Why Did You Homeschool? Part 2

So, if you read my previous blog post, you know why we homeschooled our oldest son, Boo.  Bud is 3 years younger, and the reasons why we homeschooled him are as different as Bud is different from Boo.  After all, I can’t preach the benefits of an individualized education and then force Bud to follow the exact same educational path as his brother, right?

Well, Bud just sort of segued into kindergarten.  He was only 3 when Boo started homeschooling, and so it was just natural for him to start learning along with his brother.  Over the years we discovered many differences in their learning styles.  Boo is a natural mimic.  He memorizes easily – has a near photographic memory.  Bud has more common sense.  He gets concepts intuitively, if he can apply them to a relevant situation.  Boo is more of an abstract thinker.

One of the biggest questions we have been asked ever since we began homeschooling is “Aren’t you worried about socialization?”    Dictionary.com defines socialization as “a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social  skills appropriate to his or her social  position.”  How is that learned in a classroom full of children your own age who don’t know anymore about social skills and behavior than you do?  What people really mean when they ask about “socialization” is “do they have any friends?”  Well, in Bud’s case that has never been a problem.  Kids are drawn to him like a magnet.  He was always the kingpin of our neighborhood and none of his friends ever cared what school he attended.

Bud has always been a very busy child.  Some have called him our “wild child.”  I have been asked why he wasn’t in a classroom  where a teacher could keep him  “under control.” We preferred to raise him ourselves and channel his energy into taekwondo and flag football and dodgeball and basketball and tennis shoe hockey and swim lessons and whatever else we could think of that he might enjoy.

Bud homeschooled through the 6th grade, completing 5th and 6th grade in one year so he could attend middle school in the same grade as the majority of his friends.  Bud really enjoyed middle school, but some health problems, along with bullying issues (see When Older Kids are Bullied) made him decide he wanted to come back home for school after 9th grade.  We did more research, as I doubted my abilities to teach high school science, and a friend pointed us in the direction of K12.com and California Virtual Academy.  In this program, Bud attends all his classes online, sometimes in real time; sometimes by listening to a recorded lesson.  He has excelled in this environment, never earning less than a 3.5 GPA, and is set to graduate high school this June.  He is planning on attending community college in the fall, studying horticulture and business.

why homeschool

We are so proud of both our children and the fine young people they are becoming.  The experiences we all gained through homeschool have been invaluable.  My hope is that every parent can discover and have access to the educational program that is the best fit for their child.

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Why Did You Homeschool? Part I

I could just as easily have named this post “what about socialization?” as these are the two biggest questions I have been asked over the past 13 years of homeschooling my two sons.  I don’t think every child should be homeschooled – I absolutely believe that public school serves a purpose.  But I also believe that every child deserves an individualized education and it is up to us as parents to decide what that means for our children.

Our oldest son, Boo started kindergarten at the public school down the street from our house.  I had already started thinking about homeschooling, but my husband, Art, was not convinced, so we agreed to see how Boo did in his first year of school.  The biggest problem was that Boo was more advanced intellectually than the average kindergartner.  He had already memorized most of the flags of world countries and had begun memorizing the periodic table of elements (for fun??) There was just no way that a teacher dealing with 20 other kids could keep up with him.  I also wanted him to be able to stay a child as long as possible.  That year, on the playground, Boo had been teased by other kids in his class for wearing a Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt.  There had also been an incident where a 1st grader found a gun in the field during recess (thankfully she brought it to a teacher – it was not loaded – and no one was hurt).

My cousin was homeschooling her children through a program which is now called Pathways Charter School.  In this program, the parent and child meet with an IST (independent study teacher) once a month to set up learning goals, review progress, and do some standardized testing.  We decided to meet with the IST for our area to discuss our expectations and see if the program would meet Boo’s needs.  The IST, Glenda, was very personable and got along well with Boo.  She explained that the school allocated a certain amount of money for each student and the parents could choose the curriculum which was best suited to their child (within the state’s standards and from the school’s approved list of vendors).  Boo’s first grade year would be our trial year. In fact ever year we homeschooled we said it was “just for this year” and we would re-evaluate at the end of the year to decide if we wanted to continue.

That first year was definitely our most awkward as we figured out what Boo’s strengths and weaknesses were and developed our schedule.  Pathways is a state charter school, so nothing religious could be included in the graded curriculum,  but we had devotions every morning and read a chapter from William Bennett’s Book of Virtues or others.  The boys took taekwondo and participated in AWANA (a children’s Bible club) every Wednesday night.  Boo had an evaluation by a specialist and was able to get an IEP (individualized education program) for speech therapy.  We took field trips on our own and with other kids from the school.  We were learning and growing and it was fun!!

Boo continued to homeschool through the 6th grade.  At that time he chose to transfer into public school for middle and high school.  He competed in the state geography bee in the 8th grade, sang in the elite choir in high school, and graduated with a 3.5 GPA and 3 advanced placement classes under his belt.  I guess you could say our homeschool experiment was a success!!

why homeschool

Bud and Boo on field trip to Apple Hill

Check out the next blog post to find out why we homeschooled Bud and how his journey has progressed thus far.

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