I wrote about what led me to my decision to homeschool here but I'll recap it for any new readers. (And for all of my friends who forgot since, if you're like me, you don't remember half of what you read or hear in the first place. I blame the children for that, because, duh.)
I always thought homeschool might come into play at some point with at least one of my kids but I always thought it would be way down the road if any of them really started struggling in middle school or something. And only if I was really desperate. I wasn't exactly against homeschooling young kids but I definitely didn't think it was the best choice. I thought of all the things they'd miss out on if they didn't go to school with other kids and that always seemed more important. Plus, I loved elementary school. Well, at least through first grade. And fourth. The other years were questionable. I still don't think of it as the best choice. Just like every other area of parenting, I've learned through the years the best choice is whatever feels right for you and your kids after you've learned their individual personalities (and your own) and educated yourself on both sides of the issue. I have a difficult time with people who fall on one side or the other, thinking their side is the only option and everyone else is making a mistake. Same goes for every other hot topic, stay-at-home mom vs. working, vaccinating, breast feeding, co-sleeping, the list goes on. Let's just keep cheering each other on because we all have the same goal: raising great kids who love others and love the Lord. The rest, as they say, is just details.
Bringing Up Boys by Dobson (good arguments, but still not convinced I wanted to give up eight hours of free childcare five days a week) and Raising Cain by Dan Kindlon. (Done. Decision made.) And since half my friends don't read books ever and just want me to recap them, I'll give you the gist. The all day classroom is not designed for a typical boy. Most girls thrive. Most boys don't. Boys at that age just can't possibly be expected to sit and focus for such long hours. They're constantly reprimanded and feel like they don't measure up. The very active ones will start to hate school and will be turned off from learning for the rest of their lives. (Sounds dramatic, but ask my husband. His response when I brought it up? "I hate learning." And its true. He never reads and has zero interest in learning something new unless it will benefit him directly.) Both books strongly urge parents to homeschool until their boys are 7 or 8. At the time, I had a baby and a very very difficult toddler so I knew homeschooling wasn't an option for Bennett starting in Kindergarten. He was also incredibly smart and I felt like he could focus for long periods of time. (Ha! Yeah....on a screen.) Well, Kindergarten went relatively well for him. I hated that he had to go all day and he definitely didn't LOVE school but it was mostly good. Well, then things started falling apart in first grade. He had trouble socially, physically (sitting still and concentrating for all the desk work) and academically. (He was ahead academically and wasn't nearly being challenged enough, despite the teacher doing everything she could.) He started crying most mornings before school and would beg me to stay home. There were many emails exchanged and meetings with his teacher and the guidance counselor last winter.
I went to a meeting for moms who were considering homeschooling back in early spring, thinking I was going with Dawson in mind. I left that meeting knowing without a doubt I needed to homeschool Bennett for second grade. The longer I sat with the decision, the more certain I was that it was the right one. We talked about it a lot and he was really excited about the idea.
Am I overwhelmed? Not yet. But I probably will be as soon as all the curriculum books start arriving in the mail. I'm excited to get into a routine and get it all figured out. If I have clear direction on what needs to be done when, I can make it happen. I was a hard core BabyWise mom and my babies and I thrived on that consistent schedule. But if there's no clear direction for me, our days fall apart very quickly. The weeks we had things on the calendar this summer, like VBS or swimming lessons, went great. The weeks that were open ended were....not so great. So I think having structure, yet freedom, will be great for our family.
Since everyone seems to ask me, I'll share about curriculum I've chosen. I actually contacted the Christian school that we plan to send them to in the future (and I know that decision will become clear when the time is right) and asked what they use. I'm using most of the same stuff for Bennett so that way, if he goes there the following year, he'll already be on the same page. Literally. Its Bob Jones for English/Grammar and enVision Math. I'm going to use Handwriting Without Tears since I've heard so many great things about it. I'll pick my own books for reading and will add some history and geography in there somewhere. And social studies. I don't even know what social studies is but I'll google it or something. Do we need PE? I think we need PE. Mommy/son yoga sounds good. I've been wanting to start. Ok...now I'm feeling overwhelmed. I signed him up for an after school hours Spanish class that will go for six weeks and then a Science class for four weeks after that through our community schools. I'm really excited about those. I think they'll be great supplements and also something to get him out of the house. And he told me, "I've always wanted to learn Spanish!" :) I'm not joining an official co-op since I want our schedule to be flexible and since Dawson will be in afternoon preschool. But I do have a group of moms I'll meet with at least once a month for different activities and lessons. I also had the option of reporting to a teacher throughout the year (she would do a home visit monthly) or just doing it all on my own. I opted to have a teacher come. I figured as a first timer, any extra help and direction will be beneficial. Its nice to know that I don't have to do that every year though, if I don't want to.
Cheers to a new school year. Fresh starts always feel good. But I'm not cheering for fall. Don't even say that word around here. Its still summertime. We just happen to have some schoolwork to do.