Thursday, March 6, 2008

Identity Crisis

Hi. I'm a homeschooling mother of four, soon to be five, but my oldest (9yrs old) has been in public school for over a year now and I just put my oldest son (7 years old) in public school last week. I guess that makes me a homlic schooler, or maybe a publomeschooler, or.... Well, I'm not sure so you can just call me crazy.

Why do I/did I choose to homeschool? The easy answer is that I was homeschooled myself until 6th grade and wanted to give my children that same advantage. The hard answer is that there are many many reasons and there have been different reasons for each child. With Cookie I wanted to homeschool her because she is so smart and I wanted her to be able to progress as fast and as far as she wanted/could. With Pablo I just wanted the kid to have time to grow up and feel confident before I threw him to the hyenas. And I'm still homeschooling Monster Man in an attempt to keep him from becoming the next Bart Simpson.

Why have I chosen to put some of my kids into public school? Cookie needed to go in last year because for 1 1/2 years she had decided to stop learning from me. Yup, anything I said was poo and she preferred to fight with me every day rather than learn a simple math problem. She actually did not want to go to public school and begged me (literally and quite sadly) to let her stay home. Sorry, but homeschool is about learning and she just wasn't doing it. For poor little Pablo I chose to put him in because I have not been able to get myself to homeschool the way I should since last summer. I know some homeschoolers just let school fall to the side when they are pregnant or going through a life change and that is fine, but not for me (at least, not for this long). I wasn't even getting the bare minimum of schooling in with him. And this guy really wanted to learn. So, acknowledging my lack of ability I asked him if he would be ok going to "Cookie's school" and he said ok. I can still handle Kindergarten and Preschool stuff with the 2 youngest because that is the fun stuff and easy to do so I am still homeschooling them.

What do I think about the change? There are things that I highly dislike about the public school system (and we are in a fantastic public school) but then there are things I don't like about homeschooling. I still say that homeschooling is AWESOME and I hope to do it again with my older kids at some future point. I am glad I chose to homeschool and I know that a LOT of good has come from it. I love knowing that I am in control of my children's education. Even with them in public school it is a choice and not something I HAVE to do. I like having that control and that ability to ensure that my children get a good education no matter what the public system does. I am also glad that there is a public school system in place for me when I can't homeschool. I love all the education options we have today and am grateful for the people who fought to give us these options.

How am I doing with all the changes? I feel guilt. I've cried myself to sleep. I feel grateful. I've felt anger. I feel everything that any regular mom with children in public school feels at times, and the same as moms who homeschool. I've now had the experience of being offended by remarks made by homeschoolers (only one or two) as well as the ones I've had from public schoolers. It has been interesting, though not unexpected. I desperately hope I've never hurt someone elses feelings or seemed judgemental when I was a full blown homeschooler. If so, I humbly apologize!

How are the kids? Cookie is thriving in public school and has done wonderfully there (though I really have a hard time with the kind of books she has come to love. ie: she now reads only fantasy instead of the classics or other good books. Luckily whenever school is out on break and she can't get to the library she is stuck reading MY books and she does like them... if she HAS to.). Pablo is having a tough time but he is getting used to it and already has a best friend (I know he is just starting, and I know I need to be patient, but it bothers me when he comes home and I ask him what he did for math and writing and he says they didn't do any of that... AT ALL. Instead they made straw helicopters. That is great and all but he was doing stuff like that at home all the time, and I sent him to public school specifically to get math and writing. But I'm being patient. Can't you see my patient smile?). Monster Man and Sweet Terror really miss Pablo and get bored at times because he isn't here to invent a new game or to start a new adventure. And I am adjusting, again, and getting better at packing school lunches =).

Bottom line: Public School is NOT evil. Homeschooling is NOT weird. Public school is NOT perfect. Homeschooling is NOT perfect. And this is all because any form of schooling is only as good as the teacher administering it.

And that's all I have to say about that. =)


Amy Y said...

