Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Big Question: Education

I cannot make decisions.
I am serious.  I literally can. not.
I hate this about myself.
I will look at a choice one way and decide, yes, this is definitely the correct choice.
As soon as I decide this little voice will remind me why the other choice is clearly superior, and I will then think, yes, the second option is definitely the correct choice.  Over and over and over . . .

For those people who seem to so clearly, so indisputably hear the Voice of the Spirit, I envy you.  Sometimes it makes me wonder why I am missing this key component of my relationship with Christ . . .
(but then last night at a bookstore I picked up a book about Knowing God's Will, and it was, like 5,000 pages long and I thought, ya whoever wrote that must not know how to hear it, either).

So this is my current dilemma: homeschool or public school?

Please indulge me (and try to refrain from judging me, ahem), as I fret through this decision on my blog . . . why?  Well, I don't know, maybe I shouldn't . . .

(I am assuming, btw, that I will have some form of a community to homeschool with- I wouldn't do it if we didn't have other people to meet with at least on a somewhat regular basis).

Public School:

This is the camp my husband is currently in and I am persuaded to be in, too (so for those shut-up and submit to your husband people, one point for you).  This is our reasoning:

1.  Life is slightly overwhelming right now with the two younger, sending Sam to school would give me time to focus on them, especially some one-on-one time with my middle, and give Sam a "break" from her younger siblings (whom she handles very well and never complains, but maybe it would be nice for her to have some time without them.

2. I have great hopes and ideals for home educating, but will I constantly feel like I am failing and unable to live up to my own expectations?

3.  The part of teaching that I would love is preparing, gathering materials, planning lessons, doing projects and field trips, and reading together.  The part that I will least enjoy is the repetition (this is a verb. a what? a verb . . .) which, after all is the teaching part, right?

4.  What if I burn-out?   What if I don't enjoy my children anymore?  What if they resent me?  What if I over-protect them from the realities of life?  Will I regret giving up time for my own dreams?  Am I investing too much in my children out of some unfulfilled need in my own life?  Will we become isolated from our culture?


1.  First of all, Ann Voskamp's excellent post convinced both my husband and I that we were committed to homeschooling.  Jim only changed his mind recently when I have been overwhelmed, in wanting to take pressure off of me.  If I take out the weariness factor, which, I hope, will improve as the baby gets older and begins to sleep at night (Lord have mercy), then I think we are both on the fence.

2.  What really convinced Jim, from Ann's post, was the idea of our children gaining their identity and sense of self from us rather than a classroom of kids or a worn-out teacher.

3.  My desire to homeschool is rooted in my hope to give my children a vibrant, free, whole, curious, creative and wonder-filled approach to God's world.  This is the best that I can hope to give them as a mother.  The thought of doing this for many years is both thrilling and intimidating.  I'm not sure I have what it takes to do this, but it is my wish.

4.  I fear a public education (forgive me public school teachers!  I know that this is not always the case) doing the exact opposite: taking the wonder and joy out of learning.

5.  Flexibility, being able to learn wherever we go.  If Jim's job ever changes we can easily move.

6.  I really like being with her, I will miss her being gone all day every day.

7.  Inspiring homeschooling moms who have fueled the desire, like Heidi, Misha, and Janet.

There are other reasons, but these are what comes to me at the moment . . .  just thinking out loud here, we will continue to prayerfully consider what God wants us to do.  Even if Sami does begin public school this year, our plan is to revisit our decision each year and with each child.


Fijufic said...

It is a roll of the dice. A good education can be had in either venue. I wish I had a better answer. I sent mine to a private school for 13 years and was very satisfied with her education. Perhaps starting with Home school and eventually matriculating into pubic is a great start. I know folks who have done that with great results.

Most important that you stay involved and interested across the board...


Anonymous said...

I don't have children so feel free to ignore my comment ;)... I just wanted to say that while homeschooling will take a lot of work and time on your part, public school will too if you intend to stay involved and *know* what your children are being taught. You'll have to stay on your toes to keep God in the forefront and counter some of the curriculum- BUT if you are parenting God's way you'll be doing that anyway, so no biggie, right? That being said I'm for homeschool simply because of the control it gives you over what (and how) your children are taught. A good Christian school would be my second choice. I don't envy your decision but I'm sure with prayer and careful thought you will make the right decision for your family.

Darcee said...

Jess, I am always challenged by reading your blog. Like Jim, I advocate for public school (especially being a public school teacher). After spending some time in a private school this year, I have learned that each child is different and can benefit from different learning environments. You have a tough decision ahead. It seems like you have weighed the options, and I am sure you will make the best decision for Sami. Matt and I miss you guys! I hope you enjoy your new home.

One more thing I just thought of. The planning part of teaching is really stressful and generally takes my entire week (including the weekend). If you want to do it right, it will probably be a huge sacrifice even if you have a good curriculum. Not trying to scare you away, just sharing my personal experience.

Jessica said...

I appreciate the feedback! Darcee I may need to bounce some things off of you sometime . . .

Fijufic said...

I also have to say that changing schools on occasion such as elementary, middle and High School allows for your child to "reset" which can be a wonderful thing.

I see that as one of the drawbacks with my daughter's education. She never had the chance to shake things up with her peers.


Young Mom said...

One thing I noticed is that the things you listed as loving about teaching, are all things you can still do if they are in school. Planning, gathering materials, projects and field trips and reading together are all very beneficial to a child regardless of schooling choice.

