View Full Version : When to discuss HS option with your kids?

01-07-2011, 01:26 PM
So, we're at the beginning stages of researching and discussing homeschooling as an option. We know it's a big decision, and not one that we'll be making for some time. We are definitely going to have our 3rd grader finish out her year in PS.

She's said a few times that she wants to be homeschooled, and we've responded honestly, saying there is a lot to consider and a lot of research we are in the process of doing. Otherwise, we've kept HS discussions with her to a minimum. I don't want to get her hopes up, then decide that we're going to keep her in PS.

If and when we decide to HS, we'll certainly get our children's input about how to structure it, what topics they'd want to explore, how they'd most like to learn, and so on. But I'm wondering if maybe we should be discussing these things with both of them during our decision process, in order to gauge their reactions and feelings. My 8 yo has a tendency to hyperfocus and get anxious, so I'm hesitant to discuss too much with her for fear she'll get all excited (and possibly worried) about HS.

What are your thoughts and experiences with this?

01-07-2011, 01:47 PM
I"ve seen a number of these discussions before - it seems like its really about your individual relationship w your kids. My boys both HATED school so much by the time I started getting serious about it, and i'm incapable of keeping secrets unless there's a really, really important reason . . . but for them, it was like the pressure valve - knowing they only had to get through a few more months/weeks and they'd never have to go back was a real load off their shoulders.

01-07-2011, 02:07 PM
We didn't dwell on it long enough for it to be an issue. I brought it up for the first time to my husband just days before we pulled him out. It took a lot of trial and error to actually find a method of homeschooling that was right for both of us. I don't think spending months doing research would have actually changed that.
What worked for the early part of the experience (first few months) was radically different than what we are doing now. He really wanted me to emulate the kindergarten experience at home at first. (circle time, calendar, word wall, sitting on carpet squares, etc.) Because he was so young, his ability to give input is not what an older child's might be. On the other hand, his expectation of what we should be doing was not not cemented in either.

So, I guess I am no help. :p As soon as I got the homeschool bug, I acted on it.

01-07-2011, 07:01 PM
Let me ask what might be a more fundamental question, one that will get to this issue: Is some of your concern about bringing this up with her because you're apprehensive about your ability to be "good" at homeschooling yourself? Because let me tell you, that was a big concern of mine when we started discussing it. If so, I have good news for you.

It's not as hard as you think.

My wife was kind of like Teri in that she got the bug and pretty quickly decided it would be a good plan for us. I, however, was skeptical, mainly because I didn't know if I'd be capable of providing quality instruction. But once I realized how many different curricula are out there in all subjects, ones that I looked at and tried on for size, I realized that it was actually a lot easier than I had feared. And I also came to grips with the fact that I didn't have to teach like my wife does, because we're both smart people in different ways, so we go with where our strengths are and ask for help when we need it, whether that's from each other or from an outside source. I honestly can't believe I was so worried about my own ability to teach my own kid. I mean, I'm his dad, I should know him better than just about anyone! I've already been "homeschooling" his whole life; we just didn't call it that. So yeah, I can do it.

That all being said, we did involve Hurricane in the decision-making process as far as whether to homeschool or not, but not about the specifics of the curriculum. That's a kid-by-kid thing, though. He was 7 when we started, and I doubt he would've had much of an opinion on one math textbook over another. Your kids may be different in that regard, though. If you get the sense through some basic discussions that she might like more info, I'd certainly consider giving it to her. You might even test the waters by getting a demo version of something you're interested in, or maybe even an inexpensive science unit or two, then work on it with them at your leisure to see how it might go. Intellego has some space science units we're going to get for later in the year, if she's into that sort of thing (there are other units, too). If you want, you could frame it more like a fun family activity than a "homeschooling test run" so that there's no pressure there for anyone. It could be enlightening for both of you as to what your parent/teacher-child/student relationship would be like. Just a thought.

But really, if you're an engaged parent, you're already a teacher. And you sound like one for sure.

