Saturday, December 22, 2012

Homeschooling in light of Newtown, Connecticut shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary

While my heart grieves and is broken for the unspeakable violence and horrific events that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary school on Dec. 14, 2012, I have to say that it solidifies even more my decision to homeschool.

My story is a little different as I was a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of my teacher. When it was time for my child to start school, I was overwhelmed with fear. I did put my child in public school, unaware that there were options. My oldest went through kindergarten and first-grade in public school and besides my fears of sexual abuse, she received a horrible education.

The methods they were using to teach her failed and she was entering the second-grade as a non-reader. It was at the point that my daughter would go to school, come home, and then do school with me so that I could teach her how to read. Our "schooling" became so intensive, I wondered what in the world I was sending her to public school for.

I began to pray for wisdom, as I was a new believer and had been a teen mother, so I was definitely heading into unknown territory.

It was at church in Newport, Rhode Island, that I met a woman, my daughter's Sunday School teacher, who was homeschooling her children. Julie gave me a "crash course," invited me to a home-fair where we explored Abeka curriculum, and gave me my first set of Alpha Omega books and answer keys.

I knew that God had answered my prayer and it was time to start homeschooling.

I can't say that everything turned out as perfectly as I had hoped. It didn't. Some homeschooling moms have this pressure to be perfect; I don't.

Life isn't perfect. Things happen. At one point I was homeschooling four children with a preschooler and an infant in the home; next I was divorced.

Divorce and homeschooling don't mix, and it's amazing how quickly homeschooling can be used as a divisive tool when someone is trying to get a legal edge.

Divorce wreaked havoc in my children's lives, and as the younger ones lived with their father following, they went back to public school.

I've since remarried and have two children with my husband who I homeschool.

Let me tell you something--homeschooling is a huge decision and if one partner is against it, or changes their mind midway, you are going to have issues.

My second husband was one of six children. Two of his sisters homeschooled and being in a family that views homeschooling favorably is priceless.

It's been a long homeschooling journey and I will be first to admit there have been some mistakes along the way.

I began homeschooling in 1992; it is now 2012 and I have learned SO Much about learning styles, learning methods and child-led learning.

I'm not an unschooler, but I do think that children who are interested in a subject and love learning are happier students. I'm more interested in helping my children love to learn rather than acing tests. I aced tests in school.

I could ace a test, walk out the door, and forget everything on the test. It's called short-term memory. Most facts for a test are committed to short-term memory.

I'm not interested in testing my children's short-term memory skills.

I'm in it for the long haul, and learning never ends.

There's a difference between taking a test, understanding a concept, and knowing a subject. True knowledge of a subject is our homeschooling goal.

As computers have become a staple in my home, I'd have to say that my homeschooling method has changed greatly to incorporate programs such as Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft PowerPoint, Paintshop, educational games and the Internet.

My children have homeschooling blogs where we share work, post assignments and link to online resources and educational games. I have an enormous collection of educational YouTube videos and embedded public domain, educational textbooks that my children love and use. I still have homeschooling blogs for my children from my first marriage. It's amazing that they are grown and some have children of their own, yet their homeschooling blogs remain online--a memorial to their home education.

The computer has shifted much of our focus from workbooks to online learning; however, I continue to use a workbook curriculum, just because I like to see my children's work in tangible form.

Many days, our classroom learning begins by jumping online, going to a blog, reading an online story, or engaging in online curriculum.

When I began homeschooling in 1992, none of this factored into our learning.

I say all of this to share that though my homeschooling journey has been long, marred with sorrow at times (divorce), and is continually evolving, I wouldn't change it for anything in the world.

I began homeschooling to keep my children safe from predators.

Predators come in many forms: Sexual offenders, bullies and violent mad-men that massacre innocent children in their first grade classrooms.

My children's safety is my utmost priority. Homeschooling has always ensured their safety. Regardless of anything that has transpired in my children's lives (four are over 18), homeschooling protected them from the horrors that can transpire in public school.

Do I believe that all children have negative public school experiences? No, I don't.

What I do believe; however, is that those who have negative public school experiences, often find their adult lives destroyed as a result.

I'm not willing to gamble when it comes to my children's lives or safety.

Are you?

Here's an interesting debate on "Unschooling" from Dr. Drew.