Oct 14, 2011

Life Happens

Because clearly life around here isn't exciting enough what with the trans-continental move, new dental practice, etc., I figured now would be the perfect time to make another huge life-altering change for our family.  (NO, I'm not pregnant!  Quit looking at my stomach!  I told you I've been stress eating!!!)

No--no new baby.  Something even bigger and more time consuming:
I've decided to pull Max out of public school and home school him.

Yes, I realize many of you who know us, or maybe only know me through this blog, are yelling 
"WHAT?!?!?!?!?!" at the computer screen right now.

Because let's face it:  We all know I'm not the home schooling type.
*I'm relatively lazy and occasionally impatient.  
*My house has chronically cluttered surfaces.  
*I've never once cried sending my kid to school on the first day,
*I generally just look forward to the noise level decreasing when two kids leave the house.  
*I've been known to call Home Schoolers "Crazy People" and "Saints" alternately, and have never had any desire to join their number.  

In other words, while I fully appreciate the benefits of home schooling, I've never wanted to do it.  And I've never thought I'd need to do it.  

Public school is just not working for us.

Obviously, many many things play into this decision and I've been thinking about it for a long time; but here are a few of my main reasons:

1.  Max and Sam both have ADHD.  They are both easily distracted and work immeasurably better in small groups or ideally, with one-on-one attention.  Especially Max. (Here in CA, they have HUGE classes.)

1a.  They both have some mild PTSD issues from living through the 3/11 earthquake and aftermath--which was also extremely detrimental to their schooling last year.  (Max was behind in math pre-3/11 and got farther behind after!)

2.  They both have IEP's for additional services required by law and provided by the school district.  Despite this, they both struggle and Max just isn't catching up.  (Sammy's services helped him a ton the last two years, whereas Max's speech therapy has helped him...not even the tiniest bit.)  (And furthermore, I think Max will still receive the same services...?)

2a.  Although I tried to get in to see the Principle to discuss the above items with her before the school year began, I was not allowed to speak to her, and she has still not bothered to meet or contact me.  (Clearly, I'm still a little ticked about that...)

3.  Homework, which I do not believe should be required after a 6.5 hour day, takes us hours of pain and tears.  (And leaves me feeling Max still doesn't "get it".  This is a bigger issue for Max right now.  Sam's issues are more social/emotional.)

4.  If I'm going to spend hours helping Max with school work, I want it to be at 9 or 10 a.m.  NOT the "Witching Hours"--from 3-5 p.m. (With all the neighbor kids playing happily outside the window...)

5. Ultimately, I feel like when it comes down to it, their education is my responsibility.  If the school isn't doing a good enough job, or if they are not doing a good enough job in school, I can expend hours of effort trying to get additional help, like I did last year, only to find that it was mostly wasted effort, or I can quit whining and take matters into my own hands.  It's my job.  So I'm going to do it.

With that said, I've been reading up on this for months.  Here are a few quotes I've found along the way that made a lot of sense to me:  (Since the objection I hear most often is that home schooling isn't good for kids socially, a few of these deal with that.)

The far end of the Family Room:  Our new class room!
"Our modern system is a fairly recent development.  Only in the last seventy years has it become the predominant system."
Found another desk at a consignment store here. 
"Almost everybody in America today is getting the kind of education that has historically been reserved for those who simply had no other options."  (i.e. the poor and lower classes.  The rich were generally taught at home by tutors or sent to expensive private schools.)
What about their social life?
"If parents are so-called "backward and strange, chances are their kids will be also--even if they are in public school.  At least in home school, their confidence is supported and they have a strong chance of getting a good education without their love of learning being destroyed by an artificial social and class structure ...those who tend to struggle socially may be better off in a homeschool..."
In my experience teaching pottery to home schoolers, the above is entirely true.  I found the vast majority of home schooled kids to be sweet, intelligent, polite, and happy to see and socialize with all of their fellow home schoolers.  (And neighbors, and friends, and public schoolers...)
"If your children are educated at school, you still need to give thought to their socialization.  Are they perhaps being socialized in bad ways?"
Aren't all parents worried about negative peer pressure from school friends?
"Public schools also have numerous socializing failures."
(Source for previous five quotes:  A Thomas Jefferson Education)
"What about my child's social development?  Doesn't he need peers?"  Children need friends.  Children do not need to be surrounded by large groups of peers who inevitably follow the strongest personality in the crowd.  The question for any parent is: Do I want my child to be like his peers?  Or do I want my child to rise above them?"
"When I taught school, I was convinced that parents couldn't teach their own children.  But twenty-five years later, I can look back and say: The experiment was a success.  I was the best teacher my children could possibly have had because I was their parent."
(Source for previous two quotes: The Well-Trained Mind)

