Friday, June 10, 2005

Blog This!

I keep finding other posts that make me think, and hit that handy-dandy Blog This! button. The problem is, I keep it as a draft and forget to come back to it! So, periodically I will go back and try to remember what it was about the post that inspired me. Here's one of the earliest, from May 19. Spunky Homeschool asked the question Homeschool: Conviction or Preference?. Basically, what came to my mind was more of a "Why do we homeschool?" type of post.

When Dd6 was a baby, I started reading about homeschooling online. It seemed so attractive, but I wasn't sure if I could do it. So I kept reading. For preschool, anyway, I figured we were already doing everything they did in preschool. Both my girls knew their ABC's, colors, shapes, and numbers to 10 by the time they were 2 or 2 1/2. Dd6 is a December baby, so when she turned 5, she still wasn't in Kindergarten yet. We took that schoolyear (when she was still 4) and started kindergarten work. Again, I was thinking "What do they do in Kindergarten? Play with play-doh, learn their letters and 3-letter words and numbers, and learn to sit still. We can do that -- without so much of the sitting still." I figured she would be ahead if we decided to go ahead and put her in school the next fall. So we started with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and some general Kindergarten workbooks from Sam's Club. We just messed around, no schedule, no pressure. Some days Dd6 (4-5 at the time) would just say "Let's do some schoolwork today!" After that first year, we decided to keep her home -- MI doesn't have compulsory schooling until 1st grade anyway -- and I am so happy with it. I still don't have a formal curriculum this year for Kindergarten. We continued in 100 Easy Lessons, still very laid back, and a 1st Grade math book (the K books she blazed through!) but we will probably start something a little more formal next year. Despite not pushing through 100 Easy Lessons (we've only done about 20 lessons in 2 years!), she has started picking up some early phonics readers and just zipping right through them. She's still a ways from reading completely on her own, but is definitely on her way! I'm thinking of using Ambleside Online for our 'more formal' curriculum next year. I'm really liking Charlotte Mason's philosophies, although I need to read more of her writings in order to articulate to my husband just what I want to do for school next year and why. He's a little more of the 'school at home' mindset, although he acknowledges that I have done a lot more reading and researching on the subject.

I guess to answer Spunky's original question, "Homeschool: Conviction or Preference?", I would say that it started out as a preference and is rapidly moving into a conviction. The more we do at home, the more I remember how much I loved learning when I was in public school -- and how much I hated school! "Socialization" was the bane of my existence. In a small town (1200 people) where your identity is sealed by 2nd or 3rd grade, I was poor, plain, too smart but not super-smart, and painfully socially backward. As I got older, I was more mature than many of my PS peers in many ways, and just didn't get all the silly cliques and games (yes, even in a class of 20!). You know "those" homeschooled kids who are held up as awkward and backward and the reason why kids "need" socialization in school? I was one of those -- in PS! I am convinced that any homeschooler who is awkward would probably just be an outcast in public school as well -- it's not the setting or socialization, it's just a personality or phase. I think homeschooled kids are more free to explore who they are and be OK with it without pressure from their peers to conform. I was miserable in school, while simply loving books and learning new information. I wasn't the top of my classes, probably because I had no self-confidence, so no incentive so excel. Anyway, as we get into this homeschooling adventure, I am bound and determined not to let this happen to my kids. So, I guess you could say it's a conviction now!