This post is extremely pro-homeschooling. Please don’t read it if your only plan is to roast me on this issue. I believe that the public school system is needed and that teachers have worked very hard to devote their careers to teaching children. They are underpaid and extremely important in our communities. This post does not take away from that. This post is about my recent experience and some others I have come across. My kindergarten teacher was one of my best friends when I was a little girl. My Dad was a teacher. My mother in law was a teacher. I have considered going to school to become a teacher. This post is not about that… it is about homeschooling. Thanks for your acceptance of my desire to use my blog to express my feelings on my experience…
Yesterday we met with the public school officials down the street for advice on getting our kid speech therapy help. I had been in panic-mode for the 24 hours before the appointment, making sure to gather all of my current homeschool records, my plan book of recorded hours, and last, but not least… our Homeschool Legal Defense Aid Membership card and the phone number to our local attorney. The state we live in is a little less homeschool friendly than some of the other states. We need a lawyer for everything. Not just from public school officials, but from anyone who challenges our lifestyle. Homeschooling is accepted, but there are those who are a little hostile towards the lifestyle because they don’t fully understand homeschooling. Should a neighbor cry neglect or whatever, we have lawyers who are a phone call away and are on top of their game. It’s pretty impressive how much this team of attorneys accomplishes on behalf of the homeschool community. Anyway, I was a spaz and as usual anticipated being looked down upon and maybe even bullied into putting my kid into school. I was threatened once by a pediatrician after I explained I wanted to do one vax shot at a time, instead of all of them while my baby was a newborn. It was one of the scariest moments in my life as she talked about “reporting me” and placed her hand on the phone for dramatic effect. We walked out with 6 vaccinations in my baby’s little leg. I was nervous that I would be walking out of the school with one less homeschooled child. Fear had struck my heart even though my husband kept telling me that the Lord would take care of us.
Immediately the school separated me and my husband. Speech therapy son went with him and the others two boys came with me. While waiting for my son to finish his speech testing, the lady who sat with me had a short conversation with my two boys that made me look like a rock star teacher. Then I voiced my concerns about my kid and may have rambled on like I do when nervous, while lady with the computer typed away and made sure I couldn’t see the screen. Great, me and my mouth!!! Soon husband comes back and begins to tell me how fabulously our son did on the school’s test. He is so smart and answered hard questions above his grade level. The woman administering said test asked my son if his last speech therapist taught him a specific skill and my totally awesome son who will be rewarded handsomely replied, “No, my mom taught me that.” Right on. But when the lady who sat with me goes over the test she says he didn’t do as great as the test results showed. I am so glad Husband was there because he politely shared with her that his answers were right and above grade-level for his age. She had a hard time accepting it and moved the paper away so we couldn’t see the answers anymore. But… I did get to see it for about 5 minutes and husband was right. My son had some very smart answers to some very difficult tests. We were there for speech therapy and he was being tested for other crap. It made me feel like they were trying to scare me into enrolling my son into their school for the money or something. Like the way a car dealership gets commission for the sale of a car. I knew this lady was a little off her rocker when she began to tell me how great Common Core Testing is. As she spoke I realized she knew less about it than I did… and I don’t know all that much.
My youngest (5) just learned to read. I have taught three children how to read. We are working on the writing process using a method I call the baseball diamond (borrowed from Sonlight, but modified to fit our curriculum) and she was genuinely impressed and said she was going to borrow my technique to help her 9 year old write creatively. Yes, she is finally agreeing with me on something. One of the scarier moments was when I explained the importance of reading to a child. It’s my one area of expertise which I have studied extensively ( I am a certified Educational Consultant in books and reading for schools and libraries). When I told her about the level of importance I place on this practice, I got a blank stare in return. No, my son will never be enrolled in this school after that reaction to reading.
Finally, she comments that maybe my son is not “behind,” but maybe my other two are just really advanced. It was clearly obvious they are incredibly advanced according to her standards based on her not-so-subtle homeschool test. After the mini interrogation ended with my son speaking intelligently about the atmosphere and his current study of the planet Mars, it was evident that my kids are not failing. They are doing great! We are doing the right thing for our family. And my child who was the “struggler” of the bunch is actually doing fine academically. He’s smart. I hope you can feel my smile through the computer screen.
Before we left, the woman I met with told me that I was doing a good job. She said homeschoolers have come through her office who confirmed the stereotype that we’re a bunch of hippies who don’t actually have the wisdom, knowledge, or education to homeschool. I have never met homeschoolers who fit that bill, ever, but she has. I didn’t go to college to learn homeschooling. There is no degree in any university that teaches homeschooling. I became qualified after studying different methods of learning. I am proficient because I know my children’s hearts and what motivates and inspires them to learn. I became experienced and capable because I spent hours upon hours reading and writing and studying how to homeschool. Even so, I still find myself riddled with doubt at times… am I doing enough? Could I be doing more without burning out? Any teacher who doesn’t ask these things may have lost the wisdom that we need to always be improving our craft. I never stop learning how to homeschool. Not until the day my oldest graduates. I never stop looking to veteran homeschoolers because they have taught me most so much.
Let me leave you with this while in my current state of joy. I am high off my meeting with the public school people so there is an abnormal flood of confidence surging through my veins. Here is my encouragement for you… You know your children better than anyone else. It doesn’t take a test or a label to learn pretty quickly how your child learns best. As we work with our kids one-on-one they will learn to read, math, the history which made the world today, the science of life as well as all things non-living, and to appreciate great literature. It will happen with hard work and a plan. Plan to teach your child, choose how to do it and what your going to use (which unit study, curriculum, or supplies), and then work through them. You are the best teacher they could possibly have. After my experience yesterday, as well as a few comments from teachers throughout the years, I see that only a homeschooler can understand certain things about learning and teaching. And while I do get prideful at times (working on it, promise), I have noticed an arrogance many – notice I said not all – teachers have had towards homeschoolers. Some of the comments make it seem as if they know more about my child and how he learns than I do. Some “experts” think they know more about learning and teaching than a homeschool mom. Ignore them. With the desire to homeschool with motivation and conviction, will come the wisdom and knowledge.
Have a good week friends.