Saturday, June 16, 2012

End of the Year Review

Year one of our homeschooling journey is officially over. If I were to grade how it went I'd give it a B+/A-. Capt. N was a fabulous student - I'd give him an A for effort, behavior, etc. The B+/A- is really for me as a parent/teacher. It took me awhile to get all the kinks worked out & I probably stressed more than I should. It was difficult having my three kids attend three different schools, living so far from the public school & preschool & trying to be a fabulous teacher to the one I had at home. But, we did it! And, without too many meltdowns from the kids or tears from me. I will never know for sure how the year would have went for Capt. N as a 3rd grader at the public school. But, I am happy with the knowledge he has gained as a 3rd grade homeschool student. And, he enjoyed learning - which is a big deal to me. I almost think that's as important as what he's actually learning. I want my kids to want to keep learning more & more. If it's always difficult how would they get that thirst for knowledge?

In Oregon, one of the requirements for homeschooling is that your child(ren) have to be tested during the same grades as the public school students. Capt. N was in third grade this year, a testing year. (Technically, by law, I didn't have to have him tested this year since we've only been homeschooling for 9 months. You don't have to test your kids until you've been homeschooling for 18 months. But, I had him take the test anyway.) I am pleased with his results. A couple weeks after he took the test we received papers showing all the test results & how he scored on individual items. The paper said 41% - 59% was considered average. In Language Arts/Reading he scored in the average range, but on the low side. Of course, I hoped he would do slightly better, but I expected this score. I certainly can't complain about him being average. His issues with reading were the main reason we were homeschooling this year. In the math portion of the test he scored above average. I'm proud of him for that. I contemplated leaving this paragraph out, afraid of offending some. I realize it's a personal subject. But it is part of our homeschooling journey, so I chose to add it.

I will be homeschooling my boys who will be in 1st & 4th grade next year. My daughter will continue to go to preschool. It would save me a lot of driving if I didn't have her go to school. But, she really enjoys preschool. And honestly, she's quite a handful. I think it's good for her to have a teacher besides me & have to treat others kindly. I dreaded telling Mr. T that he was going to be homeschooled. I didn't think he would be happy so, I've been waiting until the school year was over. We were in the parking lot after I picked him up on his last day of school & he said to me that he would like to go to public school one more year & then try homeschooling the next year. I wasn't expecting to tell him 5 minutes after he completed kindergarten, but since he brought it up I told him. I am truly thankful for how he took the news. He was such a good sport. He didn't argue or complain. He just said ok & started asking about the things we would be doing.

I just don't know & it stresses me out. A little over a year ago I made the big decision to try my hand at homeschooling. I was hoping I could help Capt. N in a way the public school just can't do. I fretted and weighed the pros & cons. Finally, I decided I didn't think one year away from public school would do him any harm - even if I did a horrible job teaching. I thought I just had to try it for him. What really sealed the deal was once I realized that if I homeschooled him the one year didn't mean I had to take on homeschooling all my kids all the way through their senior year in high school. I could try it & see how it goes. Well, it went great. Which is good, but confuses me even more. I wish I was one of those people that felt strongly for or against public school. It would make deciding much easier. But, I see pros & cons to both homeschooling & public school. I'm having a difficult time figuring out which pros are most important. If I do decide to send them back to public school I would like to do it the year after next. That would give Capt. N two years at the elementary school before heading off to middle school. It would also be the year Princess K would start kindergarten.

Since I'm laying it all on the table, I will also say that I'm having a hard time being "different." I hate that when it's mentioned that you homeschool people automatically judge you & your kids. I'm not a risk taker. I don't like being the center of attention. I don't like arguing. I don't like drama. I am a fairly quiet, almost nerdy stay at home mom who has a phobia of calling people on the phone. It is way out of my comfort zone to be judged on this one way I'm choosing to raise my kids. I am uncomfortable around my friends that I know disapprove. The ridiculous thing is that I know most people don't know a thing about homeschooling, but have a negative opinion about it anyway. So, why do I let it bother me?

Can I also say how naive I was before I had school-age children. I really thought you just put them on the bus everyday, their teachers taught them & we, as parents, helped them with homework. That's it. I didn't realize how much more there was to giving your kids a good education. It's down-right stressful. I only have one chance to raise my kids & I want to do it right.

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