Saturday, August 22, 2009

to homeschool or not to homeschool.... advice?

A bit of background for those of you new(ish) to this blog...

We moved from western Canada (Calgary) to French-speaking eastern Canada (Gatineau, QC) in May '08. That fall we registered Liam, then age 5, for kindergarten at our neighbourhood  french school, school 'A', but their kindergarten was full. At first, we were upset that he would be transferred to school 'B' in the next neighbourhood over, have to take the bus, not make friends who lived close by, etc, etc. After a bit of a rough start (it was a full French school and he couldn't speak a single word so he had a hard time making friends), he ended the year having done REALLY well.

Back in March of this year, we filled out the necessary paperwork for him to continue attending school 'B' this fall for grade 1. I didn't want to put him through another transition and have him make brand bew friends. We had been told that we likely wouldn't hear a definitive answer until August, and unfortunately I heard this Tuesday that he was denied (since they don't even have room for the kids in their zone). Also unfortunate is that in the last year I've heard several things about school 'A' that make me nervous about sending him there.

Now that continuing at school 'B' is not an option, we're left with the following choses:
  • school 'A', a full French school but one that we have some serious reservations about
  • school 'C', an English school that he'd have to take the bus to and from and would require him to be gone from around 7am to 3:30ish... over eight hours a day! 
  • homeschooling
I won't lie. I reeeeeally want to homeschool. Peter, however, is DEAD SET AGAINST IT not thrilled with the idea. We've not talked about it for a few days now. I think we're both scared to start another fight. It's one of those situations that there's just no possible compromise. Either he gets what he wants or I get what I want. I don't see any way for us to both be happy.

I do understand his reservations, but would love to try for a year... it is after all "just" grade one. There's not a list as long as my arm of goals and required learning, it wouldn't take hours a day, etc, etc. It would be a good trial period that would allow us to revisit the decision at the end of the year, or even during the year.

The worst part of all this is the tension between Peter and I. Sure there are things we fight about, but finances and parenting are two areas where we generally agree. He has raised some good points and some of them are ones that concern me too:
  • Liam wouldn't have the same daily companionship from a classroom full of friends
  • the expense of homeschooling supplies, materials, curriculum, etc
  • Liam will definitely not learn French at home as well as he would if surrounded by it for 8+ hours each day
  • the lack of schedule and the unpredictability of life at home, especially with two other kids at home (ie. am I too disorganized to homeschool??)
  • the negative effect on housework/cleaning/errands/groceries/laundry, etc (ie. I already have a hard enough time keeping the house clean)
  • whether or not Liam would want to be homeschooled
  • timing, as school is scheduled to start just over a week
As for that last point, in my defense, we only found out about our request being denied on Tuesday, so it's not like I've been purposely putting this off. Anticipating our disagreement over this issue, we were both content to assume he'd be attending school 'B' again this year. But I'm now really under the gun.

I'm feeling overwhelmed though. Where would we even start???

Not only in convincing Peter that this is something that I can do, but in looking for materials, curriculum, signing Liam up for extra activities, etc. I hate fighting with him about this and, when it comes down to it, my relationship with Peter is more important than where Liam goes to school.

I just hope we can somehow both be happy with our eventual decision.

(And by 'eventual', I mean the-decision-that-we-have-to-make-like-today.)


  1. I have 9 children. We homeschooled in the 80s and 90s. I think the older 1/2 of the kids are better for the homeschooling...the younger 1/2 (the baby is now 18)are not as grounded as I wish they might be. We started them back in public school when we moved to a new town. I used Alpha Omega workbook system, and no internet. It would be much easier these days. We are still very close-knit family, but I do wish I had homeschooled longer. Good luck to you and your family!
    -Rae Osenbaugh in Nebraska

  2. I think it might depend on the child. I've read good things about homeschooling, but I'm also married to a teacher who has to teach kids when their parents decide to no longer homeschool, and it's harder for him to get those kids caught up. We don't have kids, though, and have often talked about what we will do when we do have kids. Good luck with your decision :)

