Thursday, March 4, 2010

Education Second Thoughts

I always assumed I would homeschool my children. I was raised that-a-way, myself, and did fairly well with it. Now, I'm confronted with my 3-year old, chomping at the bit to learn....all kinds of things....and I feel, basically, cornered.

On the one hand, I have my ideals for educating my child: 1. One-on-one is a very high quality experience for young children, rather than a classroom setting. I have seen it be the most effective way to acquire a skill. 2. I want to be in control of both her time-management (no standing in lines, having to sit still and wait for her turn, detracting from the actual learning process), and the content of her curriculum (Christ-centered, if you will). 3. I know no one else on earth cares as much as I do (no employed teacher, certainly) what her reaction and success rate are to the information she's processing. i.e., I don't want to rush her into a skill-set if she's not developmentally ready, and I want to see how well she processes certain styles of teaching (verbal, visual, tactile, etc.) and have the freedom to adjust my teaching style to suit her needs. All these things I have learned as a one-on-one teacher over the last 15 years.

On the other hand, those 15 years of experience in teaching a subject having given me a rut (negative slant) or a root (positive slant) in both the method I use to teach, and the subject I teach. I am very familiar with my material (Suzuki piano), and very, very familiar with the process I use to teach the material. I have this awesome tool I use to create this awesome result in my students. I do it quite well, if I do say so myself. Well, to expound, what this has done for me is made me VERY reluctant to dive into say, mathematics, geometry, phonics, spelling, and art....VERY unfamiliar subjects to me, with basically ZERO method....on my own child! I mean, basically, I've never seen someone teach a 3-year old to read. Do you think I was watching when my Mom taught my siblings to read???? NO! I was reading myself through 6th grade!

So, on the one hand, I have this very high standard for education, making me reluctant to provide my daughter with anything less....and on the other hand, I see how much effort and time a professional educator puts into his/her teaching method/materials, and I'm left feeling VERY under-qualified to just dive into teaching my child to read. I KNOW that there are professionals out there with skills WAY beyond what I can drum up from my own memories....and I don't want to cheat Violet out of the "Suzuki Equivelant" of Kindergarten. I remember stumbling along as a brand-new piano teacher, before I had my Suzuki training, and how awkward it was to "learn" to "teach" with my only resource being my 4 year old memories of my own teachers. I don't want to do that to Violet. See??

So, here I sit. Wishing, basically, that my mom would just move up here, and homeschool Violet! After all, she has had 30 years to try and adjust and prove her methods on all manner of different skill sets, from mathematics to spelling to drama and political science. Dangit! Why should I have to go back to school and study (of ALL things) elementary education when my Mom has been doing nothing BUT elementary education for 20 years?!?!! Come on, Mom! you can't retire yet!! You're a GOLD MINE!

Yes, so......where that has put me is in a whole new place of respect for people who go to school to study "how to teach a 4 year olds phonics." In other words......School. I'm seriously thinking about sending Violet to a school of some sort. Hmmmm.....


Rachel said...

I have struggled with this some, I don't think most people who home school could actually say that they feel like they are knowledgeable enough in all subjects, or feel competent to teach each one. I certainly don't! I know the thought of phonics this fall made me feel quite uncomfortable. But as I am totally 100 % committed to homeschooling, it's just something you work through. You really can do it, it just takes some good books/curriculum (which there is an abundance of!!) and the will power.
I'd say hang in there, the reasons for homeschooling that you listed were excellent!
I do hope for that you're able to make a decision you feel good about, whether it's homeschooling or school. It is a tough one sometimes!! : )

Jenny said...

Well, obviously I have no answers for you, but I thought you might be amused at a thought I had a while back .... I thought I'd just send Evie to you for the next such-n-such years for you to teach! It's the commute that kills me though!

Edith said...

Hi there! Good post.
We don't have that many home schoolers over here (although more than we used to) as the vast majority of teachers in schools for 4-11 yr olds are Christians. I know I couldn't home school yet I have cousins who do it very successfully. Tricky one...

Seth and Karen's blog said...


I don't think I could have stated my feelings on the subject more eloquently or effectively. I have had the same thoughts and feelings sooo much! Especially, I have felt so inadequate with Katrina. She is exceptionally bright (literally very gifted, not just speaking from a mother's admiration, but very objectively realizing how incredibly intelligent she is especially for her age.) and I'm just a normal mother - how can I possibly provide the proper education that sufficiently nurtures her and gives her the highest quality education possible? I thought since she was so bright I should make her be reading at three and know French by four, etc. But then I realize several very comforting things.

1. God did make me her mother, so I am fully equipped to educate her in all things He shows me to do. 2. Just because she has the ability to learn something early doesn't necessarily mean God wants her to. I know she could probably be quite fluent in a second language by now, but I never sensed God wanted me to push it, so we've been taking that easy. 3. If God calls me to teach her then He has already given me the precise and perfect tools I need. So far, that is the direction we're in. I do feel called to teach my children.

Don't reject that if you think you're not qualified - who better than one's own mother? You already know (maybe subconsciously) how she processes information and what type of teaching she seems to respond to the best. Also, she is only 3, right? That give you a couple years to play around and see what works best for you guys and develop the perfect curriculum for Violet and you. And I can tell you it will probably be different for each child, but you'll get the knack!

One last thing, most people will probably be advising and encouraging homeschooling, but honestly it has to be what God wants for Violet. Yes, logically it seems best to homeschool from a Christian perspective, but you and Ben will have the peace from God if that is His will for your children for now, later, a few years, all the school years, or whatever! That is why we abide in Him!

So best of luck seeking the Lord's will for Violet's and Grace's future education!

Jenny said...

I ran into a mom at Burger King the other day with 2 boys (one a little older than Evie and one 2). She was a military wife (I think she said Army). She was saying that the military bases had really great that really true? DOD schools she called them. The way she was describing them, I'm wondering if maybe that would be a good option???? Probably depends on where you are and all...