01-07-2011, 07:26 PM
We didn't talk about it much before acting either. I'd been interested in homeschooling since DS was about preschool age, because it was obvious to me then that ps wasn't going to be a good fit. But, my husband was hesitant so we came up with various compromises. We enrolled DS in a French immersion K-8 school in hopes that it would challenge him for at least a couple of years, but when we moved before starting K we looked into other options. We have a very desirable (to me) private school here that we talked about, but ultimately DH wanted our son to try ps first. DS put in a year and a half and finally we'd all had enough. Once we made the decision to homeschool, we mentioned it to DS who immediately agreed and I think the longer we do it, the more my husband can see how beneficial and valid it really is.

We didn't really consult him with the details of curricula but we have changed when things aren't working. Like Mark's son, he was only 7 so that was a factor. I will likely ask for more input next year, particularly with a math program.

I agree that the decision really depends on your relationship and how your daughter will handle such a big change. If you know she'll finish out this year, that gives another 7 or so months before the next school year begins; you might consider how long that is in kid time. Then again, as Cara mentioned,for some kids knowing they only have to get through the next few months might be a huge relief. There aren't any subtle ways of gauging reactions to the subject as far as I know, but it sounds like she's already interested. Perhaps, in addition to Mark's suggestions, you can try a bit of after-school schooling to see what interests her and how she reacts to different teaching methods than she's accustomed to.

Best of luck in your decisions!

01-07-2011, 07:34 PM
Well, we let our girls give us input on what they want to do, what they like, look at their interests and outside schedule, but the bottom line is WE (dh and I) decide on whether they will be homeschooled. At 3rd grade, I would not really consider whether they want to be homeschooled - they just aren't mature enough to evaluate it all. When they are older and have a more established history with school, that is a little different, but you are still the parent.

When I first started, and I was a seasoned teacher, I wanted a buddy to go through all this with, I wanted to know EXACTLY what to buy, I wanted to be sure all the important subjects were covered in a challenging matter. Now? Eh, we get it covered. We do more than enough and my kids are way more insightful than a lot, in fact most, of those kids who have the great books and fine teachers. Mark in MD is right, it is not hard. You do not need to be an "expert." Trust me, the training I got to be an "expert" was an insult to my intelligence. It isn't your smarts or the curriculum you consider, it is your commitment to be a mentor to your kids as they explore and learn about the world.

01-07-2011, 09:31 PM
I didn't put a whole lot of thought into it ahead of time either. My son is 9. I told him I was going to begin homeschooling him after holiday break and he said "okay". He was doing fine, getting good grades. We just didn't feel that he was being taught very much at all and he was gone from 8:30-4:45 every day with the long bus drives. Now he talks all the time about how much he hated school and he seems soooo happy now. Like the others said, this is way easier than I ever could have imagined. Everything is just falling into place and he is learning and he loves it. I couldn't be happier with how well it is going. I do admit that I was nervous at the thought of it but I'm so glad I decided to go for it.

01-10-2011, 09:33 AM
Lynne, I haven't given the school official notice yet and though our reasons for HSing are excellent, I'm nervous, too, like you were. But you said everything fell into place with you and I need to hear inspirational stories like that. Well, just reading this whole forum is great. But I do worry about my patience level, having the kids around 24/7 (and giving up my alone time during the week which I admit, I love), and if they will whine and be bored, or worse, want to go back to school!

They are gone from 8:15 to 4:15 (long bus rides) and they often come home with stories about kids being mean and teasing them on the bus. Especially my 5 year old daughter - there's one kid who constantly teases her and while she will defend herself and say NO and STOP IT, this kid doesn't. One day last week, my son decided to defend his sister and said he punched the kid in the face and said not to tease his sister. Now my son isn't violent and I'm not sure he even punched hard. But I just don't want them in that environment, making them feel they have to hit and scream just to get these kids to stop teasing.

I keep these stories in my mind when thinking about when to send the school official notice that we're HSing, but I am just so nervous at the thought of pulling the plug on school. I'm nervous because I just don't want to regret the decision and find myself overwhelmed day after day with chaos and screaming and then trying to incorporate some learning (or maybe none at all and just unschool) but the possibility of total chaos every day is 100% :(

And Pilgrim, it's hard to know when and how to approach HS with your kids - my daughter is all for it and my son wants to see his friends in school but yet wants to be at home...