I also worry about being burnt-out. I’ve been living this lifestyle (not by choice) for a long time. I need to do what is healthy for me so that I can be a healthy parent for my children.

I resonate with most of your reasons to homeschool as well, I would miss my babies, I want to believe that I could give them a better sense of self than my parents gave me.

This is something I struggle with so much! I am afraid to send my kids to school, because I’ve never been. And I was told my whole life that if you love your kids you will homeschool, and if you send them to school they will grow up hating you and addicted to drugs or whatever. We don’t feel that homeschooling is the right choice for our family, and yet all those brainwashed fears die hard. I have found it comforting to read posts from people who have made the choice to send their kids to school instead of homeschooling, I hope to make a post of my own soon to share them.

camilla said...

YOU are going to have success either way. You are going to be a parent that volunteers in the classroom and gets involved and knows what is going on. That will take work, but you will do it. And we all KNOW that you are a beyond EXCELLENT homeschooling parents. I am praying this moment that God gives you an overwhelming peace about what is best for your family and specifically your daughter THIS year and that you do not waiver like the waves of the sea.

Love you.

We sent Daniel (our cautious child) to kinder this year and it did things for him that I could not do for him in our home environment. We had an AMAZING Christian teacher with 17 years of kinder experience (she'd even taught a year overseas). God will take care of your little one with just as much love as he's taking care of ours... NO MATTER WHAT YOU DECIDE.

Janet said...

It's a tough decision... All the pros and cons you've listed are valid.

I never thought about homeschooling until my oldest went to public school for kindergarten. It wasn't really a bad experience, but she would come home at the end of the day very tired, without much learning to show for it. School at home took less time, resulted in more learning, and restored the free time she needed to create and play.

Now she's 10, and she still has an active, creative, wonder-filled interest in the world. This is despite the many mistakes on my part. My 7-year-old is following in her footsteps in this respect.

There were values issues too in kindergarten -- subtle, but still issues that put us at odds with her teacher, who came from a very different worldview, whose authority we did not want to undermine, and who had her for more of her waking hours than we did.

Homeschooling is not perfect or easy. My ideals are still out there, yet to be fully attained. But each year I'm more comfortable with that, and more glad I'm making this investment.

God will take care of your kids no matter what you decide. I think I'll bring this long and disjointed comment to an end and shoot up a prayer for you...

Jessica said...

Thanks so much all, for the comments and especially the prayers!

Misha Leigh. said...

Jess - I just went through this (almost to a tee) a couple months ago. Agonizing. If I can help support/listen/encourage in any way regardless of the decision made - I am here. I almost wrote a guest article on the process for SH and then decided I couldn't - simply because the process is too individual for each family. So I have your back regardless! : )

Oh - and I laughed about the 5000 word book comment. : ) awesome

RobinLS said...

Jess, lifting you up in prayer that you will have peace and clarity in which way to go. I so agree w/ a lot of what some of the other commenters are saying about you being successful either way and that there's not a "one-size fits all." Each child is so different and needs a different flavor of education so trust your gut w/ Sami and try to be gentle with whatever decision you make knowing that if it doesn't work out, you can always switch it up the following year... having taught kindergarten in a public school for 5 years, I can say that not all public education is evil- there are some really awesome teachers out there that truly care about their students and enjoy teaching.

One last thought, the way many parents choose to homeschool during the elementary and then transition to the public arena later for junior high/ high school never has made sense to me (not judging, just feel like it's maybe backwards?) From an education standpoint, it's much easier to find quality child-centered elementary schools than junior-high schools (or at least in Cincy it is). All the peer pressure ; high-stakes testing; etc is found in the latter years so why not homeschool then? Just a thought.

Good luck! I'm confident that Sami will thrive in whatever environment you choose for her. I've seen strong representatives of Christ in both arenas.

Jessica said...

Thanks, Robin! I appreciate your teacher perspective. My husband and I have had the same thought- perhapsdoing public school for the younger years and then homeschooling later? I value your teacher insight!

Elizabeth said...

Jess, I appreciate your transparency and honesty as you seek to do what's best for Sami and for your family. Ann Voskamp's post really resonated with me... and despite my education as a teacher, I think if I was a parent my heart would lean toward homeschooling - though admittedly both have the potential to be good options and to produce positive results. I trust that you and Jim will make the right decision and think it's wise to reevaluate each year and with each child.

My two cents for whatever they're worth...
1. It's such a valid point that your child's teacher spends more of her waking hours with her than you would and therefore helps to shape her identity.
2. It's also a valid point that you, Annie, and Josie might need this year for the 3 of you.
3. Teaching (at home) might be less about the repetition than you might imagine. Children are like sponges and soak up what you give them... and besides, is it really so important to drill facts? One of my frustrations as a public school teacher was that I didn't have time to individualize the learning... and therefore so much repetition had to happen in that setting to accommodate those who needed it most.
4. The 2 friends I respect the most who have homeschooled used different approaches. One sent hers to Christian school until 3rd grade and then brought them home until high school... where they entered a magnet school program. Three are in college now and doing well. One in high school, 4 still at home.
5. Another friend (who's oldest is 10) kept hers at home from the beginning. They are much freer with their schedule (her husband works odd hours) and have found that 3 weeks of school followed by a week of break (nearly year round with only 1 month in summer) works best for them.

Sorry to be so wordy... and yes, I realize this is all coming from a non-parent, but maybe something will be useful to you. :)

Jessica said...

Elizabeth- this is really, really helpful.

Thanks to everyone for your thoughts- you have given me a lot to chew on!