A Word About Homeschooling…

I belong to a forum where folks chatter away about Scottie dogs, but last week,  someone wrote an off-topic post asking about homeschooled kids.  The poster wondered if homeschooled kids tend to be conceited and more interested in themselves than others.  To be completely honest,  I took no offense to the question…this woman was a professor at a college and said that homeschooled kids she has met just seemed “different” and less interested in the world outside themselves.

Another person on the list who recently retired from teaching young children answered that often children who are homeschooled tend to be a reflection of their parents.  She thought perhaps they were more opinionated and more close-minded.  She said they often believe the same things as their parents, as their parents are viewed as always right in their eyes.  I took no offense to this post, either!

In thinking about this whole conversation, I find it a bit sad that it must be viewed as “homeschooled vs public schooled”.  Many people believe that one must be a certified teacher in order to homeschool children or the education the children receive is inferior to public school.  I will be the first to admit I am a bumbling fool when it comes to math….perhaps a reflection on the lousy public school math teachers I studied under?  Well, no, I would never lay guilt there…I hated math, plain and simple.   I also hated science.  I saw no use for either of these subjects.

Needless to say,  I was right there with the kids, doing math with them right through algebra.  I could keep up quite handily until then,  and much to my own surprise,  I was even able to be of some use in geometry when it came to solving fomulas for volume!  When higher math became an unsolvable mystery to me,  I was happy to turn the whole math situation over to Mark who cheerfullylooks at calculus as brain exercises! He loves math and hates language arts. Oh, what a complement to me!

We did not “reinvent the wheel” by formulating our own curriculum.  We chose a Christian-based education that included Bible.  I need to add that we have met some Christian families along the way that were pretty radical, too.  Everything was done “their way or no way”.  Mark and I really tried to be open-minded and help our kids formulate their own lines of thought.  I have very little problem with this as I am not much of a control freak.  If anything,  I might look like one when I am passionate about something, but I am certainly not out to win the world. I do tend to be very passionate, though, and I need to sometimes just keep my mouth shut!

Our kids studied, using workbooks for their schooling, until second grade.  Michelle actually skipped second grade when we switched curriculum for her next year.  In first grade, she was reading at third grade level and beyond.  In changing curriculum,  the new work had a battery of tests for placement of students.  When Michelle was tested, she was at the third grade level, so we (quite confidently) placed her there.  She then began working on a computer-based curriculum, which she thoroughly enjoyed.  It worked well for me, as I was able to spend time with Ben hile she worked independently.

Michelle completed grade twelve at sixteen.  (Most kids graduate from high school at eighteen in the US)  In her final year, I suggested she take less intense coursework whereas Mark insisted she continue with pre-calc and physics.  Michelle was a trooper and worked her way through the hard courses, almost entirely learning on her own.  Mark always took time if she needed it,  but she most often resolved issues herself. (Most of the problems she could not solve were errors in the curriculum, rather than her errors!)

Ben has followed in Michelle’s footsteps and he works well independently as well, although he needs “the prod” from time to time.  One interesting thing about my kids is that although I never required them to write a paper for me, (such as an essay or editorial) I did go over (and over and over) how to write one.  Their schoolwork required learning how to write an outline and gave tons of information about how to formulate ideas on how to express oneself. 

Both of the kids have now taken college courses that have required them to write papers.  Michelle breezed through papers…she has never gotten below an “A” on papers she has written.  When Ben had to write, he became a little nervous, but Michelle merely coached him a little and he was able to work his way through.  So far, he has had to write two papers and has received 100% on each. (He would never allow me to see the paper until after it was graded!Michelle, on the oter hand, gives me her papers and asks me to “critique”) .

In looking at our homeschooling experience,  I would say that it has been a success.  Don’t get me wrong….it has not been an easy thing.  Aside from spending time working with frustrated kids,  it has been a very interesting experience. Many people voiced opinions that we were doing our kids a disservice, keeping them away from their peers.  That was far from the truth…They were free to play with neighbor kids (who attend public school) and we took them to events to be with other kids their ages.  They also participated in summer sports with kids from our area.

I tend to think of my kids as being more “homegrown” than “homeschooled”.  If parents have the tenacity to make their kids work,  homeschooling (or, homegrowing) is enlightening and downright fun.  We had lots of field trips and the kids learned so much about the world around them, in spite of themselves!

When Michelle was heading into her final “phases” of schooling, I became panic-stricken when I realized she had never been tested against kids in public school. She had never taken PSAT’s nor SAT’s.  The only testing she had done against other kids was standardized testing, as required by the school district.  Michelle had always scored post high school in those tests, but as she thought about college, I got cold feet!  Where would she stand against kids who had “professionals” teaching them?

Michelle did have to take a placement test when she went to Finger Lakes Community College for orientation. This is required of all homeschooled kids.  The tests basically analyze reading, writing, and math skills.  When the woman doing the testing was asked how Michelle did, she told us we had nothing at all to worry about.  No remediation was required for Michelle.

Michelle will be finishing her second year at FLCC this May.  My, how the time has passed so quickly!  She will now be ready to transfer on to a four-year school.  Michelle applied to three schools….Keuka College,  State University of New York at Geneseo,  and Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).   Well, Michelle was accepted into all three colleges with no problem.  She was informed today that should she decide to attend RIT full time, she will receive a $6,000.00 scholarship from the school as well as a $2,000.00 scholarship from her business honor society she is in.  In the letter stating these amounts, she was congratulated for her academic excellence!

Please realize I am not writing this to brag, but rather to say that I am humbled that our “homegrown” girl has done so well for herself.  She now has three different options from which to choose, each unique and different.  I am just so happy for Michelle.  At eighteen, she has the world open to her, our serious little student! 

I guess I can now say with some confidence that Michelle’s homeschooling experience was indeed a success!  I know that homeschooling is not for everyone and many would thumb their nose at it.  That is fine, but for us,  I am truly glad we stuck with it!

Spring *Might* be Coming?

Today was nothing short of a typical early spring day.  Rain, dismal, and lots of melting snow.  Our area has had flood warnings up for a couple of days now.  Yup, with all that melting snow,  the moisture has to go somewhere!  The earth is saturated and can hold no more, so the water must find its way to the lowest grade.

Last night as I was lying on the bed,  I could not believe the wind outside.  I could literally hear the tree branches as they were being whipped about….they made a loud whistling sound.  Between warm temperatures and the wind, we lost a great deal of our snow cover.

The snow melted most quickly around the house and imagine my surprise when I found this little cluster of tulips coming up!

Yes, we have more snow in the forecast, but March is a month when the jetstream plays tug of war,  with snowstorms one day and temperatures above freezing the next!  All in all, I am pretty sure spring isn’t too far off!