Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Uh oh, we're talking about homeschooling

So let me start by saying that I am sure this post will remain in my "saved" drafts for a few days. I have some pondering to do and want to be sure that I verbalize my thoughts accurately. So, here goes nothing.

"Education is a private matter between the person and the world of knowledge and experience, and has little to do with school or college."-Lillian Smith

My choice to home school my children began after years of struggling with public education officials; administrators, educators, even yard duty personnel. According to the state of California, I have a special needs child. He is completely deaf in one ear and 60% in the other. He is also legally blind in one eye and after all is said and done, he is my world. So you can understand my frustration when year after year I continued to see him struggle in reading, writing, etc. and was told to "accept" that he would never be at his grade level but that he would be "supported" throughout his school years. We continued at this slow pace for many years when I finally realized that our son would never feel a personal sense of accomplishment in the public school system. His class size had increased to 38 students and although he was getting individualized out of class assistance with reading and math, he would miss vital lessons during that time for that nights homework. The background noise in the classroom made listening to the teacher impossible. The glare on the white board from the overhead lights made reading the teacher's notes impossible. He was frustrated, discouraged and even called himself dumb. I was heartbroken. We had to make a drastic decision immediately. We spent that night praying hard and listening for God's will. We withdrew him from his class the following day.

I come from a family of educators so you can imagine that informing everyone of our decision was sure to create some doubt. We were met with questions and a little hesitance but very soon we began to receive support and encouragement. I began my quest to home school successfully using every resource I could find along the way. One of my closest friends who also home schools her children took me under her wing and guided me along. (I love you Heather!) We found several homeschooling groups in our community that schedule group field trips and park days. The internet has been the most beneficial resource as you can get tips and suggestions from people anywhere in the world. I have made several friends this way and they have been angels along this journey.

Fast forward one year and I stand here a homeschooling mommy. I believe that every child is a "special needs" child in that each child has a different learning style and personality. I embrace the fact that I can customize my children's school time to appeal to their learning style. Since making the choice to home school our eldest son, we decided to do the same with our younger children. We have become involved in a local home school group in which my children have created amazing friendships. Believe me, socialization is not an issue. I know who my children's friends are and I see the families behind the child. My children are free to discuss God in an open manner and I find it to be such a proud moment when my eldest child asks me to pray for his injured friend. Each school lesson also brings life lessons.

We have "school" days and "un-schooling" days. This basically means that some days we sit at the table and do written lesson work in books and other days we get out and explore the world as our school. For example, one day my children got to bottle feed baby calves, pick produce from an organic garden, finish several sheets of written schoolwork and help plan the dinner menu. I mix it up quite a bit as redundancy does not sit well with Alec. I make EVERYTHING a learning experience whether it be cooking a meal or renovating our home. We also read. We read a lot. I read to Alec, Alec reads to Sophie and Sophie (who is 3) reads to Miles (who is 1). I start each morning in prayer. I pray that God shows me what my children need to learn. I pray for A LOT of patience because we definitely have trying times. (Remember, I am working with a 12 year old :) Most importantly, I LOVE this adventure and I still believe this was the best decision for OUR family. Please know that I do not judge other people for choosing to send their children to public school, but I am very protective of the decision that we made for our individual family. Every family is different, with different circumstances and situations. But please remember that just as my family respects your life choices, please respect ours. You may not understand our choice to home school but you are welcome to come over any time and experience our Frates School. I make excellent coffee!


Kari, Tommy, 3 dogs, a cat, a turtle and baby makes 8 said...

Simply are amazing!

Dewitt Family "Lovin Life" said...

Jen, I am so proud of you! You have completely grasped what schooling at home means! It is about choices and freedom! I am so excited for the life you have created for your family. Remember this post when you have one of those hard days, as we always do! I love you friend and look forward to this journey with you!

Wendy said...

That was just amazing to read. I'm so proud of you Jen. You are a great mommy and friend. Your children are very blessed to have you.