Friday, August 21, 2015

Just a Few of My Thoughts on Home Schooling

Let me just start off by saying the point of this post is not to offend.  The point is to hopefully open the eyes of others and maybe even inform a few.  In fact, over the past couple of years I have sat down to write this very post only to cave to the worry of being offensive.  But it is something that needs to be said.  If someone doesn't agree or refuses to open their eyes to something that is different than their world, by all means it is a free country (God Bless), he or she can close their computer and ignore. A common question for kids to get asked by adults is, "What school do you go to?" or "Who is your teacher?"  As a home school family, my kids often answer by saying they are home schooled and then they point to me as their teacher.  All of that is fine but what always bugs me beyond words are the often blank stares they receive from the adult.  It seems like some adults just cannot figure out how to navigate the conversation from this point. Another end to this type of awkward exhange, is when the above said adult has the guts to turn to the mom (uhh, hemmmm, moi) and ask how I socialize my kids.  At to which I would love to give them the same blank stare, and then grab my forehead exclaiming, "Oh no!  I forgot to socialize my kids - thank you so much for bringing that to my attention!"
Like I said, I have often restrained myself from writing this post because I do not want to offend ANYONE.  There is nothing wrong with public, private, Montessori, etc. - pick your favorite flavor when it comes to various types of educations.  But there is also nothing wrong or WEIRD about home schooling.  It is a great mode of education and socialization (since that must be addressed).  For the record, there are also many different theories and approaches to home school. Ten years ago, heck, five years ago I would have never seen our family as a home school family.  I was teaching for our local district and my oldest was enrolled in elementary.  But for our family, everything started to fall apart.  Our son required extra attention and help that could have been handled by the right teacher with the right administrator but unfortunately that was not the case.  I remember someone saying to me, "You know, public school isn't for everyone.  Some kids just can't handle it."  At the time, that statement pierced my heart.  I was beyond offended!  As the momma bear, I basically read into that statement as, "Your child is not good enough for public school."  As the year unraveled (quickly might I add) we pulled our son from public school, I resigned from teaching, we became a single income family, and we jumped into home schooling.  In the blink of an eye, a snap of the fingers, a true leap of faith clinging to God, our family and life completely changed.
In the beginning, I felt like home schooling was our little secret.  I really didn't want anyone to know.  I didn't want my son being asked, I just couldn't accept it. Looking back, I think that was because I always felt like we were kicked out of public school.  Also, I wasn't educated about home schooling.  I had no idea there were many other families homeschooling, as well.  That first year, I felt very isolated.  I only knew two homeschooling families and I flooded their emails and phones with daily questions.  Now, going on our fourth year (crazy how time flies) I have such a different view.  Home schooling can be such an amazing experience for kids, parents, families as a whole.  In fact, I think the word family is the perfect definition for home school.  It is not just your own family but the home schooling community is a family. I wish I had been informed about this avenue years ago.  Now looking back, I can see our family choosing home schooling from the get-go.  I applaud families that have run this race for the duration of their children's education.  They are so brave to go against what some would say is the norm and pick the path that was/is right for their family.  I view them as true trailblazers. Last night, we attended a kick off event (for the new school year) for one of our local home school groups.  I was amazed at all of the activities and opportunities that are available.  We have been part of an incredible Christian based co-op for the past year and it has also really opened the door for my kiddos.  And don't think these are rinky-dink groups.  The organization we attended last night had over 225 families (well over 500 individuals) enrolled last year.  That is a lot of people!  They offer athletics (a student can actually letter in various activities), field trips, homecoming dances, proms, lots of holiday parties, graduation ceremonies, student council, debate club, cheerleading, the list is endless.  Which is why I just can't seem to understand why people are still so confused and concerned that we are not socializing our kids.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!  In my opinion, we have the best of both worlds.  Our kids get fantastic education and the memories of sports and extra curricular activities, along and working side by side with their families.  This leads me to the point that I can not get over how involved the families are - EVERYONE volunteers in some way.  I taught at a high school where I may have seen 10 parents (out of my 200 students) during open house.  Please don't ever think that a home school parent is lazy and just doesn't want to deal with the morning rush of getting out the door, signing countless papers and homework folders (although this is a perk).  Home schooling parents are die hard volunteers.  Yes, I realize there are exceptional volunteers in schools, that is not my point.  I just want so badly for people to understand the home school world.  If you just can't wrap your head around it at least look at just a few of the facts. HSLDA  This is the link to the Home School Legal Defense Association.  The statics in this article are astounding.  For example, home schooled children perform 30-37 percentile points higher in all subjects.  Also statistics show that home schoolers tend to score above the national average on the ACT and SAT.  This site has an endless list of other statistics regarding the benefits of home school. THSC  Did you know that in the state of Texas (where we proudly reside), homeschooling is considered a private school?  YES!  Texas recognizes any homeschooling family in the same way it recognizes private schools.  It is estimated that 120,000 families (over 300,000 students) across the state of Texas home school.  I encourage you to take a look at these sites and become better informed about home schooling (even if it is not for you, your child, or your family).  I am not trying to make this a debate against public school, which is why I have hesitated about writing this post.  I am afraid that is all people will hear.  Public school can be a wonderful experience.  I have many friends who are outstanding public school teachers.  HOWEVER, I have many friends who are also outstanding home school teachers.  I just want them (and myself) to be better understood.  I want their kids to be recognized as hard working individuals trying to find their path just like other kids.  I want both camps to understand, respect, and support one another.  I want all parents to understand that we are all doing the best we can with these two topics of parenting and education.  We pray for the day we become parents.  Then these tiny beings arrive without instruction manuals.  We make mistakes...oh so many mistakes.  But when it comes down to it, regardless if you are a working parent, stay at home parent, send your kids to public school or make the decision to home school, you are that child's parent.  The parent paired with that child by God because He trusts each of us to do our very best.  We should respect one another for that.  We should support and lean on each other.  We should cheer each other on regardless of what camp we are in. So if you are still reading this ridiculously long post (which I love you for - thank you), let me leave you with this little tidbit and navigational tool in the event you encounter a home school family.  The odds are high, we are everywhere.  :) FOR THE LOVE!  STOP ASKING HOME SCHOOLING PARENTS IF WE HAVE SOCIALIZED OUR KIDS!  If you want to talk to us about our kids and school, ask us (and our kids for that matter) real questions that pertain to actual education.  I promise you will get a much nicer response and maybe, just maybe you will realize we are...are you ready for it? may need to sit down... You may realize that we are normal..... :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

