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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why I Let My Five Year Old Ditch School

I've been meaning to write about the kids schooling for a few weeks now, but I wanted to wait until the house was quiet and I could focus 100 percent on what I was writing. Well, I realized today that's just not going to happen. So if I'm going to write about it I may as well get to it. Right now Kyle, Lacey and Lily are using Time4learning. It's on online program. This is completely different from what we have used in the past. I began thinking about how much our homeschool has changed over the years. When I started out homeschooling, my oldest daughter was in kindergarten in public school. She hated school and cried almost everyday. She had already gone to Pre-k, which she also hated. What finally convinced me to take her out of school was when I realized that she was writing her name wrong. She wrote some letters backwards and left one letter out completely. I started working with her at home to write her name correctly but she wouldn't do it. She was convinced that her way was right because her teacher said it was. This made me feel like in her eyes her teacher knew more than I did and no matter what I said I couldn't convince her otherwise. I was already having a lot of issues with her going to school.  For one thing their Friday movie day had already bled over to Tuesday and Thursday movie day. I know it was only kindergarten but I felt like I wasn't sending her to school to watch movies. My other major issue was how the teachers and other workers talked to the kids. Many of them spoke to them with no respect, I remember thinking I don't talk to my kids this way, why is it ok for them to? Anyway I went to the school to talk to the teacher about the situation with her name, which brings up the other problem I had with the school. I absolutely hated, dreaded and got sick to my stomach just going into the school, it was horrible. My own school experience was miserable, I guess I'm traumatized. I still hate walking into a school. LOL. Still it never occurred to me to homeschool. I got up the nerve to talk to her teacher and she actually told me that she doesn't have time to teach each kid individually to write their name! I was like that's kinda basic, if you don't have time to teach them to write their name how are you going to teach her to read or do math?  I don't remember what all was said but when I asked her advice she advised me to pull her out of school and work with her at home. She said since Kindergarten wasn't actually required I should pull her out and put her back in in first grade. To be fair another reason she advised me to withdraw her from school was her age, she was the youngest in the class and the teacher felt she wasn't emotionally ready.Well, I did withdraw her but I never put her back in public school. I had no idea how to teach her, My first attempt was a mess. I say that but looking back now I didn't do such a bad job. I did teach her to write her name and to read. I taught her for 3 years at home then I enrolled her and my younger daughter into a private school. She went into second grade and my younger daughter went into first grade. I really loved their private school. I volunteered up there quite a bit. I loved how the teachers treated the kids, I loved their cute little uniforms. The classes were small and the school was Christian  But after two years I realized I wasn't going to be able to afford private school. The tuition had gone up twice and was being raised again for the third year. So I deiced to try homeschooling again. Since I had substituted up at the school some I felt much more confident in my ability to homeschool. That first year I bought the complete Abeka student pack and the complete parent pack. I basically set up a classroom in my home complete with desks and a chalkboard. In the second year I ditched the lesson plans and just gave them the worksheets. By the fourth year I had ditched Abeka for everything except Math. I started leaning more towards literature based learning. We used Learning Language Arts through Literature and the Beautiful Feet guides, I strated doing unit studies and lapbooks. It was great fun. I loved it, I think the kids loved it. I read aloud to them everyday. We did a good bit of hands on stuff, cooking, making giant maps, holding Greek festivals, we got involved in the Flat Stanley geography program. A lot of our days were spent playing games like the Somebody Game, Scrabble, Math Mouse, Phonics Bingo, to name a few. But by this time Shane was a pastor and I had two more kids with another one on the way. It was getting harder and harder to play games with little ones under foot, it was harder doing all the cutting and coloring for lapbooks. So we switched again and started using Sonlight, which I really loved a lot! I still think the two years we did Sonlight was my favorite years. I'm not really sure I remember why we stopped doing Sonlight. Burnout maybe? By then I had 5 kids, with the church and the house it was a lot. I don't remember feeling overwhelmed or anything. Maybe it was simply that I heard about unschooling and was fascinated by the whole idea? I read a bunch about it and decided to give it a try. Then we moved up north to pastor. And life got weird and busy. I had to get a job. People can say what they want about unschooling but it takes a lot of time, in my opinion. To me the whole idea behind unschooling is providing your kids with as many real life experiences as you can, but to do that you gotta be with your kids. So I found Time4learning through a friend. I planned to just do it while I was working but the kids learned so much and really seemed to enjoy it, we've kept on with it. Now though things have changed again. We are back home (Thank You! God) and I'm not working. We are keeping T4L as our core but now we are pulling in stuff from the past years as well. We do computer work 3 days a week, Monday, Wednesday  and Friday usually. Tuesday and Thursdays are for group work, games, library days, lapbooks, and all the fun stuff I used to do with the older kids. We incorporate a lot of real alouds leftover from our Sonlight curriculum and other books that I have collected through the years. I also try to use the ideas and lessons I learned from our unschooling years. We talk all the time, about everything from politics to religion to legos. I think it's meshed and melted and blended into a really fun, educational lifestyle. Homeschooling has evolved from something that happens from 10- 3 although that is still the official time, to a way of life. It's not just a part of our life it's our whole life. It's funny how different what we do now is from how we started out. I think one of the best things about homeschooling is that it is so flexible, it changes when life changes. Nothing stays the same and I'm glad.

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