Homeschool Taboo? Q & A

Since I’ve written my first article about deciding to homeschool, I’ve gotten a lot of questions while out in public from people who’ve read the article and from people that I or my son mentions it to in regular conversation. I’ve grappled internally with some of the questions, so I’ve decided to answer some of the more popular ones here.

A question I get asked a lot is “How is homeschool going?”

Answer:

Well, for one it’s summer, and we are both on break! Lol! But even before the schools went on summer break, I hesitated to answer this question. It felt like pressure. I literally withdrew my son at the end of April with only one month of school left. We weren’t “doing” anything. I felt like I would be judged for that. I felt like I was judged for that. Maybe it was just my own lingering insecurity about it.

But then I wondered why the hell I even cared what anyone thought. My child went to school all year. By the time May rolls around, no one is at school because they want to be- teachers included. So yeah, no school work for the last month of “school.” Hopefully everyone’s ok with that. If not, I am!

Next questions. . .

Question: So what/how are you teaching him?

I’m teaching him whatever I want and whatever he wants to learn! And sometimes he’s teaching himself. And sometimes he’s learning without “teaching.” Like when he was three and learned that Walmart was Walmart before he could read because he paid attention.

I’m teaching him the same way I taught him the alphabet and how to count. The same way I taught him his name and how to write it. I’m teaching him the same way I taught him baby sign language when he couldn’t talk. The same way I taught him to look both ways before he crosses a street, but not to cross a street without a grownup.

I’m teaching him the same way I taught him to potty. The same way I taught him to brush his teeth and bathe. I’m teaching him the same way I taught him to iron his clothes. The same way I’m teaching him to drive.

I am his first and best teacher.

Question: What curriculum are you using?

Answer:

We’re not using a curriculum. In the beginning, I felt shameful about this answer, too. I made the decision in confidence, because I know what is best for my child. But I felt like we would be looked at as a delinquent family. I have gotten a couple of weird looks about it, but guess what? I got over that, too. I don’t know if or when we will use a curriculum. It won’t be soon, as far as I know. I have other plans. When we are come off of our break, we will focus on reading and identity/self-discovery. There is no curriculum for how I want to teach it. The foundations of this may take six months or the entire year. I am okay with slowing down to speed up.

Question: How will you know if he’s on par?

Answer:

With whom? Allowing children learn at their own pace is a huge reason for homeshooling, whether your child struggles or is advanced. What I do know is that lots (most that I know or have read about) of homeschooled children matriculate early. Being “on par” is not one of our concerns or focus.

Question: What about socialization?

Answer:

Your children aren’t socializing at school. If they are, you’re probably getting calls or notes sent home. They are not allowed to talk in class except to answer questions or when they work in groups. They are not really allowed to talk in line when changing classes or going to lunch. Teachers take up precious minutes of eating time to get students to be quiet before they proceed to the cafeteria.

If your child, like mine, is getting bullied, he or she is not learning socialization skills. They are likely trying desperately to find coping skills that work.

My son is an only child and the oldest grandchild who spent the majority of time during his formative years with family, which means 98% adults. It’s why when he did start talking, his vocabulary was advanced. And even before he could talk, his comprehension was always well beyond his ages and stages.

He also has friends and activities he does outside of school. I promise you homeschooled children are not hermits.

Question: What are your hours? How do you have enough time to teach him?

Answer:

If you’re asking whether I have set hours for my child to sit down and look at books all day, the answer is no. School is not from 8 – 3. That method wasn’t working for him.

Question: What about when it’s time to graduate?

Answer:

We’re not there yet. I have a lot to learn. I don’t know everything, but we’re committed to the process. What I do know is that homeschooled children successfully graduate every year, and that a lot of the child prodigies you read about in the media are homeschooled children.

Question: Have you thought about private school, charter school, or Montessori?

Answer:

He’s gone to two different charter schools. I liked different things about each. However, homeschool is not a last resort for us. It is a first choice. In fact, public school was a last resort. If I’d realized years ago that homeschool really was a viable choice, I never would have sent my son. I thought putting him in school was something I “had” to do. Homeschool is first choice for us.

Question: Are you going to put him back in school later?

Answer:

No. See previous answer.

There is a world of options and support out there for parents who want to homeschool. It’s not right or wrong or good or bad to homeschool or to put your children in regular school. Decide what works for your family and when. Maybe you want to homeschool and can’t right now. Make a plan for it and stick to it. Whether two-parent or single-parent household, talk to your children about it, and involve them in the process. If you’ve just been curious about homeschooling and puzzled about how it works or why people do it, I hope I’ve been able to shed some light.

