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March 27, 2008

My daughter’s 4 year old check up was this afternoon, and the topic of her education came up. Her pediatrician emphatically recommended homeschooling! He said she was so far ahead of where other children are that she would not do well at a public school.

I think homeschooling might be stuff white people like, though. My husband is very distrustful. When I told him several months ago that I wanted to homeschool our children, he was disgusted with me. I know it is a foreign concept to him, but now I have the doctor’s recommendation. I am wondering if that will help us figure out what is best for our family, or if it will just increase the conflict of ideas and make my husband become even more entrenched in his opinions. And I also see that having the doctor on “my side” makes me feel like I am going to “win,” and implying my husband is going to “lose.” This is not a healthy dynamic.

  1. March 27, 2008 6:44 pm

    i homeschooled my older daughter to second grade, when it was discovered that she was dyslexic. If she were in regular school, would that even have been discovered? i doubt it. She would’ve been labeled “lazy” or something until she was either totally discouraged or it was too late. Fortunately, the school we sent her to was phenomenal, and the teachers worked closely with me to help her improve her reading. Now she is a reading fanatic- just like her mama!

    We did have to send her to school because i was not equipped to teach to her challenge. What i discovered though is that her homeschooling provided her with a strong sense of self and confidence and individuality. Also while homeschooling, i was able to focus on things i thought were important like comprehension, literature and writing. Her skills in these areas have consistently been stronger than her school peers. We learned about animals by visitng the zoo and writing a report. We learned about season by charting them. She not only memorized poems but illustrated them.

    Why is your husband against it? i mean, don’t tell us but maybe discuss how he can contribute to the homeschooling experience. It’s not that you are hiding your child away but focusing on her at a crucial time of development.

    The important thing is to expose your child to other kids to help socialize her. And be prepared to be challenged because you are her ‘mommy’, you may struggle a bit more to get her attention, but it can be done, and is done.

    Good luck!

  2. March 27, 2008 7:25 pm

    Maybe approach it from a different direction. Your husband is against it, you are not, so there is conflict. Add the doctor in, and instead of thinking of it as two against one, or a win or loose, would it work to say to your husband “look, the doctor said x, why don’t we research all of the options before we take any of them off the table?”

    I’m sure you can find homeschooling parents in your area, and maybe you can also research the individual schools. Are there charter schools? Montessori? I don’t know if all Montessori schools are like the one I went to, but I was reading by the time I was 3, doing math, writing cursive by the time I was 5, I think it was. By the time I went into 1st grade, anyway. I was grades ahead of my peers when I started first grade, and because of the rules in my state, I was six months younger than most of them!

    But don’t forget that school is as much about the social aspects as it is about the fact and subject learning. You can always challenge your daughter outside of school, or talk to her teachers and make sure she is challenged in school. Not to say that you wouldn’t be socializing her if she was home schooled! Just that there are probably a ton of things to research and pros and cons of each. I think that regardless of which direction you go in the end, it will be beneficial all around to research it to the ground.

    Good luck! Sounds like a challenge…

  3. March 27, 2008 8:34 pm

    Our experiences with homeschool have been mostly positive. I’ve been homeschooling my 11 yo daughter since kindergarten, 6 1/2 years now. My five year old is being homeschooled as well now and my almost three year old will be as well. It is something that works well for our family.

    Academics can be tailored to each child and socialization isn’t a problem, unless you live in a very isolated area or actively try to avoid people!

    My husband grew up in France and we don’t see eye to eye on somethings and that can make things bumpy every now and then.

    I hope that you are able to come to a decision that both you and your husband are comfortable with, so that there aren’t hard feelings on either side.

  4. March 27, 2008 11:59 pm

    I would have to have a very good reason to homeschool my kids. Schools would need to be inadequate or dangerous or difficult to get to (ours are not). If my child was being bullied or teased excessively, or if their needs were not being met, that would be a good reason. If I had a child who was a prodigy in an area that the school didn’t address (violin? tennis? ice skating?) and we were pursuing the Olympics or something, that would be a reason.

    My 5th grader is in the gifted program at her school and is excelling in all areas. My 3rd grader is at the top of her class and is very social. Both were early readers because I worked with them before they started school. I do a lot at home to supplement their education and use most situations as teaching opportunities, but personally I feel the teachers with teaching degrees are more qualified and possibly more patient than I would be with my kids in a classroom setting. And truthfully, we need a break from each other now and then. It would be really hard to be their mom and their teacher and be with them 24/7. Kids need to learn from a variety of different people as they grow up (IMO).

