“I couldn’t homeschool, I am too dumb”
… this is what I heard a few days ago when talking to another parent after I explained why Shammy was not going to attend VPK. I was a little shocked because this was coming from an accountant and after working in the accounting field for 14 years I can tell you that it’s not a job for dump people. This was probably just the first excuse that came to her mind and that is fine if she doesn’t want to homeschool, I was just a little surprised that she felt the need to justify herself to me when I don’t care what method she chooses to educate her child.
It could be argued that I am too dumb to teach but the beauty of homeschooling is that it’s so flexible and there are so many resources available that you don’t need a PhD or even a teacher certification to be successful. You can buy a complete curriculum that has everything spelled out for you and all you need to do is follow a checklist and use the materials or if that is still too intimidating there are online schools that do everything for you and all you have to do is ensure that your child logs on, does the work and you encourage them as they go along.
So that brings to a question I received a few days ago:
“Is there a subject that you feel “unqualified” to teach?”
Yes there is and you may be surprised….. Art. A lot of people think that I am artistic because of my taste in clothing and decor but I am not that creative and too much of a perfectionist to create anything and be satisfied with the results. Thankfully this isn’t a core educational requirement so I will let it be child led and just encourage what they want to do. Another subject would be PE, it was my worst subject in school, more than one year I had to write a paper on the history of basketball or something like that to earn enough extra credit to get a passing grade on that class. Thankfully that is also not a big stressor with homeschooling as I scored a PE curriculum for free and it’s easy to find extracurricular activities to supplement that.
When you are new to home education, it’s not uncommon to get bouts of insecurity and wonder “will I be able to educate my child?”. There are so many different ways of teaching and different learning styles so while I have the entire school year planned out with a more “hands on” approach with workbooks, unit studies and activities, the type A planner in me must have a backup plan so I have also registered for the free online curriculum option as a backup in case I find myself falling short and feel the need to supplement or replace if I find myself sinking. The one that looks good to me is Discovery K12, not to be confused with the K12 online public school that advertises on TV. Discovery K12 is not common core aligned and offers all subjects but you can pick and choose which ones you want to use. For Language Arts I also have Essential Skills Advantage (the free version).
I am excited to start this school year, Shammy is excited about it too! Because we have a 9 day road trip planned for the middle of next month we won’t be officially starting until late August.
There are almost as many reasons for wanting to homeschool as there are homeschoolers. Each family has reasons why THEY feel that home education is their best option. Some people choose it for religious purposes but that is not the case for us.
I grew up in Puerto Rico where the public school system didn’t have a reputation for quality education so my parents spent several thousands of dollars a year to send me to a private school. My personal educational experience has set the bar very high and from my past experience working in the administration of several charters schools and doing business with the Miami Dade School Board I knew before I decided to have kids that if I ever did, public schools were not going to be for us unless so serious reforms took place.
I would imagine that there are some quality private schools in our area but I haven’t bothered to research as right now the thought of budgeting tuition, uniforms, etc plus trying to coordinate pick up/drop off in a 1 car household would give me nightmares.
So here are, in no particular order the reasons why I prefer homeschooling as the education form for my children:
- Financial - As mentioned above, public school is not an option for us. We decided that way before we decided on home schooling. So that left us with private schools and home school. Even though we pay may pay for home school curriculum it’s WAY cheaper than private school. I did the math for a local school and after getting a full scholarship for tuition the costs of uniforms, textbooks, field trips and meals would far exceed the cost of home education.
- Academics - Statistics have proved that home schooled children out perform both public and privately schooled children. Colleges and universities are also looking more favorably upon home schooled children as well.
- Safety- Over the past year I’ve kept informal track of every incident of school violence (shooting, lockdown, etc) that CNN felt compelled to e-mail me a breaking news headline about and so far this school year there is such an incident in a school in America on average every other week. Smaller, private schools don’t seem immune to this.
- Concerns about curriculum- The Common Core Standards have been adopted by the state of Florida and even thought they tried to rename it, a monkey wearing a dress is still a monkey. I have serious concerns about the approaches to math in this curriculum in addition to several of the choices in the “approved reading list” for language arts among other flaws in this curriculum. Common Core has been extensively debated elsewhere so I won’t go into more detail about it today. Even if the state eliminated the use of Common Core I would still have concerns about the cookie cutter mentality for education. I also disagree the teaching to the test mentality, when I was involved with the school district I saw how much of the school year was spent trying to pass the FCAT that it felt like the children were not getting a valuable education.
- Logistics- 1 car household + refusing to use school transportation for early grades= logistical nightmare if we were to attempt to send our kids to a public or private school
- Bullying/Peer Pressure- this is a scary thing. While there have always been bullies and there has always been peer pressure. What I am observing today is far scarier than what I experienced when I was in school. I want my children to learn manners, social skills, and difficult ‘adult’ subjects from well, adults. I want my children to socialize with people of all ages, not just a group of people born within the same 12 month time frame as they were. I know my children will grow up and become independent men, but I have no desire to push them into the same level of independence at 5 years old that a 10 year old would have being gone from home with out parental supervision the same amount of time each day. I feel led to a gradual loosening of the apron strings. I know not all people are going to agree with me here and that’s ok. These are just the convictions I have begun to have about my own children’s social development.
Additional Benefits for us:
- Flexibility – Home schooling is very flexible. You can adapt your schedule to whatever your needs may be. With a more one-on-one approach to education, we can work at our own pace and you can go through all your material much faster allowing for more time to do other things. You can schedule school around your vacations, doctors appointments, weekly errands, etc. We personally like being able to visit theme parks during non peak times which usually are on weekdays when public school is in session, hotels are also cheaper then making for cheaper vacations.
- Socialization - I’m going to try to keep this one short although there is much that could be said here. There are two areas of concern here. One is that children have the opportunity to meet other people outside of their home; people who are different than they are. This may have been an area of concern in the past, but home school has evolved. Or rather our communities have evolved to support and include families who choose this route. Community sports and co-ops and clubs are just some of the opportunities for kids to get involved in.
- The second area of concern here is that children learn how to behave in a socially acceptable manner. As stated above, I’m not really a fan of peer led social development. Social skills, manners, etc. should be learned from adults. How can a child learn those things from another child the same age who is also learning the same skills? Some might call that the blind leading the blind.
- Support – We actually have have access to an extremely good support group. We are blessed to live in an area with quite a large home schooling population. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not everyone. I have several friends that are homeschooling and there is a local homeschooling co-op that we have the option of joining plus I have received lots of valuable information from social media. I feel extremely blessed to be where we are and have the support we have.
- Child Temperament – We have learned that our oldest son, the one beginning school, is starting to show some signs of social anxiety, is extremely sensitive, and surprisingly home bodied. While he loves people he isn’t ready to be gone from home five days a week. And he is very sensitive towards and influenced by the actions and words used by others. I feel that home schooling will suit his temperament best.