When my step-son came to live with us, he was well past school age. He is a very special, special-needs child who will never think and perceive beyond the mind of a 5-year-old child. So, when he came to live with us, my teaching him was on the very basics of life. He hadn’t learned how to do much of anything for himself at all. He couldn’t even fold over Velcro on his shoe (let alone put his own shoe on) because it was a complicated concept. He was sick and thinking like a 2-year-old. But, we worked hard. He lost 80 pounds, we worked with his doctor to get him phased off of all of his medications and, once his mind was clear, he started learning and developing until he behaved more like a 5-year-old and could do many things for himself. You could say we home-schooled and we still spend a lot of time working with him and teaching him. We probably will for as long as we live. Schooling him is a special challenge in and of itself. There are many homeschool parents out there who have the additional challenge of having to homeschool their special-needs, school-aged child under their state regulations, taking special tests to help show improvement if there is the capability of such, and also teaching their children who do not have special needs. I respect what you’re doing! It’s not easy.
This month we formally registered our homeschool with our state for the first time since my youngest son is now 7. We have a formal school name (as required by our State) and an official logo that was fun to create. My son is excited. He’s in second grade this year.
My son LOVES homeschool. We homeschool all year round for several reasons.
- My 7 year old son laughs when I say that one of the reasons is that I don’t want his math, gammar and spelling to leak out of his ear during the summer.
- Another reason is that we can cover so much more than they do in a standard public school. Who says that a child must learn only so much per grade. Kids are sponges and we need to take our clues from them as to what they are capable of learning, understanding and retaining… and how they learn best. There’s the formal school time and then there’s the informal “life learning” that takes place all the time.
- The third reason is that this allows us to have shorter “formal” school hours each day. That gives us time to do other learning activities such as cub scouts, field trips, fun computer research, cooking & baking (while he’s still interested in participating), learning games on the computer that he doesn’t even think of as “learning”, reading aloud together, volunteering, playing, doing chores, taking care of the pets, helping Daddy with landscaping things, participating in community sports and activities (tennis lessons, little league, tae kwon do, and anything else he’s interested in taking), and so much more. Life is as fun and filled with learning as you make it.
- We don’t need to take days off for parent/teacher meetings. (I’d be a little worried if I had to meet with myself.) We don’t need teacher work days so the teachers can get seemingly unending paperwork completed. We don’t have to worry about taking snow days off, although if we wanted to we could take the day off and play in the snow while learning about how snow is made in a fun and casual way.
Our schedule is completely different than the public school schedule. We have the freedom of flexibility. We fit our school into our family life, yet spend more hours learning (since it is year-round school) and learn more than kids in public school.
What public school do you know where a second grader is learning art, Bible, typing/computer (because he’s really interested and motivated to learn and at the moment he really wants to be a computer specialist when he grows up), basic economics (saving, giving, spending money, keeping track of his money using his math skills), spelling, grammar, reading comprehension, writing (including script, because he’s done exceptionally well with printing), imaginative writing (creating stories and poems), geography, history, math (beyond the public school grade 2 math because he already learned half of that last year), music (piano, theory, voice, music appreciation by listening to and identifying various styles of music scores and instruments, etc.), personal development subjects, photography (simply because he’s so interested in it, motivated to learn, and has been experimenting with his camera for a year now), PE (through the community activities, through our homsechool association activities, and at home), science, sign language, Spanish… and more?
What public school covers all of that in grade 2, participates in science fairs, geography fairs, history festivals, music concerts, numerous field trips (most can’t afford more than a few), and has time to teach to each individual child’s needs without sending tons of homework home to be done in the evening? (Bless the hearts of each teacher in a public school. You have to respect their hard work. Their job expects that they teach a large number of kids from many various family cultures since each family has their own unique culture, personaliities, capabilities, and interests/motivations… and complete it all in 180 days or so. It’s simply not possible with an average of 36 kids in a classroom, with a limited school budget, and with policies about not being allowed to teach certain things.)
It’s so much fun for the kids to do what they are motivated to do. It’s so much fun for them to participate in all of the extra activities and know that they created that science project and presented it for the fair or they created that geography presentation on the country of their choice, etc. It’s so much fun for them to have various ways of learning, a good variety of activities, and personal encouragement all along the way. Homeschool allows for parents to teach their kids in this way.
Not every homeschooler does all of this type of thing. Each Mom and Dad evaluates their own children, their motivation, their interest, their needs, their capabilities, etc., before adding additional classes. It’s not a competition. Homeschooling means observing each and every child and doing what’s best for him/her. It’s about our children, not about a curriculum. It’s about spending more time with our children, giving them greater opportunity to practice and develop in various areas, and teaching them our life values.
It’s OK if one child is, for example, in grade 2 for most classes, grade 1 for math because that’s a bigger area of stuggle for her, and grade 3 in reading, writing, spelling, etc. (That wouldn’t be possible in a public school.) We can take more time to cover areas of stuggle and that’s OK because we homeschooling parents have the ability and the flexibility to do exactly what our children need… and a parent is the best possible judge of what his/her child needs because we know our children better than anyone else could possibly know them. With homeschooling parents that truly care and are vested in their child’s life, there will be no child going through homeschool never having really learned to read (as has happened too many times to children in public school). There will be no moving a child on from grade to grade because holding him back reflects badly on the school’s record. We can take time to make sure that our children really, truly understand the foundations and concepts of a subject before moving on to the next level. That is called flexibility and it allows us to do what is best for our children. We can let our child go ahead in an area that is really easy for her because she is getting bored with the “same old, same old” in that subject. On the other hand, we can choose to allow her to look up other examples that reflect the concept she just learned so that she isn’t moving way ahead or we can take a short break from that particular subject, getting back to it in a couple of weeks. There are many ways to handle situations like that. Again, it’s called flexibility.
We homsechool parents teach to our childrens’ needs. My husband and I have put together this year’s curriculum for our son because he is doing really well in all subjects and is extremely motived to learn these extra things. It’s wise to take advantage of it when a child is motivated to learn. If we find that the extra classes are a little too much, that’s OK. We switch one of the subjects from formal learning to informal learning and cover it in a different way or we still do the formal method, but do a shorter class once a week or once every two weeks. There are so many different ways to handle it. Again, it’s not about the curriculum, it’s about your child and what he/she can do. It’s about making sure your child isn’t bored because school is too slow and making sure that you’re not pushing too hard and taking things too fast. It’s all about your child.
It’s incredible. My husband and I can choose to teach the extra things that my son is motivated to learn. We can teach in a way that our child learns best. We’re doing what we feel is best for him and giving him the biggest headstart on life that we can possibly give. We have the ability to help him think independently and, as time goes on, to study independently so that by the time he’s out of highschool he’s incredibly well prepared for college and the world beyond. He’s only going into grade 2 right now. Yet, with everything on our list, my son has plenty of time to play and just be a kid because we have the flexibility to cover this at his speed and teach the way he learns best. We love homeschool.