Our kids have entered a new school year. For our family, the daily schedule looks a tad different.
A couple of years ago, we decided to homeschool our youngest daughter. Last year, we kept both girls at home. Sending them back into the public school system was not a decision we made lightly.
As a former teacher, I have been known to be on edge about our kids getting the education I believe they need. Now, however, my stress level is way down in regards to the hours our daughters are spending under the academic guidance of others.
Two years as a homeschooling parent changed my educational outlook. I’m pretty confident my kids will succeed scholastically for the following reasons:
1. Success isn’t about grades or standardized tests.
My eldest is a model student in the public school system. Tell her a fact and she’ll memorize it until the test is finished. She doesn’t speak out of turn and she acts like a young adult.
My youngest, on the other hand, will question concepts, may look like she’s paying attention when actually her brain is focused on literature during a math lesson, or become frustrated when she’s not done with a science experiment at class end.
Of the two – which do you think gets better grades on tests?
Of the two – which do you think actually retains the information she’s learned?
This year, if one comes home with a report card full of As, I will be proud. If one comes home with a report card full of “incompletes” and lower grades, yet can share with me the information taught, I will also be proud. The state can try to standardize learning all they want, but no piece of paper will tell me how smart my daughters are.
2. Education doesn’t only happen in the classroom.
We made the choice to homeschool after a trip to Washington, D.C. Back in Portland, Annika’s 5th grade classmates studied our country’s political system. As her class read about the government, we visited the White House, the Capitol building, and Mount Vernon. Edd and I observed as Annika gobbled every morsel of history trivia fed to her. This girl retained way more experiencing life than she did sitting behind a desk.
Pulling kids out of public school for an extended period of time is a hassle, but with all due respect to my daughters’ educators, I will never hesitate to allow a school absence when a different learning opportunity is available.
3. If the kids don’t feel well, they will stay home.
This should be common sense, right? Not for me.
Our conversations in the past:
Mom, I don’t feel good.
Get up and eat. You’ll feel better.
I still don’t feel good.
You’re just tired. Go to school. If you’re still sick, go to the nurse.
Okay. You can stay home. But if you think you’re done throwing up, you could probably still make it…
I don’t know why I’ve always been so adamant the girls attend school when they clearly don’t feel well. It’s not fair to them or the students around them if they are truly sick.
Homeschooling has given me a different attitude regarding the whole “not feeling good” vibe. If they miss a day or two due to illness, I can relax knowing they won’t fail. They will catch up and I’m here to help.
4. The girls are independent.
|Ready for the bus.|
Who are these girls and what have they done with my daughters?
I’m not exactly sure how to pinpoint the reason for their über-confidence. When they were home, they were a part of choosing the curriculum. When I gave them assignments and a due date, they paced themselves in order to complete expectations. I remained pretty hands-off unless they asked for help.
Whatever the reason, in a day when some parents are taking all decision making skills away from their children, I’m happy to let mine take care of themselves for a bit. It leaves more time for me to watch soap operas and eat bonbons.
5. No matter what happens, our girls will be okay.
Nothing at the schools Emma and Annika attend will harm them academically.
We live in a suburban environment, surrounded by like-minded parents anxious for our individual offspring to succeed in life. Parent volunteer opportunities have wait-lists. Parties are planned for holidays. If our kids struggle, we get them tutors. PE only two days a week? No problem – they are in extra-curricular sports after school.
Three and a half miles down the road, another elementary school qualifies with a Title 1 rating. A few middle class neighborhoods feed into these grades, but so do low-income apartments and homeless shelters.
My friends who teach at the Title 1 don’t have parent volunteer waiting lists. They are lucky if they can get helping adults in during the school day at all. Guess where I will spend my volunteer hours this year?
Regardless of what happens at their public schools, our girls have two parents who will do everything we can to make sure they grow into capable, confident young adults.