Homeschooling in the OC: Why I Homeschool

(warning, this is LONG!):)

Yes, I homeschool.  I haven’t addressed this much here on the blog, mainly because I was pretty sure that by 2 weeks in I would be a complete failure and totally burned out.  I didn’t want to make a big deal about something and then give up.:)  I have received SO many questions over the last little bit though, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about it and add a homeschooling category to the blog.  I have been SO lucky (and continue to be) to find SO many resources on blogs and the internet that I want to give back a little if I can at all.:)  I’m certainly no pro, but maybe some of my experiences and ideas can help those of you that are just starting to think about the possibilities and looking for direction. 

My story:  As the typical suburban mom in OC I’m probably NOT the picture that comes to mind when you think of the word homeschool.  I too at one time thought of homeschooling as “wierd.”  I thought it meant lonely kids sitting at home with their mom, studying all day, no friends, no fun, and just plain being out of touch with the “real” world.  It was once I had kids approaching school age that it suddenly became more of a possibility to me and I started researching it.  We live in a GREAT neighborhood.  Top of the line brand new schools, great parent support etc.  I put my son in kindergarten at our local public school and was SORELY disappointed.  3 hours of kids on top of kids, tons of homework (because they couldn’t get anything done at school in three hours with 35 five year olds) and to top it off they had stripped ALL the fun out of school.  There were “red celebration days” instead of Christmas parties, you couldn’t bring in cupakes for your kid’s birthday due to childhood obesity (they instead asked for you to donate a book to the school bookcart…that’s right…no library at school anymore!) Valentine’s Day celebrations were turned into friendship card day…where you were allowed to bring in cards with only YOUR name on the back…no names of who they were to, and NO TREATS (so basically your kids came home with a sack full of paper), there were no halloween parties, you couldn’t even dress up (this is elementary school people!!), art was cut, if you wanted your kid to participate in music for 30 minutes once every other week you had to pay, etc. etc. etc.  The list goes ON and ON.  To top it all off the asked for money ALL the time on the paper that WE had to supply to the classrooms along with all the other supplies at the beginning of each year.   Combine all of those things with the bullying that is now prevalent in schools, and the teaching of rather controversial subjects that Iwould rather cover at home on my own, I was pretty much fed up.  Don’t get me wrong…Andy loved school.  He had a great time, performed very well, had tons of friends and loved being there, but I had different visions of what school should be.

I moved him to a VERY small private school for the next two years.  Iwas TERRIFIED to pull him out of the public school.  I AGONIZED over the decision losing sleep and wondering if I was doing the right thing for him.  It was amazing that the second I signed the papers to enroll him a HUGE weight was lifted off of my shoulders and I felt AMAZING.  I loved the uniforms and dress code, ettiquette and fine arts driven curriculum and super teeny classes.  It was there that I was introduced to charter schools.  I continued to research homeschooling and added charter schools to the list.  By the time he had completed first grade I was hooked up with a charter and visiting with an Education Specialist (teacher that comes to my home) once a month.  The second year at the private school things changed.  The management was lacking as was the classroom environment.  The hands-on approach to learning the previous year had turned into worksheet after worksheet.  They were constantly pushing the kids to do more, and perform at a higher grade level.  I don’t have a problem with working above your grade level…I just don’t want it to be forced.  Andy, fortunately is very bright and thrived in that environment, he just wasn’t having as much fun.  Hours of homework at night at age 7 just didn’t sit well with me or him and a constant loss of teachers and staff started to bug me.  I wanted more consistency in his education.  It was expensive and I just didn’t feel like I was getting my money’s worth.   I chatted with my ES about the quality of work she was seeing as she was reviewing it every month, and she encouraged me to make the leap and homeschool.  She thought that the quality of work definitely wasn’t worth the money….Icould do worksheets with him for free!:)

At that point, about 6 months ago, I WAS SO SCARED!  I felt completely overwhelmed, unsure, like I was going to fail, you name it I felt it…but in my heart I knew it was the best thing for us and I HAD to give it a try.  I am not one who has just always felt like I just can’t stand to be away from my kids.  I love my free time…who doesn’t want six hours a day to themselves???:)  I was scared to have him home all the time.  What if he got bored and hated it?  What if I hated it??  I pushed aside all my fears and jumped in.  Worst case I could always put him back in regular school, right? 😉

I spent the summer REALLY reading, gathering, studying…I wanted all the information I could get my hands on.  I’m not a huge book reader…just because I don’t often have the time, but the internet it FULL of everything you could possibly imagine.  I got to actually SEE other moms all over the country talking and raving about their homeschooling experiences and it helped my confidence grow.  The more I learned the more excited I got to homeschool.  It made me sad to read about the way our children are taught these days.  How we are raising generations of kids who can’t solve problems because they are taught “to the test” and nothing else.  How kids are naturally curious, and want to ask questions, but that by the age of 8 that sense of curiosity is mostly squashed due to repeated requests by teachers for kids to put their hands down and stop asking questions they don’t have time to answer.  How most kids in high school these days are suffering from ailments like high blood pressure, extreme stress, depression, anxiety and prescription drug addiction due to the pressures put on them by schools to perform so the schools can get more funding.  It all just made me sad.  I don’t want that for my kids. 

