I’m back, as promised, with part 2 of my Keeping it Real post about my great education debate. It is the debate raging in my head and in the United States. If you missed part 1, you can read that in my first post: Keeping it Real with My Great Education Debate ~ Part 1.
In my last post I told you the story of my oldest daughter, Snowflake. How we ended up homeschooling and how she is in public school this year. I ended telling you a bit about what I think of the education she is getting and I left you hanging…wondering what all of this had to even do with a debate about education. The debate swirling in my head relates to my youngest daughter, Pumpkin. (BTW – I finally did an about me page, so you can see both of them on that page.)
She has seen her older sister go to school. I hate to even go to this part of the post because it brings up a topic homeschoolers hate to discuss(at least I do). Socialization. I swear to you the first thing we are told when we tell you we homeschool is that you (the non-homeschool parent) don’t have the patience to homeschool. The next question is with regard to how we socialize our child. Why is that? Why is socialization the first question? Why not how am educating them? Why not what are they learning? Why is socialization the first concern?
While we are on socialization, why also do we want a bunch of 5 year olds learning to socialize together? Ummm….has anyone noticed that they don’t know what they are doing? They often don’t know how to treat each other kindly and with respect, etc. One adult to 30 kids and the kids are not going to have full supervision to learn to ‘socialize.’ I’m not saying that this is a horrible process, but we all know, and I remember many instances of really hurt feelings in this ‘socialization’ process. It wasn’t the most positive experience for me and for many kids. In some ways, it changed the core of who I was and taught me a more herd mentality…I need to fit in and not do anything that makes me stick out. I don’t want to get picked on or called out. Now, I don’t want my girls being raised that way. I want them to be free to be themselves. Not to feel like they have to conform. Of course, I’m also me and I’ve taught them manners and how to behave in social settings, but I, who has 43 years of experience, have taught them those skills….not another 5-year-old. Oh geez…. I’m so going to hear about this from many people….oh well…I’m keeping it real.
I’m just really sick of the whole concept that because I homeschool, my kids must be starving for social interaction. There are plenty of ways in which my kids have had social interaction and one of the really nice things about homeschooling is that they learn to socialize with a wide range of ages. Not just one age group. I think in that regard, my kids are better prepared for the future adult world.
All of that being said, we have also struggled with socialization. It is something I hate to talk about and bring up because it is such an annoying topic and I hate to give those that don’t understand homeschooling fuel for their socialization debate. Let me reiterate…my kids have opportunities to socialize with other children multiple times per week with different classes, a homeschool co-op, Girl Scouts, etc. They are not socially deprived but where I live people are spread out. Often to get together for a playdate is at least a 20 minute drive and it ends up being that those kinds of social interactions don’t happen as much as my girls would like because of the time factor. It also happens that for my older daughter, she has had a hard time connecting and making friends that are lasting friendships. I think she is the type of personality that needs more time to connect and build the bonds of friendship, as in daily contact. I couldn’t provide that in our current homeschool. It is one of the reasons why she enjoys going to school despite the frustration of her education.
My younger daughter, Pumpkin, is now lonely. She and her sister are best friends. Her best friend is now gone for most of the day and while she loves having more uninterrupted time with her mom, it has left an empty hole for her.
Pumpkin is in 2nd grade and reads on a 6th grade level. She is already learning multiplication, division, and fractions. She can write multiple paragraphs on a topic. She is struggles with handwriting and spelling, but everything else is above grade level. Far above grade level.
And now you know the education debate raging in my mind. What do I do? I can’t afford private school. Snowflake has settled into public school and is thriving there. She desires to learn more, but is otherwise thriving in the educational choice we have made for her this year. I think it was a great choice for her.
So for next year, do I hand over my Pumpkin to them now as well? If they are teaching 7th graders the main idea of paragraphs(as I talked about in Part 1), what are they teaching 2nd and 3rd graders? It is really sad the number of days that Snowflake comes home from school and what she was learning in 7th grade is what I was teaching Pumpkin that day in 2nd grade.