01-10-2011, 09:51 AM
Cactus, I think most of us here understand your concerns and have been in a similar position. It IS scary to "pull the plug on school" as you say, to sever ties regarded by most of society as "normal" and "necessary". And yet, there are so many of us that have left that environment and are thankful for that decision. It sounds like you need some deep soul searching so you can be comfortable with whatever decision you make. All we can do as parents is to do right by our kids, and that comes in as many shapes as there families (often in many shapes within the same family!).

Do keep in mind that leaving the public school environment can mean that you have MORE time for out-of-the-house activities, more time to explore your surroundings and to have your kids out in the "real" world. Homeschooling doesn't mean shutting the family indoors all day--in fact, quite the opposite! Most communities offer so many opportunities for homeschoolers--check your local rec center, museums, zoos and anything else you might have around. Not only are these classes great for kids socially (plus they get to listen to someone other than you on a regular basis) but for you too--built in alone time! :) And your kids don't have to give up their public schooled friends--playdates are another great way to get some alone time for yourself (when not hosting) and help to keep the sense of "normalcy" for your kids as they transition.

I wish you the best in your decision making. As long as you are honest with yourself, you can't go wrong. :)

01-10-2011, 09:59 AM
I didn't really discuss starting HSing with DD. That was up to me, DH and her father. She was told this is what we're gonna do and why (in her case the up front reason was bullying). But it's not like she had the option to say no, I'm gonna stay in PS.

What we do in HSing I want her opinion on, but ultimately I decide what we're doing. Every second month we have a sit down session (though she can pop up random stuff when ever she thinks of it) and discuss the specific topics she'd like to learn. For example, she wants to learn everything there is to know about bees. So I'll make that part of her science curriculum. But she doesn't get a say as to whether we do multiplication or not.

01-10-2011, 11:46 AM
I agree with the others who said that you won't know what structure and learning styles will work until you actually DO it. Once you do, it will be obvious what works and what needs a different approach. I don't think young kids understand themselves well enough to say, "I would really enjoy a literature-based approach and a hands-on science curriculum, but I don't like textbooks." Now would be a good time to do a trial run--ask the kids what they want to learn about and try to teach them in different ways--Eyewitness books, videos, encyclopedias, websites, fictional stories or bigraphies, worksheets, etc. You'll learn a lot just by observing them. For instance, my son can memorize just about anything set to music (you can imagine that my husband and I have fun with this!), so I know that hearing something is a good way for him to learn. My daughter is a visual learner, like me, which I noticed when she learned how to spell colors from doing lots of color-by-number pictures.

We started considering homeschooling around May or so last year, when my son was in kindergarten. We didn't tell him then because I didn't want him to blab it to his teacher (who was really wonderful). We waited until a few weeks after the school year ended to bring it up. He was resistant at first (because he liked the routine of school and being with other kids), but he slowly came around to the idea. Now when he bumps into a former classmate, he tells them quite matter-of-factly that he "goes to homeschool." He already knew some homeschooling kids, but it helped to go to some gatherings of other homeschoolers to see that lots of other people do this.

01-10-2011, 02:42 PM
I do worry about my patience level, having the kids around 24/7 (and giving up my alone time during the week which I admit, I love), and if they will whine and be bored, or worse, want to go back to school!

Same here, Cactus. I worry about all these things and more. I don't have much alone time now, so I am really concerned about my happiness and how that might reflect on the kids if we HS. I'll have to be more creative about getting my alone time.

BTW, everyone, what is DD (in referring to daughter) and DH (referring to husband)? Is it 'dearest husband'?

01-10-2011, 02:50 PM
Yes, dd is dear daughter and dh is dear husband. Unless you post a really angry post, and then you can use your imagination to come up w substitutes for 'dear'.

