Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To Home School or Not To Home School

That is the question...

I have done a 180 in my thinking as a parent.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Tobie is inching closer and closer to my height, (not hard to do with my 5'2" frame, but still) or the fact that my little buddy, Hannah will be starting Kindergarten this fall or maybe the rash of scary public events.... Whatever it is my thinking has changed and I want my kids around me.

I used to say I had kids at an early age and had them all close in age so that I will still be young when my youngest is old enough to be kicked out of the house, which I think is still a good plan, but what I'm realizing is that is going to be sooner than later.  All the hard nights of baby feedings are over, my older kids are getting more and more independent therefore demanding less of me physically.  I'm a year away from not having to change anymore diapers, after 12 straight years of changing diapers it is finally coming to an end.  But instead of celebrating and counting down the days when I can send the baby out the door to public school I find myself missing my children and dreading the day when the younger two will be out of the house.

I've been doing a lot of research lately into it, and I've been talking to my friends that homeschool.  I've joined some local homeschool groups trying to make local connections for support.  But I still can't seem to make a definitive decision to actually keep them home.  I know it stems from being afraid that I won't be able to do it.  Will I be able to keep up with my 6th graders school work?  Can I teach him the math skills he needs?  Will it be stimulating enough for my 3rd grader who already devours books and has found a love with the piano?  Will my new Kindergartener have fun and will I be able to teach her the fundamentals of reading?  And then there's Emma, my soon to be 1st grader.  She's having some issues that has sparked several teacher/parent conferences.

She's really good in class, her conduct can't be criticized although I wish she would act that way at home.  Her teacher tells me that she seems to have good comprehension and math is one of her favorite subjects.  But for some reason she is unable to retain letter names and sounds, she even turns around, saying POT instead of TOP.  I suspect dyslexia, but in the last month or so she seems to be coming around and starting to read much better.  I think she may be starting to get the hang of it, so it leads me to believe that she is just learning at a different pace than her peers.  But the other challenge with her is her explosive tantrums.  She is constantly combative with Theo and I.  For example, the other night we got 3 different flavors of Italian Ice from Rita's but we told the kids they only get one flavor.  The other kids accepted that, but Emma flipped!  She was rolling on the floor screaming, so I sent her to her room where she continued her ranting.  This is normal behavior for her which is why I'm nervous about having her home for school.  Wednesday I had another meeting with the teacher, teacher aid, Counselor, Nurse and another Teachers aid that I'm not really sure why she was in there.  I started sharing my tantrum woes with Emma, and the ladies started to give me advice, which I understand they are just trying to help, but most of their advice was stuff I already had heard of and tried.  I had mentioned to her teacher I was contemplating home school, so she asks me in front of the other ladies if I was still considering it.  I told her I was and that set the other teachers off asking 'why?'.  I told them we are just too stressed!  We get up in the morning and I rush my sleep deprived kids out the door, then the next time I see them we are rushing around to piano, sports, girl scouts and boy scouts.  I feel like the time I spend with my kids is rushed and stressed.  The nurse just seemed flabbergasted and was like, "Why don't you just cut back on after school activities?" and I feel why do I have to sacrifice the fun stuff that my kids WANT to do?  They love those after school activities, what I need to cut out is the time spent at school!  Then they asked, "Do you think Emma will listen to you at home?".  I felt insulted, yes she is difficult and we clash, but I'm her mother, she will listen to me!  It sounded like they were insinuating that she only listens to them.  Then I had a little epiphany, they used the phrase, "she's trying to get your attention" a lot and I realized that she only gets stressed out Mommy.  I'm stressed when I send her to school, and I'm stressed in the evening and all she wants is my time.  But while they are in school I have NO time!  But if I keep them home I can be the one to teach them and nurture them in a stress free zone.

I'm feeling committed to the idea now thanks to this meeting, even a little excited about the idea.  I really hope that I will be able to do this, I know it will be hard and a lot of work, but I want to spend more time with my kids.  Everyone tells me to cherish this time because it goes by so fast, I don't want to miss my kids' childhood because we were too busy with school.  If it doesn't work out I can always send them back to school and we will have to find other ways to de-stress, but if I don't at least give this a try I'm going to be always wondering what if.  Pray for me guys!  


8 comments:

Cicily said...

