Wednesday, October 21, 2009

And so it begins...

A fitting first post to this blog should probably explain some of my reasoning as to why we decided to homeschool. You see, this is my first year homeschooling our two oldest children (we have one child who is not old enough yet). While it was something I had thought of doing before, I always figured that something as important as their education was best left to professionals. Dropping them off at school each weekday morning did feel a little weird to me though. I always had to watch them safely walk through the doors before I could drive off, much to the annoyance of waiting cars behind me. I felt that I was slacking on part of my duty as a mom, leaving the responsibility up to someone else for so much of the day. They both did really well, at the top of their classes and enjoying school, so I figured I was doing the right thing.

My trust in the school started crumbling away last year. Our oldest daughter (I will call her Princess for the purpose of this blog) was in third grade at the time. Her teacher did not do anything wrong, but was markedly more distant to the children than my daughter's previous teachers. I noticed that Princess had quite a bit less enthusiasm for school last year, and I think this is part of the reason. Still, that alone would probably not have pushed me into making the decision to homeschool.

The moment I knew I had to pull them out of traditional school came with the news that since their school was losing funding, there were going to be more children per classroom. The estimate was at least 30, if not 35, kids per room. My heart sank when I heard this. No matter how wonderful a teacher my children ended up with, it was just too much to expect that they receive the attention needed to really succeed. A teacher needs to spend the most time with those who are behind or need extra help. Since my kids are generally ahead, my thought was that they would stagnate in their education.

I started looking into homeschooling options for our area. I knew I needed a set curriculum, and someone to be accountable to for my own peace of mind. I initially registered for our local district's program, but after more research I moved to a more distant school district that I felt was better. The school district provides our curriculum, which is K12, and offers field trip opportunities and social events for the kids based on where they live in our state. So far this year, we had an opening social at a park, a trip to a local farm and corn maze, and an day at the zoo. The kicker is, we have only had 35 days of school so far! To participate in the district's homeschooling program I do have to comply with having the kids participate in regulation testing at the end of the year. For me this provides me with the knowledge of what I did correct and what I need to work on, so I am perfectly okay with it.

Along with my joy with Washington School District and their homeschooling program, I have been lucky enough to find a nice group of homeschoolers that get together weekly for playgroup. The kids really look forward to that! We have rough days and wonderful days, but all told I am very happy with my decision teach my kids at home.