Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Final Part of the Series regarding Home Educating my Children (whew)

In Conclusion:

A portion of the things I have learned from home schooling:

  • There are many different, legitimate styles of homeschooling.
  • Become familiar with a resource, and keep using it. Change for change sake isn't good.
  • Be willing to change resources, however, if it is obvious that the teacher can't use it or the student isn't learning from it.
  • A raving review on the internet does not a good resource, for you, make.
  • There are good parts of the culture about which your children need to learn and with which they need to interact.
  • There are toxic parts of the culture with which you need to help your child deal, whether you home educate or not.
  • It is easy to loose family unity and cohesiveness if you aren't vigilant, whether you home school or not.
  • Home schooling is a lifestyle, not just another viable educational choice. It takes over your life (and your house).
  • Schools are not full of evil, judgmental, liberal control freaks
  • Home schooling gives kids much more time to be "them", to explore the world, and to play
  • Home schooling gives kids freedom to learn as they do, not as they should
  • If you have no physical support, I would discourage you from home schooling. It will kill you. But...
  • If you have a large family, home schooling can actually make life easier.
  • But you have to have a fairly well disciplined home
  • and children who do what you tell them
  • and emotional and physical support
  • Keep it simple. The basics well learned will prepare the students for anything.
  • Make sure, if you home school, you have some situation where the students learn from someone else. They can not see themselves as the authority of all things, and need feedback from other adults.
  • There is a season for home school groups or co-ops, and sometimes a season to pull back. It is all about balance.
  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it. If things are going well, leave it alone, enjoy the calm and don't mix it up, just because you can. Life will do that enough on its own.
  • Any insecurities you may have about your own abilities will be magnified by home educating.
  • Watching your children sitting around the home, engrossed in books, and knowing you taught them to read, is one of the best feelings in the world. "I gave them that!"
  • Curricula full of propaganda is distasteful to students. Straight forward information and facts give them the ability to think for themselves, because they have you for a teacher who will give them the context.
  • By high school, my kids can pick out propaganda without even trying.
  • Sometimes, workbooks are the perfect solution
  • The best gift you can give your children is a sense of wonder about learning. Once that is gone, you might as well send them to school. They might get it back.
  • Home schooling is not necessary to produce children of faith. It can help, or it can hinder. Either way, as a parent, you have your work cut out for you and lots of prayers to say.
  • I am dismayed by some of the silly bureaucratic stuff you have to do to deal with a school. Lots of wasted time and paper dealing with "the man".
  • The kids are a little more grateful for our intact and supportive family now that they have experienced the "norm" for many kids in their school.
  • The best part of homeschooling is being in charge of my own schedule. And having the kids have relaxed, productive childhoods. The lack of external pressure is terrific.
  • The extra internal pressure is very, very difficult.
  • I am glad my children escaped the self esteem killer of peer judgments when they were small. While I wish they could avoid it forever, they can not, so the older ones are learning how to deal with it.
  • No matter how good a job you are doing, someone will seem to be doing better. Don't let it bother you.
  • Some people can give you terrific advice, some people are just being critical. Learn to tell the difference, and you'll be much happier.
  • Learn about your own personality type, and the types of your children. It makes a big difference regarding choices you need to make. Introvert? Extrovert? They are very, very different.
  • It can be positively delightful to spend time with your children in a relaxed natural learning environment
  • The days that make you feel like your head is going to explode don't undo the good days
  • If there are too many days in a row where you feel your head is going to explode, some kind of change is in order. Usually simplification or implementation of a routine. If you are always falling away from your schedule, then it is probably unwieldy and needs to be tweaked.
  • Once you make an educational choice for your family, you are not married to it. Constant evaluation is needed to stay on top of reality. However, stability is important to children, so don't be capricious about your decisions.
  • Having children correct their own papers is a very effective way of having them learn from their mistakes, and keeps you from getting irreparably behind. After they find out what they did wrong, then you can teach toward their areas of weakness, saving you time and teaching the child self direction. Once I got over the feeling that this was somehow cheating, things got much better for our homeschool environment.
  • Finding an outside person to grade the children's essays is very helpful. We had a few people willing to do so for us, and that helped the kids take the advice much more to heart, and much less personally.
  • There are so many good resources out there now for homeschooling. When I began there was mostly adapted classroom texts. Now, things are designed for home schools, and the internet is amazing for the choices provided. Try to look at or use a resource before you invest a lot of money or time into it. Don't just read one review and order it. Trust me, you get lots of stuff sitting around your already crowded learning space if you do that. And the guilt about the $$ you spent makes you keep it, even though you'll probably never use it, but life could let up, and maybe with one of the younger children you'll use it......
  • For me, with many children, my home school resources are like my diaper bag. With each successive child, the items I lug around with me in a diaper bag have decreased. Now, I have a diaper in my back pocket as I head out the door. The fancy "extras" for schooling have also gone by the way side, and the basics are where it is at!
  • It is quite a thrill to learn history and grammar and math again. I like it much better now than I did when I was young.
  • Despite the chaos and angst, I am glad to have had all that time with my kids. It goes so quickly~!
  • For me, home schooling until high school has been the perfect combination of formation for them, and relief for me. We'll see what I say in a year or two.
  • I am blessed to be able to send them to the LCHS. The local public high school is huge and much less appealing to me. I love the size of the LCHS, the uniforms and despite some lapses, overall a Catholic sense is there. Just a small reinforcement of what we have given them so far.
  • As uninspiring as Seton 9th grade program is, it is rigorous and prepared my kids very well for the rest of high school. Except in math. Saxon Algebra I hasn't really served my kids well, but I know of no better alternative. Maybe they just aren't math people.
  • I have not decided if the rest of my children will continue with this pattern. I will make that decision when we get there. My 12 year old is in 6th grade, so we have 3 years at least to see what would be best for him. At least that is my plan for now.
  • Overall, for our family, home schooling has been a big plus. Knowing myself as I do, I would have felt overwhelmed with my life whether I home schooled or not, but having them home, together, spending so much of their time with each other and with me, has been a blessing beyond measure. And despite my failures, they have learned well, and are prepared to continue their lifelong learning.
So, there you have it. As I wrote, and then re-read this, there is about as much I could still add, but I think I'll stop here. I have said all along, we'll make our choices year by year, child by child, and that is what we have done (although it isn't as easy as all that). I have also said before, home schooling is the best thing I have ever hated to do. Like most of the rest of the work required of me to run a household this size, home schooling didn't come naturally to me. But I think I have found a groove, and we're sticking to it, and all I can do now is hope and pray it was the best thing for my family.


