Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A few Reasons why our family Homeschools

Homeschool. The act of schooling at home. It used to be the way all children were educated at one point. It is the way many families still choose to teach their children. As a matter of fact over two million children in the United States were homeschooled in the 2012/2013 school year. That number continues to rise each year. Just six years ago that number was half of what it is today. Why do you suppose parents all over our nation are choosing to take their children's education into their own hands? I can think of many, many reasons. Here are a few why our family chose to homeschool.

#1 Education should not be limited.

As I recall from attending public and private Christian school all learning is the same. A teacher presents oral and written work to a class. It is discussed and some book work is assigned. Once they have covered the "necessary" information they move on to the next thing. If one child or several did not understand they have to move on anyway. Teachers cannot stay in one place too long because the "system" mandates them to move on. Also the child whose imagination and wonderment has been peaked cannot continue to study this subject with his peers or discuss it with his teacher due to the schedule they  have to follow. Every year it is the same. They revisit what they learned the year before and add a little more information to the subject. Nothing is ever learned in it's entirety. The children know a little bit about many things instead of knowing many things about a few subjects.

In a homeschool setting a child can learn about a subject at their own pace in their own learning style. We do not have to close the chapter on that very interesting thing we are learning about because we need to move on to the next thing. We do not have to leave a child confused and wondering how are they going to pass a test when they did not even grasp the work given to them. In a homeschool setting we can go beyond the textbook and oral lesson. For example when learning about a new country, we read about the country, we use Google maps and tour the country on our computer. We check out a couple of cookbooks from the library and make some of the dishes traditional to this country. We watch a movie from this country. If this country is represented in an art exhibit, play, Epcot country (we live in FL) we incorporate a field trip to learn as much as we can about this country. We can immerse ourselves in the subject.

#2 Schedules

We run on a different schedule in our home. My dear husband comes home between eight and nine at night. Having family dinners are very important to us. So we plan our meals and bedtimes accordingly. I remember the one year my two youngest children went to public school, my poor husband would sometimes not see the children for days. We were slaves to someone else's schedule and had to live our lives around that. The kids went to bed before their dad got home and they woke up and went to school before dad got up for work. It was a very sad situation to have everyone living in the same household and we were not having quality family time.

#3 Sleep

I am a big believer that our bodies let us know when it needs something. Whether it's water or food or rest. I remember having to fight with my daughter to wake her up for school. She would literally cry each morning because she was not ready to wake up. This was the beginning of her day and it was a lousy one. Now that she schools at home I let her wake up when she is ready. Some days she needs more sleep than others. Her work gets done but not at the sacrifice or sleep.

#4 Car Lines

Okay this one is not a huge factor why we homeschool but I really detest car lines! It was added stress I did not need in my life.

#5 The Education System is Failing our Children

My youngest children went to our local "A" rated public school for one year. During this year my daughter was in the third grade and my son in the first grade. In FL there is a test given in the third grade called the FCAT. It is a multiple choice test that is actually used to measure the progress of the children in the public education system. First of all any multiple choice test does not really measure progress it just tells us whether or not someone filled in the correct bubble to a question. When given four choices you have a 25% chance of getting it right. A lot of these students just guess and fill any bubble at random. My daughter needed a 1200 to be at grade level. Well she scored in the 2000 range. That was the equivalent of a child leaving the fifth grade or entering the sixth grade. I asked her teacher if she could be given work to challenge her due to the fact that she already knew everything they were teaching. The teacher suggested I put her in the "gifted" program which consisted of a bus picking her up and taking her to a school across town one day per week. First of all my child is not riding a school bus alone or with a handful of children and a bus driver we do not know. Second of all what was one day per week going to do for her education. That meant for the next four days she finished her work in a few minutes and was put by the teacher to help other students. It was nice that my daughter got to help others but it was at the expense of her education. This was when I knew our education system had nothing to offer our family. I let them finish out the year and never looked back.

Now this is what was going on with my son in the first grade. My dear boy was smart as can be. He aced every test they gave him. However he had dexterity problems and could not write properly. He also had a hard time with sentence structure. He would start writing a sentence in the middle of the page and finish it at the top of the page. Sometimes he wrote in a circle. His handwriting was illegible. The teacher did not see a problem with this. She said he did well on the tests she gave him so he was okay to move up to the next grade. Talk about setting a kid up to fail! So if they do well on a test that is the only thing that determines if the child moves up or not. Children are not one dimensional. There are so many other factors that they need to look at. My son ended up doing Occupational Therapy. We used many tricks and tools to help with his grasping of a pencil. We still have to tell him to slow down and take his time so his writing is legible.

So what I am getting at is this, my children both did well on tests and were promoted accordingly. However the education they needed and the tools they needed was not given to them. Children are just passed on and held back not according to how they are doing in school. It is all based on passing tests. Both of my children needed more and our Public Education system could not provide what they needed.

I know that I am blessed to have the ability to stay home with them and take their education into my hands. I am blessed to have a husband who is on board 100%. I am blessed to live in a state where homeschooling is made possible and there are many support groups and educational co-ops. I am very blessed to have met so many other homeschooling and unschooling families and have them share their journeys with us. Most of all I am so blessed to be going on this journey with my children.
 This picture was taken at Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival. My children learned and watched the life-cycle of butterflies.
This was at the home of one of our homeschool families. My children learned a lesson on gravity and physics. They got to build their own catapults and test them out with giant Marshmallows. When he got home my dear son made Spiderman escape from the bad guys using this handy dandy device.
Here is my sweet girl in the middle of a science lesson. We planted different types of seeds and had to chart their progress.

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