids on a schedule that matches our work schedule will give us more time with them. Not having to put them to bed as soon as I get home at night, will give us more time with them. I want to be with my kids more. I want to show them what the family business is like and share that with them. I want them to have my values and Mark's values not their friends' values. I want to teach them about God and the Bible as part of their schooling without paying $10,000 a year in private school tuition. I want to teach them how to LOVE LEARNING instead of watching them from the sidelines learn to HATE TESTING.

Will it work? Time will tell. Being irresponsible idiots, we've decided to start as soon as the kids get out of school. We're going to try it throughout the summer, if it doesn't work, we'll just send the kids back in the fall. If it does work, then we send the letter to the superintendent and we don't look back.

If you are one of our friends and you think we're crazy, keep it to yourself. If you have concerns and you feel like you really have to share them with us, do it in a manner that doesn't scream "YOU'RE GOING TO FAIL MISERABLY AND I CAN'T WAIT SO THAT I CAN SAY "I TOLD YOU SO"." I don't mind hearing your reservations, it helps my resolve to talk through them, but when I think you're my friend (maybe even one of my best friends) and you intimate that I'm going to fail AND damage my children, that's crossing some lines.

I have thought about the consequences.
I have considered how difficult and time consuming it's going to be.
I do understand how frustrating my children can be.
I have thoroughly and completely investigated other options.
I do plan on socializing my children.
I know that it is a second full-time job (guess what, kids are always a second full-time job, I'm just choosing now to remove the middle men).
I am prepared for the possibility of failure BUT I am also prepared for the possibility of success.
Yes, homeschooled kids CAN and DO get accepted to college and I'm aware of WHAT I need to do to make sure they're prepared for that.
I am committed to this path. It's a shame I don't have more support from the people with which I'm closest.

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