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  1. #1

    Default Making the Jump to Homeschooling

    We are strongly considering making the jump next fall to homeschooling for our two kids, currently in 2nd and 5th grade. I think it is the best choice (my wife not necessarily convinced) given their situations, but I admit that this conclusion may be colored by the fact that to do this I would need to leave my job (my wife would keep hers) which is something I have wanted to do for a while now. However, I want to make sure I have thought through this fully and would love to get some thoughts/feedback on what I would be getting myself into and would especially love feedback from folks who have perhaps come to homeschooling midstream.

    About us: my wife and I are both well-educated with graduate and professional degrees. My son is currently in 5th grade. He had a horrible experience in public school, stemming from a terrible 2nd/3rd grade teacher in a multi-grade (1 - 3) Montessori classroom, which resulted in him falling quite far behind. His 4th grade teacher by all accounts is great for most kids, but was an awful fit for my son and between the classroom relationship and peer/bullying issues, school become completely toxic to the point that he refusing to go many days. He was tested for learning disabilities, but district said he didn't qualify for an IEP. Around this time he was also diagnosed with ADHD/Inattentive and ODD. About a year ago we were able to switch schools to a very small boutique private school which in many ways has been great. He likes going to school again (usually) and the ODD issues have mostly gone away with the change in school environment. However, the school has changed a lot in just the year that we have been there and we aren't terribly excited about having him continue. We looked at more mainstream private schools, but he just hasn't caught up enough at his current school (and I don't see him making progress at his current school for a number of reasons) for them to be willing to take a chance on him and we and he think he wouldn't be prepared enough anyway (at least for next year). He likes the intimate setting in his current school and works much better one-on-one or in very small groups. Given all this, we started thinking about homeschooling to take advantage of the one-on-one setting that works better for him and would allow him to (hopefully) catch up to grade level. The plan likely would be to homeschool him either for just this next year, or for all middle school years, with the goal of him being able to integrate into a more traditional (probably private) school setting.

    My daughter has a shorter story. She has generally done well in school, but has really come to dislike school this year and we are seeing some similarities to the path her brother took (a not so great, but not quite as bad, 2nd grade teacher, the multi-grade Montesorri classroom, going from being probably ahead of grade level in everything to at or maybe slightly behind. The original plan was to just homeschool my son, but now we are thinking about home schooling her too. This would also free us from the tyranny of the school calendar and would allow us to do some traveling that we would not otherwise have been able to do.

    Other relevant factors: Both are pretty good readers, at or above grade level, both profess to hate math, but have shown promise in earlier years, spelling for both is atrocious, writing (both physical act and transferring ideas to text) is very difficult for my son, daughter is OK. Neither one enjoys doing homework, and will put it off as much as possible.

    while posting on this forum is probably a bit like seeking an amen from the choir, what am I getting myself into? My wife is afraid that the kids might not cooperate and not really get anything done, and that I will get impatient with them, and that it turns into a miserable experience for everyone. Any tips on how to avoid that and make this work?

    Thanks for all of thoughts and ideas you might have.

    PS: I've been thinking quite a bit about curriculum, but will post separately on the curriculum board.

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  3. #2

    Default

    Welcome. This is the perfect place to ask these questions.

    I won't lie; making the decision to homeschool can be difficult. Even though the number of homeschool families is increasing, it's still a tiny percentage of all schooling families.

    what am I getting myself into? My wife is afraid that the kids might not cooperate and not really get anything done, and that I will get impatient with them, and that it turns into a miserable experience for everyone. Any tips on how to avoid that and make this work?
    You will have good days, you will have bad days, and you will have so-so days. But it sounds like brick-and-mortar school has killed their joy of learning, and at least their confidence to do math. No one knows your children better than you do. You can pace the material with their needs in mind, not the needs of 20-30 other children in the class.

    With the ages of your two, some topics can be taught together. The usual two are history and science. Maybe you tweak a lesson a bit easier for your daughter, or a bit more challenging for your son.

