Saturday, January 29, 2011

Homeschooling? Never ...

You know what they say: "Never say never." Well, I said I'd never be a homeschooling mom but the more I learn about it, the more I am seriously considering it.

WARNING: This is a long post covering a lot of topics for my own journaling purposes. I hope you find them useful and informative--especially if your children are being educated in Utah or if you never thought you'd consider homeschooling, either.

The snowball of research started first when I considered homeschooling Brynn through the preschool therapy. The good news is our current therapist said, "I've NEVER had a parent want to do therapy at home; but in all honesty, it would unquestionably be better for the child!" So she's plugging me in to some great resources and I am feeling more and more confident about my decision to go this route. I'm so glad we have decided to do this!

The second factor influencing my research is the huge concern I have about our Utah schools. This may seem alarmist (it seemed that way to me, too, at first); but when my own nephew comes home from school and announces his teacher is telling the students that "communism isn't really that bad," and "there is no one right form of government," I start to realize things may not be well in Happy Valley.

I also learned that other Utah schools are delivering pamphlets about "What is abstinence?" that contain detailed photos of how to put on condoms, detailed information on how to use "withdrawal" and other methods of "effective" birth control, as well as inviting Planned Parenthood to visit the school and tell your children, "We are here for you."

Utah State law requires schools to teach the superiority of our Republican form of government as well as the virtues of capitalism AND to teach/advocate for actual abstinence. But although our State Board of Education is actually quite conservative, there is no system in place for accountability or transparency from the individual districts. Thus, the local school boards have been overrun by special-interest groups (namely those with athiest, humanist, moral relativist, and Socialist agendas), and parents who are good people, but largely indifferent or simply uninformed, are their only checks.

My own sister tried to give my nephew's teacher the benefit of the doubt when he taught the class that "Mormons are ignorant," and that "one of the benefits of Communism is its equality," but in speaking with him, he was nothing but defensive. She also tried to make sure her son wasn't just misinterpreting the teacher and gave a survey to other students in the class to assess their take on what the teacher said. The survey revealed that the other students understood the same things that her son got from the class. Anyway, after meeting nothing but defensiveness and rebuttal from the teacher, the Principal, the Board member in her district, and the Superintendent, her story made it all the way to the State Legislature. The details and results of the survey were quoted in this meeting of the legislature and is well worth listening to if you have children in Utah schools:

Listen to the first part of the Jan 26, 2:15 audio. It's well worth your time.

In addition, I've recently read Stand for the Family, which opened my eyes considerably regarding the current state of affairs in our world UN conferences and how the laws being made there can have a huge impact on our freedom to teach Christian values here and around the world.

And if you think Utah is an isolated case, think again. The author of Stand for the Family is from Arizona and quotes many offensive things she discovered in her own local school system. In addition, she also cites legal cases across the US such as one parent whose elementary child was taught about the Prince who married a Prince after finding he wasn't attracted to any of the Princesses in the land. The father didn't tell the school to change--he only wanted to opt his child out of that part of the class--but the case went all the way to the State Supreme court and he lost. He has been legally forced to allow his elementary child to be indoctrinated with the homosexual agenda!

Anyway, it seems odd that anyone would want to destroy the family--I mean WHO would want to do that?? But the truth is, even though the large majority of the citizens of the US are good, wonderful people who value families and have the attitude of "live and let live" toward athiesm, humanism, moral relativism, and Socialism; these people do not have the same attitude toward us. They are a tiny minority who are working hard--and effectively--to steal our freedoms if we are not diligent. And they are wise and patient, too. They know that more their ideas become the slow and subtle cultural norm, the less and less our respectable friends and neighbors are to balk at it.

But let's say you're a skeptic. Let's say you don't believe in conspiracy theories or in any possibility of the world being drastically different than it is right now. Let's say you don't believe in sheltering your children or keeping them from the "normal" social experience of regular school. All of these were indicative of my attitudes just a few weeks ago.

But the more I researched homeschooling, the more I began to respect it in its own right, regardless of how bad or good public schools are. Even compared to above-average public schools, by every plausible measuring stick--emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual, and (contrary to popular belief) social--homeschooling is statistically better for the child by a significant margin.

If you're interested, these are some articles* I found very helpful that contained a lot of cited statistical information and food for thought:

*I got these articles from UHEA but since the internet is constantly changing and links may not be valid in a few months or years, I have saved them as PDFs on my server for you to download.

