My soon-to-be sixteen-year old is just days away from finishing her high school studies.
As a homeschooler, she’s free to decide when she’d like to do her work – mornings, weekends, evenings – as long as she puts in the required amount of hours and covers the work we’ve outlined in our correspondence with the district’s homeschool director. To my amazement, my child has chosen to continue her schoolwork long past the end of the traditional school year. She has worked steadily since last September and has managed to complete two grades in that time.
I say this because I’m extremely proud of her. I also say this because, while we’ve been homeschooling for five years now, I’m still awed by the freedom, choices and possibilities associated with the process.
This is not for everyone and I would never say homeschooling is the BETTER option for everyone. I will, however, say it has been not only a better option, but the BEST for my daughter and my family.
Her traditional elementary school was wonderful. It was hard to let our little girl go there each day without us. Harder to know she was experiencing new and wonderful things, and we weren’t there to see the light in her eyes as she ‘got it’. But, it gave her a sense of confidence and independence that we admired. Add to that the warm, nurturing environment that was her elementary school, and it was – and still is – hard for me to see how homeschooling could be better or give her more.
In middle school, everything changed. The hours upon hours of homework after a full school day did nothing to help her ‘learn’ the subjects, but rather made her want to just “get it done”. Her friends were as overloaded with homework and projects as she was and so they barely saw each other. Homework was worse on weekends, as if the school had a policy declaring children should not be permitted any free time, ever.
The teachers were no longer nurturing. They were like drill sergeants. I get that tweens can be unruly and you have to maintain order. But I truly believe they’ll grow and learn better when treated with respect rather than contempt. I think of the bees-to-honey scenario.
It was the exhausted broken spirit I saw in my child that prompted me to, finally, make the move I’d considered when she was just three years old. Homeschooling.
It has worked for us in ways I could explain page after page. I will sum all of that up by saying my daughter had choices. She chose to work and to work hard. There are no ‘grades’, there is no competition, there is no principal’s office or hall monitor. There is only one child, one teen, doing her personal best because that is what she wants to do.
She’s fortunate to have had the best of both. I’m fortunate to have had the ability to provide that for her.
Have you made life or life-style choices for your children that could have gone either way? What were they? Given the same circumstances, would you make the same choice again?
I don’t have children, so I have no choices to make for them. However, tell your daughter congratulations on her diligence from me. I’m proud to see a young person so interested in her studies. College is much, much different than public school, and I think she’ll enjoy it more. There’s a lot less busy-work in college.
The busy-work turned me off in high school, too. There was so much homework, it became a race to “get it done” so I could watch Happy Days and, later, Roseanne. There was no DVR back in the 80s. That same busy-work turned every subject into a drudge and a bore.
I really think our public schools are headed in the wrong direction. I see a lot of waste–both of time and of resources. I think it could be such an effective and wonderful gift to our young people. Most of the time, though, it is not.
When I was in school, it seemed that nobody was really learning anything–though we spent a lot of hours in school and a lot of hours doing homework. It was very easy to get “lost in the system.” I suspect little has changed…especially after reading your post.
Good one, Debbie. 😀
She’s really looking forward to college and she’s not the least bit intimidated. Her confidence is an amazing thing to see… and something that those unfamiliar with homeschooling (including myself before I got involved with it)would think impossible.
In school, I felt the same as you – that I would do whatever it took to get the work done and move on. I wish I’d invested more of myself in my own education but I hated the process too much. I never developed a love of learning but rather a ‘need’ to get the answers right. Even now in work, I ask question after question, not because I have a desire to know just for the sake of knowing but because I want/need to do my job “right”.
Call it PTSD from all those red X’s. 🙄
I hear you about the direction of the school system today. I feel awful about it because kids have a natural thirst for knowledge. The ‘system’ has become, IMO, a mirage. You think the water is right there, but you have to claw and crawl your way along to reach it. And then, when it’s almost in your hands… when you finally graduate and reach college… you realize there’s no water after all… just remedial classes, which is what city colleges are now offering just to prep freshmen. Imagine? Colleges are now spending billions, they say, just to prep their own freshmen. 🙁
Here’s an article about that very issue: CUNY Adjusts Amid Tide of Remedial Students
Very sad. I have a few teacher friends and many of them are as saddened by the state of the school system as we are. There’s no ‘one’ answer for everyone. But this happened to have worked out beautifully for us – as a student, as a ‘teacher’ and as a family.
I’m so proud of how both of you have persevered in this task. Good job to mom and daughter.
Thank you, Linda. It hasn’t always been easy, but overall, it’s been a great experience for us. I hope my daughter looks back on it as fondly as I know I will.
I homeschooled my kids when they were little. Just in the last year have I sent them to school- one to high school one to fifth grade. Between working full time and them growing up I just couldn’t make it all come together. My son is doing great- I’m so proud.