So do you think I'm completely crazy?  Or just partially?
What do you think about home schooling in general?
By show of hands, who thinks I'm going to crash and burn?


Catherine said...

Oh my goodness Emily , I'm so glad I saw your post today on FB... I'm having the EXACT same problems with my 2 boys (9 yrs and almost 7), for the EXACT same reasons, except no PTSD for them - I'm so sorry about that for your little guys.

I've been struggling with this very decision - should I home school them...

I'm not quite ready to make that jump, but I'm getting close.

So, I totally understand what you're going through, and I loved all the quotes you included, and agree with every one of them!

Catherine (your cuz)

Emily S. said...

Knowing you and knowing Max and having known the experience my older brother had with his ADHD and public school I think it's an honorable and amazing choice. Your boys do have some "special" needs,...not really special but you know what I mean...and if they're not benefitting and growing in that environment then AMEN SISTAH! You're an awesome mom and have an amazing family. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

To me, of more concern is the "new" (and old) legislation passed by the State of Clif. requiring the specific teachings of Gay and Lesbian's contributions to society (effective Jan 1st 2012) and the absence of any and all contributions of our founding fathers and others, of their beliefs and anything that has to do with morality, religion and ethics. It is illigal for a teacher in Calif. to teach values or express any opinions about what he or she fells or believes may be right or wrong. However, they are required to teach your kids (at a very young age) all about sex education, all its veriations, contraception, abotion, etc., but without any comments on morality, virtue, opinion, etc.

Linz said...

Congratulations Em! I know this was a tough decision for you, and I applaud your choice. Good luck with everything! I am sure it will be wonderful for everyone!

Melissa Abby said...

Good for you Emily! You will be great at it, I'm sure it will be crazy at times but so worth it for your boys. Love that picture of the four of them, they are all so grown up!

ryanandginger said...

Way to go Emily! I think you will do great and you have plenty of friends who can help you out (or who you can complain to). I'm not pro/against homeschooling..... I'm pro child and if he's not getting what he needs, you are making the right decision. We are also blessed with lots of social opportunities at church, which is a nice bonus.

Being a public school teacher is hard.... I know because I've been one. (but some teachers are better than others- principals too) Right now I'm working at my children's charter school so I'm kind of cheating. I would like to see the documentary where TV cameras follow kids home from troubled schools. Everyone is quick to blame the teachers but I really believe the problem begins in the home. There is only so much teachers can do with overcrowded classrooms, little parental support, misbehaved children, and so many learning issues. That type of environment is probably so challenging for Max. Since I have a child with ADHD who is making remarkable progress, I can honestly say it will get better. Sometimes it just takes a bit for their little brains to grow. And they need help with social cues. And they need lots of management. Many of those things are best provided by YOU.

Boy, I'm feeling kind of left out these days because all the cool people are homeschooling.

Ashley said...

I'm so happy to see this post. I am probably going to put my oldest into public school (kindergarten) next year, but my husband and I have always said if we see a reason to pull them out and start home schooling, we will. It's so nice to actually see it be done to know I can do it if need be. Thank you! I will for sure be keeping this post in safe keeping just in case I need validation in the future.

Way to be doing the right thing for your kids! I highly admire you for that. It can't be an easy thing to do. Thank you!

Pinspot said...

I now have a valid reason to make fun of you. thanks.

Jenn said...

Good for you! A lot of my friends who home school also send their kids to some classes at a charter school.

Good luck! I could teach my kids to a point (maybe 4th grade!!) :)

Heather H said...

