And how I've been doing it the past 12 years... Educating our children is truly one of the most important jobs we have, as parents and educators. And when we become parents for the first time, we really plan it all out, everything, especially their education. When I became a Mom with my first, I had already made her educational plan by the time she was born, and by the time she was just under 3 years old, she was enrolled and ready to start preschool. I had chosen a private school that to me was my dream school. I thought, "I would love to go", maybe I was thinking to much about what I would like. I would drive her out to school on my way to my office in Calabasas in the mornings. Since I was working full time, my husband would pick our daughter up after school. After a short time, he noticed that she didn't seem to enjoy going to preschool and seemed to really not like it at all. Which was a little confusing since she was so excited to go. Once we were able to talk it out, with a 3 year old, mind you, we learned why she didn't want to go anymore. She craved structure, she wanted to do things she wasn't allowed to do, and she especially disliked nap time. So we had to rethink my entire plan. I wanted her happy and learning not defeated and sad. So we enrolled her in a local public school for kindergarten. Once we were there, I learned about all the magnet and charter school choices available in our school system. So I applied to see if we could get in. We got in on the first try, so we enrolled her in the science magnet school for 1st grade. I had since stopped working full time, but was still working 20+ hours a week as a realtor. I decided to be more involved since I had more time available. I started a Girl Scout troop, sat on the site council as the parliamentarian, and became co chair for the annual school fair/fundraiser. I was also a room mom. I volunteered each year and would help her teachers with what ever I could. It seemed like we had finally found a school and a plan we could follow through with. Well, not really because as the years went on, I learned we had to fight for everything, from supplies to after school care, (myself and one other Mom would do whatever we could to improve as much as we could, and after bonding over our concern for the safety, well being and education of our daughters we developed a friendship that we still have all these years later). I was at her school alot. I could see first hand what was going on at her school. And I wasn't happy about alot of it. With all the effort, time and energy, my husband asked me, "With all you do at our daughter's school do you really think you're helping to improve her education "? I was not prepared to answer him, and really had to think about it. That's when my husband and I found out that our daughter was being bullied in 3rd grade. She spoke up right away and each time we thought we handled the situation, it would just become worse. Along with our frustration with the curriculum we were finally fed up. At the time we were pregnant with our 2nd, and during a frustrating conversation on how to resolve it, I said what if I homeschool her? Was I crazy? Could we do it? It would mean, me not working. What were we thinking! I asked my parents, our pediatrician the principal and everyone seemed to think I could do it and that it was a good idea. So I then embarked on educating myself on homeschooling in my state. I knew I would need alot of support to ensure we were successful. So I found that enrolling in a virtual public school online would be best for us.
Once we enrolled we received a huge box at our door,several weeks later, filled with books, art kit, science kit, jumprope and a yoga DVD. It was so exciting. We were officially homeschoolers, I had just had our 2nd child stopped working full time and was embarking on a life changing experience, I was terrified! Thankfully the virtual public online school we chose has an agenda for each student as well as the learning coach(parent), (most online schools do as well which makes it easy to stay on track). There are teachers a principal, field trips, events, graduations, proms, award ceremonies, picnics etc. Most offer interactive lessons in each subject and tons of resources for support as well. It was a huge adjustment at first. I chose to stay home after the baby was born, for a full year and give homeschooling a good try. Ha, 1 year we thought let's try it and see how it goes....12 years later! All though it was very scary and a huge leap of faith, we did it anyways. Our daughter homeschooled from 4th grade thru 8th grade. She thought about going to a brick and mortar high school but wasn't sure. Until the last minute when she decided definitively she wanted to go. We talked about it as a family and wanted to really make sure she was healed from the past bullying and that she was ready to go. She said she was ready. That the time at homeschooling helped her to heal. She had been volunteering at a small local aquarium since she started homeschooling at the age of 9, the youngest volunteer ever. She had always dreamed of being a marine biologist and since we had been homeschooling she was on a local swim team, practicing daily, and competing. So going back to a brick and mortar school meant giving both of those up. (A whole other story, for another blog on staying open as a parent when your kids are finding their way). She really wanted to go to an art high school, so we did some research and found several we could go look at. Here's where I'm grateful that we chose to go with the virtual public school online, because we had record of her state testing results and report cards, to show when it came time to. She was accepted by the principal himself, and started high school that fall. So what about our son? Who we planned on enrolling in our local public school. We never really planned on homeschooling him. We thought he'd go to pre-k and kindergarten and then elementary school at our local public school. But since we were homeschooling our daughter, he insisted on homeschooling as well. Again here we were discussing educational decisions with our 3 year old. I really wanted him to go to elementary school at our local public school, but he would have nothing to do with it. If homeschooling was good enough for his big sister it was good enough for him. I was terrified. When my daughter started homeschooling she was already in 4th grade, smart and could do alot of the daily work on her own.
But my son, I'd be responsible for teaching him to read, write, do math! I was so scared I'd not do my job and he wouldn't learn what he needed. But I guess having an older sibling who you've watched homeschool since you were born, made it a little easier. Not to say it wasn't stressful. There were times I was so worried I would reach out to his teachers, and they would assure me that he was learning and growing and I was doing great. Not sure I believed them, but I did hear their words of encouragement, which kept me moving forward. I made lots of mistakes but I kept moving forward.
Flash forward to the present and our daughter is in her 3rd year at the Art Center College of Design, on a scholarship that she earned with her super grades, being on the honor roll, and submitting a stellar art portfolio that she worked on in high school and a heartfelt essay, (the essays prompt was to write about a decision you made that impacted your life, of course she wrote about bullying and why she chose to homeschool, it was amazing, as a proud mom, it brought me to tears).
Our son will be entering 7th grade next week, and we're very excited. He's an excellent reader and writer, and is a natural mathematician. He dreams if being an environmental engineer. So my fears were unfounded when it came to my son. With support and guidance I did it. His plan is to continue homeschooling until high school.
And just like his big sister, he plans on attending a brick and mortar high school. He wants to study math, science, robotics and engineering. We want to make sure he gets into the right high school, we'll look around and take some tours over the next year preparing for his move. The one question I get, the one I hear all the time... Is what about socialization? It takes more planning and a little more effort, because the kids aren't at school daily hanging with friends all day. I worried. I would ask our daughter all the time. But with the volunteering at the aquarium and daily swim practice she had lots of time to socialize and make friends. Same with our son. Through the extracurricular activities he is able to socialize and make friends. We also plan time for exercise and since we sit more online, we get up every hour to move, stretch or do some squats, sit ups, push ups or planks when we are in school. It's been a sacrifice financially, I stopped working 12 years ago, and learned to live on one income. It can be challenging, but it can be done. It was a choice we made as a family. Those choices worked for us. We learned that education can come in all forms...brick and mortar public or private, charter magnet, online public or private...whatever you choose should be what's best for your children and you.
"Conscious Positive Living"