If you are close to me in anyway, then you know that I am constantly going back and forth over whether to send the kids to traditional public school or to homeschool. I have been fretting over this for the past two years and the debate continues strong. A few months ago I would have told you that I had made my decision: I would be sending Frannie to regular K. So then why can't I just drop it? Why do I keep yakking about it, reading books about it, and asking a bunch of questions about it? Why can't I let it go?
It must be my need to fully research everything. For example, we are going to get some laminate flooring in the house next year and I've had four different guys to the house so far to show me samples and give estimates. Every person who has been here has taught me something new about the process so I can then ask more detailed questions.
But schooling isn't flooring obviously. It's much bigger, lightyears more important, and has taken me much longer to process. And I'm still processing every single day. I'm sick of it actually.
So here is my big fat homeschooling dilemma laid out:
Frannie is social. She thrives in group environments. I can't get her to eat so many foods, but if she is with other kids she will gobble up anything on her plate. I have seen time and time again how she dedicates herself to something if other kids are doing it too. So in terms of school I believe she will learn so much and just soak it all in. I suppose this could also backfire and she could adopt "attention-getting" behaviors that she sees. I certainly have seen her play the whole "us two are in and you're out" scenario with other girls. But in talking strictly academics, she does well in groups.
With homeschooling it is much harder to create a group environment. I know that I would sign her up for outside activities such as ballet, art classes, and possibly girl scouts, but what about an academic environment? I do worry sometimes that the school system has become so focused on test-scores that they are introducing concepts too soon and overburdening elementary aged children with homework. I hear friends of school-aged ones bemoan the amount of homework that their kids are taking home. It's all very time consuming and often just busy-work. Part of me feels that if I'm going to be spending an hour and a half on homework then I might as well just homeschool and get it done earlier in the day.
That said, homeschooling is such a huge responsibility. It requires long-term, short-term and daily planning. It's another job that is enmeshed with mommyhood.
So that is part of it. I actually have other concerns about the academic parts of home vs. traditional school but this post could end up being ridiculously long if I list absolutely everything that is on my mind.
So onto the social part of it. I go to an amazing homeschool group on Tuesday afternoons and there is just the best group of little girls and boys and they all play together so wonderfully. We are there for about 3 hours and it is non-stop playing and make believe and fun. Everything that is great about childhood is present in those three hours at the park. Every time I come home I think about homeschooling again because I really don't want to let that go. I don't want to let the park day go! I couldn't ask for a better group of children for my children to grow up with. Truly.
So when I think of homeschooling I feel like I am choosing between park days and flexibility but also taking on the sole burden of my kids' academic life, which I'm not convinced yet that I can handle! When I think of public school I feel like the academic burden is lifted off of me, and I think she will learn a lot, but I also see a future of social cliques (and all that that entails) and one-size-fits-all learning environments with lots of evening homework. In addition to Frannie, there is the matter of Adam and Natalie to consider. Obviously I have no clue what type of learner Natalie is, but Adam's style is starting to emerge. I actually see him as an independent learner at this point.
Right now I'm reading 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum. It helps you to figure out your child's natural learning style, your (the teacher's) learning style and needs, and match you to curriculum that will fit. I have also read Discover Your Child's Learning Style. I recommend the latter book whether someone plans on homeschooling or not simply because it gives insights into what kind of learner your child is which is helpful to know no matter where a child goes to school. Before reading that book I was often confused about why Frannie would learn things well in some situations but not in others. After taking the little analysis tests they offer in the book and reading her learning profile it all made much more sense to me.
So at this point I am at the place of seeing if I can possibly find an educational method and curriculum that works for the both of us to see if I could handle the academic responsibility of schooling at home. Meanwhile, I am going on tours of my local elementary schools next semester to see how things are run in my district.
What about Jason? How does he feel about all of this? Well he is an open-minded soul. He can see the pros and cons to both decisions as well. If I give a convincing argument for either one, he is pretty supportive. My parents are the same. Either choice is fine to them.
Whatever decision we end up making, I hope you kids don't hate me for it in the future! Mama is just trying her best! Remember that!