Then we found a great charter school that we opted to try out. All was well (sort of) until high school homework began to get ridiculous. My 9th grade daughter was coming home with an average of 3-5 hours per night. This was often in addition to studying for tests - (Or should I say... Memorizing facts for tests. And then flushing the memorized facts down the toilet after it was all over) No time for chores, no time for family, no time for extra-curricular activities, no time for relaxation, no time for anything. It was a little bit I.N.S.A.N.E.
There ARE great teachers out there. In fact, I think MOST of them are great, if you want to know the truth. They take children under their wing and teach them how to love learning. They treat them as an individual and encourage them to thrive at whatever level they're on. We've had teachers on both ends of the spectrum - EXTREME ends of the spectrum. My biggest issue is with the system... and the government... not the teachers.
We tried everything to make it work, but it was no longer for us. The public school system has been heading in a downward spiral for a long time now, & I'm hearing more & more families commenting about their discouragement with it. We needed change. So at semester, after a lot of thinking, pondering, thinking, praying, thinking, & stressing for a very long time... We brought our 9th grader home.
(Update June 2013: About a month before school got out, we brought our 9 year old son home. And this next year, our 17 year old daughter will be home for core classes but will still take a couple of electives at the high school... Just because she feels like it.)
For us, it feels right. It feels natural, and it feels peaceful. I've had an urge for a long time now to homeschool again. I knew after a lot of getting down on my knees & praying, that it was time to bring my children home. Some of our reasons are educational, some are social, some are economical, some are spiritual, & some are personal. There's not any one reason. There are MANY. But regardless, we were led this direction, & So, we're back into the venture again, & this time we're committed to the long haul. If I was able too, I'd go back and home school all 4 of my children from the very beginning! (If I could go back, I'd do A LOT of things differently)
PS: Just for the record, I laugh every time I run across someone mentioning those "weird unsocialized homeschoolers". (See link below) - I guess some are maybe... but really, most aren't. Good quality socializing just doesn't happen inside of public school. (When would it!? During 30 minutes of lunch or 15 minutes of recess?) It happens outside of school, when our children are interacting with and experiencing each other in various natural settings. Most home schooling families have their kids involved in anywhere from 2-5 extra-curricular activities (such as sports, music, Scouts, youth groups, play groups, etc...) Believe me... They have plenty of quality outside social experience.
From LDS Living:
According to figures calculated using statistics from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) and the 2010 LDS Church Almanac, homeschooling is growing nationally at 9 percent annually (and LDS homeschooling totals may be as high as 60,000 in the US alone, up from half that only 10 years ago).
*I included the part about LDS homeschoolers, because I'm LDS, & it was interesting to me that it's growing that fast among families in my same faith*
Here in Idaho (as of a couple of years ago at least) there are somewhere between 5,000-6,000 home schoolers. The exact number isn't known, because in the state of Idaho, registration and record keeping are not required. In fact, I feel very blessed, because Idaho is one of THE most home school friendly states in the nation! Home schooled kids in Idaho who's parents DID NOT graduate from high school STILL test more 30% higher on their state test scores than kids in public school!
As far as structure, we've chosen to be right down the middle of strict scheduled curriculum and un-schooling with the option to change our plans at any given moment. A little of this & that curriculum, a little of this or that library book, and some of this or that internet resource, with a LOT of discussion, experience, & interaction. Not a lot of worksheets or tests. Encouraging in my children the desire to learn, whether I'm available to help or not. Yep, that's us. I love it!
BENEFITS OF HOMESCHOOLING:
(Adapted from homeschooling-ideas website)
1 - EDUCATION
Learning at home never ceases, & homeschoolers can learn about anything they want, however they want!
2 - FREEDOM
Freedom from regulations, long lines, homework, asking permission for a potty break or to go get a drink, & restrictive time constraints/deadlines.
3 - FAMILY
Quality time, more time, more meals together, more playing, more laughing, more learning together, more spiritual discussions & experiences, more building bonds & friendships.
4 - MORALS / VALUES
Well... nothing even needs to be said about this one. Simply put, morals & teaching of morals hardly exist in public school anymore. Everything that was bad is now good, & everything that was good is now viewed as old fashioned. I choose to teach my own children what is right and wrong in the way I want them to learn it. NOT from someone I don't know & with principles that I do not agree with.
