By Paula Bolyard
The U.S. educational system is in jeopardy. A new e-book titled “Homeschooling: Fighting for My Children’s Future,” authored by PJ Media.com’s in-house writers, will help you assess the threats. As a parent, you have multiple options for fighting on behalf of your children. Don’t miss out on this valuable resource, and determine whether homeschooling is right for your family.
On the flipside, if you’ve ever wondered whether you have what it takes to homeschool, reading a blog post from veteran blogger Jen Hatmaker titled “Worst End of School Year Mom Ever” ought to at least convince you that sending your kids to school is no walk in the park, either.
Hatmaker describes an exhausting situation for parents. “The emails coming in for All Of The Things – class gift, end of year letters, luncheon signup, party supplies, awards ceremonies, pictures for the slide shows, final projects – are like a tsunami of doom. They are endless,” she writes in exasperation. “I mean, they will never ever end. There is no end of it. I will never finish and turn it all in and get it to the (correct) Room Mom and get it all emailed and I am pretty sure the final week of school will never be over and this is the end for me.”
Or maybe you are on that hamster wheel, and as you look toward another exhausting school year this fall, you wonder if your family will survive.
Looking back on our years of homeschooling – 14 consecutive in all – the most common thing I heard from people who found out we were homeschooling was “I could never do that; I’m not _______ enough.” The blank was usually something like “consistent,” “disciplined” or “patient.” I understand completely, because before we began our homeschooling journey, I was the mom who made comments like that to other parents.
We started homeschooling our son Ryan because we found out at his kindergarten screening that the public school didn’t teach reading in kindergarten, and our precocious Pre-K Kangaroo, who had excelled in all things in preschool, was ready to read. Private school tuition wasn’t a realistic option for our family budget, and we didn’t like the idea of stalling his education for a year. So our battle cry became: “How badly can we mess up kindergarten?” That was the extent of our personal homeschooling conviction at that point. Worst-case scenario, he wouldn’t be any further behind than his public school peers, who would be learning their letter sounds and basic numbers that year.
As it turned out, our little sponge soaked up everything we put in front of him. Though I had no training in teaching or pedagogy (I had never even heard the word pedagogy), I taught Ryan to read using a boxed reading program with phonics songs on cassette tapes (“a-a-apple, b-b-ball, c-c-cat, and d-d-doll … “). By Christmas, Ryan was reading, and we realized that we were not going to completely mess up kindergarten.
Life in the 97th percentile
But we also realized he was digging us into a terrible, wonderful hole. Ryan was getting so far ahead, and we were beginning to enjoy homeschooling so much, that we felt like we were reaching a point of no return. A standardized achievement test placed our son in the 97th percentile compared to other kids his age. Armed with a shiny, stellar, state-approved test score (something we later learned was not a complete measure of intelligence or achievement) and newfound confidence, my husband and I asked each other: “How much harm can we do for first grade?” After all, we reasoned, we had both completed first grade in school, so surely we possessed at least a rudimentary grasp of the coursework, right?
The first two years we used the curriculum recommended by a friend, because we didn’t know any better. While the phonics program worked out well, other parts of the curriculum were too structured for our more laid-back family style. As our confidence grew, we tiptoed out into the nearly limitless world of curriculum choices available for homeschoolers. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can find a curriculum that fits your individual family and your kids’ learning styles. I began to look forward to the day the massive Rainbow Resource catalog showed up in the mailbox.
My confidence grew as I realized I knew my kids better than anyone else in the world, and understood their strengths and weaknesses. I knew where they were academically at any given moment and could tailor the curriculum to suit their needs. What school could offer that?
And so it went, year after year, homeschooling Ryan and his brother, and we all learned as we went. There were many years – more than I should admit publicly – when I think I learned as much as the kids did. There is nothing like homeschooling to teach you about the deficits in your own education.
Eventually, homeschooling became a conviction for our family. We came to believe that this was the best possible educational choice for our children. They were not only growing academically, but socially and spiritually we saw signs of the budding maturity we desired in them. This had become a lifestyle choice for our family, and despite Dictionary.com’s notoriously angry protestations, we couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
For much more, check out the new eBook titled “Homeschooling: Fighting for My Children’s Future,” authored by PJ Media’s in-house writers, and available FREE when you register on PJTV.com.