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Saturday, February 26, 2011

To Homeschool or Not To Homeschool, That is the Question

Shortly after I turned 18, I moved out of my mom's house. She was hurt that I was chomping at the bit to get out, but I was tired of putting up with my stepdad, and decided that moving out was vital to my happiness. A month later, I dropped out of school because school had always been the bane of my existance.

All the way up to 6th grade, I was a straight A student. I soaked up all knowledge like a sponge. I remained pretty much an A student through 8th grade, but I began to grow bored at the repetativeness of the lessons. I never felt challenged. I realized in 9th grade that they were literally repeating everything I had learned in the previous 8 grades, and I HATE repeat work. My grades slowly fell so that by 12th grade, I was getting D's and F's. Not because I couldn't understand the classes, but because I was not interested in learning the same things over and over. I got an A in Avionics because it was fresh and new and interesting.

To clarify the point a bit, begining in 6th grade, every student is given a standardized test for reading/writing and comprehension. I passed it with nearly 100% score in 6th grade. In 8th Grade, they start to give a standardized math test. I have no idea what I would have scored because I was sick when it was given. They didn't tell us beforehand, so it wasn't me trying to skip out. When I found out I had missed a test, I wanted to make it up, but was told that I couldn't. They give that test out every 2 years (as opposed to every 3 for the reading test), and come 10th grade, I scored high enough on it to not have to take it again.

In 12th grade, before dropping out of course, I was in homeroom one day when the teacher passed out a test to everyone but me. I looked around and raised my hand, "You missed me."
"No I didn't, you don't have to take it," she replied.
"Huh?" Then she explained that this test was given once every 3 years and was a standardized test of how well a student could read write and comprehend. At first, I seriously had to think when I could have ever taken such a test, and then I burst out, "You mean that thing I took in 6th grade?!"
Needless to say, as I once again looked around the room, not too many of my classmates were pleased or even impressed to hear me say that. Me, I was in shock that I was the ONLY one who didn't need to take the test. I mean come on, it was so easy I passed it 6 years prior! It also occurred to me that I may have wasted 6 years in school taking the same classes over and over not because I needed to, but because everyone else did.

Hubby had a similar experience, only he did not have the benefit of being a perpetual favorite of his teachers. In fact, he seems to have been picked on by students and teachers alike. If I thought school was a waste of time, he thought it was hell. So, when we got married, and heard of homeschooling, we were in perfect agreement; no way in hell were our kids going to school!

I researched homeschooling in depth before I ever even conceived my first child, and I had a definite and clear plan of attack, so to speak. Then I had Gryffin and Phoenix, and now I realize that homeschooling is not like regular school in which you can just shove a lesson down a student's throat at your convenience. Good homeschooling is led by the child; when they are ready to learn something, they do, and there's really very little you can do to stop them. If they are not ready, all of the bribes, coaxing, and threats in the world can't force them to learn. This is a concept that public schools cannot cater to, and is why so many students are labled as learning disabled when they really just need more time to be ready, or have a different learning style.

Then there is the nutrition aspect. Plenty of studies have proved that good nutrition helps a child learn better, but the food in school is definitely NOT condusive to good health or learning, sigh!

This year, Gryffin turned 6, and I have been officially homeschooling him his whole life, but now it is extra official because he is actually old enough to go to school. I don't have to make it official through the state until the first October AFTER he turns 7, and since he turns 7 IN October, I don't have to make it official until he is almost 8. He's a social butterfly, so he BEGS to go to school. He doesn't seem to know that a kids goes to school to learn things, all he cares about is having as many friends as possible. He is like me, so I know that, like me, he will be gullible, and take the things that his friends say literally, or perhaps I should say, he'll take it as the gospel truth, even if it's not. In that respect, I am glad I get the chance to choose his friends for the time being, but I am big on independance, so he will get to choose his own friends soon enough.

That said, I know it is hard on him to stay home with no one to play with but Phoenix and me, so I try to make sure he gets as much social interaction as possible. I take him to swim lessons at the local YMCA, and I let him play to his heart's content in the YMCA play area with tons of other kids. I also arrange playdates with other homeschooled kids, albeit not as often as I should.

But here's the thing, there ARE things I think he should learn that I just can't teach him, such as gym, art, and music. Luckily, I can homeschool Gryffin AND enroll him into the public school for just those 3 classes. That means that come fall, Gryffin's going to school, lol!

As for Phoenix, I have an even less active role in teaching him, because he learns just by being in the room with Gryffin; he always has. When he wants to know something, he comes and asks me, and we figure it out. Gods! Homeschooling is such a beautiful thing!

Finally, now that I have managed to actually track down some other pagans in St. Cloud, hopefully they will learn a bit more about religion, and their education will be complete... for now, it's an ever evolving thing.

So, that's why I homeschool. Hopefully, in doing so, my boys will grow up following their passion, rather than, well what I did, which is pretty much nothing at all, except try to be the best mama I can be.

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