Very good points!
I love the idea of home schooling for everything but the social aspect. I know that's different in your situation because of the size of your family, but how did you make sure they were interacting in a healthy way with their peers? That, and my own patience level, is what I feel would be MY challenge if I were to ever homeschool. :)

Cocoa said...

Well written Ice Cream! There never will be that "perfect" option that doesn't have any cons to it at all. I wish we lived in an area with more educational options, but we don't so we are trying to do the best with what we've got.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

The social aspect is actually one of the things I love most about homeschooling. It does require some extra work on my part to get them out but is so worth it. In fact, I think I ought to right a whole post on this subject. Basically, between church, church activities, extra curricular classes, playdates, co-ops, etc. they get a lot of social interaction.

Michal said...

thanks for sharing your struggles. i just pulled my oldest out of public school in the fall, about 8 weeks into second grade. our kindergartener is finishing out the year in public school as we all ease into homeschooling. i am adjusting in every way, and some days are better than others, but i know that this is right for my family.
i am noting your willingness to be flexible and think that we as parents need to be open to things that are outside of our original plans. sometimes we stick with something long past when it is effective. i will take a lesson from you. even though i plan on homeschooling for the duration, i need to be open minded about the needs of our family.
thanks for the great post. and i agree with you on the social thing. please do write a post about it so that i can refer people to it everytime they cry "socialization" to me!:)

An Ordinary Mom said...

Very excellent post! We all have to find what works best in our own family, but still, finding the PERFECT solution is always hard.

Holly Homemaker said...

I, myself, could never do home schooling. I'm with would be me that had the problem...not my kids.

But what I really admire about you is your ability to admit when something isn't the way you want...and do something about it. Even if it means drastic change like putting Pablo in public school.

Good luck with that. Before you know it, summer will be here and they will all be home to "help" you!

Misty said...

Take it easy on yourself, and know you're doing your best. It's evident to me, for sure. I have been completely satisfied in my choice to not home school Hannah and Ian. I have been blown away at the curriculum they have offered my children at the elementary school we are zoned for. Public school is able to provide what I am not able to provide at home. My heart aches some days, because I miss my kids, but both Hannah and Ian are eager to leave home each day, and equally eager to return. I'm not book smart, I would worry about my child's education if I was their source of knowledge, but I would find a way to make it work if my kids EVER needed me or needed to be home. We have a lot of commentary each day about what's going on, mainly socially, at school. We spend time working on home work, we enjoy each other's company.... but I tell ya what - - I am SO READY for summer. I LOVE nothing more then having my children at home. I value the pros and cons each parent evaluates when deciding on education for their children.... and I think we're all blessed to learn to trust in each other's decisions to know what's best for our own kids. You are a fantastic mother and you are doing a fantastic job, what ever decisions come your way.

Tama said...

Very nicely written! I have homeschooled and had children in public school. I prefer homeschooling--less politics, socializing, and bullies, more learning. The kids prefer public school--only because of the "friends". I would have loved to have been homeschooled.

PS: I love Shakespeare as well! and "Much Ado About Nothing" is so good!

Anonymous said...

"I feel guilt. I've cried myself to sleep. I feel grateful. I've felt anger."

I admire you for your honesty in admitting all this. I can only imagine all the emotions I would be going through in your situation. You are a wonderful mother however, for being honest with yourself and for choosing the best for your children, no matter how hard the decision. I sincerely hope you'll be able to homeschool again, but know that I'll always look up to you regardless. :)

As for socialization, there's a good book I just finished reading called The Well-adjusted Child: the social benefits of homeschooling. It had some wonderful points in it.

Sea Star said...

Homeschooling is not easy and isn't for everyone and not every child will thrive at home. Each child is so different and learns different.

I like your sum up.

"Bottom line: Public School is NOT evil. Homeschooling is NOT weird. Public school is NOT perfect. Homeschooling is NOT perfect. And this is all because any form of schooling is only as good as the teacher administering it."

