Sunday, September 8, 2013

IF YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER...AND SO I HAVE.

Hello to all Readers of Blogs and Bloggers alike! My sister "planted a seed" that I start to blog and then a day later my best friend of 33 years, told me I should post my answers from an interview I just partook in. That's it; THE POWER OF SUGGESTION! Here I am to share my life with you. I hope you will find that "if I can do it, you can too." I have everything I ever wanted in life and what hasn't arrived yet, is on it's way. To start us off and to follow the advice of my BFF, here's the answers to that interview I just had. (I'll post the article when it goes to print.)
IF YOU KNOW BETTER, DO BETTER...AND SO I HAVE.




Why did you decide to homeschool your children?
The thought of homeschooling was an option I have always kept in my back pocket. My aunt homeschooled my cousins, so I had a sense what it was all about. I knew I’d be willing to homeschool if I felt my children would benefit from it.

As an adult with three children, (two children at the time were in public school), I spent a lot of time in the schools, in different capacities. My friends, teachers and children I knew seemed to often complain about school. I was surrounded by negativity with regard to schools today. I kept hearing that “moral is down”. No one seemed happy and I often wondered, What does my kid's day look like? 

I was given the book The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone’s Business written by: Dennis Littky. The LaFayette Central School District, in which my kids were attending, was starting a Big Picture Program. As I read the book, I felt like I was reading my own thoughts. The Big Picture model for schools is exactly the education I dreamt my children to have. Their three core principals are: Relationship, Relevance, and Rigor. The model also has students interning in real world environments and volunteering their time in the community. Traditional schools today still look a lot like what they did when our grandparents were in school. I know my kids are evolved, society has evolved, I can’t understand why schools haven’t. The Big Picture was my answer! My oldest son enrolled as soon as he entered 9th grade.

Since The Big Picture Program wasn’t available for my two younger kids. I pulled them out of the traditional school and decided to homeschool them. There are so many similarities between homeschooling and the Big Picture model. The only option, I could see, to give my younger kids the learning environment I believe they deserve, was to homeschool them, so I have.

What kind of training, if any, do you have?
I have no formal or professional training besides being a "fly on the wall" in many schools. I have earned two associates degrees. I have found that if you take the time to engage with children, you find out their interests and almost always, given the right tools they can learn on their own. I'm also a life long learner so I want to instill the same in my children. 

What kind of support system do you have?
I have a very supportive husband! I find support on homeschool websites and Facebook pages. I have a few supportive friends and family members, but most people avoid talking about the fact I homeschool. I also have a lot of teacher friends and school administrator friends that work in several districts around the U.S. All of these people have been the MOST supportive of my venture. They are advocates for good teaching and learning…whether at a public school or in the home.

What kind of obstacles have you faced, either from other parents, the district/community in which you live or your own limitations?
I feel like I may have lost some friendships within my district. People tend to shy away from me. Making a decision about your children is never easy. Deciding to go against the norm is a huge undertaking. I’ve leaned to not take things personally as everyone has their own struggles to concur.

How do you deal with testing regulations as a homeschooler? Are there any?
Yes, you do have to test your kids in NYS. I give my children daily assessments for comprehension. I test them quarterly and yearly, as well. Mostly, I test to see how I'm doing and also to appease people that seem overly concerned about my children's academic achievements. I don't believe in testing to the extreme that our state has mandated. If people are so concerned about testing, then why are they sending their kids to some of these schools? Have they seen the scores?

Do you feel your child misses out on anything by not being part of the public school system? What do you feel they gain through homeschooling?
No, I really don't see that they are missing out. Learning should be fun and engaging and that's what homeschooling offers to my kids: Relationships, Rigor and Relevance. No fluff or chaos.

What does your school day usually look like? How does it compare to that of a child attending public school?
Our school day is relaxed. There’s a lot of love, special attention and laughter. We do LOTS of project-based learning, field trips and volunteering. If you ask school kids what their favorite parts of school are they will typically tell you about the one special project they did that year or a trip they went on or play time. Well, everyday while homeschooling, my kids are doing projects, going on trips, out-and-about in the community or outside playing and breathing fresh air (Whenever their mood strikes).

The biggest difference is that the curriculum at home is individualized for each of my kids. At a brick and mortar school every child learns the same boxed material and on a schedule chosen by a third party.

What do you wish people understood about homeschooling?
Most homeschooling families I have met are educationally minded and forward thinking. A lot of them were professional teachers themselves, till they had their own kids. My husband and I are a very social, normal American family. We are raising our kids in “society” and not sheltering them from it. My husband and I believe we can have whatever we want and not just what we’ve been told we can have. So for example, just because I live in a school district it doesn’t mean I have to settle for the educational environment that said district provides.

Is there a particular curriculum you follow?
I used K12.org for the first two years. However, I’m more confident now and a bit more seasoned. I have found more economical ways that match my children’s taste of curriculums. Now I use an eclectic curriculum. I ask a lot of questions of my professional teacher friends and they’ve helped me choose some really fantastic stuff.

What are some of the arguments against homeschooling?
I don’t know and I don’t care. I’m doing what I feel is best for my family. Isn’t it Steve Jobs who said, “build your life”, well I am. If I can teach my kids not to conform, then I’ll feel I’ve blown any arguments of homeschooling out of the water.

What advice do you have for a parent considering homeschooling?
Go with your GUT! If you believe you can, then you will. It’s a lot easier than all the books in the world will tell you it is.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I plan to keep my son (4th grade) and, my daughter (2nd grade) home until a better option comes along. The LaFayette Big Picture Program starts in 9th grade in my district, so my plan now is to send them there. I’m not against public education; I just think it needs to step-up to the 21st Century. I’m blessed in LaFayette that our district is making huge strides in that direction.