School and Sleeping In

Mornings like this, dark, damp and chilly, remind me of nudging my daughter awake, telling her not to dawdle but to get ready for school. She’d stumble, bleary-eyed out of bed, hair a knotted mess, shoulders slumped, breathing still slow as if she could fall back to sleep right there on the way to breakfast.

Somehow, we always managed to get her to school on time – JUST in time, perhaps, but in time.

This morning, as I slowly rose and stretched, I had to smile. The sun had not yet risen. The sound of tires on wet road and the feel of a slow but constant cool breeze through the open window made me grateful that time of waking my daughter, pushing her to get up from a warm bed, was long gone.

As homeschoolers, we’re fortunate to be able to set our own schedule. I worried when we first started the process that we’d fall behind. Become lazy. I overcompensated for that possibility by continuing the regular school routine. I actually used a chalk board and timer so we’d cover lessons in the ‘proper’ amount of time. I was a stickler for the rigid learning schedule on which we’d turned our backs.

I did that because I was unsure of myself. Other homeschooling moms told me to relax. To allow my daughter the opportunity to set her own pace. I thought, judging from the way she stumbled from bed each morning, letting her set the pace was not the best idea.

I was wrong.

Children are amazing creatures. Eager to learn – living to learn – and with a drive we as adults cannot fully understand.

It took several months, but I finally backed off, giving my daughter room to explore. To my amazement, she did exactly what I was told other homeschooled children do. She began studying on her own. Setting her own pace, opening her textbooks and getting assignments done without my help interference.

Homeschoolers are often looked at with disdain. I understand to some degree since we are rule breakers. We’ve stepped out of the conventional routine and now march to our own beat. Since the beat is different for everyone, our routines appear to be without order. Perhaps they are. But then each child’s learning style is different and so, the unsteady, freestyle rhythm of our lives gives us the opportunity to learn and grow at an exciting and quite interesting pace.

My daughter chose to give up more than half her summer this past year in order to complete two high school grades in one year. I watched her rise later in the morning than she would for public school, but also witnessed her diligence, her accomplishments, her pride in herself and her work. I would have missed all of that if she’d been in school. And, perhaps, it never would have happened. She grew to understand what she needs and enjoys in a learning process but has also modified those wants and needs to fit what’s required.

I’ve talked about homeschooling before and will no doubt talk about it again. It is not for everyone. For us, for our family life, it was the perfect option and in coming weeks, I’ll give you a hint of some fabulous experiences homeschooling has provided.

14 Responses to School and Sleeping In

  • I have admired from afar your dedication to this form of schooling and your daughter’s diligence. You both did a great job. Congratulations.

  • Hi Debora! I so enjoyed your post today. I relate to your thoughts because I too am a homeschooling mom. We did the public school hustle and bustle too, starting homeschooling when my son was in 7th and my daughter in 4th. And it was the best thing I ever did for my kids! My son graduated in 2009 and is doing great. He owns his own company and works in real estate in NYC. In addition to that he tutors students in law and accounting at a community college. What’s amazing to me is that he only attended one semester at that college when he was hired to tutor. And though he left without a degree, they asked him to ‘please’ stay on as a tutor. It’s fabulous for his resume. My daughter is wrapping up her senior year and hopes to go on to film school. I’ve no doubt she will.
    You’re right. Homeschooling is not for everyone but for our family it was a great option to schools that were undesirable. Once my daughter graduates my homeschooling days will come to an end, but I have wonderful memories. And if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t even hesitate.
    It’s a great life and the bonds I have formed with my children are priceless!

    • Chris, how wonderful it is to read about your homeschooling experiences! I LOVE how motivated your daughter is, how successful your son is, and how the college recognized your son’s abilities. Right now, my daughter and I are struggling to get her into college because the local community college admission rules for homeschoolers has been drastically changed. They’re making us jump through hoops so high and tiny I fear we need to find a way around them. And so, that’s our mission now, but my daughter’s drive is incredible and, like your children, she will go on to great things.

      Thanks so much for coming by and commenting.

  • What a great post! There are times, now that my kids are out of school and in college, that I wish I had been able to homeschool them. I, however, was the main breadwinner; and when I did have the opportunity, I shied away from it. I regret it now, but my boys seem to be doing fine in spite of their schooling.

    Love your posts, Debbie!

