My last post ended with, “..sometimes I felt like nothing I said was taken into consideration. The last meeting I attended was the last straw…I went to the car and cried my eyes out. I couldn’t subject WSS to that SH*T anymore. It was that moment that I decided that, no matter the consequences, I was going to homeschool my kids.”
Our Decision to Homeschool (Part 2)
My concerns with public school were:
1) High-Stakes Testing.
Here in Florida so many things are attached to the state standardized test (high- stakes testing). I don’t agree with that… at all. Especially since my son has a disability. One of my main questions in the last IEP meeting was, “Since Wabi Sabi Son has a reading comprehension disability, and since he could fail third grade if he fails the standardized test (high-stakes), could he have someone read the test to him so he can understand the questions?” The answer was NO. They said he could have all of the time he needed in order to take the test, BUT he couldn’t have anyone read him the passages. WSS sometimes took up to three minutes per sentence. Can you imagine how long it would take him to read one paragraph, then read the question he was supposed to answer… while remembering everything he read in the paragraph. He couldn’t do it. It’s not that he didn’t want to. He just couldn’t. WSS was/is great at listening and repeating everything you say. He could easily comprehended the questions if he could receive the information all at once (someone reading to him). But, when it would take three minutes to read one sentence, by the end of the sentence he would forget what the beginning of the sentence said. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for him. I knew I wouldn’t be ok with him failing another year just because of a stupid test. He is extremely intelligent. He doesn’t need a high-stakes test telling him that he isn’t. **Update: His reading and reading comprehension have improved so much since we started homeschooling. He’s much more confident and actually LIKES to read now!
It took at least two hours every night for homework. He wasn’t picked up from after-school care until 6:00pm. By the time he did homework, ate dinner, took a shower, and brushed his teeth, he wasn’t going to bed until 9:00pm. And that was on a good night. **Update: He now does all of his work during the day, and he’s able to get to bed at a decent hour.
3) Our youngest child, Wabi Sabi Daughter.
She was excelling in school. But, she was extremely bored. School wasn’t challenging for her. She can hear something one time and just get it. I asked if they could test her for a gifted class and I was told that they didn’t do that until third grade. I couldn’t stand the fact that she wasn’t working to her full potential. We felt that if she was homeschooled she could move at her own pace and not be held back. **Update: She is now a third grader working on fourth grade subjects.
4) Teaching to mastery.
That means you stay on a subject until the student masters that subject. You don’t have to rush through everything which leads to education gaps. It makes learning so much easier when the student masters the lessons. If we move on before they master a lesson they won’t fully comprehend the next lesson. What’s the point of moving on if they don’t completely understand what they’re studying? Public schools are on a pretty strict timeline for teaching lessons. There’s no way every child can master most lessons while in public school. **Update: As Florida homeschoolers, as long as we show progress from the beginning of the year to the end of the year we have met the requirements to move on to the next grade level. There are no rules as to how much information we need to cover. And, we can stay on a topic as long as we need to in order for the kids to master it.
It wasn’t too long after that IEP meeting that we attended our first homeschool conference. The FPEA Homeschool Conference is the biggest in the nation and it’s only a few miles from my house. The atmosphere was a much needed breath of fresh air. Everyone was so helpful. We attended many workshops, listened to many speakers, and spent a lot of time visiting hundreds of different vendor booths. We also noticed how happy the homeschooled children were. At each of the booths my children were giving their input as to what they thought they might like and what might not work for them. Parents were having conversations with their children about what they were going to study. This is what education should be (IMHO). It was awesome! The experience was both amazing and overwhelming all at once. It was after that conference that Wabi Sabi Daddy and I both felt like homeschooling was right for our family. The educational opportunities were endless. Learning could be every day – all day. Not just from 8am-3pm (or, in our case, 8pm). I wanted the best for my children. I wanted them to enjoy learning. I wanted them to study whatever interested them (along with the basic studies, of course). It was time to take a huge leap and go for it.
Once the decision was made I felt like a HUGE weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
That first homeschool conference was almost two years ago…we’ve never looked back. Our next conference is in May and We…Can’t…Wait…
Wabi Sabi Mommy