Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thoughts of Homeschooling

There have been quite a few posts here about the trouble Will is having at school. Here's a run-down of what's going on...

Will's original teacher, Mrs. P, is on leave for cancer treatments. She is not expected back until April 1st at the earliest. Her leave started during the Thanksgiving holidays. The two weeks after the Thanksgiving holiday his class had a substitute that a friend of mine called a boot-camp kindergarten teacher. It was a rough couple of weeks; Will spent the whole time on yellow or orange.

Then there was winter break. That was a great 14 days for us. We all worked together, enjoyed each others' company, and accomplished things together. I truly loved having all three boys home at the same time and not having a rigid schedule to follow. I felt like a good parent and LOVED IT!

After winter break, there was a three day school week with a different substitute. I'm not really sure, but I think this was a very lax week as I remember Will saying they got to play a lot.

The following Monday, there was yet ANOTHER substitute, Mrs. B. She is a certified teacher (but new to the work-force) and will be remaining in Will's class until Mrs. P. returns. She has been teaching his class for two weeks now. The majority of his days ended on orange or red; although he's been on yellow the last two days, thankfully. I don't know if it's him or if the teacher is super-strict or if it's just a transition period. Jeff and I requested a meeting with his teacher and that will be tomorrow.

Jeff and I met with the principal last week to express our concerns. Although it was good to talk with him, nothing is resolvable at this time and the situation is still very real. Jeff and I both feel that the school and teachers have done everything they possibly can to make the transition easy for the kids, but there has just been SO MUCH transitioning.

Will has more than once said that he wonders who his next teacher will be. He has cried a few days that he doesn't want to go to school. He has said that he follows Mrs. P's rules and shouldn't be getting in trouble for the things he is doing. It has been a rough couple of months!

I've also received a phone call on two different occasions from the PE teacher and then today the reading instructor walked Will out to the car to let me know he has been out-right defiant the last two days. His behavior is not acceptable, but this is just so unlike him.

I've talked with another mother from Will's class and she says that her child is having the same issues. This mother also says that she's spoken with another mother who's child is also struggling.

There's so much to this that I don't even have the time to write it out. There is so much spinning in my head going back and forth about what to do.

In the end, I am not satisfied with the amount of cards being pulled on Will - some of them being pulled for what I would consider normal 6 year old behavior. As a result, Will has not had any positive reinforcement from his teachers in two months. There have been days that I didn't want to send him to school because I didn't want him to feel like he was in trouble all the time. In fact, this past Friday, I did keep him out; I told him he could have a "vacation day". It was time for him to just have some FUN and RELAX.

You know something needs to change when you don't want to send your child to school anymore.

I am seriously considering pulling him out for the remainder of the school year and homeschooling. I feel like I would be able to give him a more consistent, understanding environment. I certainly feel competent enough to teach him what he needs to learn in order to be ready for 1st grade. At this time, my intention would be to return him to public school next year... unless we all absolutely love homeschooling.

There is a part of me that really wants to do this. I cannot express how much I actually enjoyed our winter break together. Having a task, working on it together, and accomplishing it. I don't remember a time that I have enjoyed more with just the boys and me at home.

Before you question about socialization... let me just say that Will is the most social 6 year old boy I know. He strikes up conversations with strangers, feels completely confident talking with adults, and getting rough-n-tumble with kids. We attend church three times a week, he'll be playing soccer in the spring, and he's showing an interest in learning to play the piano (another post in itself). Then of course, there are homeschooling co-ops and such. I seriously don't think socialization is an issue - even if we decide to homeschool for a few years.

The down-side to pulling Will out of school is that he won't be with his friends daily. He also won't be there when Mrs. P returns. I think that although there will be yet another transition back to her, in the end it would be a positive note to finalize the year. The kids just adore her. Another down-side is that I won't have even less time to myself... which is totally selfish, but a reality I need to consider.

Like I said... there are so many thoughts in my head. Pros and cons to both sides. Too much to list right now, so I'll leave it to you:

If you are a homeschooler, what were your reasons for choosing homeschooling? What do see as pros and cons to homeschooling? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

If you send your kids to school, what are your thoughts about homeschooling? Have you ever considered it and why did you choose not to do it?

I'm just a mess about this whole situation. I'm heart-broken for Will, disappointed in his behavior, irritated and the whole situation, and just really don't know what to do... please pray that Jeff and I will have the wisdom to make the right choice for our son and our family.


post signature


Meagan said...

Oh Becky I am so concerned about our boys...I've had the same thoughts, and have even considered sending Riley to private school..Yet that would be another change, but where he is I'm not sure if he is learning what he needs or falling behind. I'm praying for your decision and hoping for the best...

Amy said...

Definitely praying for you (I feel like we had the same kind of day) :(

I will answer one of those questions... although she's not in school this year, Flynn will be attending public school in the fall.

Neither of us ever had the desire to have homeschooled kids. I know more HS'ed kids who (in a group) haven't faired as well as PS kids, but that's completely subjective.

