Yesterday was Kate and Jack's last day in public school this year. I've pulled them out, and we are going to try homeschooling the next 3 months. I am both really excited and really nervous. I think this could potentially be so much fun, yet I really hope that I have the willpower to actually get it done and not goof off!
Of course the first question people ask is "Why?!?" I don't feel a need to justify out decision (okay, I sorta feel a need to justify it...), but it is a reasonable question. So here are a bunch of reasons, in no particular order.
- I'm a bit tired of our hectic daily life. School starts at 8am, and my kids are usually still sleeping at 7:30. I hate waking them up and rushing them out the door. I hate that they don't get the sleep their bodies say they need. They already have an early bedtime of 7:30pm which can be a hassle to enforce (the last 2 years their bedtime was 6:30 and we kept to it! Just not possible anymore.) School lets out at 2:30pm and that leaves only 5 hours until bedtime. It sounds like a lot, but it really isn't. Take out an hour for bedtime routine, an hour for dinner, an hour (or more!) for after school playground time/snack and homework and all that is left is 2 hours of free time. Not enough for play time, extracurricular activities, etc. Plus the kids are tired after spending all day in school.
- I don't like life being dictated by the annual school schedule. I like traveling whenever we want. Local trips, weekend trips, vacations, etc. I really don't like being on vacation with the rest of the world (ironically, this is the first year that Matt has spring break off! And now it doesn't matter!).
- No time for extracurricular activities. The kids do swim twice a week, but I'd also like them to take piano lessons. On top of the time for lessons, they would need time to practice. When? Plus the kids have expressed interest in a variety of other activities: horseback riding lessons, karate, gymnastics, dance, etc. I have no intention of turning around and filling up school time with other activities, but I'm hoping we'll have some time for a few of these.
- This is NOT about the teachers and/or school. In fact, there is a good chance that the kids will be back at school in the future (I wanted to do this in the spring so that they can start a fresh year in the fall or maybe we'll love it and try it out yet another year). Both kids have had excellent teachers. That being said, I do think that the kids will benefit from some one-on-one instruction the next few months. Teachers have an entire classroom to teach. I just have two. Plus there is that teach-to-the-test issue. I understand why it has to be done in public schools, I just don't like it.
- I'm a big believer in experiential learning. So looking forward to doing all kinds of fun things with the kids! I think I fall squarely into the Dilettante type of homeschooler (I really enjoy Penelope Trunk's blogs - I wish I had the ability to think and reason they way she does).
- I've always wanted to homeschool. I actually did a lot of research on homeschooling before Kate started kindergarten. I wanted to do it then, but Matt felt strongly that we should at least try our public school (and I'm happy we did. The teacher that both kids had for kindy was spectacular.). Both of my kids are on track or ahead in academics. I figure worse case scenario is that they learn nothing the next few months, we have fun, and they start back in the fall.
- I watched the documentary film Race to Nowhere a few months ago. My friend Kerri told me about it awhile back, but I had to wait for a showing. I actually didn't think it was a great film, but I liked the message. Probably because it reinforced what I already believed.
- When Cousin Hannah was here a few weeks ago, she made a statement that has really stuck with me. We were talking about the pressure to get into a "good college" and how the pressure is on for parents from an early age (you know, gotta play classical music to infants! Gotta get them a Chinese tutor!). Hannah said that these days everyone has good grades, everyone went to a good high school, everyone was captain of the basketball/lacrosse/football team, everyone has done community service. What colleges want to see is a good/interesting story. And you know what? That's what I want for my kids also. A good story. I don't want it to just be that they grew up in a upper middle class neighborhood, went to good schools, played a sport, volunteered at the soup kitchen. I want them to have a good story and I want to start now.
Speaking of starting now, we are off on an adventure today! Out to breakfast then to the zoo. We are going to ease into this whole experience, but I have a bunch of ideas that I can't wait to start! More on that later.