Chicken Fried Vogue

For 15 years and most of her adult life, Bubblez lived in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city. She enjoyed taking her children to museums, parks, and dates at Starbucks. Then Bubblez moved to the country and her En Vogue attitude got chicken fried. Her yard is a park where the neighbor's rooster won't stop crowing, Starbucks is almost an hour away, and her large collection of fancy shoes is worthless. But, living in the acres of green has presented more opportunities for living "green" as Bubblez travels the path toward self-sufficiency (and bitches ((and prays)) along the way).

Friday, November 2, 2012

Homeschooling Part 1: Our Story

It's great to live in a country where parents have choices regarding their child's education.

At age 5, Teenie had begun in private school and life was rolling along. She was ahead of her class with her reading and writing, and was a rule follower, like her daddy. She was quiet and good and got overlooked by the teacher who had more problematic students to deal with. She was failing math.

One day during the summer following her first grade year, I decided to ask her the sum of 3 and 4. She didn't know. She had fooled her teachers by quietly counting out the answers to every math problem that came her way for an entire year, putting her a full year behind.

Shel and I had to make a decision. It was too late to try to get her into another private school, and the public schools in that area worried us. We had good friends with children similar in age to ours who were homeschooling. I started asking questions. Soon, we learned that Teenie's best friend at the private school had been pulled out in favor of homeschooling. Our sweet seven year old daughter looked at us and asked, "why don't we homeschool?" So, we gave it a shot. By the end of second grade, we had done two years worth of math along with all of her other subjects, at home, and she was all caught up.

When it was time for Nik to start school, we applied to another private school in the area. This place had a pre-school program for Moo, too, so it seemed perfect. Teenie was doing well at home, so we decided that we'd let the boys go for a year and see how it went.

If you haven't been following me long or if you just haven't picked up on it by now, Nik is smart. Really smart. While the other kindergarteners were learning to read, Nik was sitting at home with Magic Tree House. He wasn't just good at reading, either. He was good at every subject. His teacher praised him for his profound questions and puzzled over his inability to pay attention. It's hard to focus when someone is telling you things you already know. We attributed most of his knowledge to the fact that he had more or less been in school with his older sister the previous year, and seeing as he wasn't socially ready to be in a grade level with older kids, Nik was also brought home.

Moo hated pre-school. He hated sitting still. He hated listening to lessons. He hated doing "stupid" art projects and singing "stupid" songs. Seriously, what kid hates pre-school? My kid.

In the same way that Teenie is much like her father, Moo is much like me. Brilliant in his own right, Moo simply didn't like being told what to do, and more specifically, how to do it. I knew that kindergarten would be more of the same, and since the older two kids were already at home, we didn't even try it. Also, to be honest, having him at home made life a lot easier for me, because by this time I had another toddler in tow (Boots), and piling all of the kids into my SUV to drag one or two back and forth to school each day was getting exhausting.

When Boots was old enough to start pre-school, it was way too much hassle to bother with. All of the kids, including her, were involved in extracurricular activities like dance, scouts, or sports, and Boots was also included in every homeschooling activity both with and without other homeschooling families, so there was really no reason for pre-school, anyway.

The year Boots turned five was the year we moved to Country Song. We were now in a far less intimidating (scary) school system, and since I believe that kindergarten is typically a fun and worthwhile experience, after much discussion and deliberation, Shel and I decided to enroll her in public school. She loved it.

Toward the end of summer, just before Boot's first grade year, she was, like many kids, whining that she was ready to go back to school. After homeschooling for so many years, this was a difficult choice for me, to allow my youngest child to continue with a public education, but she seemed to be happy and thriving, so back she went.

During the same year that Boots was starting in first grade, Teenie was ready to be a high school freshman. Although she was very nervous about getting started in a new place, Teenie had told us that she really wanted the experience of public high school, and so, she also was enrolled, and is thus far doing quite well.

At current date, I have two kids in the school system and two kids at home. I was asked recently where I felt the better education was, and unfortunately there isn't a clear answer. It really depends on the school system you are a part of, on the quality of the teachers, and on your own ability as a parent to lead your child through the school year.

Admittedly, at this moment, the girls are being better educated than the boys simply because last month we bought a new house and I am too distracted, at the moment, to teach as well as I have in the past. There have been other times, however, when I know beyond a doubt that the kids were getting the best education possible at home because of the one on one attention I could give and the vast opportunities we had for learning outside the classroom: traveling to museums, zoos, historical reenactments, musical events, or places of business.

Homeschooling Part 2: Is Homeschooling WRONG For You?

If you have questions regarding any aspect of home education, please feel free to contact me, and I will try to get your questions answered.

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