The first day of public school came and went and we were home in our jammies learning.  It felt strange…but in a GREAT way!  Now it’s three months later and I am amazed at how time flies!  Can I just tell you how much FUN we are having??? While some days are better than others I can honestly say that this has been the best experience of my life as far as motherhood is concerned.  Up until now I have been so concerned about getting into pre-school, getting the right teachers in elementary school, finding fun summer programs, all things revloving around SENDING him somewhere, making sure he’s happy where he is and that they are making sure he’s having fun.  Instead now I am spending all that energy in creating that fun learning environment at home.  I am in control and I love it!  Is it more work?  definitely.  If you know me you know I love a project.  I ALWAYS have something going.  Side businesses, blogging, teaching at the craft store, creating SOMETHING always.  I have had to slow down in that department, but now I just look at this as my project, what I want to be doing and it is amazing.   The mood in our home is so much different.  No more waking up and scrambling in the morning to rush out the door, no more fighting over homework for hours every afternoon.  It is wonderful.  The kids even get in trouble less because rather than sitting around bored and creating trouble, they are almost always doing something educational and fun. 

The thing I love the most about homeschooling is that the world is our classroom.  Everything we do revolves around learning and having fun.  The time I get to spend with my children is QUALITY not just quantity anymore.  Sure, we did fun thing before and life was great, but now I feel that bond is SO much stronger.  I can be the infulence for good on my children rather than sending them out to let others influence them the majority of each day.  I have them for such a short time.  Those moments are fleeting and I am happy to dedicate these few short years to raising the most educated, happy, well balanced little ones I can.  There will be many lonely years to come after the kids have come and gone to spend on my own pursuits. 

I know this is LONG winded.  I RARELY get this wordy here on the blog.  If you are still with me I am IMPRESSED!! 😉  I hope that if there are any of you out there considering homeschooling that you will feel a little bit more empowered to go for it.   While I love it, I also recognize that it’s not for everyone.  Each child is different and each situation is different.  This just happens to work really well for us right now.  I just simply wanted to share my experience for those of you that had asked.  I will continue to share lesson ideas, our daily schedules, programs we are involved in, anything I can to make this a great resource for all that are interested.  Next up I’ll address my favorite question…”aren’t you worried about socialization???? ;)”  stay tuned!

have a great day!

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Jaime - May 21, 2012 - 11:25 am

I found you via pinterest for your teacher gifts. I just recently became a work at home mom. Previously I worked at a church and my son went to preschool on campus. Since I couldn’t be home, I thought this was a pretty good compromise. Now that I no longer work there, he will no longer be able to attend there. With only 1 year till Kindergarten, I didn’t want him to sit home all year and “lose” what he had already been learning at preschool. I looked in to a few options and then it dawned on me…HOME SCHOOL! I relate to you – thinking it was weird, but with all the research I’ve been doing, I too am getting really excited. I think it will be a true benefit to our family. I hope it is still going well for you and thanks for sharing your story!

Tammy - December 19, 2010 - 9:49 am

Hi Brooke!
Thanks so much for your comment! I TOTALLY don’t blame the teachers!! I know there are SO many awesome teachers out there that dedicate their lives to making sure each kid is taken care of…and I know that often extends to spending much of their own money to do so. It’s totally just the system…the state of CA is a mess!!! :) I can’t stand seeing fun, amazing out of the box teachers replaced with tired, mean, no imagination teachers just because they’ve been teaching longer and have tenure. (sp??) Our teachers right now have upwards of 40 hands in the air in elementary classes…there’s just no way they can possible handle that! Andy’s kindergarten teachers was so great, but she was SO limited by the school and the state. She would tell me all the fun hands on things she used to like to do….for example, at halloween she used to bring candy corn in for the kids to math with, but because of the restrictions on no food being brought into the school due to obesity problems, she coudn’t do anything like it, (just as an example). She had tons of fun ideas, but wasn’t able to do any of them due to state/district restrictions. It was a real bummer. :) That’s why I love homeschooling, because I am free to do all that kind of FUN stuff with them. We do mix worksheets in with our fun hands on stuff (I know some people are totally against that, but I don’t see anything wrong with it! ) :) It sounds like you have had some struggles with having a family, I KNOW that you will have your very own sweet little kiddos to teach one day and it will be such a joy for you. You sound like an amazing teacher! :)
Thanks again so much for your comments and introducing yourself here! I’m off to check out your fun blog! :) Have a great day!

Brooke Whitis - December 19, 2010 - 5:11 am

Hey! I found your blog a while ago through a friend and I love it! I agree with so much of what you mentioned about the school system. Just try hard not to blame it on teachers :) I am a teacher, and it is hard for me that we are forced to keep up with the growing ‘standards’ on our education and we are forced to push for ‘better writing’ and ‘stronger reading’. I know that I never discourage questions about anything inquisitive…but it is true that when you have 22 hands in the air…and you’re only one person…it’s a hard thing. I don’t think it should be a negative thing on the teacher, but rather something where you feel that you can meet their needs better. I have always thought about homeschooling and I Love to hear how people came to that realization! Right now we don’t have any living children, so it will be a while before I were to pursue that. How do you keep them engaged at home? Is it hard to not give them worksheets? I try to do a lot of hands on work at school….but then parents complain that they aren’t seeing much work come home.

Anyway, way to do what is right for your sweet kids. That is the most important thing! I have always hoped that I would have one or two friends choose to homeschool and we could switch off days, so that my kids get a different perspective from me….and so we could all get a break now and then :)

I hope you have a great CHRISTMAS (not red day)!

Rachel - December 12, 2010 - 4:58 pm

Thanks for the great post, Tammy. It is something we might consider in the future and I appreciate your insight!

Ashley - December 6, 2010 - 3:03 pm

That’s so awesome that you found something that’s working out so well for your family! Andy is such a smart little guy, I’m sure he’s doing great and I’m so glad you’re all having fun with it!

lindsie hazen - December 2, 2010 - 8:15 pm

I’m so impressed. I love that you’re paving the way so that when I get to the school age with my kids, I will know the options and have an example. Thanks for sharing your experience. I think people need to be aware of what’s going on/or not going on in schools.

Skye - November 24, 2010 - 10:30 am

Keep up the great work and keep the ideas coming!
Happy Thanksgiving!

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