Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Big News!! (Finally...)

If you have had a conversation with me that lasted longer than 5 minutes in the past four years, chances are I have mentioned that we considered homeschooling.  If you have read my blog(s), you know that the word "considered" could be replaced with "obsessed over and tried preschool at home... then we almost did Kindergarten at home, and then didn't, and then obsessed some more... and read lots of books & blogs & statistics... and then didn't homeschool... but really wanted to... " and on and on and on.  From the day I first realized that the schools down here in my state were made of different stuff from the ones I went to in Illinois & Pennsylvania, even before I had children, education has been a hot topic for me.  Every Spring, I do mass amounts of Google searches to see what next year's budget cuts look like.  I check the latest school scores & test results.  I discuss education with anyone who wants to talk about it (who is practically every mom I meet here, it's on all of our minds!) to see what their kids' experience has been in their school.  At least once or twice a year, I come back to the idea of homeschooling and longingly read homeschooling blogs and check in with my homeschooling friends.

But both hubby and I would both get stuck at the final roadblocks of: "It's just so weird" and "What if we screw up our kids?" And we couldn't get past those two worries.

Until now.

Starting this fall, we are going to homeschool the girls.  Buggy will be in 2nd Grade and Lulu will start what many online call "Tot School" -- she is 3, and will mainly do manipulative activities and shapes and letters.  And just tag along for a lot of Buggy's lessons, too, I'm sure.

To answer the inevitable questions:

1. No, there was nothing wrong at either of Buggy's schools.  We loved her Kindergarten class.  The teacher was amazing, and it was a great experience.  12 kids, half day... perfection.  But even during that year, her teacher and I talked about the state of education and how homeschooling can be a great alternative.  She encouraged me along this path.  We switched from that school during 1st grade because ... it got kinda boring.  It wasn't an enriching experience overall for Bug.  So, I decided to not drive a total of 2 hours every day (which Lulu HATED) for something that wasn't worth it.

The second school was also fine.  Although we lost art and science (I recently discovered that they did not do any science experiments there during first grade, eek!), we gained a *fantastic* and challenging reading program.  Bug loves to read, and this was the extra "something" she had been missing at the other school.  We also loved being part of our community.  And a lot of "extras" that rounded out the educational experience.

But... it still wasn't as amazingly wonderful as I envisioned homeschooling to be.

2.  Yes, we will socialize!!! I am starting a Brownie troop this fall, Bug is on swim team, and we will do other classes/activities/clubs at the Y and in our community.  We do church activities.  We also have several homeschool groups available - we just have to find which one is the right fit for us.  These groups meet every week, have clubs, PE classes, get together for group events, etc.  There is a big group of homeschoolers in my area, and that will be a blessing to us as we find our way.  But, we will not be hermits, and my kids will be "socialized".

3.  We are not going to "unschool".  We are using math and language curriculum.  We are doing Social Studies (this year so far I have planned Road Trip USA with hefty doses of American history, and then moving on to world history) & Science (chemistry to start, then biology), art history, and music (piano lessons, and also learning about composers)... There will be daily creative writing in a journal. There will be spelling tests. I have a daily schedule (of course! :)) and the lesson plans for this fall all planned out day by day.  Not that there is anything wrong with unschooling, it just is not for us right now.

I'm very willing to answer more questions if anyone has them. I realize that this choice is different than what the majority of my friends are doing, and if I were you guys, I would be curious! :) This has been a long process to get here, and I am excited and terrified at the same time.  Despite my fears, I am diving headfirst into this, hoping and trusting that this truly is right for us.

Thank you for the support you all have given me on this journey.  Keep the support and prayers coming please!! :) I need it now more than ever. :)  I will be using this blog to document our adventure, so stay tuned!!!