Thursday, September 5, 2013

Why Homeschool for One Year? Another reason...

In the next few posts, I am highlighting my best reasons to invest one year of your family's life in homeschooling.  Everyone may not be cut out for the full commitment of all school years, but taking a leap of faith for one year changed everything for my family.

Reason- You understand your child's strengths and weaknesses- in school and out.

Discover Individual Talents in Your Kids
American public schools are institutions of education created during the Industrial Revolution modeling the factory method of turning out many identical products.  Well done, nineteenth century!  The twentieth century folks were so busy inventing, warring and communicating they saw no reason to change the educational status quo. More masses came in and churned out with little room for variation.  "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" was the mantra. However, bureaucracy created a No Child Left Behind and a no child gets ahead atmosphere.  Over and over again, schools taught to the middle- hoping the lower students could jump in and hang on while the higher students fend for themselves (without getting too far ahead, of course.) The twenty-first century kids have inherited a broken system - still some good parts in there, but how can you mend the fissures?  

Parents must step in and fill in the cracks left by public education, and a fantastic way to detect the WEAKNESSES of your children's learning is to spend a whole year being their teacher.

Turn Weaknesses into Strengths
When our oldest struggled in math, I assumed she wasn't paying attention in class so I asked, "Who are you sitting by in class?  Did you ask the teacher questions?  Why are you so behind?  Are you just talking the whole class instead of listening?"  As our homeschool year progressed, I realized ALL of these were the wrong questions.  Had I asked her MATH questions, I might of discovered her true weaknesses sooner.  She struggled in 6th grade math because she never understood 2nd grade math.  Over the years, her gaps in basic calculation and concepts grew wider.  By the start of 7th grade, she had no hope of understanding geometric formulas when she still didn't grasp place value.  

Our one year of home school enabled me to see that my daughter's problem in math was not socializing- it was a true inability to think mathematically.  Instead of degrading her self-esteem with accusations and assignments beyond her mind's grasp, we took the time to step back and review/reteach basic concepts.  We returned to multiplication facts, money concepts and basic computation.  I created concrete examples for everything from place value to algebraic expressions.  As the year progressed, her confidence in math grew along with her deeper understanding of complex math skills.  We had the TIME to back up and then catch up with her grade level.  She finished our home school year ahead of her grade.  When she reentered public school the next year, her trust in her math abilities continued and she received her first "Exceeds Expectations" in math on the end of 8th grade test.  Her weakness turned into a strength thanks to our one year of home school.  (Math wasn't the only deficiency we discovered in our children's education: see my posts Home School Opening Day and Mommy Dearest?.)

Home schooling or rather ROAD schooling allowed us to uncover STRENGTHS in our children not measured in school.  

Uncover Hidden Talents:
Wyatt navigated our family from the start of
Route 66 in Santa Monica, CA to the
Route 66 Cafe in Inverness, Scotland.
After traveling the United States for nine months, we landed in the United Kingdom for a final family adventure.  Eschewing automobiles, we traversed England and Scotland using their amazing railway system.  After only a few days, we exited with luggage in hand for another train transfer.  Greg and I counted bags and looked up to discover we were following our son to the necessary platform.  Wyatt navigated our family through tunnels, up stairs and over tracks to arrive on time for our connecting train.  Regular school would never have taught him this skill.

Bring Out New Passions for Your Children
My husband is a chef and loves to cook for his family, but usually did so alone in the kitchen while the kids completed homework, played with friends or careened from sporting engagement to music or dance lesson.  Home school allowed us to decide on our children's curriculum so along with math and reading, cooking class was a part of our home school. Each child embraced their father's careful instruction on knife skills and mise en place, but our youngest developed a passion for baking.  At eight years old, she graduated from the Easy Bake Oven to full range and oven rights.  She baked cakes of all shapes and sizes and became accomplished at decorating her confections.  Now a ten-year-old regular education fifth grader, she baked, frosted and labeled a plant cell for her science project.  (Wow! And she didn't see it on Pinterest, either!)  Cooking was another strength that would never have been discovered in elementary school.
Yum! Plant Cell!

I am grateful for our one year home school with our children for many reasons, but I think bringing to light our children's strengths and weaknesses at such a young age is enough.