Friday, August 15, 2014

Home Education Past and Present

Kyre and Daniel at the time I started home schooling Daniel.
About 13 years ago, I started home schooling!  I can't believe I did it for that long.  I had always thought I

might like to give it a try, because I really loved having my kids home all day.  I didn't like sending them off.  To me it felt like I was betraying them and turning them over to someone else to take care of them.  I know it isn't really that way, but I kind of felt that.  So when Daniel started having struggles in grade three, I decided that I would take the plunge into "home schooling" your children.

It was bizarre how the opposition was there to greet me.  The most prominent opposition was people that were "concerned" with his socialization.  Really??  Of all things to worry about?  I would have thought that the concerns would have been for his education!  I guess that just goes to show you that our world really is a messed up place.  I was pulling him from school because of the socialization!

I had a really great support system through a wonderful lady "Wendy" who was part of our school district and was actually involved in alternate education.  She understood exactly why I was pulling this angry, struggling little boy from the school "environment" and bringing him home, and she gave me the best advice that anyone could have at that time, and even today.  She told me just to love him and make him happy again, forget about school for awhile until he is in that place where he is willing to learn.  She told me that any child can succeed if they know they are loved!  At that time, I really didn't realize just how profound this advice was.

So in my total naivety, I pulled him from the public school system and started on our journey.  For the first many months, in fact almost the whole first year, we just played.  We did do a bit of "school" if you want to call it that, because we did read - a lot - but mostly we just played.  Then behold, my angry little boy, that just knew the world hated him, became a happy boy again, because he knew he was loved again.  Did we ever fall behind because of all of that time we had off to just play?  Never.  You don't realize how much time is really wasted with unimportant stuff in school, until you try to teach your kids at home.  Daniel missed that year of school, but graduated from high school right on track to where he should have been.  Nothing lost, but everything gained!  He still loves to read and to write today.  That love of the word was fostered in him, and it has carried him through some tough times.  He is my most avid reader at home, and is pursuing his career in writing.

I have home school each of my kids for various reasons and various lengths of time, all except my oldest.  He wasn't up for that at all, and that's okay.  Talia, only did for a very short time.  Each of my kids has gone on to do what they wanted to do with their education.  All of them went back to school in their senior years, at least part time, because it was their choice.  At that point in their life they wanted the "social".  It was important to them.  They also wanted to start learning some of the extra curricular classes in school that I wasn't prepared or equipped to teach them at home. So off they went, and so far all have graduated and are pursing their education or careers.
And play we did!

I loved every minute of teaching my kids.  Many days we got nothing done but playing, but those are some great memories.  There was hard work too.  Frustrations, definitely!  Would I do it again, absolutely!  I loved watching my kids grow and learn in an environment that I chose for them.  Not what the world chose.  I watched as they grew socially too, into the respectful, great people they are today.  I can't say the same for the public school system.

Now I am not knocking the system.  It serves it's purpose and I have and am still using it for it's purpose.  I guess my one piece of advice to you would be, use the system for your benefits.  If you want to home school, do it.  If you need public school, be involved so that it works best for your kid.  It is there for us, and even though they often would make you believe differently, as a parent you have the most important say in your child's education!  You have the right, and the responsibility to stand up for what is best and right for your kiddo's.  Don't let them tell you differently.  Fight for what you know is best for them.  I did create a bit of a ruckus from time to time, fighting for what I needed done for my kids, but I always won, because I didn't quite.

I remember a time when Daniel was ready to go back to high school, grade 10, and he only wanted to go back part time, for the optional classes that he couldn't take at home.  Our local school wasn't going to allow him part time, because that would mean he would be registered in this school district and his online school district and that wasn't legal, or so they tried to tell me.  I luckily had done my research and knew that it was legal and they legally could not refuse me.  So I pushed, and wrote a few letters, and challenged them, and I won.  I have been told by a few people through the years thanks for that one, because now there are many in this school that do the same thing.  Sometimes all you need to do is pave the way, and don't give up if you know it is right.

Home education today is far different than it was the 13 + years ago that I started.  The options out there are limitless.  In fact, I was browsing online a year or so ago, looking at some of the different options, and I actually found a site down in Florida, that is completely an online virtual student.  It was the coolest thing I had ever seen.  Your child logs in each morning with his avatar that he / she created, and enters into a virtual classroom setting.  For example, if they were working on a social studies or history assignment, and walked
into their history class, as their avatar - which looks just like a video game world - they would find their assignments in that classroom.  They could communicate in that class with whichever other students were attending that class at the same time.  The lessons and assignments all were in the classroom as videos, tutorials, online exams, and chat rooms with the teachers. If they were learning about a particular era of history, they could enter that room / world and experience it through a virtual world and culture. Learning about the ocean would be experienced as if they were under the water and a part of it.   It was so cool.  As the student you would do your essays or assignments and upload them to the classroom and your teacher.  You could decide if they were visible to the other classmates or not.  At the end of the day, or the hour or whatever you had time for, you log off from your avatar.   Who needs books anymore?  The world is literally at our fingertips!  What a way to learn.  Unfortunately, these scenarios are still fairly expensive to register your student in, but if I could have given my kids these opportunities to learn like this, especially those kids that have a hard time with books and writing, wow!  It would have been incredible.

Teaching your kids at home, is such a bonding experience, and one that I am glad I took the time out of my own life to do.  Was it a sacrifice on my part?  Not really, because I have always believed that I had kids so
Bonding with cousins, going for a picnic
I could raise them, not send them off to someone else for 10 hours a day to be raised and taught values that I didn't want them to learn.  Sometimes, I wonder if I did the right thing for them, but then I look at who they are today, and I know it was a good thing.  There is no one right or wrong answer or way to do it.  The world is wide opening for your learning.  Embrace it!

This is the first year in 30 years that I will have no kids at home, and I will actually be working full time outside the home.  It is a new world, but one that I am ready to take on.  I will miss the years of teaching my kids.  However, I am sure that I will have my fair share helping out with the grandkids.  I look forward to that.  The only regret I have is that I didn't take more pictures!


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