  3. Well Amy, you know me I'm ALL FOR homeschooling!!lol We are entering our 7th year as a homeschooling family and I will be 'teaching' gr.8, gr.6, gr.4, gr.2, and ECS(and of course Matthew and Breanna take part too!!). We do however unschool, but we when started out we were considered traditional. I too, had a very hard to convince hubby. He had the same reservations as Peter does. The biggest one is and has been all along the social aspect.
    Here's some points to consider:
    -when engaged in the classroom the children are segregrated by age, so the children are extremely limited in their exposure to other age groups to stimulate them and possibly challenge their thinking. They are told the classroom is not for socializing, that is to be done at recess or lunch or on their own time.
    With homeschooling children are exposed to a vast array of different age groups as they go about their day. The clerk at the grocery store, the toddler in the shopping cart, the teenage stock person and the different aged children in a homeschool group. This stimulates their socialization skills more than anything.
    -Cost, well we're pretty lucky here in Canada when it comes to homeschooling. Different provinces along with different boards have various ways of handling it, but here, I don't pay a cent for our type of homeschooling. Any funds I put forth towards curriculum or supplies is refunded back to me. When we were registered as Traditional, we just paid a registration fee and then recieved our funding for supplies. Check out your local homeschool regs for that info.
    -Children do not need to be taught as in sitting in a desk and having a stranger tell them what they need to learn and in what timeframe. children are naturally wired to learn from the time they are born. Homeschooling allows this to take place and at the childs pace. For us, it's the idealogy that the child is capable of deciding how and when and what they are ready to learn. It is up to us to facilitate that and provide the opportunities for that to take place. We have found for us, that our children learn faster and retain more information when we do things this way. This is how we homeschool, it's not for everyone and it took us awhile to discover this is where we are to be. There are so many options available, that you are bound to find something that would work. There are curriculum available that tell you exactly how to implement the days activities to curriculum
    that gives you the freedom to set up your own program. It's a little scary at first, but oh-so-much fun when you get going!! Watching your child learn a new task. The celebration we had when Alex finally understood fractions (through baking and doubling or reducing recipes) or when alyssa read her first book!! The list goes on and on and I was there to witness it and celebrate it with them. We don't worry at all what grade level they are at, they are scattered all over the place when it comes to that since they all have individual strengths and weaknesses.
    If you Google Quebec Homeschool regulations
    as well as Quebec homeschool boards, that should get you going in the right direction for info.
    Our days are filled with so much joy and it's never dull. Somedays are rough, but it's how it is sometimes.
    This has become super long, but if you want any more info, please ask!! There are sooooo many positive things when it comes to homeschooling, and it is becoming more of a norm now in society, so there are so many things out there to support and encourage homeschooling!!

  4. LOL, there's apparently a limit on characters!!ROFL!!
    Here's the rest:
    oh and what is Bill's opinion about homeschooling now??? Well, HE'S the one who brings it up and helps to encourage others about it!! He's watched the healthy transformation that has taken place in his kids, their love of learning and life. Our nights are free to enjoy family activities because our children are not holed up in their rooms doing homework and review. Our family is stronger and happier and much closer because of our choices.
    Check out:
    Don't let any of the jargon worry's not really hard to write up a learning plan and fill out paperwork!!

    Oh, one last thing...I told Bill that if he would just give me a chance and let me try, that if our children became socially inept or grew green horns and became otherwise weird, I would stop.LOL...Obviously, that hasn't happened!!lol

    Many blessings to you guys!!
    Please ask if you have any questions!!

  5. oh, oh, check this out:
    and this:

    and in case you needed more:

    Yup, we have done a ton of research on the subject.

  6. I am currently following a blog that leaves all sorts of info on their homeschooling process, and it has honestly gotten me thinking about homeschooling myself! I longed to be homeschooled (because school was too slow for me and I needed more stimulation) but my mom didn't want to because I was doing 'too well' in school. She did for my brother for 1/2 a year. You can definetly revisit homeschooling or public schooling if necessary as well. And I'm sure that there are homeschool group get togethers in your area that will give him the social activity he needs.

    Good luck with your decision!

