Friday, May 24, 2013

A Homeschool Mama's Rant (and a bit of that Teacher in Me too!)

Before I became a homeschool mom I was a teacher for 20 years.  I studied under the best of the best in the world of learning disabilities, Dyslexia, and social studies.  I went to conferences and learned all about brain development, learning, and how to make learning happen.  I studied with some of the best experts in the field of history and learned all about American Colonial times, wars, and our founding fathers.  I started a private school for children with multiple disabilities, Autism, Asberger's syndrome, seizure disorders, Dyslexia, and other learning issues. I worked in both private and public schools, teaching children from kindergarten up through high school.  I tested kids in both the school system and for a private organization to determine their learning aptitude, IQ and help to set educational plans with families.

Now I am just a homeschool mom.

I am on many forums and I read lots of posts from other homeschooling parents who ask for advice on lots of different things.

There are a few things that I would like to say to them but always retract my comment because it might be taken as "snarky" or "rude".

Here are a few thoughts I have.

1.  For the mom of the 6 year old boy who refuses to sit still and do math: let him play.  Why does he need to do 45 minutes of math a day?  Why can't he practice counting and adding up his Legos or his Goldfish crackers at snnack time?  And if it is the math that he is not ready for then why can't he just not do it for a while?  Kids (especially boys) are not really ready for formal/traditional learning yet.  Their brains aren't ready for abstract concepts like math or even reading(will get to that in a minute).  Let them run and be kids and explore their surroundings.  Provide opportunities for exploration, examination, and for inquisitive minds to learn on their own.  Trust me, they WILL learn to do math, but may not ever really enjoy sitting for 45 minutes of hard, traditional math learning, ever.  Don't force it.

2. For the mom of the 8 year old who is reading above grade level and has a hard time finding age appropriate books on her instructional reading level: my question to you is why does she have to be pleasure reading above her age level?  Why can't she read books that are age appropriate even though they are easy reads? Most adults pleasure read below their instructional reading level.  I can read on a post graduate level however, when I am reading for pleasure I don't want to be reading books that are on that level.  I want to enjoy the story and not struggle through the vocabulary.  Reading a year or two below your reading level for pleasure is what makes reading pleasurable. Let your daughter read the Junie B. Jones books and the Amber Brown stories and the Judy Moody books for fun.  It increases her fluency in reading, increases her speed and comprehension in reading AND teaches her that reading can be fun.  You will develop a life long reader this way.  Don't push her in reading.  Relax and enjoy that you aren't having to force her to read.

3.  For the mom of the 4 year old who is looking for a year long curriculum for her child: SERIOUSLY???? Your child is 4!  In the USA 4 years old is not a mandatory school age.  Don't force them into something they aren't ready for.  Take them out in the community and explore.  Take them to museums, take them out to eat, take them shopping, take them everywhere and let them learn from their surroundings.  Yes,  you can buy educational toys and yes you can read read read to them.  But why do you need a formal curriculum for a 4 year old? (oh, and this goes for the mom who has the 2 year old who won't sit through a full 30 minutes of lessons too.)

4. For the mom who is struggling with a child who has Autism or Asberger's Syndrome or Pervasive Developmental Delay: Bless you.  I know it can be hard day after day to teach your child at home.  Don't be embarrassed to take them everywhere with you.  Know your child's limits and expose them to the world and community.  Work with other professionals to develop a plan for education and behavior management.  Know that you are not alone.

5.  For the mom who struggles with the decision to take her child out of school and homeschool:  DO IT!  We have chosen this path for our family and we love it.  We can't imagine going back to a public or private school now.  The kids are kids again, they are growing faster than we can keep up with, and we are happy with our decision.  We have sacrificed a lot to make this happen for us.  We also didn't have support from family or friends.  That is okay.  We are happy and I love that I am home every day with my kids.  They are only kids for a little bit of time and I don't want to miss another minute of their childhood and teen years.

Whew, I am glad that is off my chest.

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