    • Hi Christine! Great to see you here. 🙂

      If my husband did not run a home-based business, I wouldn’t have been able to homeschool my daughter. Between the actual book learning and the activities, we were busy all day, almost every day. Homeschooling is a full time job – it’s being a stay-at-home mom plus.

      I think most of us did well with a public school education – your boys included. It was the nonsense of it all which prompted me to take my daughter out – in fact, I wonder if my next post should be my reasons for finally making the decision to homeschool after considering it for so many years. Some of my issues might not be of importance to others and some might resonate. Now I’m curious and eager to get that post written. 🙂

  • I can’t imagine taking on the responsibility of homeschooling, but I have to admit I’d sure like not having to get up at the crack of dawn! My daughter complains about school all the time – classmates are obnoxious, classes are boring, etc. I’ve offered homeschooling to her but she always says no. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • It’s a huge adjustment if you’re not 100% ready for it. In fact, if you’re ready for it, it’s still a huge adjustment. :eyeroll:

      About a year after we started, my daughter wondered if we’d made the right decision. There are still times when she says she would have like to continue with public school. However, when we look back on our reasons for pulling out of the public school system vs. the reasons she would have liked to continue, we know our decision was the right one for us. While your daughter is not completely happy with her school, she’s made a choice to remain and that’s to be commended. There’s something about it that pulls her in more than the idea of homeschooling. For us, it was the opposite and that pull could not be denied.

  • I would guess you and I are within a couple of years of the same age. When I was growing up, homeschooling was not the valid option it is today. When it became popular, I wondered if the kids still learned everything they needed to know to get into college. Other than that concern, I think it’s a great option.

    I didn’t do much in grades K-12. I hated the structure, the endless hours of homework, and participating in electives that didn’t interest me. However, once I got to college, I was sort of on my own. I had to show up for classes, but other than that…I either did the work or didn’t. I graduated college with a 3.969 GPA. I loved managing my own time and getting the work done in my own way.

    Now, as I try to create a career as a professional writer, I am faced with the same challenge. I have to structure my day and push myself to get it all done. I would think your daughter, having been home schooled, would have a jump start on creating an alternative career for herself.

    So like I always say, I think you’ve done a grand job parenting a great kid. 😀

    • You know what’s so amazing about the idea of being prepared for college? Colleges are now offering college prep classes for first year students because too many students are graduating high school unprepared. All the testing that’s given throughout the years take away from teaching/learning time. It’s a burden for teachers and students alike and has shown to be a substandard way of determining how well students are doing.

      Your college GPA is amazing! (Though, now knowing you, I’m hardly surprised!!) You would have made a great homeschool student because the same way you decided to apply yourself and do your best for college, you would have done for personal pride during the K-12 years. And yes, I agree fully, this process opens the mind to alternatives and while my daughter has yet to decide what she’d like to ‘be’, she’s had the opportunity to research options more thoroughly – and hands on – than if she’d been in public school. Very cool.

  • It seems you’ve done a wonderful job, Debbie. Congrats! I don’t know it I could have handled home schooling with my daughter. Considering that most people are not proficient in all subjects, how did you handle the areas in which you were weak in order to teach your children correctly? Some areas I’m weak in are math, grammar and language and I wouldn’t have been able to teach my daughter past a certain point in those subjects.

    • Thank you so much, Donna.

      About ‘teaching’ difficult subjects – as homeschooling parents teach their kids, they have the opportunity to revisit and relearn various subjects. As my daughter studied biology, I studied along with her. I would read the chapter and learn along with her. What we didn’t understand, we researched. Sometimes, we’d go to the library, sometimes to other homeschoolers, and sometimes to local science labs (like the one at the Science Museum). It’s amazing how eager people are to share their knowledge with those who are thirsty to learn. I admit, though, when it came to calculus, we hired a tutor. Some subjects simply must be left to the pros. 😉

  • I think it’s pretty awesome to have the option to homeschool in this country, and it appears to be quite a community within itself! I continually admire ppl who “color outside the lines” so yay for you to embarking on the journey 🙂

    • Tuere, you’d be amazed at how vast the homeschool community has become over the last few years. There are nearly 12,000 homeschool families just in New York City’s five boroughs! “Color outside the lines”. I LOVE that. It describes homeschoolers perfectly. 🙂

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