Monday, April 30, 2012

Who Home Schools? This family from Musings From A Stay At Home Mom

It is my goal that this weekly feature will allow us to see the face of home schooling.  In the past eight weeks I have been reminded of how diverse the home school community really is.  No wonder traditional schooling is not an option for these families.  The love of family and wanting what is best for their children, seems to be the most common thread.  Click here, to be redirected to previous interviews.

This week's interview is from "Musings From A Stay At Home Mom,"  

  • How did you end up deciding to teach your children at home?  Have they always been home schooled or did they attend school outside the home, at one point?

I was homeschooled myself from 2nd grade all the way through highschool (I received my diploma through an accredited correspondence school) and I always knew homeschooling would be a possibility for my children.

We have 4 children and our oldest, Nathan, is 9 years old and in 3rd grade. When he was ready to enter kindergarten, I wasn’t ready to homeschool. I knew how much work it was and I wasn’t sure I was cut out for it. We checked out our options - public, then private school, and nothing was “right.” So that left homeschooling. I didn’t exactly go into it willing, but I’m thankful the Lord allowed me to explore the options and determine on my own that homeschooling was the right choice for our family. 

  • What is your goal in home educating your children?

My main goal is to provide my kids with a good education. We are Christians, but I don’t homeschool with the mindset of “sheltering” them. W do feel there is a lot to be desired in terms of things kids pick up in public school, but we primarily homeschool because the education just isn’t there in the public schools. The number of highschoolers who can barely read these days is astounding and I want better for my children. Of course, I love that I can tailor our school to what works for my individual children and also continue to teach them good values in the process.

  • Do your children have extra curricular activities?  If so, what are they?
Yes, my kids are karate kids. Both Nathan and Emily (now 5 and entering kindergarten in the fall) take karate class. It’s great physical activity for them, encourages respect and good listening, and also exposes them to other “non-homeschooling” kids too. We have many friends and are active in our church, so they definitely get out a lot.

  • Have you ever hired someone to teach a subject to your children?  If so, why?
No, we haven’t hired anyone, mainly because my oldest is in 3rd grade and we haven’t reached the “difficult” subjects yet. I’m certainly not opposed to it and it’s definitely something we’ll keep in mind as the kids get older.

  • Have you graduated a child?  Do you plan to teach through high school?
No, my kids are still small. At this point, we are taking homeschooling year by year. Right now, I don’t plan on teaching them through highschool. My husband and his siblings were homeschooled and then sent to a public highschool and did very well with that. It was a good stepping stone for them between homeschooling and out in the “real world” and college. We might take that approach, but it’s pretty far off yet, so we’ll see.

  • Do you have a defined style of instruction such as Classical, montessori, unschooling,  or Charlotte Mason?  Are you willing to share how you decided to use this method?

I use traditional instruction. We primarily use A Beka curriculum, combined with Saxon math, and I like that both are a respected, well encompassing curriculum that has been used for many years. I was taught A Beka as a child too and I’m confident that my kids are getting a good education with it. We don’t always follow the curriculum 100%, but that’s one of the best parts of homeschooling - the ability to tailor instruction according to the child’s needs.

  • What does your schedule look like?  Do you start early and finish just after lunch?  Or do you start later in the day?  Do you teach through the summer? And if so, why?

I really have just one child in school now, with my daughter doing a little kindergarten work.  We try to get our schooling done in the morning and my son finishes up seatwork  in the afternoon. With 2 children, ages 1 and 2, it can make for an interrupted scheduled at times, but it does work pretty well.

  • Do you home school for religious reasons?  If so what religion are you?
We’re born again Christians and active in our non-denominational church, however we don’t homeschool directly for religious reasons.  As I said before, we primarily homeschool because of the lack of education in public school. If our local school provided a better, consistent education, there’s a good chance we would send our children there.

  • What was your number one concern or worry when you started out on this endeavor?  Has it continued to be your main issue?  Why has it changed?
Honestly, my main concern with homeschooling was that it would take over my life. My mom homeschooled my 3 siblings and myself and I saw how much work it was for her and the tremendous amount of time it took. It’s not that I don’t love my children, but I just didn’t want it to take over my life like it did hers. So I really hesitated. Now that I’ve been homeschooling for 4 years, I’ve come to realize that it doesn’t have to be all encompassing. We do the work and we’re done. My son scores well on testing and I know he’s getting a great education. But we have a life outside of school and it works.

  • What aspect of home schooling do you enjoy the most?  What part do you greatly dislike?
I love that I’m such apart of my children’s lives. I can’t imagine sending them off for 6-8 hours a day. And it’s not in a I-can’t-let-go-of-my-kids kind of way, but in a I-love-being-with-them sense. I also love the flexibility. We can take a day off at random times to have a family day or a few days off to go out of state mid-year for a family wedding. On the other hand, we’ll keep working during a snowstorm when public school is off so it all evens out.
I also love that my kids don’t come home from a long day and have piles of homework. I’m their mom and I’m in charge of their “homework.” When they’re learning, they really are; it’s not about “busy work.”

I wouldn’t say there’s any part I greatly dislike about homeschooling. There are definitely days when I’m tired and I have fleeting thoughts about how nice it would be to send them off, but honestly, it doesn’t happen often. I go by the motto that tomorrow is a new day. If we have a long tough day where one of the kids just doesn’t get something or the little ones aren’t cooperating, that’s okay. We’ll start again tomorrow.

  • Is there anything that you would like others to know about your home schooling?

I firmly believe that homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but that it can be a tremendous blessing for those that feel called to it. I don’t think homeschooling should be a burden; it can be a source of great joy for the whole family.

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