    My best friend lives next door to a family of religious fanatics who homeschool their 5 children and she thinks it’s tantamount to child abuse! But of course each situation is different and only you can decide what is right for your family. I’m sure your reasons are many and varied, and your mother’s intuition will guide you to do whatever is right for you and your child.

    Wow, this comment is getting long (sorry!) Good luck with your decision,

    PS My daughter’s friend in GATE (the gifted class) skipped kindergarten altogether. If your daughter is that far ahead of her peers that could be an option too. Although I think K. is important for more than learning the ABC’s and beginning to read.. taking turns, making friends, following classroom rules, and cooperating with others is a really big part of kindergarten.

  5. March 28, 2008 1:17 am

    I was homeschooled and had a very positive experience. Homeschooling enables you to move at your child’s pace, plus they get one-on-one tutoring, rather than being taught in a classroom with up to 30 other children. Homeschoolers also average higher on tests than public schooled students, which is just an added bonus. I know homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but I’m thrilled that your doctor suggested it to you because it sounds like your child could really flourish in that type of environment.

  6. March 28, 2008 4:41 am

    One most homeschoolers are not with their kids 24/7. Our kids are on recreational sports teams, robotics teams, Scouts ect. where they are coached/mentored by different people.

    Also you are not teaching your child in a classroom setting. You are teaching them one on one in the learning style that works best for them. You are free to move as rapidly or as slowly as your child needs to fully master the material.

    Our experience with homeschooling has been very positive. My oldest son started college at 16 and is in his third year majoring in computer science.

    Only you know if homeschooling is right for your family.

  7. March 28, 2008 10:16 am

    Personally I wouldn’t want my child starting college at 16 (what is the benefit of that?), but that’s just me.

    We all have our own ideas about it. I’m sure I could come up with examples of how it didn’t work so well for some, how they felt isolated, etc. I could also come up with examples of many people who had a positive experience in public school, myself included. So there ya go.

  8. March 28, 2008 10:27 am

    I homeschool my daughter. She is in the second grade and will be tested next month for the Gate program. (gifted and talented) We paid big money for her pre-school to only find out she was being “taught” what she already knew, so that didn’t last. We sent her to kindergarten and she spent the year being the “teacher’s helper” because she already possessed the skills required to be moved to first grade. Well, when the first grade started, we lasted through the first 2 months and then we pulled her out and decided on homeschooling. It was the best decision we have ever made. She is excelling in everything. When she is finished with an assignment, she is finished and we do not have to wait for 20 other children to finish. She is not bored and is thriving in education. This is paramount to us. As for being white, my husband is hispanic and saw the benefits of her being at home. Trust me, you will make the right decision for your daughter and son. Just trust what you see and feel and you cannot go wrong. Good Luck.

  9. March 28, 2008 10:54 am

    My husband thinks that homeschooling would be too hard for me because I have a tough time being a mom and I don’t manage time very well. So it would be a great situation for our daughter to be homeschooled, but not by me. That doesn’t make any sense.

    There is a Montessori school very close by that he would be willing to put her in. I want to know more about the Waldorf school, but it is more than an hour away. Thanks for all the helpful comments and suggestions.

  10. March 28, 2008 11:33 am

    Lots of good ideas bouncing around. Of course, we won’t know the best answer until it is all done.

    A lot of folks bring up socialization issues, but I was in public school and didn’t have friends until 8th grade. For various reasons, I suffered a lot of daily abuse from other students and some teachers. While socialization is important, it doesn’t magically happen by going to school.

    I did have a lot of opportunities to excel at public school, so there is always opportunity to learn. For reading class I went to a portable with one other student. To read junior high and high school materials when I was in elementary school. I remember one fourth grader at my school who was studying calculus. I think most schools have extra programs for ‘gifted’ kids.

    Also, I took a lot of classes in arts, computers, science, etc. during summers and such. There are a lot of ways to supplement what goes on at school.

    I think you just need to evaluate what your kids need and determine if they can get that at the local schools. You are wise to notice the unhealthy dynamic of ‘me’ vs. ‘my husband’. Hopefully you can find a way for both of you to put your brains together and arrive at what’s best for the kids. I have faith it will work out well.

