Originally written May 2003.
After 7 years, I'm considered an old hand at homeschooling. I have two sons, one who would be in 6th grade in public school and one who would be in fourth. My oldest is working at 6-8 grade levels and my youngest is working at 4-6 grade levels.
My husband feels they are getting the best education possible because I have a BSEd and a PhD and I care about them more than any other teacher would. I also have ten years of teaching experience, aside from homeschooling.
I think that they are getting a good education because they are learning to study on their own, they can go at their own pace, and they are not held back or pushed forward by politics or social considerations. This has been a great blessing for my youngest who would have been in “special ed” classes because he did not learn to read when he was 5 or 6 or 7. But he was never laughed at or labeled and he has not only learned to read but his reading level is several grades above his age level now.
Recently, however, I have kind of “hit the wall” with the whining and complaining. I thought for a while it was just my kids, but I subbed the other day for a class of kids their ages and every single one of the boys in the class was just as whiny and complainy. The fact that it is a function of their age should have made it easier to deal with, but it has not. I am tired of it.
A simple, but wimpy, answer would be to put them in school somewhere else besides at home. They would be a little bored (or maybe even a lot bored) by the work which they've already done and would have to sit through again. But they would meet a lot more people with whom they could talk and argue and their teachers would be dealing with them all day and not me. Of course, if they were in trouble at school that would still involve me and, unfortunately, when you aren't there it is sometimes hard to tell what is true about a situation.
Pros for homeschooling:
teacher loves them
can advance at their own pace
can take more time when they need it to learn a concept
have to master a topic, not just move beyond it
learn manners and etiquette in a family environment
Cons for homeschooling:
have the same teacher every year
teacher needs a break
are with each other all day most days
Many people are concerned about the social aspects of homeschooling, but usually those who are concerned are non-homeschoolers. Homeschoolers know there are a myriad of social situations the kids are involved in without letting the peer group become the major influence.
I can't find the study, but I read it back when my kids were babies. This study says that parents are the main influence on their children's lives until the kids are 8. At that age, the main influence switches to their peer group. I don't know about you, but I would rather my children continued to be influenced more by me and other adults in their lives than by a bunch of 9, 10, 11 year olds, etc.
My kids do soccer with the YMCA. They do an extracurricular morning once a week with other homeschoolers, studying science, art, geography, readers' theater, poetry, etc. They do a Bible study once a week with other homeschoolers at the local Baptist church. Since we're not Baptist, believe me that this allows them to get used to people disagreeing with their beliefs. Plus we have class at church on Sundays with other kids their own ages. And, finally, every day that it isn't raining, they are outside playing with the other neighborhood kids, homeschooled and public school students as well. My extrovert son is also in a chess club.
I wish there were an easy way to take a break from homeschooling. But I don't know one. So, I guess I will keep it up and hope that the whininess ends soon.