Homeschooling has been slowly creeping out the dark corner of my brain. It's been in the very back of my mind, but with things Enoch is going through at school, I'm starting to consider it for him. This whole last semester, he says he hasn't learned anything, and I wouldn't argue that. He doesn't feel challenged at all at school. I wonder if I did homeschool him, if I would be able to handle him 24/7! I love that kid, but he can talk and talk, and he's NEVER wrong! How am I supposed to teach a kid that thinks he knows more than me! I guess I just wanted to give you a shout out and let you know that I've been contemplating it more myself. It's a big decision...let me know what you decide to do.

Carrie Cox said...

Homeschooling does take a lot of stress out of life with school aged kids. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it's true.
Sure, you'll still have stressed days, off days, and days when you battle a child's will, but there is so many more options when it happens at home, on your time, than on the run.

kara said...

My friend home schools her 4 boys. And they are really cool kids. She likes being able to control the schedule because they LIVE at little league in the afternoons and saturdays. And once you remove all the recess/lunchtime/lining up to go here and there...you only need about 3 hours of instruction. Talk to Anna (from the summit). She homeschools. I love the idea of giving your kids a less-stressed version of yourself! And there are so many support programs at museums and science centers now...to supplement what you (meaning, me) might lack in certain subjects. Good luck!!

kara said...

I just typed a big long response and lost it. Grrr.

Jessica Reid said...

I'm sure the teacher and nurses were a little insulted that you are thinking of home schooling, but think about whether your kids are getting the attention they need in school: 1 teacher to 28 kids or 1 mom to 5 kids. It will be a hard transition and I'm sure you are going to have to be very strict about the schedule but once they are used to it they will see if they work hard and stay on track they will learn more in less time, which means more fun time! I think homeschooling would be great for Olivia, but Olivia has mild ADD and she couldn't stay focused on her own when we would have to take care of the little ones. Good luck!

Annie said...

Homeschool used to be for the socially strange family but not anymore. There are so many "normal" people that do it. Kara you would do great. You're doing the right thing by reading a lot, talking to people and joining homeschool groups. The first year may be a wash but if you stick with it, you'll be happy with your decision in the long run. I'm attending my first homeschool conference next month. Still not sure if we are going to start in the fall or not. My three littlest ones are the determining factor. They need so much from me right now that I'm not able to give the older two the attention they need for school. BUT, I think the younger ones are coming along and so I'll be jumping on the homeschool train soon. Go fight win Mama!

Giuli said...

Kara,
I've been putting off writing a response to your post, mostly because I have very strong feelings about this and didn't want to offend you. But since your post seemed to beg a question, and nobody has given any other view other than in support of homeschool, I'd like to give my two cents. Before you make this really important decision, I would suggest making sure that indeed your daughter does not have a learning disability. From personal experience, as a teacher and as a mother of a child who needs extensive therapies, the public school system is the best place to get free services for your child if they need them. Therapists such as speech, occupational, and physical are all under one roof and are offered at no extra expense or effort on your part. From personal experience, community resources for disabilities are scarce, if indeed non existent. You can pay for a therapist to come to your home, if needed, but it is very pricey. Also, the first few years of school are very important for a child's development, if they lag behind. If issues are not addressed early on, a small difference in ability will get much bigger in a year or so. I have not met your daughter, but it could very well be that your other children's needs can be very well served in a homeschool setting, while she might need a little more help. I'm really sorry that you had a negative experience in your daughter's team meeting. All of the people at the table (which sometimes exceeds 11 or 12 in my son's case) should be non judgmental and interested in the needs of the family as well as the student. I know that you and Theo will come to the right decision for your family based on the guidance of the spirit and your intuition. I just wanted to let you know what a great resource public schools are for students who need extra help.

Kara and Theo said...

Guili, thank you so much for your input. That is definitely a big reason why I was unable to fully commit to the idea of homeschooling. I know there are so many resources, the good thing is that Emma was evaluated for speech and has been given the clearance that no further speech therapy is required for her, and her reading has picked up. The one thing I keep thinking is that they haven't declared learning disabled, just behind, so that sends up a red flag that she is just learning at a different pace. When I was in elementary school I was put in Chapter 1, which is math for stupid kids, and I knew it. It gave me a stigma for the rest of my life, I never really tried to understand math because I feel I was given an 'out' since elementary school, that I was just slow at math. I don't want Emma to think the same thing of herself, and even though I know they are trying to help I think the best thing for her right now is to take it at her own pace and I can give her that. But I really do appreciate hearing both sides of the argument. :)