Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Opening A Can of Worms

I know that I am about to officially open a can of worms with this post. That's okay with me just that as long as if you disagree with me that you do so politely. That's all I ask. Because, in reality, what I'm about to bring up is something that is between my husband (the head of our household) and myself and I'm just sharing it with the rest of you. Are you ready? Because it's a doozy. Here goes...

My husband and I have decided that it would be in our daughter's best interest to home school her rather than send her to public school. Yes folks, you've read that right. We will home school our most precious treasure in this world, our daughter. We're not in a position to send her to private school but that is definitely something we'll consider if and when we're able to. This is not a decision we've taken lightly. We've actually been considering this since the day we had Violet. We knew that this day would come (with God's grace) and we wanted to be prepared. So, we've been researching, asking questions, and looking into all the different approaches to home school for over four years now. (In all honesty, I can't say five years because the first year of Violet's life was just survival mode as new parents.) Believe me when I say we've considered ALL our options! We've had pleanty of curricula to look in to, such as Sonlight, Classical Conversations, Veritas Press, A Beka Acadamy, and Oak Meadow, just to name a few.

The home school movement (if you'll call it that) has grown more popular over the years. It is no longer the isolated experience of the past. More and more families are choosing to home school their children.
"Each year, the homeschool movement graduates at least 100,000 students. Due to the fact that both the United States government and homeschool advocates agree that homeschooling has been growing at around 7% per annum for the past decade, it is not surprising that homeschooling is gaining increased attention."
(You can find the article to that quote here.) The co-op that we had hoped to get into this year is evidence of this growing trend ~ it's filled to capacity and cannot take any new families this year and the school year has just started! Not to worry though, there are other groups out there and we're already getting involved in one. It's smaller than the group we had wanted to get into and it's a bit of a drive for us but we'll make it work. I already know the women in the group, and their kids, and am looking forward to a fun new experience. Also, it seems that we have more friends that are home schooling their children than those who are sending their kids to public school. So, I'm not exaggerating the fact that we're surrounded by people who have been doing this for a while now or who are just starting out like we are.

What about the whole "socialization" thing? We've been peppered with questions regarding that and I assure you, Violet will be involved in many social settings. We're already looking into enrolling her in either a sport of some sort (soccer maybe?) or dance. Then there is church (the verdict is still out on where we're going to join but at least we're actively seeking a place to call home) and the co-op. Overall though, socialization is not something that I'm overly worried about. Here's why. Home schooled kids generally do well with children of all ages, not just kids who are in their own age group. Also, they interact with adults very well. I've yet to meet a socially incompetent home schooled child. I'm sure that there are some out there but I've not met one.

I'm nervous as heck about our decision to home school. I've questioned whether I can do this or not. So, this is a trial basis. Kindergarten is not something that one can easily mess up and I have that on my side. We'll be watching Violet closely and doing everything in our abilities to make sure she is receiving the best education she can possibly get. Education is not something that we take lightly. With that said, I am also feeling fairly confident in our decision too. The curriculum that we'll be using is pretty much laid out for you to use. It even comes with daily scripted lesson plans and an organized schedule if you want to follow them! Everything is laid out for you to follow. I love that!

Violet will be following a lot of the same programs that other kindergartners will be following. Saxon Math, Phonics, Fine Art Primers, and more. The curriculum that we'll be using is actually used by several private Christian schools in the Houston and Katy areas, schools that have a year long waiting list to get in to. It's highly approved. So, you see, we're not going into this decision blindly.

On a side note, I was talking with an old friend of mine recently who happens to be a retired college professor. As we talked the topic of home school came up. My friend was very encouraging in what she said to me. It seems that college professors LOVE home schooled students! She said that she has never had a bad experience with one in her classrooms in the twenty plus years that she taught. Home schooled students that go off to college know how to work on their own and always have their projects done and ready for review well in advance. She spoke highly of her former students that came from a home school background.

Everything my friend said spoke volumes in regards to an article I read recently (you can find that article here). Here is a short snippet from the article...
"In short, the results found in the new study are consistent with 25 years of research, which show that as a group homeschoolers consistently perform above average academically. The Progress Report also shows that, even as the numbers and diversity of homeschoolers have grown tremendously over the past 10 years, homeschoolers have actually increased the already sizable gap in academic achievement between themselves and their public school counterparts-moving from about 30 percentile points higher in the Rudner study (1998) to 37 percentile points higher in the Progress Report (2009)."

Violet is a very intelligent little girl. A lot of that intelligence comes from some very good genes from her father's side of the family (school was always a struggle for me that required a lot of extra work on my part). But also, a great deal of it comes from the work that I've been doing with her already. Our daughter knew her ABC's by sight (not rote) by the time she was just over a year old. We played with flash cards and made a game out of them. I'll never forget her pointing out random letters and saying what they were one night while at a friend's house. Everyone was surprised by how well she knew her ABC's. To prove that it wasn't a fluke, we had Violet point out random letters we asked her to look for. She never missed one. Violet learns things easily and is, in some ways, more advanced than a typical kindergartner. Then there are things that she's behind on that need some added work. I love sitting with Violet and helping her grasp a new concept (right now that is writing). There's nothing better than watching my daughter work on something and then grasp hold of it and take it on with a determined spunk that is all hers.

