Thursday, June 23, 2011

A parent's decision to homeschool

When to do it.

Homeschooling can be influenced a lot by the situation.  My wife and I swore we would never home school our kids early on. It's a lot of work and neither of us really have the patience for it.  In addition, higher grades teach advanced maths.  My wife has a GED and I have a high school diploma.  Much of the subject material is beyond what we learned in school.  The good news is that online homeschooling is available now and they have teachers and resources to help the students.

However, My fourteen year old son was getting bullied pretty badly in seventh grade.  The school he's in is doing a terrible job of teaching at the moment. The elementary is okay, but the high school is bad and the junior high is an absolute nightmare.  They don't look to be getting any better

He is also a very bright person who takes responsibility for himself, so we decided to give it a try this last year.  It went well for the most part, but twice we discovered that he was goofing off instead of doing his work.  It was hard to overcome and we had to ground him and take away all of his privileges both times.

Even with that, he learned much more in one year than he had from any other at the local school.  In addition, he discovered a passion for writing - to the point where he ditched the classwork in order to write.  *sigh*  He finished the year off with passing grades and will be advancing to the ninth grade.  It will also be an online school as the local high school is getting even worse and the administration hates Tracy and I at this point.

A new reason

This week, our son told us he was gay.  Not only that, he's been getting cyber-bullied by some of the local kids who have said the worst sort of things about him.  In my opinion, it's extraordinary for him to know who he is and be confident in that knowledge at such a young age.  I'm so happy that he knows now and that he's told us.  It will make confronting the obstacles so much easier for him with a strong support system around him.  I will also say that we've had a number of people show amazing support for him, including teachers in the school system and friends who have told us how proud they are of Joe for understanding himself and us as parents for letting him be who he truly is.

This knowledge has made me all that much more happy that we're homeschooling him.  We live in a small rural town and there's a great deal of prejudice against that sort of thing.  With as terrible as our school is at stopping bullying, his life would be hell there.  The school makes ineffective attempts at stopping the bullying, but the administration keeps judging students by the statistics placed in folders hidden away in filing cabinets.  They do not understand, empathize with or want to know the children in their school

Our youngest is going into the second grade.  My wife would love to home school her, but there simply isn't anyway we could do so right now.  She doesn't have the necessary discipline and both my wife and I work during the day.  The elementary isn't as bad as the secondary schools . . . yet.

Where to go

I will say that there are an exceptional number of resources available to the home-schooler where there wasn't in the past. My son was provided with a computer and access to teachers who help. In Colorado, we have The Colorado Online Virtual Academy.  I believe most states also have online schools to help.

I would also recommend keeping the student in extracurricular activities for social interaction and character building. In particular, they should be involved in a physical activity such as sports, martial arts, dance or some such thing. The growth of the body is just as important as the growth of the mind.

Your child has the right to participate in the extracurricular activities at your local school even if you home school them. My son is in band and until recently has taken akido. Look into your local parks and rec as well for other things to do.

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