Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Home Schooling

There has been some discussion about home schooling and home schooling strategy going around lately. As seen here.

So here's our take.

When we decided to home school last year it was for several reasons. The first and foremost was my son’s general health. Mentally and physically the stress of my rapidly deteriorating health and the general chaotic state of his public classroom where taking a huge toll on him. He was consumed with headaches and stomach pain. Getting through the day required muscle relaxers and bottles of "the pink stuff".

We did not blindly jump onto the home school bandwagon. We talked and discussed and dissected and talked to people who were and who had. We looked into options and plans. We also talked about what would be needed to keep him in public school.

Ultimately we took the plunge into life as a home schooling family. We actually left in the middle of a year. I would not recommend that. It worked out for us in the end but not without trials and tribulations. It’s hard to switch from a spoon fed classroom workload to a freer home schooling environment. It was hard for both Greg and I. I’m a little type A in that respect. I wanted ridged deskwork with times and timetables and do this exact and work on it until you have it correct and now now now now now!

This does not work with a child with stress related anxiety issues. All it amounted to was added stress to him and to me. Stress equals a sicker kid. And never let them tell you that they’ll get used to the stress and ‘get over it’. ‘Dealing’ with stress is a learning process much like learning to read. You have to learn to handle your stress load. In time, yes, you do learn to handle it and hopefully stop puking or stop your brain from trying bleed out your ears, however that takes time.

For the first few month of home school, and the last few months of 6th grade, we struggled to get our collective shit together. We had to learn what would work for us. We had to get a plan that would work with my job on the road and the amount of time we just aren’t home. Greg had to learn that he had to self-motivate to get this done. He couldn’t wait and cram everything into the night before his teacher was to arrive for him to turn in his work. It did not work for me to yell, stomp, demand, structure, or plan. Nor did it work for me not to structure and plan some. He had to fail a few times and turn in shoddy work to his teacher (We have a full time accredited teacher who works with us weekly.) who I had given free rein to bust his chops. He redid assignments that I had said were inadequate and he thought were ‘fine’. Our learning curve was a little like jumping off a cliff blindfolded and praying someone had put a net out. We got through the first months surprisingly scuff free. I felt Greg was getting a much firmer grasp on what was being taught in every subject. We could work at his pace whatever that might be. We adjusted his work to suit him as we went. We are terribly luck with the teacher we have. She caught on to Greg’s weaknesses without me having to point them out and pushed him to work harder to make up for them. Challenging him to prove her wrong and challenges he never backs down from.

We could have chosen to go back to public school this year after we had passed the hump with Greg’s and my illness. However, this is working so well for him I hate to break it. So we started off 7th grade home schooling again.

This year is so much different than last year. Greg doesn’t feel the need to test his teacher, either of us. He is almost totally self-motivated to do his own work without being reminded or asked. He is blowing through his science at a rate that even amazed his teacher and is totally enthralled in history. For the first time ever he said “I want to be a… when I grow up” and it wasn’t a spaceman or a bike rider. ;-) (It was a historian, btw.)

We do not have a schedule to our day. We don’t get up at a certain time and start work at a certain time. He is required by me to do school work every single day. He works mostly on days when I am working because he has little else to do. I don’t care what piece of work he does. He can do all his history, then all his math, or a little of each every day. I do have to remind him on “off” days that he needs to get work done. It’s easy to get caught up in running around and not take/leave time for schoolwork. I’m guilty of cramming too much into a week and not leaving him time for his work and actually having to stop, make time for him to stop, and take time.

It was especially hard when my dad was sick. Oh sure it’s easy to toss the books in the car and say you’re going to get to it. It’s different to pack those books from waiting room to waiting room and actually do the work.

So that’s how we do it. I’m not a very structured teacher. I’m not a lazy teacher either. Mostly just laid back. I have a student that works well that way. Where getting him to work on homework for public school was a nightmare in itself, this he just does without pushing. He’s responsible for his success and he wants to succeed on his own.

The only thing Greg asked was that I not be his sole teacher. We have the option of seeing a teacher as little as once a month. He is afraid (and probably totally correct) that I would pile the work on and all he would ever do was schoolwork. While I’d like to say, NO WAY, he’s right. I still want to do that now. This way he has a set minimum he has to turn in, unless he doesn’t get something and had a hard time working through it, or we needed to spend more time on a concept to really understand it. If that happens I go with him to his teacher meeting and tell her what we changed or did. That way we are both responsible.

1 comment:

Jen said...

I think homeschooling is a wonderful choice for those who benefit from it. I wish that my niece could've been home schooled. The typical school scene was not good for her. She can't seem to handle the stress and anxiety associated with school. Unfortunately, she has a grade 7 education and is now 17 years old. She has no desire to go to school whatsoever. It breaks my heart that she may never reach her full potential because she is a smart girl. Too smart for her own good.