Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Homeschooling? When The Husband Says No

Reently we've hit quite a bump in the public school road.  With five kids, we're no stranger to the public school shortcomings - crazy large classrooms creating an environment that is preventing kids from learning (and I heard today that next year the class size will be expanded to 38), teachers that seem either unprepared or uninterested in actually teaching students, nutritionally non-existant lunches (and now the pink ooze gets a place at the lunch tables too?? http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/story/2012-03-09/Pink-slime-eliminated-from-fast-food-but-not-school-lunches/53440390/1)  and an overload of administrators who seems to be there to just make things more difficult for everyone involved. But, I'd  never really considered anything else to be an option, until last week. 

Last week after a conference with my daughter's principal. Apparently she turned in one of The Husband's checks she'd filled out for a Scholastic book order. I didn't realize just how desparate an 8 yr old could get over Scholastic books.  She was worried we wouldn't have been back from our business trip in time to order.  So she just took matters into her own hands.  Fortunately, "Megatron" had already confessed to the crime so I wasn't completely blindsided. 

As the principal and I were discussing my daughter's dabbling into the dirty underbelly of forgery, it hit me. Was I actively raising my child? Was I doing what I could for her education?  Or was I just on auto-pilot, passively dropping her off and picking her up, trusting that our public school was providing the necessary instruction.

The Husband and I both own and operate our own business, typically working Monday-Friday pretty much 8-5.  We are already struggling to squeeze every last minute out of our work-week. So, When parents work, what are the options when local public schools just don't cut it?  Are there any?  Private schools = huge cash.  We want to buy a house in the next year or so.  So, that was out.  Homeschooling = too much time, not enough socialization.

I had mentioned the idea of homeschooling a few  years back to The Husband.  I think we both decided homeschooling was just too much for us then.  With five kids and two businesses, I don't think that was a bad decision. 

During the meeting with the principal, I  mentioned to the her, check writing aside, that my daughter was struggling to stay within her expected range.  She was doing homework and we were paying extra for a supplemental tutoring class three days a week.  I told her we were paying extra for supplementary tutoring in both reading and math.  I brought up the fact that my daughter was in her second year of being in a class where the teacher was switched half way through the year.  The principal told me that that is not one of the things they look at when making classroom assignments.  I couldn't stop wondering why not?  Why wouldn't they look at that, especially in children they termed "bright" but were just not hitting the marks they should be? 

I just couldn't shake the feeling that public schools don't care about kids anymore.  They have lost their way, somewhere and now our kids are paying the price.  If they aren't looking at whether or not a child's education is being disrupted with a new teacher switch during the year AGAIN, what ARE they looking at?  I started to realize that the recent homework struggle cry-fests my daughter had been displaying and a new appreciation for not going to school....just might have something to do with the her second teacher this year.  This seemed logical to me since the teacher that had taken over for the rest of the year had a reputation for being much harder on the kids, than the teacher that had started the year out with her class.

Here's where the struggle begins.  After giving the discussion with the principal some thought.  I spoke to The Husband.  I told him I thought we should request that the principal switch our daughter into another classroom.  I said I think she's just not responding well to the environment in that classroom.  And, given the fact she was switched last year (although with a much less eventful history) we certainly have the right to request her transfer, I thought. 

The principal spoke with my husband over the phone and basically said they would not transfer my daughter.  She went on to tell him that we had a parent teacher conference coming up in a week or so and that we should discuss these issues with our daughter's teacher.  Okay, I'm all for having a "procedure/process" in place for handling certain situations and curtail overinvolved parents demanding their children be moved repeatidly.  However, I guess I just don't get how  talking to the teacher is going to change or improve any of the issues at hand.  I don't have any opinions of the teacher. In fact, I have not met her.  I just feel that my daughter isn't getting a fair shake in a program that is supposed to be putting her first. 

I did a little research and found a program in our community called Umana Fine Arts Academy.  They are a little school just down that street that offers a 3 Day Homeschooling program option.  They offer instruction (with kids in uniform) M/W/F from 8:30-1:30pm.  They teach a well rounded ciriculum of history, fine arts, english ...oh AND THE BIBLE!  Hello!  You're not going to find THAT in a public school. How amazing is that?  You can check it all out here http://umanaacademy.com/.

