How Homeschooling Changed Our Lives Last Year: Homeschooling Pros and Cons
L1 (my oldest daughter) has definitely become a very different child after her homeschooling experience (for the background story, read “Homeschooling and a Paralell Path“). Some aspects are very positive and there are some areas that may need work.
L1 learned to be self directed in her daily routine. She would wake up, pick out her outfit, get dressed and ready and prepare her own breakfast. She would set up her books at the kitchen table and then choose which academic work to start with. She would keep her eye on the time and knew which days she had different sports or classes. When I compared her to her older brother who attends our local Public School he seemed more like an inmate. I woke him up, had his clothes laid out and breakfast ready, to ensure that he got to school on time.
When at school his day is mapped out for him and he is coaxed by teachers there to follow the group of kids through allotted class times, gym times and outdoor times until he was allowed to go home. The difference is subtle but it is there.
L1 became very confident. With the absence of the negative voices of her peers, and the perceived negative academic image she was receiving from teacher’s comments, because of her inability to focus in the crowded public school classroom, L1 returned to the confident girl with leadership skills that she was when she was in preschool.
She learned to speak confidently about her very different choice of schooling. She learned to be different and explain the difference to others without shame or embarrassment. I found that a very valuable skill to learn at the age of 6.
L1 developed a deep and nurturing relationship with my youngest daughter L2 who was a year old when the school year started and almost two by the time it ended. The way they bonded would have never happened had L1 been at school in the early morning hours. Furthermore, we took L2 with us to classes and activities which made her life so much richer. I will always look back very fondly at our “girl time” at home and the kind of closeness it fostered between us.
Similarly me and L1 had the deepest conversations we had ever had. Anyone who has more than one child knows that it is difficult to give each child the time they deserve. By having my son at school during the day, and L2 too young to be talking, L1 and I had the deepest conversations we had ever had. I think the closeness we forged was priceless.
Most of L1’s education took place outdoors. With our nature classes, activities and the fact that she became my companion on errands and running my preschool and doing my writing, she learned a lot about the world that simply cannot be taught in a classroom. I witnessed firsthand how she matured greatly because of this. She acquired practical skills, as well as a level of understanding of life and how it works, that I think will stay with her for life.
Toward the end of the second half of the school year (we had about two and a half months left), L1 grew a little restless and defiant. I think with the lack of peers in the morning portion of the day and me being the one directing her, our relationship encompassed Teacher and Student as well as Mother and Child and she was starting to rebel a bit against me.
Once this started, I developed a “Points System” and explained that if academic work was not consistently being finished on time and attitudes were not up to par, that she may not make enough points to earn another Home School year. I explained that Home Schooling was for self-driven and focused children and that if she couldn’t keep that attitude up she would have to learn in a group under the supervision of a teacher again. I think this is when L1 realized that she would like to try that set up again. It was at this point, true to my “Life has many alternatives” motto, that I allowed her to choose to try Public School for this upcoming academic year.
We contacted our local school and discussed her options and she went in to meet them. We decided to stick to her age grouped Grade level, meaning that she will repeat 1st Grade curriculum because that is what children her age were doing.
I agreed with the school administration that doing it this way gave her more of a chance to adjust to classroom instruction when she was already familiar with the material. Furthermore, it gave her the space and time to adjust socially to the large number of children in the classroom, which we were still testing out as well.
L1 has a little trouble with authority figures. As a direct result of having her space and allowance to choose her way through the year, L1 developed a problem listening to adults trying to direct her. I don’t know if this is necessarily a bad thing as much as it is an issue of being trained to discern between when it is ok to “have an opinion” and when you have to “obey orders”. I tried not to “stomp” it out of her because I like that she is a non-conformist. However, I do find that our effort to have her follow the instructions of an adult in charge without question, is still a work in progress.
Read also: Different Homeschooling Options
Hoda Rashad is an author and educator who earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Middle Eastern Studies and her MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language from the American University in Cairo. Rashad wrote “Rising from Tahrir” in 2012, a Creative Non-Fiction collection of ten individuals’ stories from the 2011 Egyptian revolution. Rashad pursued a career in teaching for more than 12 years and worked as an educational consultant for over 7 years before moving to the US in 2005, where she continued to work as an educational consultant in private schools and corporate projects, until founding and running her own preschool project and teacher-based homeschooling program in the Bay Area. She can be reached at: email@example.com. Check out her blog!