Hello everyone! I am mommy to a 3 yr old little girl and the issue of to home school or not has recently come up as all her playmates start entering preschools. Our goal is to raise a free thinking person who enjoys life and everything that life has to offer. Home schooling seem like the best option for us but I have to admit that I fear not being a good enough teacher. I feel very institutionalized from my upbringing and although it did allow me to explore many things I have a hard time doing those things without a teacher right next to me guiding me. I am not confident enough in my abilities. I dont want my daughter to be the same way and really hope she can be the go getter that I dont feel I am. Do you think I can foster this in my daughter if I dont have it myself?
Hi Amber! You are so cool! Everything you said was so enlightened and the way you're exploring this is great!
Oh yeah, you can definitely provide an environment for a little go-getter to sprout in . . . . no matter how you feel about who you are currently. What may even happen, in the process, is that YOU become a free-er person! Most of the homeschooling folks I've met so far were brought up in the school system and so it's super-normal to go through these questions and explore how we can "deprogram" and "deprocess" ourselves so that we're launchpads for free-thinking children (as you described).
Everything you said just sounds so much like a pre-homeschooler going through the exploration process . . . some of us even experimented with preschool to see if it was a definite "thumbs-down" as we suspected . . . and sometimes that may seal the deal or change your mind. Either way, you're certainly on the path of openness and intuition . . . and that is going to guide you and your family to the right answer for you guys.
There are some STELLAR books out there for exploring this; however, I recommend first reading books by homeschoolers and not the how-to-homeschool books first. Just so you get a feel for what goes on in the trenches, etc. Man, it's fun! There are 1-billion directions your homeschooling adventure could take you and you don't have to decide it all at once, that's for sure! The key is flexibility, relaxation, and intuition. And it really only takes LOVE and ATTENTION . . . one doesn't need to be a trained, qualified teacher to do this . . . just be a great mama (And look at you! You already are!) Your intuition will guide you naturally through . . . take a day at a time.
There are so many ways to homeschool and you'll learn of your many approaches . . . unschooling, Waldorf, ecclectic, etc. Personally, we've decided to not label ourselves under anyone title so we can "bounce around" and experiment with different techniques . . . then we just keep doing whatever is working at that time. FREESTYLE! ha ha! Since kids are always learning and sponging-up what they're exposed to, you can relax that "formal learning" may not need to happen everyday. Even reading a book together is a mindtrip to them, you know?! They're just so free that way!
I'll list some popular pre-homeschooling titles below . . . scan over them to see if anything "turns you on" and may offer you some comfort/insight as you explore this!
1. How Children Learn by John Holt 2. Learning All the Time by John Holt 3. The Unprocessed Child: Life Without School by Valerie Fitzenreiter 4. Real Lives: Eleven Teenagers Who Don't Go To School by Grace Llewellyn 5. Deschooling Our Lives by Matt Hern 6. The Unschooling Handbook: How to Use the Whole World as your Child's Classroom by Mary Griffith
Oh yes, forgot to mention, that some people really do feel better using a boxed, or guided, curriculum and their kids seem to really do well with that approach. We do a bit of "worksheet" er, "playsheet", activities when our 4-yr-old is in the mood for such and sometimes it's a big hit! Some kids like this everyday and/or some parents feel more comfortable, especially at first, if they try a boxed curriculum approach. That's great! The most important thing, though, is to not be discouraged if that doesn't work for your wee-one. Even if you've made an investment . . . it's more mentally profitable to just stay flexible and go-with-the-flow instead of against it. You will both be so much happier!
Some homeschoolers start their days at 11am, some at 8am, and some just wake up when they're body clock says to. Some homeschoolers are really strict about diet and others just let their kids pull whatever they want right out of the fridge . . . and then there's all the stuff in-between! The coolest part is that your family can be true-to-yourselves . . . and instead of fighting your inclinations, you can work with them! You get to trust YOUR wisdom, YOUR mothering instincts, and YOUR heartstrings VS. trusting "the strangers in the system" who truly know nothing about what your child needs or where she's coming from. Just some perks . . .
And it's a myth that homeschooling's more expensive . . . there are so many resources out there and I see ALL income-levels doing this exceptionally well.
