Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A fellow homeschooling mom posed a question to me in an email and I thought I would share the answer here.

How do you deal with family/friends who make you feel as if you constantly need to defend homeschooling?

My answer:
In a way, I guess we are really fortunate that my husband's family (including my MIL who passed away last month) has never questioned our choices. Occassionally they ask questions, but never anything like "what are you teaching" more like "they have a homeschool prom, that is so cool". I remember when we told his mom we would homeschool she said "oh, you will be good at that, you always read to those kids when they were young". She never passed any judgement on our decision (at least not to me or my husband or kids...she really wasn't the kind of woman to talk about you behind your back, if she had something to say, she said it).

My mom, on the other hand, tends to question more and is very critical of the fact that we won't send the kids back to school. She asks constantly if they are "going back to school" this year or if I have signed them up for classes. Then in the next sentence she tell me to go back to college and get my teaching degree/certificate and go and teach other kids because I am wasting my talents. I have never lied to her about our homeschooling, but I am also not straightforward with her either. She once asked how they know each year that they are where they should be and I said "mom, I either have to have them take a standardized test or have their work looked over by a certified teacher" so she now asks each spring if they passed to the next grade and I say "yes"...I never bother to add that the assessor I use doesn't ever look at their work and that he merely sits down with a group of parents and discusses our year with us. I suppose her fears may be calmed some as Brett goes off to college (in the next 2 to 3 years) or maybe not. When she asks if he will be ready, I often just answer "mom, they offer remedial courses at every college in this country. Obviously that means the kids coming out of highschool often aren't ready for college". She ususally shuts up.

My brother thinks I am smart to homeschool as he is a vice cop and thinks I am protecting the kids from the evils of school. He sees so many juvenile delinquints that he things I am smart to know where my kids are all the time and who they are with. He never expresses concern over what they are learning, but then again, he hated school and knows you only learn about things you have passion for.

I won't lie to you and say I never how doubts or fears. But the kids are happy, I am happy and for now that is enough! Annika is still so young and they have such a short time to be carefree!

In her next email she asks " do you sit every day with your kids and do school"?

My answer:

No, we do not sit down and do any formal schooling every day. Brett (16), Em (12) and Grant (10) take classes at a co-op on Mondays and I was thinking I may sit with Jacob (8), Cade (6) and Sophie (4) for about an hour on Monday and do something that resembles "academics" but then again maybe I won't. Emily, Grant, Jacob, Cade and Sophie all take a religion class at our church once a week (1 1/2 hours). Other than that, things are pretty unstructured here, but it appears to be working (we have used the same approach for 6 years). I see huge leaps in their cognitive development at times I least expect it. Grant (10) really struggled with reading and I honestly started to think I might need to get him a tutor and then I noticed that he really was reading, just not books....he could read and make food in the microwave, read the guide on TV to determine which sports team was playing, read to play computer games, read sports stats in the newspaper. Of course, one advantage of having a large family, as the older group grows, I can gauge the things that I did wrong (or should have worked more on) and implement it with the younger kids.

Since you are looking for some help in organizing things for your daughter, here are a couple web resources I have liked. Use them as you wish, my kids always have.....

My kids love this website:

And this one has lots of printables and other forms:
http://www.donnayoung.org/ we liked her handwriting sheets. Sophie LOVES handwriting pages, the boys hate them, so have never done any.

And Jan Brett has a great site that you can use in conjunction with her wonderful children's books.... http://www.janbrett.com/ I personally love her coloring pages and crafts.

I think confidence does come with experience. Hopefully your family will come around some with time.

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