To homeschool or not



  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    I was homeschooled, and we homeschool our three. My two cents:

    1. If she's not really ready for the social aspects of school, don't worry about the academics, and keep her home. There are other babysitting options (find them!).

    2. But remember that you're keeping her home because you're not worrying about the academics! Too many homeschool parents choose to homeschool for reasons of personal development, and then torture themselves and their children by obsessing over, and prioritizing, the academics, and ignoring or taking for granted the accomplishments made in personal development. 
    Thanks for this @Pen_and_Sword

    Funny you say about the academics. Our homeschooling so far is kind of all academics because it's what comes naturally to her (and me) and it's so much easier to quantify.
  • PatiencePatience U.S.Gold Women Posts: 7

    I'd love input on the homeschooling side from the homeschooling families here. @hannelore, @roses, others? Also @MrsJon: I know your kids are in school now, but I remember you kept your oldest home till about 6? And, you can give insight on the feasibility of the mother coping with homeschooling as well, I think.
    My children are in their twenties now but I homeschooled them until they went to university. 

    When they were young, school subjects looked very much like play. Learning to read was sitting on the couch together while I nursed the baby. I found lots of games that included learning numbers and math. We always had a read aloud book going that was above their reading level. They loved to act out the stories they were hearing and it gave me the opportunity to use literary language like foreshadowing, alliteration and main character. This was all done naturally within conversations about the story.  Learning science in the elementary school years was lots of observation and fun experiements while I used correct terminology (Cumulus clouds vs white, fluffy clouds) etc. 

    I did sign them up for a couple of fine art programs with other homeschooling children. That helped them learn to line up for activites, take directions from others, make some friends and so on. Unfortunately, I think long drives to activities is usually part of the homeschooling experience. 

    As far as dealing with challenging circumstances while homeschooling, when our elderly family member's health required our active involvement the kids were able to continue to progress academically by reading themselves, listening to books on tape or watching an educational video for the period that I was occupied. When my mom passed away, I felt unfocused and unable to provide the level of education that I had been able to previously so that school year I purchased a prepared curriculum and we worked our way through that to keep us focused and on task. 

    You asked about the feasibility of a homeschooling mother coping. The TLDR version is elementary aged homeschooling looked very much like living our life with lots of conversations and turning any activity into a learning experience. The only worksheets they did were in math. 

    My oldest has now finished her Bachelor of Science and Master's Degree. My second is a senior at a competitive engineering school and on the honor roll for every semester he's been in school. Both of them feel like homeschooling gave them an advantage because they know how to teach themselves and do not have to rely completely on the professor teaching them the subject. 


    She decided to enjoy more and endure less.

  • RosesRoses USASilver Member Posts: 720
    You paged?

    Second generation home schooler. First off, early academic readiness is perfectly normal. My four-year-old, like my nine-year-old, are academic self-starters (by which I mean, I go to start them on their school work and half the time they did it already). Some kids do academics, some kids do personal hygeine. Since the latest argument with 4yo has been whether or not she must wipe herself (she can, but would rather someone else) perhaps there's a link! Someone said the academics will even out later. Maybe, maybe not. That really doesn't matter much at this age, though. Kids are often uneven academically: eighth grade math and first grade handwriting. From what I've seen, having one or more areas that come naturally is perfectly normal, and even advancement in all areas is vanishingly rare. is the base curriculum we use.  You can look at it and get some ideas.
    At four, you probably don't need or want more than fifteen minutes a day of actual sit-down-at-your-desk school time. But there are lots of other activities you can do as 'school'. My 13 has read aloud time with his sisters. My 12 has art time. 9 and 8 have scheduled one on one play time with them. (This is active play because that's how my boys are wired.) Since she's your oldest, you don't have that option, but there is nothing wrong with scheduling those activities for specific times and for her to have scheduled playtime by herself and with her siblings (younger sister right now, right?).
    You do not have to follow the school schedule. You can take your 'summer break' for the first few months after your baby is born. The magic of summer break was to free up kids for agricultural work, it's tradition now.
    As far as social skills, those do have to be taught. Community classes, Sunday School . . . I have a friend who has her five stand in a line to walk to and from the car. Basic manners, like don't interupt someone, go a long way towards getting along in a classroom. You are probably doing enogh already in this area. As long as she understands what is expected and can do it when she needs to, she will be fine.
    My 4yo does as much academics as she wants. She finds me when she needs help. She plays with her siblings. She takes ballet once a week and Suzuki cello lessons. She practices cello daily. She reads with Grandma every night before bed.
    She has a letter and number erasable marker book she loves, a maze book, and the BOB books. I really recomend that last for teaching reading by phonics. The child learns four letter sounds (A, S, M, T) and a sight word (on) and can read an entire little story, which is wonderful for confidence and enthusiasm. My 13yo son who started with BOB books read Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Mallory this last summer, so I feel very satisfied with the results. (Not a reduction or adaption, but a spelling modernized version.)
  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    Hannelore said:
    I started (home)school at 6 (birthday June) and graduated at nearly 19. I did not feel "held back," no one asked me if I had to redo a grade, and I received part or full scholarships from the community college, 4-year and post-grad schools I attended.

