I am following a dream.
I was trying to keep my dream on the down low because there is so much judgement that accompanies it, but my son outed me at a family dinner at my in-laws so I guess I am okay to out myself here on my blog.
After much thought, prayer, and research, I have decided to homeschool Elle this year. She is my 6th grader.
It is not that I am disgruntled with the public school system or because my child is being bullied or because I want to teach the Bible all day long. I actually want to homeschool for much less dramatic reasons.
Here are 9 reasons why I want to homeschool Elle this year:
1. TIME- I want more time with Elle while she still wants time with me. Every one says how fast children grow up and how they are gone before you know it, so I see homeschooling as a way to slow down time and enjoy the present. If I keep Elle home I will actually see her 6 more hours a day. 6 hours a day x 5 days a week x 36 weeks of school = 1080 more hours of time I will have with Elle than if I sent her to school. 1080 more hours I will be a part of her life. And with Elle being gone at ballet almost every day after school, this new found time is even more important to me.
2. LEVEL- I want to be able to meet Elle at her academic level not necessarily at a 6th grade level. She struggles a bit in math and excels in reading for example. So for Elle, we will be going back and reviewing all 5th grade math to make sure there are no holes in her understanding before we go on to our 6th grade math. We might need to spend extra time on long division or fractions and we can do that when she is the only student. With homeschooling, she can go at her own pace in all subjects, not the average pace of 30 other kids.
3. CHOICE- Elle and I get to decide what she learns and how she learns it. As far as what she learns, choice is so important. Until we care about something, our brain has no desire to store, understand, or explore the info. As soon as we have interest and choice, our learning automatically excels. With homeschooling, Elle will get choice. In fact she came bounding up the stairs the other day yelling, “MOM! I know what books I am going to read next… The Anne of Green Gable series!” Then she went on for about 5 minutes on why this series was right for her at this time. A few days later I printed an Anne of Green Gables reading study guide off the internet. Boom. There is our reading curriculum for September. As far as how she learns, we get to decide what teaching methods are best for her. I ordered some Math and History books that teach the subjects in a story form. Reading a story is way more up Elle’s alley than reading a text book, and I am confident she will learn to love these subjects if the teaching method fits her better.
4. INFLUENCE- I want my influence in Elle’s life while I still have some influence. And I want my influence to be stronger than her peers. I want time to push my agenda of character development, leadership skills, individual responsibility and caring for others before she won’t listen to me anymore. I can tie the gospel of Jesus Christ into any subject I want and we will have more time for scripture study, church lessons, family home evenings and Faith in God. In my home she will see less swearing, mean girls, bullies, disrespect, immodesty, materialism, etc. than she would see at school.
5. FREEDOM- I don’t like being told what to do, so I like that homeschooling allows me freedom. Freedom to have our own schedule, to follow our own interests, to go at our own pace, to pick our own curriculum, to start school when we want, and learn about our own beliefs. We can travel in October, go on a field trip on a Tuesday, eat lunch when we are hungry, and wake up later than earlier. Elle struggles a bit to get out of bed so we can just push the start of school back an hour or so. Elle and I are hitting St. George in the middle of the week because we can.
6. SELF-ESTEEM. 6th grade is that wonderful time when girl drama, mean girls and cliques are in full swing. Elle doesn’t need that – no one needs that. Why not keep her home in an environment where she is loved and safe until she builds more confidence and self- esteem? She will hit the real world soon enough and if I can save her a few awkward years, so be it. I messaged an old high school friend the other day who is a 6th grade English teacher in Oregon about some books Elle should read this year. I mentioned I was homeschooling but never said why. After a few exchanges, her final response to me was “I always thought if I had a daughter I would let her skip sixth grade. Let her keep her self-esteem intact. It’s such a difficult year.” Her comment was a small validation for me on this tough decision.
7. RESPONSIBILITY- One of the main differences between public school and homeschool is where the responsibility lies. In public school teachers are accountable to teach, but students don’t feel the same pressure to learn. On the other hand, at home much of the work is self-directed, self-paced and self- taught. Accountability goes back on the child to educate herself because research proves that students who figure it out for themselves fair much better in retention and understanding as opposed to those that are told how to figure out a problem. Elle will have check lists of things to do and she will work through the tasks at her own pace and in her own order. I will not be sitting right by her helping her with every answer. She will be her main teacher. I think homeschooling is a great way for Elle to take charge of her learning, interests, talents and time.
8. PASSION- Learning is my passion. Teaching is my passion. And it has always been my dream to share my passion with my kids on a more formal level. One of my old students sent me a message on Facebook recently: “You changed my life. You made me want to be a storyteller… Anyway, we did a lot of writing in your class which I loved. But it’s also the way we read. We got so involved in books. I mean- remember Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?! I got so into it. I wanted to tell stories. It felt like the stories in those books became our whole classroom. Our whole day. It was the bomb.” I want to have this same affect on my own children. I want them to love reading and learning because I love reading and learning.
9. STRUGGLE- Elle has really struggled this summer. She is fighting with siblings constantly and is constantly tired. We’ve wondered about mono and depression. Frankly, it would be easier, in some regards, to send her to school and get 6 emotion free hours. But I believe when there is a problem with a child or spouse you turn towards them, not away from them. Homeschooling is my way of turning towards Elle. I am hoping this time together fills in any gaps she is feeling and that we can navigate this hormone laden time together without the added pressures that come with public school.
So there you have it. 9 reasons why I am homeschooling Elle. You may still think I am a crazy, weirdo lady but at least you know where the craziness comes from.
We are just homeschooling Elle to start this year to see how it goes and to allow me time to adjust. I am biting off what I feel like I can chew at this time. If it all goes well and I really love this dream, I’ll take another bite — I might bring home my other kids too. We are taking our homeschooling decision on a year to year basis and on a kid to kid basis. Each one is so unique and has different needs and family circumstances change and evolve. I am not wholly for homeschooling or wholly for public school. I like to think I am open minded and want to do what is best for each individual each individual year.
Elle and I are both really excited about this new adventure. We have gathered curriculum and supplies. We have set up a school room and a binder. And we have even done some practice days. I know there will be days / weeks that are hard and frustrating, and I will wonder what I was thinking.
But I have learned that anything of real worth is difficult.