I have been homeschooling my oldest daughter B since Christmas break of this current school year and looking back, I have come to a few conclusions about our choice to homeschool and what direction we are going to go in the future.
A few pros
I really loved the freedom that homeschooling afforded us all. We could make our own schedule and work our schooling around our life. If we had a doctors appointment or some other place we needed to be in the morning, then we just did most of our schooling in the evening, and vice versa.
Portability~ B could read in the car, do worksheets in the car or in the waiting room of the dentist. Despite all the running around I feel I'm always doing, B never really has to miss out on much, she can either take work along with her or we do it later on that day.
Flexability ~ Not only did we have flexability with our schedule but also with our curriculum's and methods of teaching and learning. I was able to recognize the way my daughter learns best and then use that as a tool to help her learn better. I was able to see what worked and what didn't work and then change things accordingly. I wasn't tied down to strict rules and timelines.
Freedom (my favorite!) ~ I have been able to use so many different avenues and tools to teach my daughter. I have been able to learn what subjects she enjoys the most, how she learns it the best and then have the freedom to teach her in ANY way that I see fit! If I think letting her watch Myth Busters on Discovery Channel is the best way to teach her a certain concept, then we sit down and we watch! If I think going out in our back yard exploring nature is the best way to teach her a science lesson, then we adventure outside. Ive had the freedom to choose from so many different curriculum's and methods that it has been hard to choose just one, and actually, I haven't...Ive picked and pulled from several and find that works best for us.
Now, on to a few cons...
Full Plate ~ I have 3 kids, in addition to B, I have a 4 1/2 year old boy and an 18 month old boy, both are very active, both are mischievous, and the baby is a tad on the clingy side (I'm also still nursing)...this makes for a constant struggle on my part trying to find the time to actually sit down with B and make sure I am fully explaining new concepts to her and making sure she is staying on task when we are at home and she is supposed to be having school time.
Attitude ~ B is full of it! and we butt heads, a lot. Maybe this is just a phase but when B gets frustrated about something she doesn't exactly get, she gets moody, lashes out with back talk and attitude and eventually dissolves into tears. Its hard to deal with sometimes because I get snippy and frustrated with her and it ends up a vicious cycle...she upsets me, I upset her, so on and so forth.
Self Doubt ~ Although I know B is super bright, truly a smart smart girl, sometimes I wonder if I'm doing right by her with my teaching. Sometimes I feel I'm not creative enough, not challenging her enough, not being strict enough, not being lenient enough. I guess its human nature to doubt yourself from time to time, but this is a big deal, this is my child's education and I would hate to think I'm responsible for hindering her learning in ANY way. We will be testing soon so hopefully that will ease my fears and show me that all my doubting was unnecessary...we shall see!
Over all, I have enjoyed our experience most of the time, and have had moments where I'm ready to send her straight back into the public school system. When contemplating that choice I try to ask myself, "What exactly is it that I'm trying to keep B away from by homeschooling her". Ive asked myself this question many times and I can now say, I know exactly what it is. The kids. Now, I have no problem with my child playing and socializing with all sorts of children from diverse backgrounds. I want my kids to have friends of all colors and creeds...BUT, I want to have some control over how and when my children interact with other kids. When you send your child off to school, you are sending them into a building filled with kids of all kinds...kids with manners who have been taught well how to behave and how to properly interact with others and kids who have not been taught manners, who have no respect for themselves or others and who have no idea how to properly interact with others. You have no control over how many of each type of child your child is exposed to, how they are exposed to each other and how these interactions play out, you have to hope and pray every day that all goes well for your child and please God don't let MY child be the one that has the unfortunate run in with the playground bully today.
I like being able to get to know the kids B will be interacting with, getting to know their parents, getting to actually see them interact with each other, being able to participate in the activities with the children, being able to TEACH them and watch them learn! I like knowing that when B participates in a homeschool group or activity, that all the parents are of mostly the same mind, we have the same goals and generally believe the same things when it comes to our children's education. It is refreshing to be in the company of other homeschoolers, folks who "get it" and understand the choice to keep your kid at home and teach them yourself! I enjoy it and would miss it if we decided not to homeschool going into this next school year.
Oh, the choices to be made. At first they seem so easy....but nothing for me is every truly easy. Wish me luck! I just want to do whats best for my child. In my heart I believe I know whats best...but it has to work for everyone, I have to consider myself, my other kids and my husband. Nothing is ever, "easy".