If this post has helped you in any way, please share it with others you think it would benefit. Leave a comment to let me know how it helped. If you have more questions, hit the contact button. I do reply to comments and emails.

It’s Our First Day of Homeschool!

Today is our first day of homeschool!

I started entertaining the idea at the beginning of the year when my frustration with the public school system reached an all-time high. But I’m not a stay-at-home-mama yet, so I had serious doubts about being able to homeschool and work. It felt impossible, and I thought I’d be judged harshly for doing things a certain way. By whom, I’m not sure. I’m being very transparent right now. It was just an irrational fear, and I’ll be the first to tell you that most of our fears are irrational.

I knew I had to do something though, so I made a Facebook post to get feedback from my network. As expected, my Facebook peeps came through. I got everything from “I wish I could!” to I do/did it, but not while working” to “Try private school or a different school district.” I even received offers for consultations. And while all were meant to be helpful and taken as such, my heart began sliding into despair as I read through the comments. What I wanted to know was “Is it possible? Can I homeschool while being a working mom?”

Wait.

Scratch that. Let me rephrase.

I needed to know, to be told, that I could do it. That someone else had done it, no matter how hard it was. My spirit needed that. I could take it from there.

I joined a local homeschool group on Facebook that someone had suggested. Then I listened to this podcast. It changed my whole perspective and validated everything I’d been thinking and feeling regarding homeschooling and my son’s education. Suddenly, I knew I could do it. I knew it was the best thing to do. And I determined that we would begin homeschooling in the upcoming school year. I began researching homeschooling methods, unschooling, curriculums, etc. I joined a bunch of homeschool groups so I could begin friending other homeschooling families and stay in the know.

I’m going to be honest here. I work. During the day. Outside of my home. I own a small business, and it pays the bills. I’m also a single parent. I will have to be strategic about how I manage my time and take on clients. I don’t know how I would do this if I had a regular 9-5, but knowing myself, I would make a plan and a way. My son’s education and life are that important. That brings me to why I decided to homeschool in the first place.

Academics

Quite simply, traditional schools are ill-equipped to meet my son’s academic needs. It took me awhile to realize this. Growing up, I excelled in school because the environment and the methods were conducive to my learning style. I had pretty good memory recall. My grandmother used to say I had the memory of an elephant. I was a great test taker. I loved to read and write, and that’s how I learned. School was a breeze for me! It was reading, writing, and test taking. Straight As and honor roll! Great! I was always praised for this, as though it was something I’d done. I used to say, “All I did was study. Anyone can be ‘smart’ if they study.” And while that is true, I never realized that traditional ways of teaching and study methods catered to my style of learning. . . .until my son came along. My son is very intelligent. But he learns differently. Even with wraparound services, which I feel were poorly executed and maintained, it wasn’t good enough. I don’t entirely blame the school. the whole system is flawed. Teachers and students are casualties of that system.

Bullying

The bullying problem was out of control, and seemingly out of my control. My son has been bullied for three years straight, and despite encouraging him to tell me and his teachers so that we can make it stop, what he’s learned is that no one can make it stop. As a parent, it’s such a bad feeling to not be able to protect your child. What’s worse is experiencing an erosion of trust between you and your child due to your seeming inability to protect him. That alone is worth homeschooling.

Identity & Control

There’s very little cultural representation and zero reinforcement of self-identity. My son told me that there are no brown people in his history lessons. Imagine going through six hours of study everyday and never seeing yourself represented, while also being teased about your hair (even by kids who look like you, which is a whole other issue).

Not to mention, public schools guard children like dogs against their own parents. I never was sure if they were guarding the children or the classrooms. I’ve never been comfortable with that.

When I realized how stressful it was for me to advocate for my son’s education and safety, I began to question why I was even waiting to withdraw him. Yesterday, I kept my son home and sent a withdrawal email to his principal and a few other key staff. His principal responded in acknowledgement and simultaneously put a crack in my heart. Somewhere deep down I was hoping that I’d have to check in with the school verbally to verify that the withdrawal email was received.

Just a month ago, I’d sent an email to the principal and attached two voice clips of a conversation I’d secretly recorded between my son and me, regarding the bully situation at his school. I knew my son wouldn’t have been so open if he’d known he was being recorded. In the email, I also included details of an incident of bullying that he’d told me happened that very same day and expressed my concern for his safety. I ended requesting a scheduled appointment. I have not received a response to that email.

A week or so after the email, I went up to the school and asked the administrator to have the principal call me at his earliest convenience to schedule an appointment. I never received a phone call. So to receive a response to the withdrawal email within hours. . . .deeply saddened and disappointed me. It also reaffirmed that I made the right decision.

Welcome home, Son.