    Homeschooling can be the most fulfilling yet frustrating job for a parent. But overall, the members here thought it was the best educational situation for their children at some point in time. Maybe you're at that point yourself.

    If your wife is worried about the loss of income, there are some factors to keep in mind. You will no longer have work-related costs--commute, clothing, meals out, etc. Also, curriculum does not have to be expensive. If you're willing to do a bit of planning and research, you can put together an education for almost nothing. There are many free resources online. The best resource we ever used was the public library--books, documentaries, e-books, library programs, etc.

    Depending on your location, there are also activities your children can participate in that are not school centered. 4-H, scouts, summer team sports. At the age of your kids, my two were volunteering at the local National Park during Maple Sugar time and to help fight invasive plant species.

    Another nice part of homeschooling is the flexibility in time. First, schooling kids the age of yours should not take 8 hours. It's been a while since my kids were that age, but I think a homeschooling 2nd grader schools 3 hours-ish? Other on here can clarify. This leaves much of the day to explore their own hobbies, interests, and the world around them. We also found a great advantage in travel. You can visit museums, locations during the school year when it may be less crowded. We often went on biz trips with my husband during the "normal" school year. My kids got to explore NYC, Washington DC, Toronto, and many National Parks that way.

    If you make this decision, you may want to de-school. Pick up some homeschooling books at the library, both the find out about de-schooling, and to read about the different philosophies of homeschooling. One might really appeal to you, or you may pick parts of a few.

    Also, the longer you homeschool, the more you will have to change gears. Kids mature; what worked one year may not work another. Be flexible.

    No one says this is an all or nothing proposition either. Kids can always return to school in the future; many do.

    I hope this clarifies some issues for you. It may also spawn new questions. If so, feel free to ask.
    Last edited by inmom; 04-25-2018 at 06:00 PM.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward


    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  4. #3

    Default

    Hello and welcome to the forum.

    We too are accidental homeschoolers. I had planned on my son going to school, we tried public and private, but for many reasons that you mentioned (bulling, toxic school environment, not an appropriate IEP, etc.) we ended up homeschooling.

    It is quite a juggle. I work full time and while my husband is retired, I do most of the hands on schooling. And I don't regret it for a minute. Sometimes I wondered why I waited so long. I still wonder if we would have some of the issues we are dealing with still be a problem.

    Anyway, it has worked out well. We are still attached to the school schedule as I also teach at a college, but my schedule is the only one we have to consider.

    My son likes learning, but he doesn't like schooling. I have been able to customize he education as we have unschooled, focused on child-led and project-based learning. Now he is 10 and we are transitioning from an unschooling to a more formal structure. The great thing is as he changes and grows, I can adapt. Also when there are problems, I can adapt to that too.

    Some ways to avoid the malaise of being at home. One, we have a loose structure. Remember that homeschool days will not mirror traditional school. Doing classwork in pajamas, with a costume on, or lounging on the floor is common. As well as occasionally using the dining room table. There are times he wants help and there are others, he asks if I just leave a list and he will do it on his own. We can spend all afternoon on an art or science project. We are now starting to work on history projects. I decided that elementary education needs to have very little structure and lots of play and activity time.

    Homeschooling takes less time. If you figure all the time teachers spend trying to get group of student from point A to point B, whether it is learning a lesson or walking down the hall, it takes up quite a bit of the day. Much of the seat work is done before lunch and that is with my kid waking up at 9am.

    Which brings up another point. Kids don't get enough sleep. School and activities take up so much time and then there is homework and getting up early. I feel good knowing that my son gets as much sleep as he needs and as he grows, we can adjust it accordingly.

    In the end we are happier and healthier. And interestingly enough I have more time because I am not fighting with teachers and administrators over the needs of my child.

    I have lots more I can say, so if you have specific questions, ask away!
    A mama who teaches college writing, as well as help her 11-year-old in
    choosing his own life adventure. Using Global Village School to support our desire to develop a sense of social justice and global awareness.

  5. #4

    Default

    Welcome!

