Monday, May 7, 2012

My, How Life Has Changed Part 2*updated*

I just came across another article from a blog I follow. She states everything I'm trying to say (and then some) so much better than I can. So...go read her post! :) I should just erase the rest of this post and say "what she said!" Thanks for letting me share Stacie!

Another big change we've made in the past year is homeschooling. My feelings on homeschooling have changed so drastically in the last few years. And I realize that this can be a very sensitive topic. I have been on both sides of this, not only in my personal opinion but also as a professional. Just understand this...I do not think that everyone should homeschool...I do not think that you can't be a good parent if you don't homeschool...I do not think that public schools are bad places. I spent four years (and a LOT of money!) to earn a degree in education so I could teach in a public school. I had all the stereotypical ideas about homeschooling-socially awkward kids that don't fit in; fanatical families wanting to shelter their children from everything and keep them in a cocoon at home; etc etc etc. Of course, there are some homeschooling families that fit these stereotypes. Just like there are people that fit any stereotype there is out there! 
So what changed my mind? Well, one was maturity. ha! Being judgmental has always been a struggle for me. I have a lot of preconceived notions about a lot of things. There are always two sides to every story. Sometimes I forget that. Another thing that changed my mind was quite simply, becoming a mother. That's not to say that all mothers should have a change of heart and decide to homeschool. :) Honestly, God was working on my heart for a couple years about this. Even as recently as 2 years ago, when it was time for Anna to go to preschool. I told anybody that asked, "there's no way I could ever homeschool her...she's too stubborn, we're too much alike, we would just butt heads all day long." So she went to preschool. It was honestly the best possible choice for her and us at that point. She blossomed and learned so much, it was incredible! Then it was time for kindergarten. All day. I really didn't like that, and I knew that there was no way Anna would be able to handle all day. She still needed naps most days! When I found out we could send her for only half the day, I felt a little better. I've written about all this before, so you can read that again for our reasons for choosing to homeschool. Another reason I didn't mention is being able to fully incorporate our faith into schooling. I can make every subject relevant to God's word.
One of the questions/concerns that I get the most is the socialization aspect of homeschooling. Honestly, that was one of the biggest concerns Aaron & I had before we considered homeschooling. We had both come across homeschooled kids who were just plain awkward in any sort of social setting. But in all honestly? There are public-schooled kids who are just plain awkward in any sort of social setting! My, how life has's my perspective on it now: I don't believe that having my children surrounded by children of the exact same age for 8 hours a day will develop the "socialization" that I desire for my children. In fact, it has the exact opposite effect (at least it did with Anna & Jacob). I'm not sure how being in a classroom with 15-20 other 6 year olds will teach Anna how to talk to others respectfully, how to relate and speak to adults, how to hold a conversation with adults, etc. I'm not saying that she shouldn't have little girl "conversations" with her friends. I love hearing her and her cousin talk when no one else is around. It's sweet and comical. But we desire to raise respectful, God-honoring children. I'm not saying that you can't raise such kids if they go to public school. I should just make that disclaimer at the beginning of this post! Anyway, she learns how to play with other kids (my 4th grade teacher would be cringing if she read this post...she always hated the use of 'kids' instead of 'children'!!) by playing with her brothers, friends, at art class, and at the homeschool co-op. It isn't as though she sits at home in her room, alone, all day long with no interaction with others! I just came across this article about a huge research survey done about this very subject. It's a very good article and kind of just proves the point that most homeschoolers have been trying to prove for years. Read it here. So anyway, when someone (even my Mom has asked about socialization! :)) expresses concern about my children's socialization, I usually just smile and nod. Most people aren't ready/willing to hear and listen to the answer (this doesn't include you Mom)!
How long will we homeschool? We have no idea. We're taking it year by year. We plan to do it again with Anna next year. I'll work more specifically with Jacob next year for preschool. After that, God only knows (literally!). This much I do know...I have absolutely loved having all of my children at home. They have forged stronger bonds, learned more life lessons, and grown closer than they could have had they been in school all day, apart from each other. And this I also know...Isaac will be ready for school by the time he's 2! :)

He always wants to be right there with us, sitting in a chair/desk, "working" along with big sister!

These last couple of weeks have been a struggle for this girl. She is soooooo ready for summer break (so is Mama)! I plan on schooling throughout the summer, but we'll still take a break for a couple weeks here and there. It allows us to take longer breaks during the school year and it keeps everything fresh in her mind all summer instead of losing so much of it. Then we won't have to spend the first month in the fall reviewing half of what she learned in 1st grade! Anna has thrived with homeschooling. She loves being home with me and her brothers. She works so hard and is really taking off in every subject. Actually, some of the "social" aspects on her report cards from last year have improved solely because of homeschooling! Her biggest issues in kindergarten on her report card were working independently and completing her work in a timely manner. Because she is homeschooled and because I have other things (namely ISAAC!) that require my attention, she has, out of necessity, learned to be a self-motivated, independent worker! She has also had to learn to block out distractions and work in spite of them...i.e. Isaac screaming, Isaac trying to climb into her chair, Isaac pulling her hair (we had to move her desk away from the steps so he couldn't do that!), Isaac banging on the door/desk/you-name-it. Do you notice a pattern? ISAAC is a DISTRACTION! But she's a better student because of it! :)
So there you have. I'm a homeschooling, cloth-diapering mama! *shakes head* I can't believe it. Part 3 coming before next year.....


Jaime said...

I LOVED LOVED LOVED this blog, Jen! There are so many people that believe the "socially awkward" thing about homeschoolers. I married one who is fine socially, equal to me, and has excelled at work and in all areas of life. I also agree that it is up to each family what works for them but I really loved all your points in this!

Anonymous said...

Hmm well NOW I can say I WAS RIGHT about homeschooling! All those times I would say "socializing" is not going to be a problem and look at all the home-schooled kids that do so much better at grades than government-- ok - public school kids. Anyway, I didn't write so I could say I was right but I was right. :-)

Jennifer said...

Jaime, your husband was one that I never even knew he was homeschooled until *after* you guys were married (and that was after going to school with him for 3 years!). It's not something you can go into blind and with your head in the clouds, but it's been a really good thing for us so far.
Dad (aka Anonymous), you KNOW that's the only reason you commented! Those are your three favorite words!!! ;) Yeah, yeah, were right.