  11. Evebee permalink
    March 28, 2008 2:06 pm

    I researched homeschooling for a couple of years before I decided it was right for our children. I wasn’t easily convinced, I just didn’t want to close my mind to it because it can be unpopular. I’m sure you have researched it as well.
    My husband was less convinced. I try to involve and defer to him about our kids’ education as much as I can. For example, he doesn’t like ‘unschooling’ so I found curriculum that I thought he would like and explained how I would use it to teach our children. If I talk to him too much about my concerns with homeschooling then he thinks I’m having problems and suggests sending them back to Public School, so I learned not to do that. I wish he was all for it and I could tell him every little detail of my concerns but I’m very happy with our decision and would hate to change it. We started with “try it for a year” and went from there. It’s been three years now.
    As far as personal organization and time management goes, that is not something to ignore, but when we are strongly motivated to do something we usually make the time to do it. My garden shows the difference though and I certainly don’t watch much TV.
    We are not superwomen. We have to accept our limitations, cut out unnessesary things and do the simple things our Moms told us to do like go to bed on time so we are more patient during the day and can organize our time better. Well, those are the things that get in the way of MY being organized and being a good mom. Perhaps yours are different.
    These are just reflections on my personal situation. I don’t know if they will help but I hope they do.

  12. March 28, 2008 2:31 pm

    I used to sub in a Montessori charter school and have used some of the materials with my children at home. Montessori might be a good option for your daughter for a couple of reasons: 1) instruction is individualized to the interests and abilities of the child, so that a child who is advanced like your dd can move on to reading or multiplying 2) “smart kids” may be just average or even a little behind socially; a montessori multi-age class allows them to interact with older children who are an example to them, as well as with younger children who may be more on their level, without hindering them academically. Grace and courtesy lessons are explicitly taught as an important part or the program. 3) Although Montessori is known for early academics, if it is a true Montessori program, it will be very balanced, developing social, physical, artistic, and practical skills along with academics. That is an advantage to bright children, who are often pushed ahead in academics while the rest gets neglected.

    Since you are able to express your husband’s reasoning, it sounds like you are communicating pretty well. The way you put it, it seems like he is not so much against homeschooling per se, or thinks it wouldn’t be the best thing for your children, but that it would not be the best thing *for you*. I know how *I* would react to that — “You think I can’t handle it! You think I’m an incompetent moron!” But really he is probably being more objective than you, and he is looking out not only for the children, but for *your* well being and happiness, too — which is very sweet and protective. So, if you really want to homeschool, think seriously about what you need in terms of friends, down-time, outside interests, etc. to stay sane and happy, and think practically about how you’re going to balance the schooling and the housekeeping. If these things are a struggle for you now, it will be more of a struggle with homeschooling added to the mix. I’m not saying this to discourage you from homeschooling, I’m just saying that your husband has some valid points and the good news is you have three whole years to work on these things before you daughter reaches the age of compulsory schooling.

    I’m all for stay at home mothering and homeschooling — but our society is not very supportive of either. Depending upon where you live and the level of support and connection you have on a day to day basis, homeschooling can be very isolating. And it does require time management (I’m not a good time manager; my natural tendency is to wander through the day, either easily distracted or hyper-absorbed. I have to really discipline myself to plan ahead, and I sometimes I find myself frustrated at having to follow a schedule even though I am actually more relaxed when I do). So he has some legitimate concerns — my husband would probably say the same things about me.

    What you decide now doesn’t have to be forever, either. If you send her to the Montessori school, you can always re-evaluate when she is finished with preschool. Or, you can keep her home during preschool (preschool at home can and should be very easy and relaxed) and re-evaluate when she is ready for kinder or first grade. Since she’s already advanced, you’ve obviously done a more than adequate job with her preschool education so far! Some families even homeschool on a year by year basis (“it went well this year, so we’ll keep going next year”)

  13. March 28, 2008 3:36 pm

    I echo much of the above, nothing has to last forever.

    I just want to make sure I understood, your daughter just turned 4 and she can multiply??? WOW! So imagine teaching trig at age 9…YIKES! I don’t think any regular school could handle her genius…really, you’ll need more, much more.

    Brains, looks and love…she has it all!

  14. March 28, 2008 5:18 pm

    Do not let the government get a hold of your child. If you have the time, and can afford it, homeschooling is always the preferable option. Even in a private school, you do not have control over your child for up to 8 hours a day. That is like giving your child away for 1/3rd of their developmental years.

    My parents forced me to go to a government school and I turned out like dog-squeeze. I got into fights, became addicted to booze, and was expelled for misbehavior. If I had been home-schooled, I would have turned out perfectly adjusted and would be a successful businessperson, or a concrete mixing truck driver like Reginald Denny.

  15. March 28, 2008 10:50 pm

    I homeschooled my older two sometime ago. Yes, it’s hard, but to rewarding! Everyone does it their way and that’s ok. There is no one way to do it!! Pray about it and follow your heart! I know you would do so good at it!! HUGS!!!

  16. March 29, 2008 11:54 am

    Maybe your hubby doesn’t get it because it is stuff that white people like and if he’s not white… well, maybe he no likey.