01-10-2011, 02:56 PM
Same here, Cactus. I worry about all these things and more. I don't have much alone time now, so I am really concerned about my happiness and how that might reflect on the kids if we HS. I'll have to be more creative about getting my alone time.

In another thread to another person, I mentioned how folks in your shoes should probably try to establish with your spouse well-ahead of time how often, how long, and where you're going to need time to yourself. If you don't make it as clear as possible from the outset of the HS adventure that you might go a bit crazy if you don't have that outlet, then there's a good chance your needs will get unmet for whatever reason (overscheduling, things left unsaid or assumed), and resentment can start to boil. Hopefully you have a DW (:)) that you can work this out with and who will understand the need for alone time for you.

Miguels mommy
01-10-2011, 04:26 PM
I get alone time when DS is playing outside. DH and I can take trips because DS can leave the state to visit family and still "keep up".

01-10-2011, 04:43 PM
I just had a similar discussion with my DH as my alone time has been slipping away since we began HS just a few months ago. Luckily for me, he brought it up before I had to. We've worked it out so the evenings are my time after 7 pm and in the early mornings I go out now for a walk/run to clear my head and get time to ponder life before the HS day begins. So far it's really helping me to have these defined times. You can find the balance but you do have to plan for it!

01-12-2011, 11:34 AM
Cactus, I think that it is also important to remember that no decision you make is written in stone. There are times in our lives when we try different things to see whether or not they satisfy our needs at a given point in time. There are many people who decide to home school and then their circumstances change or something else arises and changes are made again. Just because one is considering taking one's child out of PS doesn't mean that another decision couldn't be made to return to school at some point. There is flexibility in the process. Often times though, the initial decision seems quite daunting when changing from the status quo. There are many hurdles to navigate- paperwork, trying on different home schooling styles, dealing with family, etc- but once you embark on the journey and make the switch, only time will tell whether or not home schooling will "work" in your situation.

01-12-2011, 11:56 PM
I think its admirable that you want to include your kids in the decision-making process, but like Wilma said, at 9 years old, she may not be able to grasp all of he reasons that go into making that decision. My kids are similarly aged, and when we pulled them out the decision was made in the course of a week. They were glad for the change, but the truth is that even if they'd hated it at first, homeschooling was what was best for my kids at that time, period (and still is).
Your mileage may vary on that, but as far as the 'if', I think that's a parental decision when you have young children. Just my .02 :) However, if, like you mentioned, she has anxiety issues, letting them know what's in the works is definitely a good idea.

As far as including your kids in the way you homeschool, yes - definitely! I think that as you get your feet wet, you'll refine your methods together to get the best results. That may mean anything from re-creating a school environment at home to letting her set the pace 100% or anything in between. We're quite structured, but pull from so many sources and have changed methods and styles so much over the course of the last year as we learned more about how the boys learn best and what strikes their fancy. As parents attuned to your children, you'll naturally be motivated to find methods that stimulate their interest in learning, and with the wide variety of resources available to homeschooling parents nowadays, I think you'll succeed beyond your wildest dreams in that area!

I think we all have concerns about maintaining patience and getting time away. My kids were in school for 2 years, and even though I was a stay at home mom before they went to school, I'd forgotten how intense the all-day, every-day can be. We've definitely settled into a better mental state over the last year, but it takes effort everyday. Having a supportive spouse helps as well :)

01-18-2011, 12:01 AM
Thanks for the input, everyone.

Just a note to say that DD brought up today that she wants to be homeschooled (we have not mentioned to her that we're considering it). We happened to be driving by a family's house who HS's, and she said "Oh, yeah, I remember them!" very excitedly. I asked her her vision of HS, and she wasn't at all romanticizing it. I was surprised. I added extracurricular activities, playdates, lessons, gym night... and she was giddy. I also asked if she thought she'd miss PS and being around lots of peers. She matter-of-factly said "no".

I kind of left it at that. Interesting little conversation.

01-18-2011, 09:57 AM
Our kids are pretty smart ppl, huh

01-18-2011, 10:38 AM
I've learned that kids will surprise you with their insights. Seems like this is one of those times.