Why We Chose To Home School
As many of you know, in the middle of this school year, I decided to *finally* make the change to home school Madi! This is something I've been wanting to do since before she even began school.
To me, the American public school system is FLAWED (and hardcore). Not only is it biased, and only forcing children to learn by one type of learning style, but it actually limits children and how they learn. Forcing a seven year old to sit quietly at a desk for six hours is not natural! Did you know in school now, children only receive 10-15 minutes of recess? Did you know that children in kindergarten are tested in standardized testing? Do you know what a "near-double" is or even look into what "common core" math is?
Madi's birthday is 7 days after the cut off day for school, so when all the kids her age were starting Pre-K, she was not (yes...because of 7 days). Because of this, I did a mock home school year with her. We did lessons, recorded everything we did and she learned so much! We did Space studies, learned about China and Women roles, math and other things you wouldn't expect a four year old to learn. Flash forward to Kindergarten (I honestly skip Pre-K because most of it is centers and playing), Madi started to show signs of lack of interest in school. She didn't want to read, she didn't want to study her sight words and she definitely did not want see her teacher (she had the same teacher for Kindergarten as First Grade...yay). The only reason she wanted to go to school was to see her friends and to play on the playground. When I would ask her what she learned at school, she didn't remember.
Now being if First Grade, Madi was still "behind" in school because her imagination and creativity wanted to run wild and she was being limited. She started hating school (Which is completely out of character for her!) She would beg me to let her stay home because her teacher was cruel to her, often punishing her things other students were doing. Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that my child is an angel and act like this poor teacher didn't have 20 other students to tend to. But this wasn't a one time occurrence, and the teacher never wrote a note home or explained what Madi did that made her receive negative marks. Even getting one negative mark made Madi come home in tears.
On top of the emotional turmoil she was going through, she was failing tests because of the pressure. In first grade, they brought home 10 new words a week, and were tested on it each Friday. And there was never any recap of the old words. This alone made Madi not want to learn to read, write, or even attempt to try because the pressure to get a 10/10 on her test and get a prize was too hard on her. I understand spelling and testing and making sure your child is on their current grade-level, but am I the only one who thinks that this amount of pressure on six and seven year olds is a bit too intense?! I didn't have spelling tests to this scale until I was in 4th and 5th grade! I should also mention that the school Madi went to was a "Blue Ribbon, top tier" school. Meaning that they were one of the "best" elementary schools in the area and received extra school funding for being so. Because of that, there is an added amount of pressure on the kids to keep that title. That means more standardize tests, more pressure, and for Madi - more tears. The fact was, both years in this tier one, blue ribbon school, she wasn't actually remembering or learning anything. She was just learning how to take tests and how to follow.
So I finally went with my gut, and pulled her out. And honestly it was the BEST decision I ever made. I've always believed that is better for a child to learn naturally, then to force them. And no, it's not because I did bad in school myself. I was an A+B student in Advance Placement classes. My issue with public school was the system and the politics. I had teachers hate me for my political backgrounds, and my "style" of learning, thus trying to give me bad grades. *Story Time* For example, my AP English teacher in 10th grade gave me B's and C's (which is a normal A and B for a regular course. AP classes are weird) all year long. She constantly pulled me aside and belittled me, saying that I wasn't good enough to be in an AP English Writing class. This broke me. But I stayed at it. At the end of the year in an AP class, you take a college level test and if you get a 4 or 5 grade on that test, you get an English college credit. If you get a 3 or below, you do not get the college credit. So I took the test, and I tell you what - I was one out of TWO kids in my class who got the college credit. Which proved to my parents, and myself that my less than perfect grades were not because I wasn't good enough or my work wasn't sufficient, but because the teacher didn't like me.
Back to Home School -
Each State has a different set of Home school laws that need to be followed. For the state that we currently live in, all I had to do was file an intent form, stating that I was going to pull her out of school, and give them 15 days before I did so. Then, I have to call and schedule 3 appointments a year (only 2 for me this year since it's half way through the school year) for our portfolio to be reviewed. What is a portfolio? It's just a super detailed filing system of what we do in our home school, how many hours a day do we spend doing school, sample work, and evidence of teaching materials like books,etc.
Luckily for me, you do not have to be enrolled in a Co-Op or purchase required curricula in my state. Giving me all the freedom in the world to do what myself and Madi want, and when we want. Our home school style is definitely unschooling - or a mix of eclectic, secular and classical styled learnings. Basically, that means that we're more relaxed, use a little bit of everything, and home school away from religion. Currently, I don't pay a single dime towards any program or curriculum. Everything we use in our homeschool is free or found second hand. But I'll touch more on that in a separate blog post.
With a month and a half pocketed in our first year of homeschooling, we're still super new and getting our footing. However, Madi has already proved to me that this was the best decision I could have possibly made for her. She can tell you all about the Pilgrims, where they lived, what they traveled on and what year, to what country they came to. She can tell you about the Native Americans, where they live, what they ate, what they lived in, and what happened to them after the famous First Thanksgiving. Her spelling, writing and reading skills have more than tripled in improvement. She can now tell you about different places in the Arctic, and what animals you can find there. She listens to Beethoven while drinking tea and reading poetry. She takes free piano lessons off of Youtube and can already play Hot Cross Buns. She does yoga almost everyday, again off of Youtube. We go on Nature walks, explore our towns historic places, bake bread and cook dinner all while using measurements and doing math and banking in her MyLearningLedger. And on top of that, she's the only seven year old around our immediate area who knows, understands and can easily do multiplication.
Home schooling does not need to be this huge "what if?" or fear of your child being socially awkward. Home schooling is rewarding, both to your child and what they learn, and to you as a parent seeing your child excited about what they're learning. In my opinion, learning naturally and off of interests, is the only way to actually learn.
If you have any, even the tiniest bit, of want to home school, I highly suggest looking into it! It does not take much to enrich your child's life with knowledge. I'm able to singly run a home business and home school every day. You got this! And if you have any questions at all, feel free to leave a comment!