    Seriously, my husband and I are both very pro sending our kids to a good school. They won’t go to our local public school anytime soon but we found an amazing charter school that will be incredible. I won’t say that’s what you should do because only you guys can decide whats best for your kids.

    I know that I could never homeschool my kids. I think it would be detrimental to both my sanity and the kids LOL. But thats my own personality. I love being a stay at home mom to my tots but I don’t have the organization or the discipline to teach them a curriculum everyday. I’m much more of a learn as we go kind of gal and thats certainly not the best for HS.

    I would like to point out that extracurricular activities/sports all cost money and not everyone has the extra funds to socialize their kids in that way. Also, some kids need more socialization than others.

    Good luck to you guys! I hope you can make a decision together that best fits your lives. Just remember that no decision is final. So if you try one and don’t like it, you can always change your mind!

  17. March 29, 2008 1:36 pm

    “My husband thinks that homeschooling would be too hard for me because I have a tough time being a mom and I don’t manage time very well.”

    Hey FW, that could describe ALL of us I think. We all get frustrated and overwhelmed. And we all get too hard on ourselves sometimes. But if homeschooling is truly what is best for your daughter then I think you could do it. Don’t underestimate yourself!

  18. March 29, 2008 2:43 pm

    i agree with Goldie.
    And the beauty of homeschooling is that when things get frustrating, you can take a breather when needed. And there is flexibility. Also, when it comes to homeschooling, there are tons of great books to prepare you emotionally, scholastically and psychologically for the task!

    Everyone has given very good advice, the best of which recommends research.

    Best of luck to you, Mr. Windmills and little Miss Windmills.

  19. March 29, 2008 2:48 pm

    Sorry to be commenting again, but i thought you might find this blog- – useful as she is currently homeshooling her children and posts often about how and why she does so.

  20. pppj permalink
    March 29, 2008 9:20 pm

    Where is Shay? She homeschools – she would be an excellent person to ask about this!

  21. March 30, 2008 10:09 pm

    My friend wanted to enroll her son in headstart, but didn’t qualify. She herself is working on her masters, and realizes how critical an early start on education is. She decided to home-school her 4 year old and intends to the 2nd grade at least. I am very impressed as well. He is already reading and writing and learning grammatical structure. She uses a program that helps teach via vhs with lesson books. Although her son gets pouty at having to do work, the smile on his face when he is successful is well worth the effort she is putting in.

  22. March 31, 2008 8:09 am

    Good Luck on your decision. As a Kindergarten Teacher I do have students that a far above grade level and wonder if there is more out there for them. I have a student this year like that. Her mom knows she is above average and she has her do extra assignments at home too. She homeschool’s after school-lol! Plus she is going to school herself to be a teacher. Not sure if I have told you this, but I have had something for you at my place. Check it out here:

  23. March 31, 2008 5:39 pm

    CG, I can’t figure out why you think she can multiply. No, she’s not multiplying yet. It’s just that her way of expressing herself and her mannerisms make her seem mature for her age. She’s a good conversationalist and very observant, so the doctor had a great time talking to her at her checkup. I wouldn’t say she is a genius or anything like that.

    When I was in school I was in a reading “group” with one other student and when my brother went to school he was in a “group” by himself. That’s the kind of thing that leaves parents wanting more than public schools can give.

    We all like Montessori (grandparents included) and I like the ideology of Waldorf, but both of these programs are costly. So I was toying with the possibility of giving her that kind of education, but at home.

  24. Rick Toone permalink
    March 31, 2008 11:44 pm

    Research seems to indicate children learn socialization skills primarily from peers, rather than from parents. As you weigh your decision, look closely at the social climate of the schools she would attend: some are supportive and nurturing, others are rife with materialism and bullying. So perhaps most important are opportunities for her to make and develop lasting friendships.

    Given her social (introversion/extroversion) tendencies, what social environments would benefit her most?

    Content is secondary, in my opinion, because we self-educate. Many of my favorite thinkers were home schooled…a recent example is Richard Leakey. His unique educational experiences were instrumental toward developing his non-linear approach to conservation issues in Africa.

    I suppose we learned a few things from our parents and peers back when we had tails; long before brick schools with florescent lighting and mandatory “pledges of fidelity to (insert geopolitical demarcation lines of choice here).”

  25. April 2, 2008 1:03 pm

    Just stopping by to say hi and I hope all is well!!!!

