Friday, June 7, 2013

"But You Went to Public School and You Turned Out Just Fine."

I know it's been a while since I posted.  I've been super busy between just being a mom (especially a homeschooling one :) ), LLL, my babywearing group, becoming a Certified Babywearing Educator, knitting, etc, etc.  So bare with me.  I'll post when I can :).  Today I'd like to start a series of FAQs about homeschooling.  These are FAQs that often come up and what my responses are to those.  Among these are "Every homeschooler I've ever met has been anti-social."  "You went to public school and you turned out just fine."  "How will your kids make friends?"  "What do you do all day?  Sit in a stuffy room and read to your kids?"  "How do you teach over all the grade levels?"  "You aren't a certified teacher, why do you think you're qualified to teach your children?"  "Why the heck are you homeschooling your 4 year old/5 year old already?"  "Homeschooling isn't something I could ever do (for x, y, z reason)."  Some of these sound really blunt and rude and I've been asked all of those at one point or another phrased in this way and some of course put a lot nicer.  We're still learning of course. 

I guess I should start out by saying we used to think homeschooling was weird.  We didn't ever see doing it and I used to actually be against homeschooling.  I received a feeling one day that we should look in to it.  I thought about tuning that out but just felt like it was really important to start looking at.  My husband had received a similar feeling.  I determined this was more than just a feeling but a prompting and something we should take seriously.  I started checking out books from the library on homeschooling.  I really like the Everything series so that was the first one I ended up reading-The Everything Homeschooling Book.

We had a lot of the same fears a lot of people do but especially the social aspect.  This book REALLY opened my eyes.  It was simple but full of a lot of information that really helped me on my homeschooling journey.  After reading the book I started looking in to local homeschooling groups even though Monkey wasn't even a year old yet.  I wanted to learn what I could learn and find out more about homeschooling so we had a solid foundation of information.  My husband and I are planners.  We like to have a general idea of what's going on and what our budget is.  We like to plan years down the road of where we'd like to be, what types of trips (including where) we'd like to go on, where we'll be living, and so on.  We have always had discussions about this even before we got married (which I think is the absolute key to a good marriage!).  We had planned that I would be a stay at home mom and that kids were really important as well as finishing education.  Education is very important to both of us and when I started doing research I found that the public school system isn't what it used to be which leads to the question I'm going to answer in this post today.

"But you went to public school and you turned out just fine."

As a homeschooler I like to just smile at this statement.  It's really becoming much easier by the month for me to handle this criticism or the simple question of WHY do you homeschool because for us these are almost one and the same.

My public school days were years ago.  Not MANY years ago because I did graduate high school in 2005 but enough years ago that things have changed even with the graduating class a year behind me.  I remember taking a stupid test in high school that was supposed to decide if I was allowed to graduate or not and I was very very anxious about this test as I don't do well on standardized tests.  I had good grades, was smart, did very well picking up new concepts but only scored a 23 on my ACT test which was super disappointing as I would have had a full-ride scholarship my first year with 1 point higher.  Test time came and I was SO anxious.  The day after we finished the testing (I believe it was a full week of taking the stupid thing) we found out that it didn't count for graduation but would for sure the next graduating year.  EVERYONE had passed the test because the two years prior they had informed the students that the test didn't mean anything to their graduation status so most students just filled in bubbles and handed it in.  The standards were set way too low and our class was the one that set the standards for the next graduating class.  I believe this was just a Utah thing but I don't know.  The point I'm making here is that standards are often set way too low and they just get set lower and lower especially with Common Core.  I won't go in to Common Core here but it is something that you should be aware of and when I read actual information from the government on Common Core I was horrified.  I have read a lot of interpretations as well but I knew from my experience with the standard test for graduation in Utah that standards are just plain set way low and when you're looking at students all across the country of course they're going to set them to the point that intercity kids can pass and graduate rather than where the Ivy League bound students are. 

I was super bored in public school, especially elementary school, and saw way more crap than I needed to see while at school.  Most of my subjects were too easy.  I could have gone ahead in math but because I didn't have that foundation in elementary school it was too hard to just skip a level when I got to the point I could chose a math class.  Honors math was a total joke because my teacher got up in front of the class to teach, a kid in the back was too social, he'd sit down and say do the homework on the syllabus with absolutely no instruction.  I got my first C.  I was HORRIFIED.  I had math nightmares.  I spent ALL of my free time in the class room trying to get help on homework that I never was taught at all how to do because the teacher didn't want to compete with a social kid that sat in the back.  I dropped that class and went in to regular math and was again bored after a month of catching up.  I also saw way more crap and heard way more crap than I ever should have heard.  In 4th or 5th grade a boy wrote the F word on my paint shirt.  I didn't know what it meant, I'd never heard it, I knew it was bad.  That same boy groped me on the playground.  I didn't understand but I knew I didn't like it.  I heard WAY too much information about sex in Junior High in the hallways, bus, lunchroom, etc.  There was no need for me to hear that garbage.  It's getting worse too as more and more elementary students are offered condoms and having sexual relationships across the country (I read these headlines and about pregnant 12 and 13 year olds often).  Call me a prude or too overprotective but I don't think my kids need to hear a lot of graphic details as a young teen or elementary student they also don't need to be exposed to the foul language I heard all the time.

Public schools could never cater to the level I could have been at.  I can encourage my kids to do better in subjects they struggle with, allow them to move ahead in subjects they do well at, and have plenty of extra time that they can learn more about the subjects they really want to learn more about.  I was invited to join a special program for gifted and talented students but it cost too much for my parents and after learning more about it it was just full of busy work and that I wouldn't really be able to work ahead of where I was working in normal public school and eventually I'd be dropped right back in to my grade with everyone else.  Monkey is a super smart 5 year old.  I know every parent thinks their child is bright but Monkey really pushed me to teach him how to read at 3.  He started to learn to count and add and subtract items.  I realized a year ago that he was already doing everything a preschooler needed to learn before entering Kindergarten so I decided to start our Kindergarten work.  He picked everything up super quick.  He has done 1st grade work this year and turned 5 in April.  I don't say this at all to brag but I do use it as an example because I know he would be incredibly bored going back to Kindergarten level materials even if I hadn't worked with him like I have this upcoming fall.  Socially though I don't know if he is completely ready for Kindergarten though he may be by September.  I am able to cater curriculum to what HE needs rather than what the average student needs.  I'm able to spend longer on topics that he needs extra help with or skip ones that he has a firm grasp on rather than reviewing for a couple of weeks.  I'm able to specially pick out things he would like.  He's really in to space right now so we will be doing Apologia's Astronomy curriculum this next school year.  I'm also able to use curriculum to get my 2 year old interested in learning because he likes to "join in" in our school (for him that usually means coloring while his brother writes, playing with linking cubes while brother adds and subtracts, "helping" me set words up for reading and spelling, etc) and knows that it's fun and important to me.  Kangaroo has already learned the value of books and knows that they're important to us.

Public school isn't all bad.  I don't think my parents are horrible for sending me or anything like that.  I also don't think that any parents now are horrible for sending their kids to public schools.  I'm in a position I can do better though and as the world gets further and further away from having any morals I'm going to take advantage of my right to homeschool my children and prepare them to have an even brighter future.  I can help them be even more prepared to do what they want to do with their future.

What do you say when someone says "But you went to public school and you turned out just fine" to you?

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