Blogger Kate said...

Thank you for writing this all out! As a mom at the beginning of my homeschool journey (one 5 yr old) I am eager to learn what I can from the voices of more seasoned moms. Taking lots of mental notes here.

October 03, 2010  
Blogger Melanie Bettinelli said...

Thank you, thank you for sharing your story and what you have learned. Like Kate said, those of us who are just starting out on the homeschooling journey can learn so much from mothers who have already walked that path. I believe very much in learning from experience-- I just don't think all the experience has to be mine. I have learned so much from homeschooling moms who have years of teaching under their belt and I am always so grateful that they are willing to share their hard-won knowledge and wisdom.

October 04, 2010  
Blogger owenswain said...

I'm sure the writing of this for you has been as rewarding as it has been challenging. May the Lord continue to bless your brood.

October 04, 2010  
Blogger Renee said...

Kate ~ Thanks for the feedback!
Melanie ~ If this can make any part of your journey easier I will be very grateful.
Owen ~ you are correct, it has been both. It isn't something I write of often, so I dug deep, and kept it real. Thanks for understanding!

October 04, 2010  
Blogger Michelle said...

This is a great list, MPN. Thanks for sharing your experience.

October 04, 2010  
Blogger priest's wife said...

I like your list- going to post a link to it on my blog

November 07, 2010  

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