    I have an argumentative kid, and one who is a “pleaser”. Guess who is easier to homeschool!? If your wife is worried about family harmony, that is a consideration. But! There is a lot less schoolwork (no point in busywork), and no “homework”. My arguer also gives me fewer arguments about assignments that dont resemble traditional schoolwork.

    Just as an example of how teaching both kids at once works - This week we are making our way through the NOVA episode on climate change. For my little one, I just expect presence. My older is having discussions with me as we watch it, and if I really feel like torturing him, I will ask him to write something up about it.

    We also spent the week at National Parks last week - no crowds is awesome! (Also, nobody asked why my kids werent in school.)

    I love the flexibility that homeschooling gives us, and have gotten to enjoy the cooking (and tolerate the cleaning) that came along with being the “stay at home” parent.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  6. #5

    Default

    Welcome.

    We started homeschooling when my daughter was halfway through year 3 (equivalent of grade 3, we are in NZ), so that will be 2 years ago in July this year (our school year runs start Feb to mid-to-late Dec). She is now almost 10 and in year 5.

    She had lots of similar sorts of issues to your kids. Bad teacher experiences. Really affected mental health wise by the school environment. Said she hated math/was not good at it and obviously did not understand it when I questioned her, yet she achieved at or above the national standard so the school did nothing with her. Writing was torture. In the end we got her tested independently and she tested as gifted with an 'average' processing speed (it may be average, but when your processing speed is 34th percentile and your other cognitive abilities are 97–99th percentile, it causes a lot of issues!). The processing speed was what made writing difficult for her, and she also always failed or did much worse on tests than she should have. She would not qualify for any sort of help in school for her processing speed issues because they only looked at the fact it was 'average' (not 'slow') rather than the difference between that and her other cognitive abilities.

    Homeschooling has been great. We no longer have the behavior problems we were having. She is happy and healthy and excited to learn. She now understands math and enjoys it, and will happily do writing. So for us, homeschooling has resolved many of things that we clashed over before.

    I also have an almost 5 year old that I am considering homeschooling. Like your wife, I am also concerned about clashes. The older one loves to work quietly on her own and have everything very ordered and set. The younger one is like a whirlwind of energy and loves chaos and mess. If the older one is sitting quietly doing something, she loves to pester her. So I am trying to figure out how I can let my older daughter have the time she needs, keep the younger one away from her, do school work with both, and do my part-time work (freelance editing).

    I don't really have any tips on how to make it work with two, as I am still trying to get my ideas sorted for that myself.

  7. #6

    Default

    Thanks for the feedback. The sibling dynamics is probably the biggest issue in my mind. First, they don't get along particularly well, with the younger usually being the provoker and the older the escalator. Second, I would not be terribly surprised that if they did some of the same activities, that my daughter might outperform my son, and what that might do to his self-esteem, which is somewhat fragile. Third, I could see my daughter breezing through her work, but I suspect my son would take longer, and I worry about him being resentful that he continues to work while she does not. On the flip side, one of my other worries is that my son will finish his work relatively quickly (as you all have noted is often the case) and then be bored--he often has difficulty wanting to do anything (except maybe go to the skate park or go on the iPad, but we have pretty strict limits on free screen time, so the latter is not really too much of an option).

    Anyway, it's certainly an option to keep my daughter in school if we think the sibling dynamics would end up being too problematic, but it would limit some of the travel that we would like to do and she has definitely expressed interest in being homeschooled, as has my son. Who knows, maybe the experience would actually enhance their relationship . . .

  8. #7

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by nh3223 View Post
    . The sibling dynamics is probably the biggest issue in my mind. First, they don't get along particularly well, with the younger usually being the provoker and the older the escalator. ....
    Anyway, it's certainly an option to keep my daughter in school if we think the sibling dynamics would end up being too problematic, but it would limit some of the travel that we would like to do and she has definitely expressed interest in being homeschooled, as has my son. Who knows, maybe the experience would actually enhance their relationship . . .
    I can only present a case study of our family. My kids are 12 months apart in age, so close in age like yours. They bickered almost ALL the time when in elementary/middle school. Of course we dealt with it..apologies, separating them when not working together. But, we also looked at it from the point of view that people don't always get to choose who they work with. Think of the workplace--sometimes you might have to deal with someone who is an irritant. How do you develop skills to ignore or mediate that person? Who better to learn this with than a sibling.