My daughter would be off Tuesday and Thursday and would be expected to complete home assignments those two days.  When you are already doing homework M-F, doing it only T/Th seems quite appealing. They encourage a program that allows the children to learn from everyday life as well as from teachers and books.  This means she could work along side me here at the office learning about how we do things there as well.  I know my lifestyle affords me this option and that most families don't have this choice.  And I am grateful to even be entertaining the option right now. 

I have never really considered homeschooling an option until I found their site.  I just didn't think I would be able to be disciplined enough to give her what she needed when she needed and not always have some greater issue to deal with (read Target).

I had no idea that there were programs like this out there that give parents the option and the flexibility.  I spoke this morning to Maureen at Umana.  She went over the program in detail and also mentioned that they offer a fine arts program on Tuesday from 12-3:30.  She mentioned drama, music and voice.  And those just suit my little daughter to a tee. 

Apparently though, The Husband, didn't share my interest and enthusiasm about the possibility of homeschooling when I brough it up this past Friday after work.  And just to be clear, I am only talking about homeschooling my third grade daughter.  My two older boys will be in high school, a freshman and a senior.  My tow younger boys are attending Montessori. 

I thought we'd use our daughter as a test subject of sorts.  We could pull her from public school and give this program a go.  I was already setting myself up to not work at the office Tues and Thurs when this program dropped into my lap.  And, if I did chose to continue working those days, she could go into the office with me and work on her studies there in my private office.  After all, shouldn't that be a perk of being your own boss and running your own business?  I think so. 

I don't spend all that much time with my kids at this point in my life.  We are always so busy with work and then dinner and chores.  When is there time to just BE with them?  It hurts to type that and to think about what is going to happen to my relationship with them in the future and how that is shaping/not shaping them as people and citizens of this great planet.  When they grow up to become adults, will I have contributed?  Or will they be products of a cookie cutter public school program that is already failing them? 

I feel like the whole time I've been typing this that Eminem song, Lose yourself, is playing in my head.  Not sure where it came from because I've been listening to country for weeks.  But, honestly.  Is it that we are too busy to homeschool as The Husband thinks.  Or is it that we are too scared?  Too comfortable with our current routine (that isn't working either by the way). The what if syndrome does settle in and I find myself wondering...what if I stink at the 'at home' part?  Can I make her studies the biggest priority of Tues/Thurs?  What effects will all this have on my business that seems to be in a big growth phase right now? 

I believe that The Husband should be the head of the household and deserves my respect as well as the respect of the children.  But, I also believe that sometimes, as mothers, we do know what's best or necessary to care for our children... nuture, protect and guide them.  And right now...I feel as though God is leading us to Umana.  How do I get him to see things the way I see them, so positive.  How do I get him to say YES when he's already said NO?   

How many of you out there have considered homeschooling?  If you chose to stick with tradtional school, why did you?  If you chose to cannonball yourself into homeschooling, what helped you take that jump?  I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. 


Mkissl said...

I can't offer a fair opinion I realize since I don't have kids. I can offer that I have multiple close friends who DO home school for various reasons and it's rewarding in many ways, but it's also alot of work and they often have to say no to things during the day to put their kids education first. If you decide to wait and not home school one other thing that seems like it really helps my other friends with kids in public school is they volunteer every week at the kids school. They get to see first hand what is going on, and are so well connected that it seems like the kids do so much better than parents who need to or choose to drop them off and pick them up with out being involved at school. I have one friend in particular that has shared alot of positive things her and her children have gained by her prioritizing time at the school, and with the do less with more the teachers have to work with, well they are most grateful for volunteers. Just another thought to throw in the mix. :) Good luck - and I'd say pray alot about it and the right answer will come.

Elle said...

I struggle with similar fears about public school. But my advice is to keep pressing the school to switch her and spend quality time with her when she's home. Maybe some one on one. Also spend that extra money on a fun class she'd like to take so she can make new friends. Homeschooling seems like too much work to me and it would be an extra burden to take on. In my humble opinion. Good luck!

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