I have been homeschooling my daughter for two years now. Long before COVID was common vocabulary, I made the decision to pull my daughter from (a good) public school. All around me, I see parents torn with the decision of how their children will access learning in the upcoming school year. I, on the other hand, will have no interruptions in my child’s learning plan because we both are settled and accustomed to at home learning.
What is Homeschooling?
Homeschooling is NOT school at home. Homeschool is choosing to take full responsibility and accountability for your child’s education. As a home schooling parent, I get to decide what and how my child will learn. I pick (and purchase) the curriculum, set the schedule, administer assessments (if any) and log her grades.
Why We Homeschool
I decided to pull my daughter from school in the 8th grade due to a myriad of reasons.
- She began to exhibit behavior that was unbecoming. She was very concerned with “fitting in” (as most kids are). She was turning into a follower and was easily influenced.
- This contributed to her being unable to concentrate on school work. School was not as important as her “friends”. She may have been at school all day, however very little of the lessons covered was being retained. This was doubly complicated by her disability. My daughter is hard of hearing.
- I was disturbed by the rigorousness of some of the curriculum. (Hear me out). I have a master’s degree and in the 8th grade my daughter brought home reading comprehension work that I did not understand. I mentioned this at a meeting with a teacher and other staff members. I asked them who in the classroom could understand and answer those questions because maybe it was me. The teacher confessed to me that, no one in the class could. As I suspected, the text read like something that would be assigned to an upper level undergraduate student studying Chinese history.
- Her writing wasn’t as crisp and clear as I would have preferred. I am not concerned (at all) with her knowing ancient Chinese history, Shakespeare, or Trigonometry. I am concerned with her being able to read and write well. It is important that she knows how to find information and use her resources to complete projects. I am even more concerned, with her having a relationship with God, respecting adults and herself and having a healthy view of herself based solely on the World of God. It is important to me that Ayanna values hard work, practices gratitude and makes a positive contribution to society.
- I work second shift. That made it difficult to maintain a connection and stay in the loop when she comes home from school and I am leaving for work.
For these reasons I started homeschooling her in the eighth grade. I retained her voluntarily. I thought it would be best to repeat the 8th grade at home and focus solely on reading, writing, and math. I also took her cell phone and she did not get it back until her 16th birthday. (Social media and screen time will be another post.)
How We Homeschool
Now my daughter is in the tenth grade and in order for her to receive an accredited high school diploma from the state of Tennessee, she must have the required credits like any other student. So yes, we must cover Algebra, Chemistry and the likes. No, I am not equipped to teach it. For these classes, I enroll her in local tutorials. A tutorial is an organized education group that provides structured classed for home schooled students. Once a week she attends class and the teacher covers a concept or two and then provides work for the student to complete at home for the rest of the week. I use tutorials for math and science. I cover reading, writing and Bible studies. For writing, we use the Essentials in Writing curriculum. In addition to tutorials, she has a private tutor. For six hours per week, she has one-on-one tutoring sessions to reinforce her math, writing and biology skills. We work out at Planet Fitness weekly and that counts as Physical Education. She has weekly speech therapy sessions at Baptist Outpatient Facility. We don’t have a set time to start and end the learning period, but most of the academic work takes place between 10am -3pm.
For accountability, we are registered with Home Life Academy. HLA is a cover school that manages records and provides resources for homeschoolers. Parents report grades and attendance to them and they provide report cards, attendance verification and transcripts. For graduating homeschoolers, they provide an accredited diploma.
Ayanna’s attitude has improved. Her reading, writing and math aptitude have improved. We are continuing to build in the area of self-confidence and that has improved too. She knows that in order to return to school she cannot exhibit the same behaviors as before. She is more responsible with her phone this time because she understands that it is a privilege and not a right.
We plan on this being our last year homeschooling. I want her to return to school for 11th and 12th grade so she can have the “senior experience.” When I decided to homeschool Ayanna, I had to convince my husband, but he was supportive. Others were skeptical. It is not a decision I entered into lightly. I did tons of research before taking the plunge. For those of you struggling with the decision of at school verses at home next year – give yourself some grace and do whatever is best for your family and your child. If you want to send them to school- send them. If you want to keep them home— keep them home. I’m sure the school system will provide or at least attempt to provide ample support either way. COVID is uncharted territory for us all. After two years of homeschooling, I don’t regret my decision. At first, my daughter was not happy with the idea. She still is not thrilled with the reality; but she understands what I am trying to accomplish. I hope she will appreciate it later. – EM