    BUT, starting in high school and especially now, they are each other's biggest supporters (after their parents, of course). They are quite close, emotionally if not geographically at this point.
    Last edited by inmom; 04-27-2018 at 01:48 PM.
    Carol

    Homeschooled two kids for 11 years, now trying to pay it forward


    Daughter -- a University of Iowa graduate: BA in English with Creative Writing, BA in Journalism, and a minor in Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies

    Son -- a Purdue University senior majoring in Computer Science, minoring in math, geology, anthropology, and history

  9. #8

    Default

    One thing I did when my older kids were still homeschooled to help with the boredom thing is have a list on the wall of things to try before telling me they are bored. Things like read a book, draw a picture, write a story, do a good deed for a family member or friend, write a letter to someone, build a model with legos or clay, practice your math facts, write the alphabet in your best handwriting from z to a, find something interesting outside and draw/write about it in your nature journal, play a game with your younger sibling... mostly fun or fun-ish kinda things. I don't have the list anymore but there were about 40 different options on there. I had a list of story starters where we kept the paper if they couldn't think of a story idea. We have drawing books galore if they cannot think of something to draw.

    If they did come tell me they were bored, of course I would find them something to do (insert evil laugh). There is always a floor that needs mopped, windows that need washed, baseboards that need dusting and wiped, walls that need fingerprints removed, weeds that need pulled, corners of the house that need decluttered... it didn't take long for them to figure out that finding something to do on their own was much more pleasant than complaining they were bored. LOL It got to the point when I could hear them start to bicker because they were bored, all I had to say was "Sounds like you're bored, do I need to find you something to do?", which caused a chorus of "NOPE" and suddenly they all found something to do. LOL

    Entertaining yourself is a skill that can be nutured and is well worth cultivating in your child in my opinion.

  10. #9

    Default

    I do believe that homeschooling experience has a great potential of bringing your kids closer together, but it might get worse before it gets better.

    Having one kid at home, and another one at school will be the hardest. You will still be on a short leash of school calendar, and the kids might be resenting each other's experiences.

    Once you start working with your kids, you will get a good sense of what you can do together, and what has to be done one-on-one. Each family has to work out their own scheme. Two of my kids (DD10 and DD8) are close in age, but I cannot combine them at all because of the huge difference in abilities, processing speed, and verbal expression, so they do everything separately, and it works! and takes far less time then combining them. You will figure it out once you start. Even if you spend 1.5-2 hrs one-on-one with your 2nd grader and 3--3.5 hrs with your 5th grader, there will still be a lot of day-light time left.

    For boredom, almost like MapleHillAcademy, we have the 'I-am-bored' jar. It contains little scraps of papers with various tasks/chores written on them (I ask the kids to write those themselves) folded over. If you say that you are bored, you go and pull one out - you might pull 'do 3 pages of math' or you might pull 'brush the dog'. The jar helps. In my experience, kids who have a lot of control over their own time, do not have a huge boredom problem. They become quite self-contained and inventive....but, again, in your case, it might become worse before it gets better
    mom to 3 girls: DD10, DD9, DD6

  11. #10

    Default

    The boredom lists/jars sound like a fun idea. I typically just say something along the lines of "don't tell me/not my problem" or "isn't that great, boredom helps with creativity" if my kids say they are bored, and offer them zero help or ideas to do. So they usually don't say to me they are bored these days. The flip side is they pair up and come up with some rather crazy and loud game ideas that involve a lot of crazed giggling, leaping off furniture, and running round the house. It is usually fine for a while but generally always gets to a point with my older one suddenly flipping the switch with no warning, and she will lash out and hurt the younger one. Then I end up having to calm down the older one and console the younger one. So I am not sure if it is better for me in the longer run to have not given them anything to do? Maybe a boredom jar/list would stop them going down the crazy path.

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