My Carrie Bradshaw Moment

First let me say that I hope I never go without writing a post (for almost a month) EVER, EVER AGAIN!  I have missed my little blog and my Blog Besties.  :)  My Blog Besties are those of you who take the time out of your schedules to read these posts of mine.  It means the world to me and I am glad we are finally reconnecting.  Let me tell you what happened. We came back from our family va-cay in Tennessee and I was sitting peacefully uploading the 1,052 (roughly) pictures I took.  Nothing makes me happier than taking pics on vacation.  Sometimes, I think I want the vacation just so I can take the pictures.  :)  Well, as I was working away on my little picture loading project, the computer froze up.  I tried a couple little tricks I have used in the past to get that rainbow wheel to stop spinning but nothing worked.  Next thing I knew I had a gray screen with an image of a file folder containing a large question mark.  The question mark was flashing at me and my mind immediately flashed to Carrie Bradshaw and the crazy little robot man.  If you were an avid Sex and the City fan (as I was in college and to this day but only when the kids are in bed) you know the exact scene I am referencing.  That is how I felt with the flashing question mark file folder thingy.  My stomach sank to the floor, I felt sweat coming on, and tears filling my eyes.  This could not be good - a flashing folder and question mark!!!!  I pulled up those exact words on my phone and iPad, the descriptions and opinions on Google were so negative.  I closed the computer only to open it again, and again, and again.  Each time I opened it I cringed, crossed every finger and toe and hoped that folder would be gone.  Nope, there is was flashing, flashing, flashing causing more and more anxiety. My main concern - ALL THOSE PHOTOS!!!  It wasn't just vacation it was pretty much every photo I have taken over the last four years.  We used to back up to an external hard drive but after it got dropped and no longer worked I lost my trust in those.  I decided I would rather just save to the computer.  So this is how the rest of my Carrie Bradshaw moment played out.  Over the next couple of days every time I explained what happened to someone I got the look (the parent scolding a child look) and then this statement, "You didn't back up or save to Drop Box?"  Ugh, it killed me.  I felt like such an irresponsible person.  This is exactly what happened to Carrie.  Apparently, everyone else on the planet backed up except her. Yep, I am the only one who does not back up!  I was embarrassed to ask others for help because of the dreaded, "What?  You didn't back up?" The look was worse than the question!  It took every ounce of self control not to scream, "NO, I DID NOT BACK UP!!!! OKAY?  THERE!  I AM IRRESPONSIBLE AND DO NOT BACK UP!"  My head was down and my tail was between my legs but at least I kept my cool (in public). My husband witnessed a pretty big hissy fit in the kitchen.  Oh well, he can handle it.  He's the one that took the vow...for better or worse.  It was definitely not a "for better" moment.  Fast forward three very long weeks plus our amazing tech guy from church and all our images and documents were recovered.  Seriously, he will forever have my love and appreciation.  He will also always have my husband's gratitude (well I think you understand why).  There is a special place in Heaven for people who can restore some one's pictures ensuring that their sanity will also resume to normal.  :) We have a new addition to our family.  She is beautiful, fits on my lap, and I call her Windy (for her super fun Windows 10).  Okay, so I haven't actually named the new computer but seriously I am so thankful to have it.  I love to write and post, it is basically my hobby.  I don't get to do it every day but over three weeks without it seemed like an eternity.  On a side note, our homeschool classroom was published on another site (Free Homeschool Deals - Homeschool Room Tours).  Super fun, just wanted to share! Elizabeth :)