Pumpkin is interested in going to school, because like her sister, she thinks that the daily interaction with kids will be fun. I know in some ways she is right. There is a part of me though that thinks waiting until she is a little bit older will be better. While Snowflake is very definitive in what she believes and knows is right and wrong, I can see Pumpkin is less self-assured and I would love to give her a little more time to grow into herself before other kids have the opportunity to make her doubt herself even more. That kind of stuff just rarely happens in homeschooling. Educationally, I have serious doubts that the school system can really nurture her mind and her current education level, even if she were to qualify to some kind of Gift and Talented program.
There are so many thoughts and debates swirling. The other thing that we have had a hard time adjusting to this year is the lack of quality family time with the school schedule. It is relentless and shortens the day to getting ready in the morning, school day, home with time for homework, making a lunch for the following day, a little time together(short), dinner, getting ready for bed and finally bedtime. Compared to the quality and quantity of time that we used to have it has really decreased my closeness with Snowflake and my time with her. She feels left out sometimes because I still have that non-rushed time with Pumpkin.
All of these debates rage in my mind. What to do with a bright 2nd grader who misses her best friend and wants to see what her sister is experiencing.
The truth is that I want to keep her at home another year (maybe more…but I take these things year by year). The other truth is that I have no idea if that is the best thing for her. I have no idea if that is the best thing for me. I have no idea if that is the best thing for our family. That is the most scary place as a mom…the raging debate with no clear answer of what is best.
Truthfully, it would be so much easier for me to send her to school. I would have more time to work and I love my job and would love to pour more hours into this blog. I am also totally willing to sacrifice that for my child(ren). She will only be with me for 10 more years. Snowflake will only be with me for 5 more years. Those years are too few and my job will be here when they are not.
That being said…what is best? Educationally, Pumpkin being homeschooled is better for her, but I get it. She wants to see what her sister and some of her friends do at school every day.
What I truly wish is that our education system was different and I didn’t have to debate this so hotly in my mind. I wish that there were a plethora of education options so that I could select an environment that would be great fit for my child instead of my child having to conform to the educational system which is designed for one type of learner.
I don’t have that…so the debate will rage on.
As I write this, I don’t have the answer for us right now. I’m proceeding with assuming I will be homeschooling 1 child, though it may be 2 and it may be none. What would you do? I almost hate to ask and hate to open this up to discussion because I know from personal experience with blogging and hot topics that people can be mean. Yet, for those of you who are my target audience, I know you struggle with these things as well. I know you can be kind and we can talk like friends….so what would you do?
Jill Goodwin says
To be honest, I thought the direction you would go is Common Core which I can’t stand for math. I have 2 kids who did great the old way and my husband and I did great the old way, my third isn’t doing as well and I feel I have to teach a lot at home. FYI: oldest is in graduate school and second is in college.
My daughter is in 4th grade and is reading well above grade level (math is at level, but I feel below the standards of her siblings’ time). There are a variety of teaching methods, some more traditional with everyone learning together and some more independent working at their own level. On one hand, I feel they get enough computer time, but using some of these educational programs allows individualization. We have been happy up until they implemented Common Core this year. Are older two kids went to private and I actually felt up until 3rd grade that the younger one had a better foundation. The private school seemed to get stuck in fluff and inflexible rules.
What I am starting to get frustrated with is the culture. At the private school, everyone volunteered, we knew not only the students, but their parents, and everyone pushed their kids to excel. I liked being surrounded by families of similar values. It makes a big difference. My son didn’t get into the private high school and it is a struggle to motivate a smart kid when he is meeting the low standards set in public, but you know he can do better. My son just coasted through and now at 20 is upset we didn’t push harder. You already have enough battles through the teen years, it is so much easier when school tackles the education part for you.