  26. April 3, 2008 11:53 pm

    One thing that helped us in our schooling decision was to make 2 lists. One was reasons to homeschool and the other was reasons not. Once we each had the lists we could sit down and discuss our differences and make a decision together. This helped to take some of the emotion out of the discussion. Be as specific as you can when making the lists.
    When our son was 4, I was told by school officials that he should go play for another year even though he was “ready” for kindergarten. We ordered some materials and started homeschool 2 weeks later as a test. He took to it and we are getting ready for 2nd grade next year still at home. Perhaps you too should take a try and see approach. Kindergarten materials aren’t that expensive. We spent about $200 on everything. If homeschooling doesn’t work, then send her to school. No matter what you decide, try not to let your child see your conflict as this could cause unnecessary pressure on her.
    Anyway, I hope these suggestions help. I’m glad you are considering options for your daughter’s schooling rather than just blindly sending her off to the government.

  27. April 4, 2008 11:12 am

    Rick, thanks for commenting. When I was listening to Joel Salatin talk a little about un-schooling his children he pointed out that the infrastructure (brick walls/fluorescent lights) were what caused the government to become so set in its ways. He said once you commit to an infrastructure like a silo (bankruptcy tube) on a farm, your family has to farm that way foreverandeveramen in order to make the investment seem worthwhile. In our home we already have the things we need to have a great day “at school” since we have the bathroom, kitchen, computer, lights, heat, etc.

    akhomeschoolfun, thank you for reminding us not to let our daughter feel guilty for our grown-up conflicts. When he comes home from work, she shows off her handwriting to her dad and says, “I’m being homeschooled” and then he gets angry that I “put ideas into her head.” We need to stop using her as a pawn.

  28. April 4, 2008 12:16 pm

    Ok FW, here is a comment I have been holding back b/c I didn’t want to seem judgemental or at all critical of your DH because i know what a great, involved dad he is…I squirmed inside a little and it made me uneasy when I read that your husband was “disgusted” by your idea of homeschooling. That sounds like a very emotional and extreme response on his part (but we often are about our children, eh?), and a lot of times emotional responses are not necessarily based on a specific set of ideas. What are his specific objections to homeschooling, or is it just a gut reaction? Maybe some dialog is on order. I think the list suggestion is a good one, each list your concerns, etc . That might help you 2 understand each others point of view. Hope I didn’t step out of line here.

  29. April 4, 2008 1:21 pm

    Goldie sparked a comment I have been holding back too. Aren’t you already homeschooling her now? What’s the difference with what you are doing now compared to what you can do when she is “school age”? Just a thought!

  30. April 4, 2008 1:51 pm

    I guess the term “disgusted” made me think it made him angry and that made me nervous. (anger in others makes me nervous, even though I get angry myself a LOT, but that is another story). I am just wondering why he is angry. Disagreeing with it strongly I get, and I get why he might be mad when you are playing tug-of-war over it, but why was he possibly angry when the issue first came up?

  31. April 5, 2008 12:19 pm

    Goldie, I wrote that he was disgusted because he sneered at me. He really does think that it’s an elitist, white desire to keep our daughter to myself. You are right that he has not thought a lot about the pros and cons. He is just reacting because it is unfamiliar to him. And he is angry because he thinks it means she won’t have any friends. Having friends was the most important part of school for him personally, so he transfers that to her.

    Mercedes, yes, we are already informally doing it. I think she is doing great!

    Yesterday we turned in her application to the Montessori school for entrance this August. We should know fairly soon whether or not she will be admitted. She went with me for a short tour and saw a lot of things she really liked. She is looking forward to going. Until then I will continue to teach her at home.

  32. April 5, 2008 12:45 pm

    Thank you for the response, hopefully I wasn’t offensive. I can understand his concern about the friends. There are many ways to make sure isolation doesn’t occur. Homeschoolers have created all sorts of fun groups to keep kids socialized. My friend taught a homeschooling Chemistry lab…a bunch of parents pooled their money to pay for some cool experiments and an instructor in that one area b/c it was hard to do at home.

  33. April 5, 2008 10:01 pm

    Nope, no offense taken, Goldie. Thanks for your support!

  34. April 6, 2008 10:34 pm

    I was home schooled for a couple of months when I was 15. I was not found of it. I do not know if I would have liked it more if I had started as a young child or if I had continued longer.

    Now that I am a parent I have decided I will not home school my children, even though I have a Degree in Teaching: Early Childhood. Do not get me wrong, I work with them a lot and will continue to do so I just want them to have the opportunity to succeed as much as possible (what parent doesn’t?) I feel that to be able to do that they need to socialize and get a more rounded view on things besides just my perception of them. I am really debating enrolling them in a private school though.

    Good luck in whatever you choose. Everyone’s family is different and only they know what works best for them so you should go with your mother’s intuition!

  35. April 8, 2008 2:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing your perspective. Good luck to you too, whiteymcwheatbread!

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