Posted by: Genny Colby | January 25, 2014

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions….

Some days being a parent looked a lot easier from the side of “kid”!   As many of you know, we have been on the “home school” path since our daughter was about 2.  We have done preschool, pre-k, and now Kindergarten at home for a variety of reasons, including a birthday that does not meets the cut off date, but a child who is ready for more.    As a teacher I believe that young kids learn through the play, hands on, interactive experiences and that is what we have tried to provide.  This year we took on a more “formal” approach with it being Kindergarten, but still tried to make it fun, relaxed, hands on as much as possible, and to follow our daughter’s lead.  This has been a new learning experience for me, moving from “mommy” to “teacher” and trying to break my “classroom teacher” mindset and teaching style.  We have had our bumps along the way, I see where I can and need to make changes if this is the path we continue on, but over all it has been fun for all of us.

As she is now of “official” kindergarten age, we have to decide, should we continue homeschooling or do we look at a more traditional brick and mortar school.  There are pros and cons to each, but really we are working to decide what is the best learning environment for our daughter, what is best for our son, and what is best for our family.  Can I just say…this part is a whole lot harder than when we were kids!  First, homeschooling was not a mainstream option and to be honest I don’t think my parents even considered it…you sent kids to school when they turned 5, period.  The choice then became private (parochial) or your neighborhood public school.  There may have been a few other private school options, depending on where you lived, but there were no Charter Schools, Talented and Gifted Schools, STEM Schools, etc.

Now, I am not saying that having all these options is a bad thing, because education is not a “one size fits all” type of deal.  But sometimes I wonder if we are doing our kids a service or not having so many different options…and sure makes it more difficult for the parents.   Where we live, there is also “open enrollment” which basically means that you can apply to send your child to pretty much any school in the state…regardless of what district you are in, or which is your “home” school.  There is not promise to get in to any school, that all depends on a variety of factors that vary from school to school, but you can apply!

So…where to apply?  Do we apply?  We do know that we don’t want to send our daughter (and eventually son) to school just to send her to school.  Neither of us are feeling the love for our “home” or neighborhood school, especially since homeschooling is such a strong pull for us.  We have looked at a lot of different schools and the answer while not 100% clear yet, is coming into focus.

Another draw for us for homeschooling is that EDUCATION is the focus.  Developing a life long love of learning.   Finding out what interests our children and using those as a guide for our lessons.  Schools today, through not fault of their own, as so focused on test scores, and rankings, and performance assessments that the idea of learning to learn is really lost.  Yes, there are basics she needs to learn (reading, writing, math, basic science principles, history and its relevance to today), but there are so many ways to get there, and the journey is matter most.  Education should be about the PROCESS, not the end PRODUCT (test result).

But I worry about homeschooling…will she get the social interaction she needs?  Will she learn to function as part of a group, a piece of the whole as she will need to know to move into the “real” world?  Will she learn to focus her attention and follow directions when not given to her by her parents?  I don’t really worry about the academic parts, as honestly, I can do those.  And if I am stuck there are a million and one resources online from free content, to purchased curriculum and books, to online schooling. Finding that balance between creating the best learning environment for our children that will instill the love of learning and allow them to find their own path through education with the social and societal skills needed for when she grows up.

There is no one clear-cut answer…and the answer is different for each child, for each family.  The answer may also change over time. What is the best option in kindergarten may not be the same when she’s in fifth, or ninth grade.  All we can do is find the right one for right now.  Today, that is strongly looking to staying on the home school path, though we are keeping a few other options open right now.   And since our daughter is saying she wants to keep going to school at home with mommy and daddy and her brother…well that is a strong vote in the home school column!

I know that it will all work out in the end, and that no matter what choice we make for next year, we have the option to change our minds, try something else at any point.  We are not locked into any kind of contract..other than we WILL educate our children, we will instill in them a love of learning, life, and the world around them.

But I will say…our parents sure had it easy!

(image from here)

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