But I have no idea how to homeschool. I'm not a qualified teacher..and even if I were, how would I manage teaching a bunch of kids with different grade levels and learning abilities? My cousin, Alyson, homeschools her 7 children and told me a few comforting tips and ideas to keep the kids together while still being on different grade levels. Then she added, "I don't always know how, but it all just seems to work out." And when the kids are waiting for her to calm the fussy baby in order to get on with school, she says, "That [i.e. the reality of family life] is part of the education!" Interesting.

But what will people think? Why I let this get to me I will never know. It's been a struggle my whole life. But I hate it when I do my best to be responsible and still the people who I respect the most think I'm being a stupid, naive idiot. I guess I'll just have to tackle the probability/inevitability of people disapproving the decision to homeschool with the assumption that they are only concerned with the same thing I am concerned with: the education and healthy development of the child. And I'm sure they have reasons for their disapproval. After all, I had my own reasons--albeit uninformed reasons--until only a few days ago.

But I really wanted my flexibility after my kids finally reached school age:
This was my biggest one. I am a painter through and through--and not just because I love it but because I really feel like God wants me to do it, too. In so many instances I've wanted to quit--thinking it's not possible to juggle everything and in each case, convincing myself art isn't "a real profession," telling myself art isn't really "valid" or "useful to society"--but by some miracle, I always get another quiet whisper telling me to keep going. The idea of having 6-8 hours of free time after the kids are in school gave me the endurance to keep piddling in art now, knowing I could get more serious about my art later. But homeschooling (if I go through high school) would stretch the time-intensive interim with my children from the next 10ish years to the next 25ish years. This was a major shift in my idea of a life plan. And life plans always go as expected right? Right?

But then I read something interesting. An article I read gave a homework assignment to all the potential homeschoolers with this concern: "Ask several 60-year-old women if they spent enough time with their children." I didn't have to do the assignment to know the answer. In addition, my mother said, "If God is encouraging you to paint AND homeschool, He's not going to ask you to do something you're not actually be able to do." So true. So true.

We've decided to homeschool. We don't know for how long, but we are for certain going to homeschool all the kids until at least age 8 and likely for longer.

And lest I forget--here's my 2011Res: To Matt: Thanks for being SO supportive about this whole homeschooling idea. To my girls: today I realized that schooling you at home won't be such a damper on my life-after-preschool image, after all, and I am SO grateful for the time I will have to savor you even longer. Dear Mr H: today, I haven't done anything yet because I'm writing this at 2 AM. I'll think of something good, though.


Katie said...

I always read your blog... I knew you from school, but didn't really talk to you. HAHA I was in Mrs. Woolsey's class with you at AF before the high school split. Anyway... I think your take on this is awesome. I try not to think about it since I only have a 2 year old... but... it's coming up fast and I need to think ahead. I have a friend who is in her 50's and all of her kids are gone, except one. He is in junior high and decided he was gay. She completely changed her life, her work, her career, and now homeschools him. She said it's the HARDEST thing she's ever done, but the best thing for her family, and it is helping them! Who knew, right?? Anyway... your blog has always intrigued me right from the beginning with Brynn, so I check in every now and again. haha Hope you don't mind! :)

k said...

I didn't have time tonight to read everything, but I'm really surprised it isn't standard for Bryn's therapists to do home visits. I know several children personally whose speach therapists, occupational therapists, and everything in between do home visits. That's more the norm I'm familiar with. I'm glad you've found a solution that is in everyone's best interests!

Natalie said...

Katie Jo: Always glad to have you visit the blog. I skipped over to yours and must say your daughter is absolutely adorable!

Amy: They do have in-home visits up until age 3, at which point the child becomes the jurisdiction of the state school instead of the infant-toddler program. It is the same in KS. I am not sure whether the school typically sends OT and PT to the home for preschoolers, but I know it's pretty standard everywhere for CI therapy kids to be put in part- or full-time institution programs.

Laura said...

We seriously looked into homeschooling when Joseph was littler. I even worked with a homeschooling co op and loooved it. I still keep up with "my" girls and help some of the moms grade papers. It was a wonderful time in my life.
As for the other stuff... yeah. My husband and I love visiting his family in another state up would not live in that town. As wonderful and family friendly as it is (bike paths, parks, free zoo, green living, etc) but they are required, by law, to teach "Heather has two mommies" to the kindy kids. Um, no.

