Homeschool is quite “alternative” in my professional and many other educated communities. As a public school teacher, I work hard to ensure lessons are engaging. I teach 125 students per day (part time). In that group there are bound to be some who aren’t motivated by Spanish, but my goal is to inspire and instill a love of language and culture. My classes are electives, so many of my students have chosen to be in our class. This makes a lot of difference in my students’ minds.
When a student is motivated, the brain’s inherent curiosity leads the learning.
Letting him take the lead.
I want my son to be inspired to learn. I want his curiosity to lead the way. The feeling of choice and the discipline and TIME to focus on WHAT MOTIVATES could make a world of difference. I hope homeschool can spark a fire of learning that will burn forever.
Going for it.
Home school is a HUGE UNDERTAKING. It’s something I have considered since my son was in first grade. He would cry every morning before school, and beg not to go. His first grade teacher was sub-par. I volunteered to be her room parent at open house that summer. I pledged to be VERY INVOLVED and make sure she knew my son had support at home.
Over the years, B has learned concepts and grown in elementary school. In his mind, however, school and learning are disconnected. We chose to start (and probably finish) in middle school because executive function is his least-developed area. Sixth graders must keep up with the demands, lessons and paper shuffling of 7 different teachers!
The classes move so quickly there is little time to reflect deeply on one objective. Homework is an excellent time to grasp concepts and dig deeper into class material, but B is burnt out after a 6-hour school day. Homework becomes torturous. I want the freedom to build lessons around his interests and the flexibility to spend the whole day learning about circuits, or baking, or a specific type of shark if it sparks his curiosity. Here are our pros and cons of homeschooling. Perhaps it’s something you haven’t considered, but could.
Pros (The gifts of homeschool) In order of importance.
Homeschool allows us to:
- Create a Lifelong Learner.
- Design projects around my son’s personal interests and motivation.
- Teach and Learn self-discipline. (Many classroom strategies teach discipline and use discipline techniques based on group dynamics and sometimes, fear.)
- Teach goal-focused planning. This is a MAJOR skill for an ADHDer. The executive function weakness must be addressed before he’s out there juggling life with no plan. (For example, B wants to take an animation course that requires a PC. He is currently building a dog-walking and lawn mowing service in our neighborhood to earn the funds to buy a used computer.)
- Focus instruction (no loss of time due to change of classes or zoning out because of boredom or excess energy).
- Have more time to complete community service projects and pursue theater (we have a wonderful home school theater nearby).
- Build a tailored education without the private school price tag. The private schools in the DC area are not affordable for us and the parochial schools were not accommodating when we discussed B’s learning needs.
- Teach responsibility for our own learning. School and learning have LITTLE to do with one another in my son’s mind. He’s doing work for the teacher, not himself.
- Build a network of friends through homeschool who have similar learner profiles; less judgement from fellow “classmates” because my son learns in his own way.
- Be a part of a developed homeschool network. In our community we have resources, students and field trips galore. This gives me the strength and confidence to pursue homeschooling for 6th grade.
Cons: The foreseeable problems with homeschool (In order of Importance):
- We must have systems in place for family life so we can manage school IN THE HOME. Family life must stay sane. There is no basic schedule for weekdays self-imposed by school outside of the home.
- Making sure the lessons are taught, understood, and appropriately assessed so my son receives credit for completing the 6th grade curriculum.
- Making sure our relationship doesn’t suffer as I assume the role of “learning facilitator.”
- Making sure my son has quiet blocks of time to think, study and practice even with 2 young siblings at home. (We may send the 2 year-old to half-day preschool and ensure 4 hours of quiet per weekday).
- The cost of an online curriculum and student platform is about $1200, even more for specific arts and technology courses. Plus the taxes we pay, anyway, for living in our expensive neighborhood with good public schools. Also, I have to drop my salary by another 20% in order to be home during the school day so I can facilitate B’s learning.
- This is BRAND NEW TERRITORY. (Fear of the unknown).
The decision to homeschool is a personal choice and a deep commitment. My husband and I have rebuilt our careers and work-life so we can spend more time with our children. That may not be the right choice for everyone, but if you know what you truly want out of life and what you want your ADHD child to learn, it may be the perfect fit for you. I’ll keep you updated on the process and share what I learn as I go.