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February 15, 2012

Homeschooling Public Schoolers

Two of our three children are in public school, and the youngest is homeschooling for preschool. We agonized about the education decision; public vs private, homeschool vs traditional schooling. The main reason why we elected to send our kids to public school is (a) cost and (b) the fact that I'm going back to school for my degree so that I can carry benefits once George retires. If I planned on staying home, or returning to work part-time only, I'd be homeschooling. Simple as that.

This year, both boys have fantastic teachers; Ethan's Kinder teacher is smart, kind, and loves her kids. That's something that can't be faked. (George's Kinder teacher was... well, let's just say we requested that E NOT have the same teacher. It was bad; very, very bad.) George's second-grade teacher this year is excellent, and both teachers communicate exceptionally well.

Here's the thing; I still consider myself a homeschooler. Yes, I send my children to public school, but ultimately, I'm the one responsible for their education. I review the work sent home, maintain an open line of communication with the professional educators, see if there are projects we can do where the kids need reinforcement in certain areas, or 'rewards' in others. For example; George loves creative writing. In fact, when he's working on a 'non-fiction' writing project at school, he has a tough time not embellishing or adding anecdotal information. So, when he is successful with his non-fiction writing, I reward him with a creative writing project. A few months ago, when he told me he was 'bored' at school, I had him choose a subject to for a lapbook report. He chose black holes (not much information on this subject at the 2nd-grade level, but we managed) and did an excellent lapbook report; one that got a note from his principal saying how impressed she was. (I did a video showing the different parts; maybe one day I'll actually get around to posting it.)

Ethan seems to have some issues with differentiating between b and d and p, g and q. He also prefers to guess at words instead of sounding them out. So, I made a flip book of sight words, which he goes through at least 4-5 times a week. We also use Funny Words (from Confessions of a Homeschooler's K4 Curriculum), where he flips the C-V-C letters, sounds them out and writes down whatever words he makes up. His Kinder teacher gave us a new game called Valentine's Monster Mash, which is a similar concept but requires him to sound out all of the letters in the nonsense C-V-C 'words' in order to keep the card. It's great practice for him.

It comes down to choice; how involved are you in your child's education? There are parents who choose traditional schooling who are very involved, review homework, plan their own educational field trips, talk to their child's teacher regularly to make sure both are on the same page. There are homeschoolers who rely completely on a software program and their child's autonomy for his or her education. And there are the rest of us, who fall somewhere in between in terms of involvement and impetus. I think I'll always consider myself a homeschooler, regardless of where my child officially attends school. Because I alone am responsible for educating my children; the public schools and all they offer are merely tools to that end.