Rachel said...

Im sorry but to stalk your blog. I found yours through Justine and Mike Ballard's. Your blog posts, especially with educational topics really helped my husband and I think about what to do with our kids. My husband wholeheartedly supported your view on public schools and others. My sister in law is very involved with home-schooling her kids as well. I was worried of how I could help my kids because Im deaf and I wouldnt want my kids to get behind due to ASL language and with my patience wearing out. I grew up in Utah and I had already seen how my life has changed me since I was young. I realized I do not want my kids to suffer just like I did.

I hope you dont mind me reading your wonderful blog because you made me think twice and my husband's as well about everything. :)

Julie said...

I can't even believe this is little Natalie from years and years ago. What a beautiful family you have, sweet friend. This is Julie (Allred) and I echo so many of your sentiments about homeschooling. I have thought about it a lot, especially recently, with the same have put it back on my priority list, now, to make a final decision. Does Buffy homeschool? Did Tatia ever? Last I spoke with Buffy her boys were still in public but it has been a while. Maybe I will email her and see what her thoughts are. Love you, sweet friend.

Michael, Justine, and the Girls! said...

So glad you worked out the therapy at home! As for the homeschooling, I think it's a great idea given that education for deaf students tends to be even worse than the standard education system. They hold these student to lower standard than their hearing peers? Why! I think it will definitely be best for Bryn. If Mike and I ever have the chance to raise a deaf child, I plan to homeschool. We'll have to see about the others...

Cheryl said...

You will love homeschooling. It will bring such blessings into your life!!!

Matt and Tommi +4 said...

Natalie, I think you are just like Mary Pooppins - practically perfect in every way! You are always an inspiration to me. I wholeheartedly support you in homeschool. I agree complettely with all you said. And if anyway can do it, you most definetly can. Want to school my kids too?
Love your guts!

Natalie said...

Rachel: glad to have you "stalking." I'm sure you'd do well if you wanted to home school. The best teachers are those who love the children and you love your children better than anyone else could!

Julie: So fun to see what you are up to, too! Neither Buff nor Tatia ever home schooled but I'm trying to get Buff to look at it because the schools here are rotten--it was her son who was being taught "communism isn't bad." I highly recommend Reed Benson's dissertation on home schooling if you're trying to make a final decision. You can find it if you to Nstional LDS Homescooling Association website and click on "I'm New."

Cheryl: expect a call from me. :)

Tommi: you crack me up. Let's make sure I don't ruin my own kids before I teach yours :)

John said...

Okay, so I don't know you, but ran across your blog from somewhere that I can't remember. But, I really enjoy your blog. I have often thought about home schooling. I honestly think it would be easier or at least a whole lot freer. But my husband and I have never felt like it is the right thing for our family. Still, we keep it in mind in case those feelings change. I don't think my kids would object if we changed. Anyway, I loved your thoughts.

Monique said...

Ditto what everyone else is saying about stopping in from time to time. . . I happen to have an added interest in Brynn's outcomes after coming off a pediatric rehabilitation rotation.

I can be that 'devil's advocate' if you will, about not home schooling. --Not to be mean, but to be honest and represent what those other people might be thinking.

The talk of communism and immoral brainwashing when used as an argument for keeping kids at home is a turn off for me. In fact, the number of my friends who moved into ethnically homogeneous communities, purchased guns, and removed their kids from the public school system to keep them safe from "_those_ people out there" honestly creeps me out.

Personally, I look forward to when my kid(s) come home and tell me about the different religions and cultures they were exposed to at school. Eventually, and probably early on, they'll be exposed to things that are contrary to the Gospel, but that's how I'll teach them to be in the world, but not of it. If I'm lucky, missionary opportunities will come of it, and stronger testimonies.

As for the time spent with your children, that is of course very precious. Again, with 'personally' being a key word, I think I would go bonkers if I spent nearly every waking hour with my kid(s). I don't have a problem telling people that I need my own time to be a better mom. When I'm 60 will I wish I had spent more time with my kids? Sure, what woman is free from the mommy guilt thing. But I'll be proud to say that what I did spend was quality time.

Anyway, this has gotten too long. But those were my point-counterpoint thoughts off the top of my head. (Must needs be (friendly) opposition in all things, no?)