Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why am I home schooling my daughter?

Thanks to all of you who commented with words of support on my first home schooling post. It has been a big decision and it's nice to feel validation--especially when the school I'm pulling her out of is so coveted relative to other schools in the city that real estate prices in its catchment area have soared and parents who want to secure spots in its limited-enrollment kindergarten classes now start lining up outside the front doors by midnight on the school's mid-winter enrollment day.

As I noted in my previous post, I've been deliberating about this for years. And over the years more and more reasons for home schooling have piled up. None of them have anything to do with my daughter's teachers, all of whom have, in their different ways, been very good to her. Instead, the most compelling issues are:

1. She was increasingly bored and miserable at school, tearful on Monday mornings, elated on Friday afternoons, and plagued with preoccupations and nightmares about unfriendly classmates.

2. She spaced out frequently during class and missed out on a lot of material and activities.

3. Her grades suffered because of this. Recently, she also lost substantial points on her science fair project for not making sufficient eye contact and not speaking loudly and clearly enough during her presentation.

4. She hates Investigations Math, personal reflections, dioramas, projects, and the daily homework sheets almost as much as I do. And these things plague all of the otherwise decent area schools, public and private alike.

5. To get ready for the one potential alternative, what I've taken to calling the True School of the Future (more on that later), she needs to start learning French as soon as possible.

In addition to these issues, there were a few others pertaining to the idiosyncrasies of our school's parent-staff relationships, though none of these were decisive:

6. I'm under the impression that the principal despises me. 

7. In comparison with many other parents, I'm an outsider. I no longer volunteer at the school, and I am not friends on Facebook with any of my daughter's teachers, nor do I (or my daughter) hang out with any of the teachers socially after hours.

8. Some of the insider parents, when they volunteer in the classroom, are tasked with grading homework assignments including those of my daughter.

I have no evidence that any of these latter factors have had, or later would have had, any ill effects on my daughter's educational experience, but how can I be certain?

9 comments:

Happy Elf Mom said...

It sounds like a lot of research went into this, probably b/c your daughter is older. When I pulled Elf, he was barely six. I reasoned I could teach basic math and reading while I figured out what was "out there" curriculum wise. :)

FedUpMom said...

I've been through so many similar experiences.

Bored, miserable kid -- check.

Allegedly wonderful school -- check.

Contempt from the principal -- check.

Stupid homework -- check.

She lost points in a science fair because of poor eye contact? What the ...?

gasstationwithoutpumps said...

We're looking into homeschooling again (we have thought about it every year at about this time, but there was always a school option that was slightly better). For us, the breaking point may be serious writer's block (so that nothing is getting written).

As a slightly-deaf science-fair judge, I do want to discuss "lost substantial points on her science fair project for not making sufficient eye contact and not speaking loudly and clearly enough during her presentation." I would not fault a student for not making eye contact (though that is a skill worth practicing), but I do frequently ask students to speak louder, explaining that I'm slightly deaf and that the noise level in the room makes it hard for me to hear them. I have not had any trouble with students responding to that request (even students who were initially very quiet and never made eye contact).
I've done science-fair judging at school, county, and state levels, and regard the interview as mainly a way to judge whether the student did the work and understood it, not as a screentest for their ability to perform before an audience.

cranberry said...

8. Some of the insider parents, when they volunteer in the classroom, are tasked with grading homework assignments including those of my daughter.

Our school won't tell parents the names of other parents without permission. I can't see how this policy could possibly fit the spirit of confidentiality.

LexAequitas said...

8. Some of the insider parents, when they volunteer in the classroom, are tasked with grading homework assignments including those of my daughter.


This is pretty obviously a FERPA violation. While getting a school to do almost anything is like trying to break through a wall with a feather, you generally CAN get them to do things if you convince them that they are against the law and that you're aware they're against the law (schools have very little problem breaking the law if they think the parents don't know about it).

Their only theoretical excuse might be that the homework isn't retained academic records. If it's feeding into a grade, though, they can't use that.

Jennifer said...

Oh, we commonly get the question, "Why do you homeschool, when you live in (insert fabulous district here)?"

We just say, "This is a better fit for us."

The fact that the third graders are practicing single-digit addition facts on their weekly timed tests does not come up.

Katharine Beals said...

"Allegedly wonderful school -- check."

"Why do you homeschool, when you live in (insert fabulous district here)?"

Very interesting! I wonder if there's *any* correlation between a school's reputation and the rate of home schooling among those in its catchment area.

Anonymous said...

I also live in the area with the good school and the great teachers, and some actually were, but the various curriculums used were enough to have me afterschool. I used a lot of what you're using (The Story of the World is still one of my faves) including the giant timeline banners all over their rooms (recommended by the book, The Well Trained Mind.) My only regret was not continuing consistently during middle school and not working with writing more.

Good luck and keep us posted.

SusanS

Deirdre Mundy said...

Actually, Katherine, you'd probably find even MORE home-schoolers in the lousy districts (at least the non urban lousy districts.) We tend to congregate in these places-- because the real estate prices are low, and we don't have to worry about school quality (except in the "try to change it so that other people don't get left behind" way.)

Congratulations on your foray into homeschooling. You should probably make contact with some local groups. I think homeschoolers tend to be more accepting of quirky kids-- after all, a fair number of us homeschool because our kids ARE quirky, and we know they'd be eaten alive in a school setting. (Not by the academics.... by the OTHER CHILDREN.)

It's nice to raise gifted kids who don't feel like outcasts and who don't loathe themselves!