My daughter school- has great teachers and she’s made some good friends, but there a re a few bullies- thankfully she’s bigger and stronger then them so they leave her alone- but he principal is a huge jerk. It has been a learning experience weighting the pros and cons but she wants to go back, and she knows she can quit at any time.
I admire you for giving your children the option to quit at any time. It’s not easy to balance work, home-life and schooling. I am lucky that my husband’s business is in our home so I was able to work and give my daughter the attention she needed for schooling. In fact, I found it easier because we could work when there was time rather than being forced to work after 3pm when she needed help with homework.
I’ll bet the nurturing you gave your children while they homeschooled, has given them the confidence they need to let a bully’s words ping off of them. I picture superheros dodging and blocking bullets. <--that's both comical and sad, isn't it? 😐
I also am disillusioned by our education system here in the U.S. I have a daughter going into the 8th grade and a son who will be a senior in high school and I don’t know that either will be prepared for college if that’s the route that they choose to go. I thought a few times about home schooling them but didn’t think I was up to the task. Now I wonder whether I should have done it. I was afraid that they would have zero social skills if I home schooled them and that they’d have no friends. And it seems that in the schools they either assign no homework or too much and I can’t go to school with my kids and am never sure of how good of an education they’re receiving.
Patti, I have a feeling your kids are doing fine because you’re a hands-on mom and will notice if they struggle. My daughter was struggling – in her own way – and no amount of contact with the school helped the situation. Also, our work situation made it impossible for my husband to see my daughter once she entered middle school. He works weekends and during the week, she’d be overloaded with work. It was really sad for all of us.
So, sometimes, like in my case, homeschooling just works. Sometimes it doesn’t and it becomes more stressful and less productive than public/private school. Don’t second-guess yourself. The best thing we can do for our kids, IMO, is what we think is right for them at a given moment… like you’ve done in deciding to keep your children in school.
This is wonderful to hear. I don’t have children, but if I did, I would certainly homeschool. Building a solid foundation is so key to later success. Congratulations to both you and your daughter.
Thanks, Ashley! We questioned our decision a few times but always came back to the conclusion that this was what worked best for us. I treasure the time my daughter and I have had together. It’s been less stressful and more interesting. Plus, I’ve had the added bonus of watching her grow, learn and “get it” right before my eyes. 🙂
Homeschooling is such a huge responsibility, both for the student and parent(s). One time my daughter was having a bit of trouble with bullies, and I asked her if she’d want to do home schooling. She said no, and the problems were dealt with. We are fortunate to have decent public schools, because even though the offer was there, I can’t imagine taking on that responsibility. Much respect to you and your daughter!
It is a big responsibility but it’s a lot easier – if ‘easy’ is a good word – than it seems. I’ve been so amazed at the resources available to us. I think homeschooling has becoming more mainstream, so there are options for curriculum, social activities, sports, group classes… you name it. It’s like a whole different life. But you have to be ready for it. As much as I had wanted to homeschool my daughter from the beginning, I was NOT ready for it until she’d reached the sixth grade. Even then I wasn’t sure. Fortunately, I had – and still have – a fabulous homeschool support group with members of all ages, backgrounds and abilities. We truly lucked out.
I homeschooled my children for a few years for some of the same reasons you’ve mentioned. I ended up putting them in an excellent private school later and we were all happy with it.
It’s tough. I watched the documentary “Waiting for Superman.”
It’s about the crumbling public school system, school vouchers, and it will make you weep. If you have kids or grand children it’s a must see.
Thanks for sharing your take.
I applaud your personal involvement and love in raising great people. We need more parents like you.
I haven’t seen Waiting for Superman but have heard before that it’s a must-see.
When we started homeschooling, it was supposed to be temporary – just middle school. But my daughter did so well, and enjoyed the new experience so much that we continued through to now. There were times she considered going back to public school but we compromised – I obtained permission for her to use the public school library as needed and that satisfied both of us. She was able to ‘attend’ school and get that sense of connection – on her terms – but was able to study and learn at her own pace without it interfering with her outside interests and activities. Win-win. We simply lucked out. 🙂
Good for you! I’ve always wondered what it would be like to homeschool my kids and now have a glimpse. I’m sure there are benefits to both ways but I applaud you for identifying what your family needed and taking a proactive roll in her education. It reminds me of the way our heroines and heros grew up in the regency romance novels when different tutors visited the home and taught lessons. Very chic! 😉
There are definitely benefits to both ways, and in truth, homeschooling might be the worst thing for some families. It has to fit your mindset and lifestyle. I’m so happy it fit ours because this has been a wonderful experience. I wish more people could experience it for themselves… but then, their experience might not be the same as our experience was. I say it all the time, we’ve been very lucky.