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Heaven Help Me | Teeny Manolo

Heaven Help Me

Last Friday was the Munchkin’s last day of “real” school.

Yes, I did the unthinkable.  At least, based on the reactions of almost everyone around me, I did the unthinkable.

What I really did was enroll the Munchkin in a school-at-home program run by the education department in my county.  So he still uses state-approved textbooks and a state-approved curriculum, it is just that he no longer attends a public school and I am his teacher.

I want to talk about  the way everyone acted when I told them he would no longer be attending public school and instead schooling at home.  I got everything from a “Good for you” (the tiny minority) to a long and dramatic “Ooooooooooh-kaaaaay” (the vast majority).  When my husband went to pick him up early one day during his last week, the secretaries, unaware of who my husband was, were actually gossiping about it at the front desk as he walked up! 

This was not a decision made lightly.  My husband and I have actually been pondering the idea for at least two years now.  I can’t tell you how many people have such a negative view of schooling at home, which I think in large part comes from a vision of a brood of children hunched over Bible verses instead of math books, but that is a story for another time.  A large part of our putting it off was based on how much people told us that it was a horrible thing to do, both to our son and to our sanity as parents.

But then it finally came to a point where I knew the Munchkin was losing interest in school. It was a fight every morning to get him out the door.  He was bored. He’s eight!  He has no business being uninterested in learning.  I figured I could never forgive myself if there was something I could have done to reginite that love of learning he used to have and used social conventions as my excuse to not do it.  We have done it at this point in the year on purpose, as the bulk of the year is over, and if for some reason the whole thing is an unmitigated disaster, he will not have lost much in the way of curriculum. 

I found the county-run program we are enrolled in almost by accident, but now I’m pretty sure there are no such things as accidents.  If you are considering taking the leap into schooling at home, but are intimidatd by thinking you have to do it on your own, it is well worth to check if your school district or county runs their own programs.  We meet with a teacher once every three weeks to check his progress, they gave me almost a thousand dollars worth of textbooks, and they have tons of field trips (much more than regular school) as well as computer, language, and music classes!  He will still take the state standards test, and he is given a report card, just like “real” school!

He always has the option to go back to public school if he wants to.  This is not something we are mandating, but a family decision that is flexible and committed to the best outcome for all involved.

We are only in day two of schooling at home, and I am still sort of getting the hang of it, as is the Munchkin.  But suffice to say that when we complete three day’s worth of work in one hour, I can’t help but feel vindicated.

12 Responses to “Heaven Help Me”

  1. AuroraB March 16, 2011 at 9:19 am #

    Given the stories of his school. Hooray – no more STUPID requirements.

  2. class factotum March 16, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    I have a blog friend who homeschooled her two kids up until this year, when they started high school, one as a sophomore, one as a junior. In the past years, she has written about the fun things they are learning and the cool projects they have done. I am FB friends with the daughter, 17, who is funny, sweet, bright, and creative.

    You are doing the right thing!

  3. marvel March 16, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    Yay for Glinda! Yay for the Munchkin! Based on what you have shared here, he needed OUT of his school. While some public schools may be preferable to home-schooling, in your case it sounds as if home-schooling will be far better than the public school available to the Munchkin. (I’m still reeling from the dinosaur story.) I say yay for going for it! Maybe you’ll start a trend. :)

  4. Hillary March 16, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    I am the mother of 3 boys (9th grade, 4th grade, and 1st grade) and have homeschooled them all the way through each grade. They are kind, well-mannered boys who still enjoy “school” and learning. They do well on those ITBS-type tests, andinteract well with both adults and their public-schooled peers.

    Your son will be **fine.** Once you both get into a school-at-home groove, I’m certain you will find that he will thrive!

    Have a wonderful time on this new adventure! If you need encouragement, a sounding board, or help, feel free to e-mail me.

  5. Awesome Mom March 16, 2011 at 3:10 pm #

    Good for you! That school he was in sounded horrible.

  6. Glinda March 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

    Thanks for the encouragement, everyone!

    Do you want to know something scary? The school he was enrolled in is in the top 10% of my state’s schools, based on test scores.

    • marvel March 18, 2011 at 7:27 am #

      Ha. I bet that is more reflective of the home environments of the kids than of the school itself. But I am prejudiced because of your stories, of course.

  7. Bpetro March 17, 2011 at 1:38 am #

    It sounds like your school system has an awesome support network. I think that is great that they are helping you out with the curriculum. I’m sure Munchkin will thrive in his school-at-home environment. Have fun!

  8. La Petite Acadienne March 17, 2011 at 9:53 am #

    Good for you, Glinda! That school sounded ridiculous. Like Marvel, I’m still reeling from that dinosaur story. I think your common sense and the fact that you will encourage, not stifle, his questioning nature will make for a very rewarding education for him.

    It’s worth a try, right? If I were a SAHM, I’d seriously consider it — our local school tries, but it’s tiny and underfunded, so it just doesn’t have the range of subjects that I’d like for Bugaboo to learn. I think we’ll wind up having to supplement his education, especially in French (they don’t start French until Grade 4 here, and there’s no option for French immersion).

  9. Rebecca A March 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Good for you! My parents did the same thing when I was seven/2nd grade and it was the best thing for me. I was also completely bored in class, and the teachers told my parents that I wasn’t learning anything but there was nothing they could do about it because there were no special programs and they couldn’t move me up a grade because it would be ‘bad for my development’. Because sitting in a classroom bored to tears for hours on end is good for a child’s development?

    At home I became so much more of a self-starter and would actually ask for more material in subjects I liked. I think being homeschooled really fueled my love of learning because of the freedom and encouragement to read, dream, investigate, and try new things. I did great on my testing every year and when I went back to ‘normal’ school I ended up valedictorian of my high school and an honors student in college. Many of my friends have had similar experiences, and I would say we are all well-adjusted independent thinkers who have done well in our chosen professions. Obviously the homeschooling didn’t ruin our chances!

  10. marvel March 19, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    Here is a sort-of related article about teaching methods:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2288402/

    I know the Munchkin is no longer in preschool, but I bet the same sort of learning environment(s) would still apply at his age.

  11. Kimmer March 24, 2011 at 8:18 am #

    I’m late to the party here, but wanted to chime in with the “Go, Glinda!” posts. The face of homeschooling is changing rapidly these days. Dissatisfaction with the educational system is as big a reason as religion for homeschooling, if not more so.