I wish more people saw it that way. We get so many snide comments about our choice to homeschool. I try really hard to not make comments back. Because there are two sides to everything. Good and bad about each.

Team Harris said...

I really enjoyed this post. I am a former educator (taught 2nd grade) and am now a stay at home mom to an 8 month old. We want to homeschool but I have so many concerns, very similar to the ones you expressed. It really sounds like you have the right mindset and are able to look at it from all perspectives. Props to you!

Traci said...

THIS is a post that I really needed to read. I have been bit by the homeschool bug, and this fall would be the start of my oldest's "formal" education, but I already struggle with the emotions and anxiety involved. I love your summary here - lets me know it's normal to feel what I feel, and also WONDERFUL to realize that it is always possible to reevaluate, change what you're doing at any time, choosing what will work best at any time in life. I applaud your efforts!

Jen said...

I hate that we as mothers carefully choose for our families and end up feeling guilt and anxiety over whether we've done the right thing. Trust yourself mama. Hang in there....

Maria said...

I've been talking so much lately about the school system in my blog. I think it's great to start them at home, and get a good foundation.

Shannon said...

I like the last paragraph. I believe that most parents love their children deeply and make decisions for them based on what they feel is best for them as well as how well they know themselves and their children.

What we each decide can look so different for each of us. And the reasons behind what we decide can be just as varied.

There are times I doubt my choices, but most the time I choose to trust my instincts as their mother and hope that's enough ( :

Sonja said...

Seriously, I think I've wrote this exact post in my head sometime.

I've done public school, private school and homeschool. I've seen the good and not-so in all of the above. I also really hesitate to speak too strongly for one or the other because, what works for one family doesn't work for another. AND circumstances change. I really think the key is an open mind and a desire to do what is truly best for the child AND the parents. I have SO much respect for parents who do that. Who are truly careful, prayerful, and considerate in making decisions for their children. Obviously you fall into that category. :)

I should have left it at Amen, but I just couldn't. You have to know that you are not alone on this and you really hit it on the nail for me.

Erika said...

I taught high school for 4 years before my son was born and loved being in the public school setting. However, as we watch the world changing, my husband & I have discussed the possibility of homeschooling. Currently I shudder at the idea but we'll see as the time gets closer. Thanks for your feelings.
As I type this, my husband just told me that California just passed a law preventing parents who are not credentialed to homeschool.
Looks like I'd better keep my credential up. I think its good until 2012.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Sonja, I'm glad you didn't just stop at Amen. =)

Erika, I was reading about that today and I hope they give the CA homeschoolers a grace period to get the right back or to properly prepare themselves for public school.

Packer Family said...

I plan on Homeschooling my children until they are 8 years old but I'm nervous about it. I would love to hear more about how you do it!

Kim said...

I think it is great that you are able to identify what will work best for each of your children as individuals. That is very important.

I never thought I would consider homeschooling, but honestly I think it would be great for my boys, not for my girl though. I work during the day though, so it's not really an option for me.

Kim @ TheBitterBall

Anonymous said...

Each person has to make these choices for themselves. I think you are right to choose for each child and each situation!

I used to read a blog where the mom thought it was a great thing that they could take a break from school when there was a problem with one of the kids. I think that is an advantage of public school. The other kids don't have to suffer because the one has an illness or whatever.

We are public schoolers but it was also a well-thought out choice.

Thanks for the post!

Magirk said...

I really enjoyed reading this post, and hearing your thoughts.

I was homeschooled in my youth. I would like to homeschool our children. But there are a lot of issues we're all dealing with right now, so it's a decision we are contemplating for now, and just trying to be aware of everyone's needs, including Mommy's and Daddy's.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. ;)

Crockpot Lady said...

lizzy, have you written your book recommendations anywhere? I have a six year old just enthralled with Junie B. Jones.

We've done a bit of the American Girl books, but I'd love to have a bit of an agenda set up over the summer.