Best wishes, Amber! Cheers to you as you explore and consider what's going to fit you guys the best! Remember, you never have to CONCRETE your decision . . . homeschooling can begin AND end at a moment's notice as you read feedback from your child. I hope that helps this to not feel so "monumental" and intimidating. Life, after all, is a big experiment with experience! It's fun to savor that freedom in a country where homeschooling is perfectly legal in all 50 states.
Thank you for the words of encouragement! It seems the more I read on the issue of homeschooling or public school, the more I realize that homeschooling is the way I want to go. I am starting to get excited about the possibilities. Thank you again for the encouragement!
I agree with Carissa completely. I was sort of forced into homeschooling because my son(he's 4) doesn't fit into the cookie cutter student mold. I tried for months to find someone willing to take him, he was thrown out of day-care and preschool several times. I solicited the school district to allow him early admission, I did everything I could think of. Finally, I came to the realization that what my son needed was someone who gave a damn.....That's me! He has been happier since we started homeschooling than he'd ever been in any "canned" program, he gets to explore things that most children will never even be exposed too, and he gets to interact with other children of all ages rather than just a specified age group.
I, like you, had serious doubts as to whether or not I was capable of teaching him the things he needs to know, I read a dozen books, talked to tons of people and eventually jumped in, feet first!
It's amazing to me every day, the things he says, the questions he comes up with, the thirst for knowledge he exhibits. He truly loves learning and is thriving. I have been able to put my doubts aside because he shows me every day that he is learning and growing. At some point he will begin to ask questions about things I know nothing about (he already has a few times)but the resources are out there for anyone willing to look for them.
Your daughter is only three, so she's not eligible for "formal schooling" yet, so use that to your advantage. Use this year to see what she can learn and discover, use this year to get your feet wet......I think you'll be amazed!!
Shari Mom to 4yo Noah, 12yo Aleacia Foster mom to 10mo Jacob
And it also just reminded me of something else . . . that while the kids are preschool aged, the best thing parents can do is just provide an "enriching environment" and not push, push, push formal learning, you know? They're already doing it so formalizing it into something that doesn't feel fun or natural can actually be a barrier or a distraction . . . especially since they pick-up on our tension, however subtle.
A little over a year ago, before deciding to homeschool, I remember feeling that it was "time for Johnny to use crayons" and I actually sat down with him and really tried to encourage that medium. He looked at me like, "mom, this isn't fun and why are you making this important . . . why is this different?" It was the first time I had pushed "learning" upon him and I just felt ridiculous almost immediately when he rebelled . . . I swear, that day I ruined crayons for him! Now, I know that if I want to expose him to something new, I just sit down and use the medium myself 'til he walks over and asks, "ma, whatcha doin?" And then I share once he's invited me to. And the much of "learning" is like that . . . something piques their curiousity and you can run with it. But other kids really like to be "introduced formally" to things, I hear, and I imagine that for parents with these children the process of introducing formally feels more comfortable because that's what their child is asking for.
Ah, there are a million different "right ways" and ways to learn and ways to teach. I know what you meant, though, Amber when you said that it is really a challenge to step outside of that institutionalized way of teaching/learning at first because we got a 12year (or more) dose of that! It really can kill the creativity, huh?! I have to stretch my brain all the time . . . the free-thinker in me really wants out and occassionally escapes. ( ha ha! )
Shari, it was great to read your story about how you and Noah decided to homeschool . . . thanks for sharing that. Like you, we didn't experience happiness with the (very expensive) preschool that we had Johnny in for six months . . . he cried every day at "drop off time" and when I tried to stay and even volunteer as a class helper, teachers said "no thanks." I struggled with through difficult mornings for a whole semester until I finally collapsed and gave in and asked myself, "Why am I doing this to my three-year-old, to myself, and to our finances?! UGH!" He was in a really reputable school, too! But it was completely not him. And then my mom shared something with me: I USED TO CRY EVERYDAY BEFORE PRESCHOOL TOO . . . for TWO YEARS!!! I wanted my momma, my friendly home, my blankie, my familiar foods, and I didn't want to be around a bunch of kids I didn't really know. I used to tell her all of that in detail! Amazing, how parents can turn off their intuitions due to social pressures and norms and not hear the cries of their little ones . . . and I was following suit for six months. Gosh, it finally just dawned on me!