5 - INDEPENDENCE
Homeschooled children learn who they are & learn to value their own self-worth. They often have no concept of 'designer lables' & they don't measure people by their abilities or appearances. There is no competition in homeschool.
6 - SOCIALIZATION
Homeschoolers meet many people of all different ages, cultures, backgrounds, & circumstances, personalities, & abilities. They are not stuck in a classroom day in and day out with 30 of the same aged children as them. Public school is not a quality social experience. Homeschooling gives children the opportunity to socialize in many settings they wouldn't otherwise be able too.
7 - HEALTH
School lunches, class parties, & drab classrooms. Need I say more? Parents who homeschool are able to have much more control over their child's physical, mental, emotional, & spiritual well being. Lots of sunshine! Lots of exercise! Lots of good quality foods! Lots of joy! Less stress!
8 - PASSION
Homeschoolers have the ability to explore their passions unrestricted. They have more time, & they have more resources, when they are at home & out in the world exploring and experiencing - vs. being constrained to a hard chair & desk in a class room all day memorizing facts to pass a test - followed by often hours of stressful time wasting homework.
9 - CREATIVITY & IMAGINATION
Through reading and talking and playing and experiencing, there's an entire WORLD of unexplored opportunity for creativity and imagination in ALL ages of homeschooled children!
10 - PLAY
Whenever you want, wherever you want, with whomever you want. Period. We learn when we play, and we can play when we learn!
11 - NO MORE HEADLICE!
Yee Haw! - And even if you do catch it from someone around town, you don't have to miss school because of it! A little coconut oil & tea tree essential oil rubbed into your scalp & hair will kill those little pesks and you can read a book while they're being smothered!
12 - PARENTS LEARN TOO!
One of the benefits of homeschooling for parents is that through discussion, experience, and reading with our children, we will learn things we never learned (or forgot after the exam!) when we were younger or in public school.
13 - NO RUSH BREAKFAST
Why wake up at 5:30-6:00 am and gobble down a junk food toaster pastry or bowl of nutrition-less processed cold cereal, when you can wake up at 7 or 8 or 9am, & leisurely take the time to make your very own whole grain pancakes, green smoothie, warm oatmeal with fruit & nuts, or yogurt with homemade granola - (all while sitting in your jammies, hair un-done, & watching a few cartoons with your kids before starting any learning activities)
14 - NAPS ARE OK
WOO HOO!!! YAY!!! No more detention, embarrassment, or name on the board for falling asleep in the middle of the day!
15 - DAY DREAMING ALLOWED
In public school, it used to be called day dreaming... Now it's called ADD/ADHD. In homeschooling, it's usually still called day dreaming. Homeschooling minds wander. That is the BEAUTY of schooling at home. If it weren't for are wandering minds, there wouldn't be the successful businesses, organizations, families, and communities that there are. Ideas and creativity unleash themselves when our minds wander! It is O.K. to day dream.
If you're interested in looking into home schooling, here are some of my favorite websites so far (Believe me... There are THOUSANDS, and it gets extreeeeeeeeeeemly overwhelming, if you've never done this before):
For secular & Christian based home schooling / un-schooling of ANY faith:
DONNA YOUNG (TONS of free stuff, resources, forms, etc!)
www.hslda.org (All the info, legal stuff, & things you need to know)
Home Scholar (Dedicated to the high school age!)
Weird Unsocialized Home Schoolers
http://carianthony.blogspot.com/ (She is LDS, but she has resources for any faith)
Homeschooling Ideas (TONS of ideas!)
The Homeschool Mom
I Am Homeschooling
Explore Learning (math & science - online program)
Kahn Academy (FREE! 4,000+ learning videos on math, science, history, etc!)
LIFE OF FRED (preschool - college math... MY KIDS LOVE IT!!!)
www.youtube.com/education (tons of educational learning videos)
Thomas Jefferson Education
Charlotte Mason Education
For Christian based homeschooling with an emphasis on the LDS faith:
And these... You just *have* to read. They're awesome :
* AND THEN I REALIZED I WAS DOING IT ALL WRONG
* WHY I ALMOST GAVE UP HOMESCHOOLING