Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Get your School on... at home. Some call it Homeschooling... whatever.

If you have been reading this blog since its inception (or if we are friends on FaceBook... or in Real Life... heck, even if we just met at the park...) then you likely know the trials  and tribulations we have experienced when it comes to Noah and his speech development. And you likely have heard me celebrate when a milestone is reached or marvel in his accomplishments and sweet, sweet soul. 

Noah has been attending a preschool here on Ikego Base called PSCD (Preschool Child Development) since he was three years old. It is for children, ages three to pre-k, who would benefit from services in one area or another; speech, occupational therapy etc. He has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) based off of his current goals and the areas (speech, social, fine or gross motor)  that he needs to work on. Each year his teachers, other professionals that work with him and myself meet to go over his past goals, talk about his progress, and set new goals for the school year. There are parent/teacher conferences along the way, and, obviously, daily reports. 

Noah has now graduated from speech therapy. He still attends PSCD and very much enjoys going to school and playing with his friends. He is working on a lot of kindergarten prep alongside his sweet classmates, many who have been in the program with him since they were three years old as well. It has been nothing but GOOD for him and I adore and appreciate the teachers and professionals that have helped Noah come out of his shell and not only thrive, but be 'seen'. 

With all that said, however, there is a part of me that feels like Noah is now ready for a bit more of a challenge. Therefore, after much soul searching and evaluating and re-evaluating my reasoning... I have decided to start Homeschooling Noah.

And, wouldn't you know, I have opinions, y'all. 

First of all, I don't plan on taking Noah out of the PSCD program unless I am told to. There are several new three year olds in the program who started after the new year that require a lot of attention from the teachers. And since Noah no longer 'needs' services there is a chance they might tell us he no longer qualifies. 

However, I did not enroll Noah in PSCD just so he could work with a speech therapist. Beyond Noah TALKING, this has also been an invaluable life experience for my little guy. He is around so many different types of personalities at school. So he has learned how to get a long with all sorts of different people. He has seen good behavior and bad behavior and can recognize how bad behavior makes him and others feel... therefore he is mindful towards having good behavior himself. 

And, when next school year does roll around and Noah is ready to start Kindergarten, I am pretty sure that I will still send him to public school. All for the same reasons I mentioned above. I feel like, at least for my little guy, that the social and life skills that are learned from being a part of a group dynamic can not be replicated at home.

So why am I saying that I am Homeschooling?

Really, every mindful parent schools their children at home. You help with homework, you solve problems, you are involved in their education. To think that schooling starts and ends with a bell in a building is foolish and discounts the influence you have on your child as their parent.

So, when I say I am going to start Homeschooling, really I am just using a curriculum created for homeschooling families to supplement what he is already getting from his teachers at school. 

No matter where we are living, what school we are zoned to, what teacher my child is assigned to.... if I feel like they would benefit from a little extra work at home then of course I am going to supplement their education. Also, what a great opportunity to gear a subject 100% toward your child and the way that THEY learn! 

A lot of this sounds completely obvious, right? But, for some reason, I have been completely overwhelmed with a feeling of 'what-am-I-doing?!' and 'who-authorized-ME-to-raise-a-child!?!'. I felt stuck. I knew that should be working with Noah on letter and number recognition and dutifully purchased some Brain Quest workbooks from the book store. But this felt unorganized, forced, and a lot like the information was not sticking because he wasn't enjoying the process. 

So, like any good mother would do, I hopped on the internet and googled 'kindergarten prep homeschooling'. Then, like any good mother would do, I quickly closed my laptop, vowing I could never be one of 'those' mothers. I felt like I did not and COULD not measure up to these other homeschooling moms. And, who am I kidding, I am still sending him to a PUBLIC school, so how dare I call myself a homeschooler? And my craft supply cart is way too sparse to do ALL THE THINGS. And I have no patience. And there is no way he would WANT to learn from ME. 

Then I emailed Ali. 

Ali, you adorable lady, you. She's at the bottom. I am the third one up. I do believe that's a ribbon in my hair. Judge not. This picture was taken in the '90s, y'all! 

I have a lot of friends who Homeschool, and they all do a fantastic job. I have known Ali since I was in High School; she was my Young Life leader. And, glory be, we reconnected over FaceBook. And, thanks to social media, I have gotten to know her children. Pictures of crafts, projects, adventures... you name it. And, for the first time since I started entertaining the idea, I felt like it was something that I could do.

It also didn't hurt that Ali just keeps it real. With each link she sent she would preface 'Now, don't freak out... this woman must not sleep.' She shared with me what worked for her kids and what resources helped her. And I wasn't overwhelmed! I was actually excited!

My online carts were filled with supplies, and the 'place order' button was pushed. And, just like that, the wheels have been put in motion. 

Like it or not... I'm a homeschooler. 


Next up, what curriculum I have chosen and why. I can not wait to share what we will be working on! My goal is to share our experience with homeschooling/public school combo with other parents who feel the same way I did; who still want to send their children to public school but would like a structured learning environment at home as well. 

Also, please be kind! I know that some people take their decision to keep their children out of public school very seriously, and I very much respect the very personal decision each family makes in this regard. Please respect my decision to keep my son in the school system. I am very new to this and will likely make a lot of mistakes... which will hopefully turn into learning experiences:-) 

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