I have been blog stalking you since I heard about your blog after the earthquake and I just wanted to say YAY!! for doing what is best for your child! We do an online charter school for our oldest who is currently in 1st grade, it was a super hard decision to make (and some days keep) but the days I pray for help to be the best teacher for her I can be go really well, the days I don't can be a bit challenging with her and her three younger siblings! I am sure that if this is what Heavenly Father wants for you to do then it will be a great experince for you both.

Bartimaeus said...

Is it wrong for me to make fun of him for homeschooling?

At least he will have a great education including all the greatest 80's music hits!

I think you will do awesome babe! Good luck! I might help out a little.

Michelle Glauser said...

Sounds well-thought out. Good luck! I'm sure you'll be great since you have your kids' best interests at heart.

Ryan Ball said...

Good luck Emily.

mama bear said...

Here's my 2 cents' worth (and where is the symbol for cents on my keyboard?): I have known many people who home-school. Some are great at it and the kids are actually getting an amazing education. Some are just throwing the workbook down in front of the kids and they only do what's required by law. Then they head out running errands and socializing with their mom friends. So, it all depends on the approach you take. You know me, I'm not the home-schooling type either but like you I could do it if my children were in need. Do I think you're crazy? Completely! But I also know this will be a great experience for both you and Max and this will give him the opportunity to learn at his own pace. He's a smart kid, so this is really going to help him catch up and then some. Good luck, can't wait to hear how it goes!

Jenny said...

you'll be great! good luck and have fun!

sara said...

I (a nearly total stranger) think you will do GREAT!! My kids are in a traditional public school but this is something I've thought about before, having seen others' success. Congrats on your decision; I'm sure that Max will really thrive with his new world of schooling!

marissa said...

I do think you are crazy! But I've always thought you were crazy, so that won't change. :) I think you can totally do it. I have done a lot of research about home-schooling as well. I was going to pull my girls out if we didn't get in the school we did this year. I'm glad they got in, but I think it could have been really great either way. I've been home-schooling Elizabeth for preschool because we don't have the money. I know that is different, but I can't even believe how much she is learning and how fast. She loves it. We do it for about 1 1/2 hours every morning and I just LOVE the time with her. I always thought she was 3rd child so she was just going to be slower than the others, but she is turning into a little miss smarty-pants. You just have to give them some time. I totally feel for you having those homework issues with Max. We had those last year and it was awful for everyone involved! Good luck with it. I can't wait to hear how it goes crazy woman!

marissa said...

Oh, one more thing. When I was looking at home-schooling I found out about "independent study" through the school district. They provide all the books, worksheets, everything. You just have to go and meet with them every 2 weeks to 1 month and turn in your work. You still have to go in once a year and take the standardized tests. It seemed like a good way for me to start home-schooling because there is so much out there and I just didn't know how I wanted to go about it. Just a thought that you could look into something like that to start off.

Anonymous said...

I think it is great that you are doing what is right for your child. To me that is the bottom line.

Granitesonline said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
C Dawn's bucket said...

Random stranger who has been following your blog sporadically since the earthquake. (I know Jill Shelley...so not completely a weirdo) I know you'll make whatever decision is best for your family.

Just wanted to chime in that if you want interaction with the principal the only communication they are required by law to respond to is written requests.....(rolls eyes...I know) but it is what it is.


Beeswax said...

Well, I left the country and got a little behind!

My two oldest boys have struggled in public,Montessori,and charter schools because of ADHD-like symtoms. Testing showed asynchronous development associated with high IQ. Which sounds great, but basically means "your kid will be super crazy nuts until he grows out of it, hopefully around age 12. So take him home and wait." And since my 12-year-old recently started doing all his homework and turned into an all-around fantastic,responsible, not-crazy kid, I now have hope that none of the four of them will end up in prison.

People always look at me funny when they find out how far I drive to take my kids to school. And my Sam is still in trouble all the time and doesn't do his work. And the teacher (who is supposed to have a degree in these kids), acts like I should fix him.

I have thought about homeschooling, and still wouldn't rule it out (mostly to stop the frustrated phone calls), but I don't know if I can do a better job than she can. There is a reason I switched my major from Elementary Ed to History.

I applaud your courage! And I'm interested to hear how it goes! Keep us updated.

acte gratuit said...

I wrote a letter to the principle with my...
e-mail address
home phone and
cell phone.

No response.