    Oh, and here is the link to The Snail's Trail -

  7. I vote for the French immersion. If you live in a French speaking community, you all need to be fluent. I spent $2000 for a year of language lessons for my kid.

    My hubby and I have fought over schools too. I want the Montessori-ish school with the French & Spanish classes that teaches to his level of math & reading. Hubby wants the Catholic school that teaches abcs to the kinds that already read because that is what they teach in Kindgergarten. They taught the numbers 0 to 11 to my kid who could do multiplication. My son wants to homeschool.

    He won't read for me when I ask him to, I can't imagine how painful homeschooling would be. Is your son willing to do the work for you? My kid is great for the gymnastic coach, the ice skating teacher, etc.

  8. i dont think realistically home schooling would work in todays uber competitive world .. i think school teaches more than book knowledge but rather how to deal with peers , to negotiate, work in group and so on ... also i dont know how well home schooled kids do in college .but ultimately u need to dowhats good for u :)

  9. Hi, I just started reading your blog. I think it's great! Your kids are super cute and I like your outlook on life.
    Just thought I'd drop my opinion on the whole home school thing. I am an early years teacher(I've taught 1-3 with a few dabbles of pre k and 4-6). I don't have any children yet, but have been thinking about homeschooling as a possible decision for my children one day. I honestly think it is up to the family, and specifically the individual child. I know people who have been homeschooled and for the most part, they enjoyed their experiences and came out pretty much on par with the rest of the public/private schoolers.
    In terms of Grade's a really important year for kids and a big change in terms of what they do academically and how much they learn. There are so many different things the children are exposed to in Grade 1. It is a very pivotal time in their educational career. It builds a lot of their foundations for learning, and they need a very solid year. (Just something to keep in mind. It's also true that not all schools provide this either) I really think that children benefit being away from their parents for awhile. It gives them a chance to develop their personalities and that sense of independence in a different environment. I have seen children thrive in a classroom, where at home, things can be different, but also, I have seen the opposite. It gives them the opportunity to start living out the values they have been taught at home, and of course, there's always that whole social aspect that everyone talks about. Keeping homeschool kids involved in different activities with other children generally helps with that.
    If I was in your situation, the whole French language part would definitely make me lean towards public school. Your son is going to be learning a lot of grammar, language skills,words, etc, etc, that you may not be equipped to teach him at his level. If you're living in a french environment that may be really important. I don't know how it works in Quebec, but you could teach him english language stuff at home if there isn't much done in school. I don't know much french at all, so I would not be able to do any of that at home.
    Anyways, in a nutshell, I think do what is best your child. Some kids do homeschool well, some don't. I don't think Grade 1 is the best time to switch over, but that is just me! We'll see what happens when I have children. I already know that I am going to have to feel very comfortable with the school and its teachers before I send my child there, so, who knows? I could be a homeschooling mom one day myself.
    Sorry this became so long!

  10. Very interesting post and comments. I really look forward to reading more.

    In our house, it's the opposite. My DH would love it if I agreed to home school. The thought crosses my mind, only briefly, some days.

  11. i so hear you on this. i just wrote about my thoughts regarding public school vs. home schooling on my blog last night. my daughter is currently in public school kindergarten, but i feel my heart is really leading me to home schooling.
    it's so hard to know what's "right." i think going with your gut (as you likely have with many other parenting decisions) is probably the best bet. i hope to do that myself, but i'm going to give it a little time to see how the school year goes, etc.
    best of luck to you. :)

  12. I couldn't do it for many reasons but a big one is because my kids' responses to me asking them to do something or giving them direction on something is to argue with me or refuse to do it.

    Clearly that wouldn't work.

    BUT I do think that many families do it very successfully and it sounds wonderful. Good luck with this very difficult decision!