    So many helpful comments! I agree you should start her at 5. All mine have been 5, even if they were capable earlier. If they show interest/capability, I'll start learning to read at 4, only because like potty-training, that opens a lot of doors for them. In the meantime, we concentrate on lots of personal habits, hygiene, public behavior, virtues like courage, patience, kindness, etc. And playing. My 4, 2 and 13-month-old spend hours in narrative play (ok, not the baby, but she is definitely learning how to play and act out stories from the toddlers)

    Thanks for your comments, @hannelore. My LO began teaching herself letters at about 2 years old, she quite seriously knew 't' and 's' before she could say more than 20 words, I used to joke that she'd be able to spell before she'd learn to talk. So, I began doing more formal reading and writing training pretty early with her because I could see she was soooo keen to do it. The other reason I started trying more formal stuff with her earlier is to test my own capabilities at homeschooling. Do your 4 and 2 year old fight? My 4 year old will do hours of narrative play by herself, the two together will often do long sessions but more often than not they end in tears and tantrums :( I'm also incredibly undisciplined about the tidy up portion of long play sessions, so sometimes our house turns into a pig sty.
    Our piano teacher won't take students under 5.

    Apparently 4 is the age to start music in our house :P. That's what my MIL said and she offered to find a teacher and pay for, Miss 4 has been playing recorder since she was 3.75. I'm not very consistent with the daily practice part, but she is actually making progress. 

    I want to say, too, the idea of a person homeschooling, keeping house, caring for babies ALONE, successfully, is a bit of a myth. I had childcare help from my mom until recently (she's now the primary caretaker of my grandma), the neighbors and I swap sitting, I have considered hiring a mother's helper, using 3-day preschool. We've talked about getting a housecleaner once a month.

    Thank you for this. I kind of know it; but facing up to it feels like it means I have to give up the idea of homeschooling. I know that's not entirely true, but I'm a very black and white thinker. My Mom gives me 'childcare help' in that she pays for Miss 4's 3-hours-a-week of school and I get occasional weekend help from my parents and in laws. I was able to swap sitting with my sister a few times before she went back to work. I can swap sitting sort of with my friend, N : I say sort of because she can only take one of my kids at a time and we struggle a bit to actually schedule sitting swaps. We do once a week where we do dinner and bath with all our kids together so our husbands can have a night off: it's not entirely time off for me though because I'm still either cooking for 6 people or bathing 4 kids (in exchange hubby gives me a night off on another night a week...usually I just crash and don't get to do anything interesting). I've thought of mothers helper too, though I'm not sure how to access that/who to ask/what to pay etc. I don't know anyone else with a mother's helper. I have a teenage daughter of a friend who would be interested but she so busy with school and after school that we can't actually schedule anything and I think the same would be true of anyone else. I do have a housecleaner once a month...I can highly recommend it: it's amazing how I almost don't even need to look at the calendar to know when the cleaner's due: when the house looks grimy, it's about a week to go before the cleaner comes.  

