hot bliggity blog 267

Friday, May 13, 2011

'normal' after all

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I write to you on this topic not as a current home-schooler or one who is considering home-schooling [no kiddos=home-schooling not even on my mental radar] but as a past home-schoolee.  In case you do not plan on reading on into the next paragraph I am going to go ahead and tell you the one thing that I want you to know:  I was home-schooled for 3 years [middle school] and I survived [with minimal side-effects] to tell you about it.
It never fails, when people find out that I was home-schooled for a period of time I get the same questions asked of me:  Did you like it?  Hate it?  Did you have any friends?  Did you ever get to see your friends?  So you got to, like, play all the time?   And my favorite response of them all:  Wait, you were home-schooled?  And, you’re like, Normal?!  Like every person that comes out of any other education system is indeed, Normal.  What is Normal, anyway?!  Another frequently asked question is this: How did your mom know what to do?  I guess you could call these valid points since home-schooling is not, in fact, ‘the norm’ and I will do my best to address them all.
I don’t know where the idea came from; I don't recall being very involved in the decision making process either.  I only remember that one day I went to school and then the next day I didn’t.  I was in the 5th grade when my parents decided to give a try at homeschooling.  Very much the planners and analyzers, they chose to pull us [my 2nd grade sister and me] out of public school for the 4th nine weeks of the current school year for a trial run.  I guess the test run went well as I found myself at the same desk with the same teacher year after year for the following 3 years.
Home-schooling is not something you can do on your own.  Nor do you want to do it on your own.  Fortunately we lived in an area where there were A LOT of home-school families.  And I mean it: A LOT.  [That we lived in an area where the schools were not all that great goes without saying I think!]  Our area had a city-wide organization, or fellowship, that we were a part of.  I don’t remember the numbers exactly but I think the first year we started there was something like 100 families in the group; in three years time I believe it had grown to 300+ families.
Through the organization we got our sense of ‘real school’.  Some organized events/opportunities included, but were by no means limited to, a science club, math club, bowling team, basketball team [I played!], softball team, and various other co-ops within the group.  We had P.E. 3 days a week at the city park.  A local, retired Marine would come out M/W/F during his lunch break to work with us and train us for the ‘Presidential Fitness Challenge’ just like I remember doing in the 1-5 grades in public school.  I was a part of a weekly, creative writing workshop to enhance my oh-so-lacking writing skills.  At the end of the year there was opportunity to take the CAT [standardized testing] together; we were placed in rooms with people our age, desks, and ‘teachers’!  There were so many more opportunities that I either A) was not a part of, B) can’t remember, or C) never knew they existed in the first place.

I know there are many wonderful groups of home-school families all over the country.  I know several families in a local group where I live now.  They have a school day with 'real' classes every Wednesday at the church that I worked at last year.  My office was in the hallway that they use and it was really neat to see how the group did things.  The classes are primarily for older kids [Jr. High and High School] who need more advanced school subjects such as biology, calculus, and physics.  For these classes they usually have a retired teacher or someone with great training/knowledge of the subject matter to come in and hold class.  Their biology class is taught by one of the home-school moms who has her bachelor's in biology; a retired military officer leads a survival and safety class.  You get the idea.  Beyond all of this there are also awesome opportunities for exposure to other walks of life and sharing the Gospel.  These groups are a place where most families are Christian but from different denominations.  If you are considering home-schooling, do yourself a favor and search out these groups.
Like any school system, home-schooling has its pros and cons.  You just have to figure out what works best for you and your family.  For mine, none of us went the same route.
My schooling path:
  • public  K-5
  • home-schooled  6-8
  • public  high school
My sister, E [3 years younger]:
  • public  K-2
  • home-schooled  3-7
  • private  8
  • public  high school
My brother, A [7 years younger]:
  • home-schooled  K-5
  • private  6
  • public  J-High & high school
There were many variables that played into each of our different paths and I know that my parents did what they felt was best for each of us given the present circumstances.  I am thankful that they evaluated us each separately and didn’t keep one at home/public/private just because that’s what they had done with the other two.  I guess what I am trying to say is that if you are considering home-schooling one [or two] of your children but for whatever reason don’t think that it would be best for the other child, don’t worry about it; don’t leave them all in or take them all out because that what seems like you ‘have’ to do.
Did I like/dislike it?  Again, as with anything, there are pros and cons to both.  There were days that I loved it as well as days where I just wanted to leave the house and go walk the hallways of a school.  I do not in any way regret any of it.  It was truly a great experience.  I will say, though, that had my parents not willingly allowed me to go back into the public school system for high school [not sure if mom was tired of me or what.  Ha!]I might not have this same attitude.  One of the neat things about our time at home was my parents also had a house built one year.  This allowed us to go over to the property almost every day and see what all they were doing.  Even though I was young, I can still remember the overall process and steps to building a house.  We also got to go on vacation during the ‘off’ season!  Not that I really and truly appreciated this at the time; but as I have entered into the ‘real’ world I do see the benefits of this!
As for friends, well, I was rarely ever without.  On top of the home-school organization we were [and always have been] extremely involved in church.  And you can bet that I was at EVERYTHING when I was home-schooled.  I might have even used it against my parents a time or two:  How will I know how to behave around other people my own age if I don’t even get to see them tonight?!!  Ha!  Obviously I think that church, or the people you meet at a church, is the answer to most of my problems anyways. 
And as for my mom knowing what to do, well, what can I say?  She’s one smart cookie!  There were also a lot of hoops to jump through and forms to submit with the state/government; they won’t just let you take your kids out of school on your word that you will ‘do your best’ to educate them.  Ha!  We were registered with the state as an Academy!  How pristine does that sound?!

*I wanted to add to this post that I wrote yesterday.   It occurred to me that I didn't mention anything about my transition into high-school and post-life home-schooling:

As for me, the hardest part of going back to public school was getting up at 6:00 a.m. to be ready and out the door by 6:45!  Seriously; that is not even a slight stretch of the truth.  To say it was easy for me would be a stretch but I can say that I handled it with ease [two very different things :)].  The first few weeks were difficult in the social aspect as everyone had formed their cliques during the previous two years in Jr. high.  Since I was only out of the system for 3 years I still knew and/or recognized a lot of people from before; some remembered me, some didn't; some chose not to acknowledge they remembered me and some willingly and excitedly welcomed me back.  I even got asked to the homecoming dance by a sophomore!

Once again, church came into play; I had a lot of friends-in all grades-from my youth group who guided me in learning the ropes.  In fact, several of my closest friends were those very people-it did not matter that we were not the same age.  I was involved in several clubs and organizations: marching band [I was Drum Major for 2 years of the 180+ member band], FCA, National Honor Society, and several other extra-curricular activities.  Post graduation I went on to complete a 4-year undergraduate degree followed by a 3-year Master's degree.  [My intentions in telling you this is not me bragging by any means; I just want to show you it can be done!]
To anyone who is considering it my suggestion/advice is this: pray about it and you will know.  Try it for a year and if it doesn’t work out, the kids can go back to school and you can enjoy a grocery shopping alone again!

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing your perspective! I've always wondered how kids felt about being homeschooled. I won't say that homeschooling is in the center of my radar but I know if God called me to do I would. Your post makes me a little less scared of the idea!

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  2. You are so welcome and thank YOU for the encouragement! My prayer and intention in submitting this was for that very purpose.

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