Several of our church friends HS. Some of them love it, some are unhappy, some are successful, and one of them has a 4th grader who doesn't know left from right. ;) (which could very well be the same if he was in public)

There's also the part about Hot Hubby & I both being public school educators. That factors into our school of thought as well. ;)

I know you'll make the right choice... entering into it w/ prayer.

One question for you, when you met w/ the principal, did you tell him that the inconsistencies w/ teachers were leading your family into making a choice -- one of the options being to pull him out mid-year?
Another option for you might be to move him into the other class. My sister did this during her daughter's Kindergarten year. It was a very similar scenario: The teacher was out for a medical issue & there were different subs each week. She went to the superintendent & demanded for Mattie to be put into a Kindergarten class (the teacher everyone wanted for their child).
They complied (after a few negative comments) & the rest of the year went beautifully.


laurel said...

You already know I am a fan of home schooling (though I am certainly fine with other modes of education, and will definitely send my children to school at some point), and I have already talked to you about my reasons why, so I won't re-list them here.
I will say, I think that whole "socialization" argument is such a crock, in most cases. I feel like people who are anti-homeschooling pull that card when they can't think of anything else. Sure, there are some home schooled kids that are awkward and socially inept...there are also plenty of kids like that in public and private schools!
Anyway, I know what a hard decision this is. And I can only imagine how frustrated you must be at this situation right now. I am praying for you and Jeff as you wrestle through this. Maybe pulling him out and keeping him home for the rest of the year will give you enough breathing room for Will to relax and feel safe, and for you and Jeff to make a decision about 1st grade without having to deal with the rest of a difficult kindergarten year. It sounds like you all could use a break.

Melissa said...

I have to agree with Laurel on the socialization issue. I honestly think it is the easiest argument for people to come up with against homeschooling. Your kids can be as socialized or unsocialized as you want them to be, whether they are enrolled in a school system or homeschooled. But, now you have it from two adults who were homeschooled as children, that it really is a non-issue.

We recently decided to homeschool our girls (they currently attend private school) this coming fall. It's just the right thing, for us and them, right now.

Let me suggest a FABULOUS homeschool blog. This lady has three young boys.
She has put her thoughts about homeschooling into print better than anyone I have EVER come across - EXTREMELY articulate. Explore her site and especially read her posts about why she homeschools, etc. and the other related posts.

A book that was recommended to us when we were first thinking and talking about this was "So, You're Thinking About Homeschooling" by Lisa Whelchel. The writing style is rather corny but the practical information is fantastic.

Remember, this is kindergarten. He probably knows everything he needs to know already. IF you decide to do this, I would recommend that you don't stress about loads and loads of teaching for the remainder of the year - just take a casual approach for both of you.

Everything above aside - pray, pray, pray. What a comfort it is for me to give decisions about my children's lives to God!

Nowheymama said...

I'm sorry. I'll be interested to read the comments.

Anonymous said...

Im sorry but I felt I had to chime in with a response. Ive read the other comments and while I am sure that there are perfectly fine homeschooled kids out there, I have never met any. I have however met several homeschooled kids that were totally unable to function in a normal environment especially once they reached college and were on their own. But as you said Will is an exceptional kid and very social all ready and Im sure that keeping Will out for the remainder of the year would not do any harm. But I am concerned about the message that this would send to him. That he would get the idea that when things are tough or when situations are against you that you quit instead of working harder or facing your troubles head on with God by your side. What happens when he gets older and he gets in trouble at school is he going to think that he can just quit and go home. Or even later in life when he has trouble in his marriage will he think that its ok to just leave his family. I know that I am thinking very extreme here but I just wanted to communicate my thoughts. Sorry if I stepped on any toes. I love yall and will be praying for your decision.

Shanna (Sweetie) Berry said...

The important thing here is to listen to what is happening with your child, and to listen to the God Whispers, for He will guide you to the truth that is right for your family. As you know I am an equal opportunity parent, we have graduated 2 from public/private schools and I am homeschooling our youngest. As a public school teacher/university instructor for teachers for many years I know the good and bad about both sides. However, with intelligent parents who seek to train up a child the way the child learns, with nods to the needs to fit into the adult work world, you will be fine either way. HOwever as a mom who has now homeschooled for 3 years, with her last child, I will say that I would not even consider going back and giving up what this child gets to experience as a homeschooled child. The groups we meet and have met are not only college bound folks, but have in fact had older children succeed in college and beyond, so I know it can and has been done and done often! I will pray that God lead you and your husband to a place of unity with your decision.
hugs hugs hugs!

Tamara said...

Our oldest is also attending kindergarten at our neighborhood public school. When we decided, we said we would pull him out if there were a serious problem and go with one of our other options. So I am very interested in this because the real question seems to be what constitutes a good reason to give up on the public school (or a specific class)? I just don't know. I'd like to hear how you meeting went.

Super B's Mom said...

Honey...my heart goes out to you. I have been and will continue to pray with you about this.

I enjoyed reading everyone's comments. I do want to address what Randi said. Just my opinion here, with no disrespect to Randi whatsoever.

I have seen both sides of the homeschool/public school issue in my own family. I have five neices that are home-schooled.

