How long have you been homeschooling? Have any of your kids ever attended any regular school?
This year will be our second year of "official" homeschooling, though my kids used to go through what we called "Mom School" every summer they attended regular school. We just did fun learning activities and Summer Bridge workbooks to keep the summer learning slide at bay.
Both of my kids attended public school and Miss Belle still does. Bug attended public school through 3rd grade and Belle is currently in 3rd grade with no plans to homeschool in the future.
What made you decide to homeschool? Have you been happy with the decision?
We made the decision to homeschool Bug for a lot of different reasons, some good, some bad, but I think that our real focus was that teachers need to teach to the classes, not necessarily the individual child, and I get that. However, Bug needed something a little different than the other kids in the class and just couldn't follow along. Classes didn't engage his interests so they became dull and boring to him and he just simply zoned out leaving his teacher frustrated and annoyed. He was offered Special Education classes but even those failed to engage him. It was more repetition that he was willing to commit to and they left him feeling dumb and singled out.
Belle never wanted to homeschool. She was a whiz in the classroom. She had friends. She was set, and she hasn't turned back since.
We are very happy with our decision to homeschool. I think Bug is getting used to a new and relaxed routine where he doesn't have to rush and his thought process can sway as far as he wants. We still have hard days, to be sure, but we've been able to temper those distractions with modifications or make up days and homeschool has worked well for us this far.
What style of homeschooling would you classify yourself as? Do you have a philosophy about homeschooling?
Though I am a reader and a writer, I'm not at all a philosopher. I can't say that I have a philosophy about anything, including homeschooling. We do however have a quote that is printed on any and all of our homeschool apparel, etc. and that is :
Tell me and I forget, teach me and I remember, involve me and I learn.
The quote is by Benjamin Franklin, if your not familiar, and it's a good rule of thumb for our style of homeschooling. Whatever our current interest or passion might be we involve ourselves in it in any way possible. I've mentioned before that Bug has a passion to become a Chef and is inspired by Gordon Ramsay, so we use cooking as a jump off point and learn math and science in the kitchen. This past year we've found a used culinary arts textbook and we're learning about restaurants and cooking techniques. We've written letters to Chefs, we've toured vendor's facilities and restaurants, we've visited farm markets and tried new ingredients, we've turned my dining room and kitchen into a (practice) restaurant and we've lived Bug's passion. And likewise, come summer when Belle is off from school, we scoop poop, ride horses, and investigate animals. We learn animal first aid and shadow at Vet clinics. We study biology and the sciences. We hike and identify wild animals and bugs. We involve ourselves in both of the kids passions and let the learning come naturally.
Then on the other hand there is the book work too, and we embrace that, with modifications, and do the best we can with it. Bug doesn't like to write papers or take notes, but he's happy to lapbook or watch documentaries and orally summarize the main points of his learning - I think mostly in our homeschool we adapt learning - however that might look for us that day.
Are you the primary "teacher" or does your spouse get involved with the homeschooling?
My knee jerk reaction to this question is - of course not - my spouse does the outside work (brings home the paycheck) and I do the teaching. That really isn't fair, nor is it true. My spouse takes on a good part of the teaching workload without really ever knowing that he's doing so. It's my spouse that takes Bug aside during a building project and teaches him how to measure and cut (something I'm terrible at!), my spouse takes him aside an teaches him to mow grass, to landscape the yard, to trim the tree branches, to fix whatever may need fixing - these are things that I'm not skilled at. My spouse takes Bug aside and teaches him to check the oil in the car, to change a tire, to put gas in the tank - and many times neither of us sees how, without really thinking about it, my spouse teaches woodshop, auto mechanics and more.
What do you love the most about homeschooling, and what do you like the least about it?
I'll answer this question in a bit, but I'd like to take a moment, if your reading this series to ask you to answer this question yourself in the comments? It's my belief that by hearing what other's love or dislike about homeschooling I can better provide posts that deal with your loves and issues.
What I love most about homeschooling is the flexibility. As all parents of kids with special needs know, we have good days, we have bad days, and sometimes we have great days. Homeschooling allows me to adjust the workload to the type of day we're having. I also love the things we're able to do as homeschoolers - the truly amazing field trips that we can take any time our budgets allow (no red tape from administrators or school boards), being able to take our classroom literally anywhere at all that life takes us (teaching at the library because they have air and we don't, or teaching a class on wildlife while walking a local hiking trail, spending the month of October in the cemetery - more on this later, I promise), and being able to do work and cover information that's meaningful to us.
What do I like the least about homeschooling - MATH - I wasn't any good at it when I attended public school (back in the days of the dinosaur if you talk with Bug and Belle) and I'm not good at it now either. I can - thankfully - make change, use a calculator, and count my fingers and toes - glory be! Alright, to be honest, the thing I like least about homeschooling is the feeling of failure. The uncertainty of knowing if I can do this and if I can do it well enough. It's gotten better over the last two years but there are still days when it nags at the back of my mind.
What is your son studying now, what are his plans for the future?
In my state students are required to take standardized tests in 3rd and 5th grade, which puts Bug at need for testing this year. Sadly, some of our time is being spent readying him for these tests (and a lot of time is spent praying that he's going to do alright on them). That being said, we still have time to learn about some of his interests as well.
As for learning about Bug's interests we'll be doing a lot of cooking and baking. We're also learning about the restaurant business, and brushing up on our grammar, interview, and reporting skills because Noah would like to (with the help of his dad) begin producing a show on his own YouTube channel. If all goes well, he hopes to air his first episode this fall.
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you've learned a little about me and my style and I hope, if my style fits your thinking, that you'll follow along. Stay tuned next week for more great posts about life here with Aspie on the Corner. Until then - Keep the pieces together.