Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Denise

Denise is the mother of three kids, and is a part of my online mom's group.


1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

Anna-Lee is 5, Reese is 3, and Lucy is 9.5 months.

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

We've been doing a very non-structured unschooling approach for the last year and a half.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

We've chose to homeschool mainly because I see a lot of the same learning styles I had as a kid in Anna-Lee. I excelled in elementary school, but was fortunate enough to have had amazing teachers who saw my unique abilities and who were able to work with them instead of against them. With class sizes in our area schools having almost doubled since then, we don't want our kids to get lost in the crowd.

As they get older, we also see homeschooling as a way to help foster their individual interests and learning goals.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

Right now, with the kids being so young, we mainly use an unschooling approach. We use her interests to inspire what we learn. She is very interested in space, in dinosaurs, and all things science. Or we turn buying a box of ice cream bars into a lesson in math (if we each get an ice cream but Lucy, that's 4. This box has six. How many extras will we have?). Its been the best approach for us over the past 18 months because a difficult pregnancy, whiplash, working, and family circumstances has made carving out daily time for a structured school approach difficult.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

Until recently, I would've said we will be homeschooling her entire academic life. But, Anna-Lee needs speech therapy. We can get it through our local public school even while teaching her at home. When we were at the school for the evaluation, I was told I'd need to have her there 2-3x/week. As we were leaving we ran into the kindergarten teachers, who was one of those teachers that I was very fortunate to have. I decided that for this semester, we'll send her to kindergarten. Anna-Lee and I have difficulty with learning to read and get frustrated with one another. I think adding a different adult into the mix will help. And if I'm sending her to school, there isn't a teacher out there that I'd feel more comfortable with.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

I think it's silly to suggest spending 8 hrs a day with a group of people all the same age is real world preparation. My friends' vary in age from 20 to 65 (I'm 26), and I rarely work with people my own age. While homeschooling, the girls are going to appointments with me, to stores, to restaurants, and seeing my friends. They can take dance lessons and go visit family members. They are exposed to the real world and to many different people, just as adults are.

I do think parents need to make sure kids have access to other kids. Whether its through a homeschool group, a playgroup, meeting a group of mom's and their kids at the zoo weekly, a dance karate type lesson, etc. Otherwise its very easy for kids to get plenty of interaction, but no opportunities to really develop relationships.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

I worry that Anna-Lee will grow up resenting being homeschooled. Which is a big part of why I plan to let her guide a lot of her studies, as long as she's meeting the state requirements. A big part of this is that I have a friend who hated being homeschooled and wishes she would've gone to a public or private school instead. Then again, I went to public school and in 9th grade spend two weeks refusing to speak to my parents because they wouldn't pull me out to let me homeschool! So, I guess really the biggest worry is that we'll lose the communication we need to have to make her education an enriching, FUN experience rather than something she drudges through, regardless of location.

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