Jill Goodwin says
I can really see where people are concerned with social skills because, lets face it, we have having an epidemic of social issues. I think my husband has to spend way too much time handling employee relations now. I’m not saying it is a homeschooling problem because most of his employees weren’t homeschooled. When I was a kid, families were bigger (I’m one of 4) and most of the moms stayed home. We had to learn to resolve our issues with our siblings and friends on our own because all mom was going to do was yell at us for fighting and we would lose some privilege. The young adults today didn’t have these experiences. I saw this a lot when I was a teacher, too many kids just don’t know how to solve their own problems. They don’t get along with each other and don’t have any empathy for others. Classroom was manageable, but yard duty was horrible. I would never go to the yard duty to resolve my problem with a friend. We went when we were hurt or needed help opening something in our lunch.
Now we weren’t perfect. I remember kids calling others names, but we had come backs (I’m rubber. you’re glue, what you say bounces off me and sticks to you, and as well as other sayings such as sticks and stones). Name calling must have been common to have so many comebacks, but we weren’t traumatized by it. I still remember this kid coming up to me crying so hard that I thought she must have broken something and she spits out XYZ hurt my, my, …my feelings. Talk about crying wolf. That kind of crying needs to be reserved for emergency room visits. How many times do I get so and so won’t play with me. I had had enough one day so I finally told the kid, why do you want to play so much with someone who doesn’t want to play with you. There are lots of other kids, find someone else. Not the party line that everyone needs to be inclusive. Too many times, I would ask questions and it would turn out that the kid complaining wanted to play XYZ and the kids that wouldn’t play with her wanted to play ABC. Find someone who wants to play what you want instead of trying to force others to play your way. Makes sense right??? Some kids will click and others won’t, but this idea that you must be inclusive is just having the opposite effect. Forcing incompatible kids together causes resentment. You don’t need to be friends with everyone, but you can be kind to everyone.
this is something you know I’ve wrestled with having one child. I have a bad case of homeschool envy and I have ever since my kiddo was little. I’ve attended local homeschool meetings and checked out the local co op and so on. But yet here is my son in third grade in public school.
I wonder- do you have a local co-op? They have provided a lot of people in my area ( and we are a smaller town than yours) with great interaction time while also giving education on a variety of subjects.
I feel your pain and hear your heart. You’re a good mama.
KC Coake says
Yes, I do know how you have debated as well. We do have a local co-op. It has been great. As my oldest has gotten older, it just wasn’t enough for her. Our area is a bit spread out and it makes it a little more challenging to get together outside of our co-op times. My younger daughter has enjoyed the co-op environment as well. She just sometimes thinks it would be neat to get to be with the kids everyday and to do what her older sister is now doing.
I know you are a good mom as well! I know you are doing what is best for your son and following your heart. I think that sometimes that is the best we can do even though we have so many doubts and concerns and other things swirling around in our our minds. 🙂 Thanks for leaving a comment!
Ann-Marie Rigby says
Deep sigh on this “socialisation” thing! ….with a few rolled eyes as well!
I’m in England and my children started school at 3 (for the eldest 2) and 4 (for the youngest).
WHY do people go on and on about Home educated children being lacking in “socialisation”??
My eldest is now 18 and leaving school in a few weeks before heading to Uiversity in Spetember. – She has a small circle of friends as she is a quiet and introverted character……those friends are young people who have been in the SAME class as her since they were 3! ………So yes, she goes to school, but she interacts with a tiny group of people!
In contrast, until recently I worked with a young lady with some special needs who was home educated – and only a few months older than my eldest daughter. Though she had her lessons at home with either her Mum or me, she took part in activities, through a local Home School network and her church, which meant she had a MUCH wider grouping of friends than my child!
The “your child will lack social stimulation unless they go to school” argument is a total load of baloney in my opinion!
…..PS…..I’m also a teacher (one of the reasons my children go to school despite my wish that I could have home schooled! Bit hypocritical to say school is fine for your kids but not mine!) and I see many children who come to school day in day out but who interact with no one!
Bottom line, you can only do the best you can with what you know and have………. and to ALL those who home school, I take my hat off to you for raising well rounded, articulate and interested young people!