So our world is totally new and different this 2018-2019 school year. Venti has spent the last two school years in our neighborhood public school, but this year, we’ve decided to go the homeschool route. Why on earth would we do such a thing? There is certainly a big stigma surrounding homeschoolers: aren’t they weird, not sociable, won’t be able to go to college, tend to grow scales on the backs of their hands? (I made that last one up.) So here’s a full rundown of the what and why of our decision.
Public School Was Great, Until It Wasn’t
Venti did fabulously in K and 1st, loved his teachers, made plenty of good friends, learned a ton. Public school worked for him up until it didn’t. Most people pull their child to homeschool because for whatever reason, traditional school doesn’t fit their needs. Either the student is struggling, academically or socially, has an incompatible learning style, has been bullied, or for a myriad other reasons. In our case, we felt Venti’s needs weren’t being met because he was a wee bit too far ahead of his classmates but not in a place developmentally to skip a grade. We like public schools, and in fact we like our school system as a whole, but thanks to a variety of factors, they just weren’t meeting him where he needed to be met.
So What’s the Issue?
What then, was going on, if he was doing so great those last two years? Let me explain; he was doing great until he wasn’t. So for the last two years, come about February or March he would start getting into trouble, losing his temper, becoming extremely impatient and even saying some pretty rude and out of character stuff to his teachers and friends. This point always seemed to align perfectly with Venti completing the standard curriculum for his grade level. Of course his teachers were providing differentiation and giving him challenges in math and reading, but he still had to sit through all the bits where his classmates were either ignoring instruction or even still learning to speak English in the first place. While I don’t have a huge problem with that for many kids (I definitely feel like public school will be a good fit for Grande, for example) it just isn’t fair for a student working at Venti’s speed. So we pulled him out because we thought we could do better for him.
It was a difficult decision but at the same time it wasn’t. I wasn’t terribly confident that I would make that great (patient) of a teacher, we worried about the friendships he had and the ability to find and make new ones. We worried he’d resent the process and it would hurt our relationship with him. At the same time, there is no way we can afford a private alternative and he was definitely in need of a challenge. We didn’t want him to ever feel like education was a chore or an unpleasant experience and there were definitely times in K and 1st that he was feeling that way.
We’re Taking Homeschool As It Comes
We also knew going in that this was our decision for this year. Next year could be different. AND, this is not a decision we’ve already made for Grande and Tall- we’ll cross those bridges when we come to them. In our district, gifted and talented programs begin at third grade with testing at the second half of second grade. We opted-in to that testing this year and should Venti rise to the top 3% of gifted students in our district, he will be admitted into the program. We have a good feeling he might be able to do that, but even in a district our size, 3% is not a lot of students. Our plans for third grade are very much a gray area right now.
We’ve been at it for about eight weeks, and we’ve already learned a ton, and not just from the curriculum. There are so many benefits you just don’t think about when you’re initially coming to this decision.
The Schedule Couldn’t Be Better
This is Venti’s favorite thing- he is done with school for the day after about three hours. And this includes breaks for a snack, watching a quick show, free choice reading, computer time and more. He prefers to get started ASAP after breakfast, but if we want, we can all sleep in and get to it when we feel like it. We also have the option of squeezing everything into 3-4 days and taking a long weekend to go somewhere or taking two weeks around the holidays instead of one.
The Weather Doesn’t Phase Us
Sorry bub, no snow days, but we do take days off due to FANTASTIC weather. And we don’t have to walk to school and back in terrible rain or snow either.
Being Seven Isn’t Easy
Math can get frustrating. Sometimes your patience as a student (or as a teacher) dwindles. Some days you just aren’t feeling it. With homeschool, we have the option of taking a mental health day and we frequently do brain breaks whenever they are needed. If Venti needs to lose his temper over some frustrating thing, he’s free to take as long as he needs to control it and recover before getting back to work. That flexibility just isn’t there in a classroom setting.
Less Hand Sanitizer
So far, we haven’t gotten sick this fall. The past two years, the whole family came down with colds within the first 3-4 weeks of school. Our exposure to germs has lessened significantly, so that is fun!
I’m not an expert homeschooler, and I fully intend to come back to you all with an update that most of what I just said no longer applies, but we are rocking it so far. Two months in, and I’d say it’s been a success. We’re learning right along with each other and it is such an awesome experience.