It is a huge desire of ours that Violet have not only an exceptional education experience but that her education is based on Christian principles that we hold dear. This is the greatest determining factor of ours in deciding to home school Violet. No, we're not religious fanatics that are trying to shelter our kid from the real world. But we want to be sure that Violet learns about the creation of our world through a Biblical viewpoint and not one where everything happened by chance. Will we teach Violet about other beliefs and theories? Absolutely. But, those theories and beliefs will not be the main focus of her education like they would be if she went to public school. And, we'll be able to design Violet's learning experiences to fit her and where she's at. We can move ahead in sections that she excels at and take more time on the ones she struggles with. You really don't get that in a public school setting. In a traditional school setting you can go only as far as the weakest students in the class can go.

Don't get me wrong, there are some excellent teachers out there. (We have some great educators in our family!) Great teachers that are more qualified to teach our daughter than I am but their investment in our daughter's education isn't as great as mine and Gregg's. We know our child and the way she learns. We know that the stakes are high and there is no room for failure on our parts. So, despite all the great and wonderful teachers that are out there we feel like our daughter's education is our job, our purpose in this life. And, as a friend who says it perfectly, "No one will love my children as much as I do."

So, we won't have any photos of Violet getting dressed for her first day of school. No photos of her waiting at the bus stop. Instead, I'll have photos of her actually learning things while sitting at our dining room table. I'll be able to chronicle the steps she takes while learning new things. Violet's first experiences will be different than those of a student going to public school and we're okay with that. So things will look differently around here compared to what you're used to seeing from a public school setting. I'll use our home school experience as another aspect of the blog. Maybe a section just for it's own self. Who knows what will happen? We're stepping out on faith that this is the perfect thing for our family, and most importantly that it's the perfect thing for our daughter. So, your prayers and support would be greatly appreciated.


Glenna said...

I think that's great! Personally, any hesitancy I would have about homeschooling wouldn't be from parents who are deeply committed and educated about the process and firmly devoted to teaching as if the child were in school, meaning a full work school day. I know folks who have homeschooled and their kids had no problems going to college or finishing home study college level programs.

But then you/we/I see shows like Wife Swap where some of the parents call it homeschooling but really it's just a couple of hours of whatever the kids want to read if they want to do it. That's not homeschooling. That's home laziness.

I really think you can do this and be very successful with Violet. But it's definitely another full time job you've just added to your to-do list!

Kimberly said...

Glenna, yes I've seen those shows. That's not what our level of expectancy is going to be regarding kiddo's education. We'll be using a set schedule/hours. There definately won't be any time for rest any time soon. ;)

Anonymous said...

Love your blog! I think you have considered all sides of this & have some excellent points on your side. You've def. done your research, and have the facts to back up your choices. I know God will richly bless your homeschool journey this year as you seek to honor your husband & train your precious Violet! :)

Anonymous said...

Great job, Kimberly! You have thoughtfully considered every aspect, and explained it very well in this blog entry. I'm excited for your family! You KNOW Johnny and I will join the homeschool ranks one day.



Anonymous said...

Allie French Velasco August 26 at 11:10am Reply
Excellent! Very articulate and well-written. You did a great job of clearly expressing your thought process and beliefs.

My main reason when explaining to people why I homeschool, can be summed up in one statement, "no one will ever love my children as much as I do".

Kimberly, I am excited and happy for your family! I know this will be a wonderful journey for you guys. Please remember, don't stress out and enjoy every moment with your daughter. :)

Many blessings,


Anonymous said...

Great job, Kimberly! You presented your case clearly and articulately.

As you know, I fully support your decision and am excited for you and your family (mostly for your precious daughter and the terrific education she will receive). While you shouldn't have to explain yourselves to to others to this extent, I imagine this post will answer a lot of questions for those skeptics who take the time to read it, and for that purpose, you put it together very well. I'm sure as you proceed, the evidence (a thriving student) will speak for itself. Blessings!

All seriousness aside, what do you mean you're "not a religious fanatic?!" I thought all this time I was hanging out with one! lol

You must have already posted it to your blog - "Violet" threw Sam off - hehe

~Crystal~ said...

ditto!!!! =0) although for me i have only thought about it over the last 4 months and i would have thought you were crazy if you had suggested that i homeschool one day before that =0) best of luck dear friend . . . we're in this together!

Kimberly said...

Wowee was that one long post! :) I can tell you've put your heart and soul into this decision and I wish you the absolute best in this endeavor.

Jen said...

I will have to admit I am a bit jealous. I think homeschooling is excellent and would love to have the opportunity to homeschool my children. A lot of what the public school system does just doesn't make sense to me. Anyway, since homeschooling is not an option for us we will make the most of our current situation.

I think it is incredible that you are pursuing this avenue. I can tell that it is not a decision you have taken lightly. I know you will be an awesome teacher and Violet is one lucky girl.

Can't wait to hear about her progress!!!