  13. Well Amy, as a retired Kindergarten teacher and one who often substitutes in 1st and 2nd grade--I am always amazed at the progress made in those 2 grades!!! I feel first grade is one of the most important years for reading, moving through the page, comprehension, writing--writing thoughts, stories, poetry and Liam is also learning French! Math needs to be steady and ongoing and there are so many ways you can enhance all of this when he gets home. Along with the science, social studies, etc.
    Is it possible for you to participate and help in the classroom? I always loved having the parents in the classroom, but it became more difficult as many Moms went to work--and of course there were the background checks in the later years.
    I have friends who were VERY successful at homeschooling, and were VERY prepared for doing it. I have friends who home schooled and were very disappointed when their child was not at grade level and needed extra help when they went back to public school. I have friends who home schooled the first child, but realized the 2nd would not fit into home schooling as this child desired many others and worked well in the classroom. I am not sure what is happening to the 3rd child.
    I found in my own years of schooling, some of the teachers I did not like very much, were often my best learning years. I would work hard.
    It would be important to be ready for Liam's learning and teaching him and to have some sort of agreement with Peter-- and--What does Liam want? Some children love home schooling and some really want to be in the classroom. Would you be able to give so much time to Simon and Andrew? Would you be able to give Liam the time he needs for learning? I think there are advantages both ways. I know one of my friends found she could not give her child (one only) the physical ed. that she needed, so joined other groups. I do know this child later on did not like to associate with the other home schoolers, but preferred going into the classroom with all sorts of social contact. You are probably already looking at materials and what is available. You may want to talk and meet with the teacher of the class also. I can not blame you for thinking of this, I know it is so much fun having Liam home. Talk with Peter. Reading all the comments has been very fun!!!! Love ya, A. Dianne

  14. Hi Amy,

    We have been homeschooling for the last nine years. Some of the things that we like about it is the freedom. It is nice to be able to do things as a family when ever we want. As far as the social worries there are a lot of things that kids learn in school that you wouldn't necessarily want them to learn, and there are probably some homeschooling groups. We go to a homeschool gym once a week and my son wrestles at the public school. As for the cost of curriculum for first grade you could probably find books at the book store. Here in Alaska we can sign up with a program and the state actually gives us money for activities and curriculum. But we have to turn in work samples and grades and also take the state testing. Someone posted something about the teachers teaching more than just book knowledge, well that is what they are hired to teach. I feel that all the extra that people look for kids to get at school, such as self esteem and how to deal with others is something that the parents should be doing. And statistically kids that are home schooled do better in college and in the professional world. But you have to do what is right for your family. I'll be praying for you and your decisions, let me know if you have any questions. And don't doubt yourself you would do fine.

    May the Lord bless you and your family
    Your cousin in Alaska Amber Vukich

  15. Wow. My son is three now and so we're just starting to think about school for him, but my biggest stress is where I need to go to sign him up in the regular public school system - certainly not something this engaged. I personally wouldn't have the energy required to dedicate to something so important, but I am interested to read what your decision will be. Good luck!

  16. Hi Amy, I don't have any useful comment to add since I don't homeschool my boys. Do you follow Beck from "The Frog and the Toad are still friends". She just decided to start homeschooling this year and she is going to be writing about it. Her kids are 10, 8 and 4. I guess what I would get from her is that if you don't feel "ready" this year, it is okay. You can start later. When the baby is older and you are better able to handle all the work involved.

  17. Hi Amy,
    Well, you know we're not anywhere near the time for deciding whether to homeschool Bella or send her to public school (or private). BUT, I do know that there are a lot of things that I benefited from, from going to school. I am competative, and as a result, having other students to work beside pushed me to try harder to excel. Being in a different environment also challenged me to put the values and beliefs I had been taught into practice - even when it wasn't always easy. This was GREAT for me to learn when I was younger, since it helped deal with the "peer pressure" later on. I had time to learn to be independent, away from mom and dad. this also boosted self confidence in different environments. I was able to be actively involved in sports through school. Of course, there are some schools I look at now and know I wouldn't consider sending Bella there, so WHICH school also plays a part in the decision. I do have friends who have been homeschooled, and some have had a positive experience while others have been negative. Like others have said, I think it depends on the school in question, as well as what is best for Liam, since not all kids benefit from the same things. Let us know what you decide! We'll look at your experience when we have to make the choice! :) love you!


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