    Currently I get sitting help 3 days a week and the other days I use our gym membership's daycare (up to three hours a day!) My oldest will most likely be at a once-a-week drop off school in 7th grade, or online courses

    Just remember it's not all or nothing! Whatever you do when your daughter is 5 isn't a 12-year contract
    Yes, I know...all this angst is just to decide what she should do next's probably just to decide on the first six months of next year...
  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    My Mom did homeschooling, housework and caring for babies (except baby was 1-4 yrs old) all by herself with hardly any extra support (in a time and place where hardly anyone else was homeschooling)...but then, she had teenagers, so we did a fair portion of the housework and were somewhat self sufficient at the studying part...even so, she burnt out and sent us all to school after 4 years of it. I'm pretty sure that's why I'm not getting much support from her for my desire to homeschool my kids.
  • RosesRoses USASilver Member Posts: 720
    Something has to give if you're on your own. My house will probably never be tidy.
    How does your husband feel about the school options available? Is he willing to let something else slide in order to home school?
    Have you asked everyone about home school groups? Librarians often know. Moms at your kids' lessons. The pediatrician. The grocery clerks (a lot of them know because home schoolers are grocery shoping during school hours with school age kids). Police officers if they have a community outreach event for kids. All the other churches in your area, I figure you asked at yours.
  • IvyIvy Member Posts: 83
    I'm going to chime in about entering a child early. DD1's birthday is about 3 weeks before the cutoff where we live and I wish I had kept her back a year. She would have been much more ready socially if I had. I would wait and work on getting her ready for formal schooling if that's the route you choose to go. DD2's bday is 3 months after the cutoff and so was one of the oldest in class and has had a much better time in school. 

    I also homeschooled for  1 year. DD1 was 9 and DD2 3 that year. I did have trouble keeping DD2 engaged in something so I could work with DD1. I wold have found homeschooling a 5 year old and caring for a toddler and newborn very difficult. Our situation was different though.The state I live in is ranked something like 47th or 48th in the US for education. I had an above average intelligence child who was below grade level in reading and math so I pulled her to get her back where she needed to be before middle school. We had to do a lot of work that year. We also used a formal distance education that our school district recognizes.
    I think homeschoolers sometimes can tend to exaggerate why formal schooling isn't suitable for their children. There is a bit of a special snowflake syndrome. Unless they are a true outlier this may or may not be the best for them in the long run. Children have to learn to adjust to things not being about them, to deal with being bored politely. The really good homeschoolers do address these things. As a former homeschooler I will say you need to be very proactive and organized. I wasn't organized enough then to do it long term. 
  • MariaMaria EuropeCategory Moderator** Posts: 5,323
    edited August 27
    As someone with two diagnosed children above the 98th percentile and a degree in "Gifted education" I want to highlight what @Angeline wrote.
    If you want us to be unapologetically feminine, be unapologetically masculine.
  • HanneloreHannelore MidwestSilver Member Posts: 330
    I think if you have a more relaxed attitude about when children are supposed to learn something it helps with the anxiety or seeing "early" (or "late") as meaning anything significant long term. I believe children are in the "normal" range when they learn to read--when it really clicks and they start to read on their own--anywhere from 3 to 7. And kids learn and grow in fits and starts. They seem to concentrate on one interest or challenge (sometimes at the expense of others), and then move on. 

    I know most kids start music lessons at 4 or 5; I was just saying our piano teacher (a professional who has been teaching over 30 years) sees reason to wait, and doesn't feel it holds anyone back. Our son, 7, was playing many songs by ear at 4, but it's very difficult for him to take in notes, rests, phrases, whatever else is on the sheet, all at once.  

    I can't comment too much on the tidiness/housekeeping versus homeschooling. There's a level of tolerating a mess in order to accomplish greater things, and there's a level where the mess actually disrupts your life and PREVENTS you from doing what you want to do. I'm recovering from the latter. 

     I'm not sure the standard you have achieved, or what's reasonable for you or your husband, and what crosses into "pigsty." I think @frillyfun (?) has made decisions to accept the sort-of-mess in exchange for her busy lifestyle and business. But her family seems to run smoothly and happily.  I perceive you and your husband put a premium on tidiness which may end up ruling out homeschooling. 

