Which Way to Go?

Some advice to a mother who is not too sure from Claudia, a mother who has been down both roads.

Q: I have a six year old son who is alcohol exposed has the usual learning disaiblities and behavior problems. I was hoping to get him into the private school that I knew would be good for him, but I just learned that they will not have any openings. I'm thinking of homeschooling him, but I'm terrified. I don't know whether to place him in the public school and hope for the best, or to just start homeschooling him now. What do you think?

A: It depends on your public school. You might have a really great one near you.

My personal opinion is that homeschooling is better than the best school, public or private, but I'm really, really prejudiced on that account. The reason I feel that way is that you will never get a teacher who loves or knows your children as well as you do, or who has a LONG-TERM vested interest in their success. No one will be as dedicated to them as you are.

Homeschooling is so easy that you'll be shocked (if that's what you decide to do.) I was. You can be completely done by noon, or you can spread it out over the day. You can do this and that on the weekend if you want to. You can be completely on top of how they're doing - no guessing or waiting until report cards or conferences. You can join any number of homeschool groups for field trips and small classes in special subjects. The difference in self-esteem is amazing. When you begin, the kids will act like institutionalized school kids. They'll want to know how long they have to do this or that and what will happen if they don't do this or that and when the breaks are and they'll want to see grades. Once you all relax into it, learning will become part of your daily lives - something that you can't imagine living without, and the thrill will be in the learning, not in avoiding some deadline or punishment, or in getting stickers or rewards. The best part is that the kids will learn how they learn differently and will soon learn how to adapt materials to fit their own needs - they become their own best teachers and advocates.

Now here's the downside.

  • 1. You lose whatever income you've been earning
  • 2. You have to buy your own curriculum, which can be expensive (but you can pick and choose only the best, most adapted to your child's learning style and abilities.)
  • 3. You rarely get a break from kids. I would suggest that you try to work something into your plans that gives you some time to yourself. I had to laugh as I typed that. Yeah, right, in an ideal world. But you'll enjoy your kids more because there will be less school-stress.
  • 4. You spend several hours a week planning and preparing materials. I do this on Sunday nights.
  • 5. At first, everyone you know will think you're nuts and wonder if you've become a survivalist or joined a cult.
  • 6. You house stays messy because no one ever leaves so you can clean it, and because they're constantly THERE making more messes, and the really good learning is messy.
  • Whatever you decide, nothing is in stone and you can change your mind whenever you want. Someone will have to fill you in on Illinois homeschooling law. I'm sure their dept. of education probably mentions it in their website, or you can find the laws about it on www.Wrightslaw.com. There are many great national orgainizations, but joining a local one will help you more. Feel free to ask me anything you think I might be able to help you with. We're going into our 4th year of homeschooling. I also have one kid left in public school. It's an individual thing.


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