I always thought homeschooling was cool, though, and admired it "from a distance." And thought "those parents" must be so elite, so together, and so smart. I thought it was above me, even with two college degrees - because I'm a Jane-of-all-trades and a master-of-none . . . and I really felt that it took an education expert to "homeschool effectively." Now I know, it just takes love and attentiveness and a knack for finding the right resources in-time to capture that piqued curiosity.
In high school, when I was a local church youth group attendee, I met an exceptional peer who quickly became a good friend of mine . . . she was homeschooled. I swear, she was the nicest girl I had ever met in my life! Although her homeschooling was very religious-based, I never forgot her AMAZING memory and logic and her NATURAL INTEREST in life, people, issues, etc. AND SHE WAS IONS MORE MATURE THAN I WAS! It just baffled me! I never forgot that friend. I used to think, even as a high schooler, that homeschooling is the way to go. Even though I was doing well in the system (because "pretty girls" excel in the system if they manage to not offend anyone, choose an athletic route, and don't act "too smart"), I knew that if I had A FRACTION OF THE TIME to learn that my homeschool friend did, I'd be smarter than I was for it. So much time was wasted worrying about social standing, performance at the soccer games, and what to wear. ICK! That friend was a wake-up-call to even a 16-yr-old!
By the way, I have to mention that some kids really did seem to do well in preschool. I don't know why the difference in reactions. Some kids REALLY just want to be with their families and others must feel very comfortable with a new environment that is highly organized with new kids around. Maybe many kids are used to the preschool scene because they've spent some time in other classes before, or daycare, or even their church's sunday school or something. We had always taken Johnny every where with us and he just preferred it to stay that way . . . but when he's in a new environment with new people in our presence, he's a big ham! It's like he just wants the reassurance that someone he knows, like me or his grandma, are nearby for back-up. Since then, he's been in classes independently and does great in that environment . . . but something about extended preschool must feel like being babysat to him . . . and he didn't like it one bit. Looking back, I'm glad we had that experience, though, because it just confirmed that homeschooling was the best choice for our particular family unit. It was definitely a gradual process . . . and now that I look back, it's so 20/20!
I love both of your insights into homeschooling and I wanted to share a bit more about where I am coming from. I have a BS in Human Social Services but have chosen to stay at home and not work. This decision was not one that I made right away, when my daughter was two we tried daycare and I was offered work with the state and thought this was what I was suppose to do. My daughter cried every morning I dropped her off so we tried another daycare and it was a little better but not great. This made me so sad that I turned down the job with the state and took one at her daycare so that I could be with her (everyone thought I was crazy). Working in the daycare was a huge eye opener and within three weeks I quit and swore to never put my daughter in someone elses care again. The ratios are too high and the staff to poorly educated. I saw children preyed on by other children in many ways and I was saddened by the whole situation. I started to think about the reason I got a degree in Human/Social Services. I enjoy and want to help people; my daughter was right in frount of me and I needed to help her first. Work will always be there but my daughter will grow up quickly. My daughter is SO happy at home with me. She tells me so all the time and it reaffirms my decision to stay home. I think back to my own childhood which was full of babysitters and centers and I realize that I dont have many memories with my parents. I dont want my daughter to be able to say that when she grows up. I am lucky to have a very supportive husband who may not yet fully understand my reasons for wanting to homeschool but he at least trusts my judgement and supports whatever I choose. I hope that I can meet some of you ladies in person sometime, you seem like great women!
Gosh, and the adjustment to staying-at-home (after being in the full-fledged working world) can feel quite monumental while making that change, huh?! Especially on the heels of finishing college because of all of that built-up momentum and hype that comes with preparing, preparing, preparing for . . . well, work! It's like a unwinding yourself, slowly! Yes, I understand . . . gosh, I am still unwinding myself from that momentum and reassure myself that the time to work again will come soon enough . . .
It actually has helped me, a lot, to just throw myself into home life. Like you said, "Your daughter was right there in front of you and needed your help first." That said it all. I know what you meant! Yeah, this is definitely a process!
My goodness Amber!! I just joined as well! Glad to see you here! I joined and came into the this area and saw your post first off! It's awesome! I know how you feel about homeschooling...I really want to get started with Kylie, but I'm scared that I won't do a good job....that she won't learn what she needs to. I was also thinking of taking Robby out of kindergarten, but I'm scared to do that....it's a big scary mess....lol......lets get together soon!