    The thing is, both the parent teaching and the spouse often subconsciously have this idea homeschooling, housekeeping and childcare happen magically, just by being home. No, they all take time, effort, and support from others, just like in a "real" school. I'm a real teacher, my kids don't learn from just being in proximity to me. I need to set aside 2-3 hours a week for lesson plans and grading, a weekend or two before the start of each year to plan, etc.  

    Sounds like you have a lot of resources to help you, whether you school at home or not!  That's so great; just need to figure out how to use them to your greatest benefit. If I were you I'd sit down with your husband and go over all the factors and concerns and logistics, then come to a decision, perhaps a 6 month or 1 year trial to hs or send to school. 

    Good luck!
    9w1/5w6 intp

  • RebornReborn LondonGold Men Posts: 2,987
    There seem to be a lot of very smart people on this forum!
    Enneagram type 5 w6. 
    If I offer lots of advice, it's probably really me giving advice to myself. That always seems to happen. 
  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    edited August 29

    Hi @Roses

    Thank you for your comments.Your four year old is just like mine then: can't wipe her own bum (except occasionally when I'm not around to ask...)

    amblesideonline looks good (after a cursory overview). I'm definitely bookmarking that for later. Thanks for the suggestion. I'm pretty sure my Mom had some inspiration from the Charlotte Mason books for our homeschooling time.

    The only reason my 4 year old does long sit down at the desk school work sessions is because she wants to...and I think, like me, once she's in the swing of it, it's easy to keep going.

    I'll look up the BOB books. We've begun using the readers from Learning Language Arts through Literature because someone lent me a set. I'm absolutely a fan of phonics (and consider the throwing out of phonics one of the downsides to school education nowadays).

    I don't think my house will ever be tidy either...sigh...I consider it a win when a room or two is tidy. 

    My husband's first choice would be homeschooling, but he's looking alongside me into other options and is certainly open to not homeschooling. I don't think he can afford to let anything else slide in order to enable homeschooling: he already does somewhat more than his share of household tasks (given that he's the breadwinner) and a tidy and pleasant home environment is really important to him (he struggles to function in untidyness). So, we may need to give up the homeschooling idea for now for our sanity.

    I'm not sure hubby had met another homeschooled person till me met me (though he met my sister before he met I guess that's not quite true) so when we first met, the idea of homeschooling was totally foreign to him (and is still a very foreign idea to his parents). Since then, he's learned a lot more about it from the internet and meeting more homeschoolers and has become horrified by how far school academic standards have slipped (just in the ten fifteen years since he and I left school) and also by some of the non-academic but damaging philosophical, moral and ethical things kids are exposed to in school.

    I haven't asked everywhere about homeschool groups and could certainly put more effort into finding some.
  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    Thank you everyone for your comments. You've given me lots of food for thought. I'll respond as I find time.
  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    I don't think my daughter is a special snowflake who needs special homeschool treatment. Rather, I believe that homeschool (or rather dedicated attention of a teacher who loves the pupils in a low student: teacher ratio) would be the optimal educational choice for the vast majority of kids. This is obviously unworkable for most kids, but my kids are my responsibility and it's my responsibility to get them the best education I can within my limitations. As far as my own particular daughter is concerned, I can see that getting to continue her academics at her own pace while being in a space that will allow her to mature socially is important and I'm not sure whether a school will do that optimally. I'm also well aware that, though bright, she's not a genius and wasn't trying to portray her as such.
  • AvalinetteAvalinette In the kitchenSilver Member Posts: 1,316
    By the way, we have two school tours (for the two state schools we're considering) coming up this week and next. The list of questions we want answered are:

    -We have been homeschooling for kindy and she's well on track academically and we can keep doing some academics at home. Therefore, we are more interested in how you deal with the less academic areas of development
    -what happens besides academics in the class (do you teach philosphy/gender stuff...
    -how much outside time do kids get
    -how much physical activity do kids get
    -would your school be willing to accommodate us sending her to you 2-3 days a week and keeping her home on the other days?
    -what/ if any religious ed is offered
    -should she start prep this year?
    -what would you do with a kid who already knows the subject matter the rest of the class is doing: do they redo it, or get extention etc
    - what would uniform cost, what other costs can we expect? 

    Is there anything I've missed?
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