My opinion is this:
I have seen BOTH homeschooling and public education fail miserably. I have seen homeschooled graduates who were years behind their peers - both socially and academically. I have also seen graduates of public schools just as unprepared for life - on so many levels. I have encountered both groups as I help students begin their college experience. And I'm here to say that across the board - I don't see proof that one method is superior to the other. I see high school graduates look at college as a joke and flunk out their first semester. Then we have homeschoolers who sail through with flying colors.

Super B is obviously in public school. But that isn't because I'm against home-schooling. I have seen it go bad and I have seen it work beautifully. It's a personal decision Super Dad & I made together.

But I can't sit here and tell you for sure that he will graduate from public school. There are issues developing within the secondary education system that trouble me. Issues that we will have to face head-on in the years to come.

If you choose to homeschool - that will be YOUR personal decision. A decision that you don't have to defend to anyone. And as for this sending a message of a "cop out" - what message does it send to Will if things are bad and you do nothing? Children don't need helicopter parents - but they sure as heck need a mother who will stand up when standing up is necessary. If you aren't his advocate, then who will be?

I recently watched a video about Tim Tebow from the Univ. of FL. I had no idea until then that he was homeschooled. Just look at what he has accomplished. Aside from athletics, he is a FINE young man with a maturity level well beyond his years. He is what he is today because of a strong mother who stood behind him and made some very tough decisions. You can't look at him and tell me that homeschooling won't work.

I have absolutely no doubt that if you choose to homeschool Will - whether it be one year or twelve - you will exceed every expectation. But whatever you decide - what matters at the end of the day is if his needs are being met. If the public school isn't meeting those needs - God will provide you with what you need to fill that gap.

Ok - I am now stepping off of my soapbox. haha ((HUGS))

Super B's Mom said...

Btw...have you read the book by Vicki Caruana "Standing Up For Your Child Without Stepping on Toes"? If not, I will send it to you ASAP! Great read.

bekahcubed said...

I'm praying for you whatever decision you end up making.

I have a unique perspective (perhaps) on homeschooling, having been homeschooled all the way through elementary, middle, and high school. I benefited from the experience. Homeschooling gave me freedom to learn at my own pace (really quickly) and to avoid the busy work that so many of my peers were bogged down by. Instead I could devote my time to developing other interests (in my case, volunteering, reading, and crafting.)

It is true that some homeschoolers fail at life. So do some public school kids. And some private school kids.

But I dare any public school to beat my mom's homeschool statistics. She has graduated 4 students. Of those...
...1 (25%) was a National Merit Scholar
...3 (75%) were "Regent Scholars" (the highest academic scholarship given by the University of Nebraska Lincoln)
...4 (100%) attended a 4 year University
...2 (50%) are currently pursuing graduate degrees
Mom's homeschool also boasts an average ACT score of 32. I don't remember everybody's SAT scores, but two of us (probably 3) were above 1450.

I'll say we did okay, despite the gross disadvantage of learning self-discipline and self-study skills. Not to mention the frustration of learning at our own pace instead of lolling around while the teacher teaches to the lowest common denominator (or, conversely, teaches over our heads to the median.)

Not that I'm anti public school. My three youngest siblings are attending a public school after having been homeschooled for elementary and middle school. They appear to be doing fine--public school hasn't killed them yet. :-P

But (now that I've gone on for WAY too long), the important thing is that you're hearing from God and doing what is best for your child, right now.

When people ask my mom about homeschooling, she tells them frankly that homeschooling can't be done by sheer willpower or because it's a neat option--you have to know that God has called you to it.

At the same time, you have to realize that going back to the public school system after homeschooling is not "giving up"--and not homeschooling is not "giving up." YOU are still in charge of your child's education (whether you're delegating part of that responsibility to a public school teacher, a private tutor, or whatever.)

Anyway--I have definitely gone on for way too long.

Once again, I'm praying that you'll have wisdom.

Jamie Kaufmann said...

hi becky, i'm so behind on our blog stuff. just checking in. i always wonder about HS'ing myself although miles doesn't start school for 2.5 years. i never considered it before we had food allergy issues. but i am prepping myself for the possibility in case he doesn't outgrown them and i don't feel comfortable putting him in the care of the school every day.

with that said, HS'ing kinda tugs at me now from a non-allergy perspective too. maybe i will do it no matter what?

so from an allergy perspective...i wonder if you will someday want to have witt home b/c of allergies if he does not outgrow them? if so, maybe starting sooner with your other boys is a good idea.

i don't know, i'm just throwing that out there. for me, the two topics tie together...food allergies and homeschooling. my child's safety is number one to me and it will affect a lot of decisions i have to make in the near future.

best wishes on whatever you do. i know will is a very bright boy and you are guys are very good parents! praying for you!

Jamie Kaufmann said...

oh my, i just read all the typos in my above post. i'm sure all who read it are scared to death of the prospect of ME being a homeschool teacher, LOL. i did graduate from college with a 4.0 for the record. it's just hard to type accurately with two toddlers at your feet. ;) congrats on your decision!