My Road to Homeschool

Monday, September 29, 2014

Okay friends, the question I get asked the most lately by my in person friends is why I decided to homeschool Jonathan. It's something I never expected to do on account of I am disorganized, spontaneous, and have trouble with follow through. Also, a humongous part of why we live in Walnut Creek is because of the highly rated public school system.

Here then, is our story. 

Jonathan hated school. Pretty much since about 6th grade he's been telling me about his loathing for school. But whatever, right? Because kids don't have to like school, they just have to go to school? And he had good friends and got good enough grades as long as I remembered to sit on him when it was time to do homework? Plus what would the alternative be anyway? This was my thought process for the last few years.

But in the middle of his Freshman year it became clear that he really hated school. Like headache and stomach ache everyday kind of hated. Like he would rather sit in a bus full of puss than go to school hate. But he still had good friends, and he loved wrestling, and he would get decent grades so his dad and I could not figure out why it made him so miserable. And being your typical, not terribly self aware 15 year old male, he couldn't really figure it out either. So doctors and counseling and all that jazz and we still didn't really know why. So I'd just make him go but I'd feel really, really sad about it.

He was finally able to articulate that part of what made him so unhappy at school was how bored he was. He hated sitting in class and listening to attendance, and then waiting for announcements, and for papers to be turned in. He found it almost tortuous to sit still for 7 hours and then come home and do 4 more hours of homework.

Let me say here that I believe in listening to my mom heart and, equally vocal, my mom stomach. Because if my mom heart and my mom stomach are both upset about something then my mom brain probably needs to get working on a solution.

So I asked myself, why does he have to go to school? What are the outcomes we are hoping for? And I answered my cute self, he needs to be educated, and prepared for college. I mean, I didn't really care about him just being in high school for the sake of sitting in school. I'm aware that in the real world we often have to do things that we don't like, but I actually want to teach my kids to try and find careers that they do like and to take chances, and to not be afraid to be different in the pursuit of happiness and personal fulfillment.

Luckily I had a dear friend, Elena who was already homeschooling her three children so I grilled her about the pros and cons and I learned that in the age of the internet a parent doesn't actually have to become their child's main teacher for them to be schooled at home. I did a ton of research and learned that there are hundreds of educational systems out there that allow you to sort of curate your child's education. There are skype in math classes, and fully developed English curriculums, and an abundance of other independent study options. This was so exciting because the idea of me sitting down each day to teach Jonathan trigonometry was essentially horrifying. 

Another question I've been asked is how would he be socialized without going to high school? Each parent has to know their own kid and really, being social isn't one of Jonathan's problems. We are blessed that he is part of a wonderful church youth group and has lots of friends in and out of our church. We went to high school ourselves and figured it wasn't super important to us that he be "socialized" by a bunch of other stupid teenagers who swear, drink, have intimate relationships etc. He can be stupid enough on his own thank you very much.

In the end I decided to pull the trigger. I did a zillion hours of online research and talking to friends who work in the school system and had pretty much put together a curriculum for him for his Sophomore year when Jonathan surprised me by requesting a program he found online himself that is a college prep high school program based out of Sacramento. It is a charter school and he takes his classes online but meets with his certified teacher every other week with seven other kids from our area to work on group projects. He has live Spanish language labs online and there is tutoring available through skype everyday during school hours.

So far it is pretty awesome. It gives him the chance to really own his education. The curriculum is rigorous and with the online check points he has to pass to move on in his assignments there is no zoning out. Most days he likes to split his time between the library and Panera. It isn't perfect, procrastination can still be a problem, but his dad and I, and especially Jonathan, are happy. And that was the goal.

If you're thinking of homeschooling you probably have a million questions and I would be so pleased to share what I've learned with you. Please email me so we can talk. I didn't include any of the technical stuff in this post, like how colleges view homeschoolers or taking attendance, or P.E. or a million other details-but believe me, I am HAPPY to talk about them!
And finally, here are some links to websites that I found super helpful in educating myself about the wide world of homeschooling.

How does a home schooler apply to college 

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