During the course of last year, I received a lot of questions as to WHY we decided to homeschool. Now, the concept of homeschooling was not new to me, I had played around with the idea since my eldest was about 3.
From an early age, I realised that my eldest didn’t always understand something the first time. You had to explain things a bit differently. I soon realised he was very visual. It also helped when I made things relatable to him. Using people he knew or things he loved to explain everyday concepts.
When I started teaching him the Alphabet, for example, he would remember a letter better if I associated with something or someone he loved. For example, T was for Transformer, B for Buzz and so on.
At age 4 we got a new book, a pop-up book about pirates. There was a note from the Captain to the kids in the book who helped him, one part read “…give the jewels to Parrot Pete and he will bring them back to me”
My son absolutely could not understand this. I explained that Captain James Jellyfish was somewhere else and the parrot would take it to him. Still, he did not understand. A month later my father in law was in town on business and that night, we read the book again and my son again said, he doesn’t understand what that means. Suddenly I realised I could use my father in law as an example.
I told him that if we want to send his grandmother something, we could give it to their granddad when he is here on business. So we do not see grandma, but we see granddad and he would then, in turn, give it to grandma when he sees her. Suddenly he got it, you could see his face light up, I could see he finally got it. This was when I thought that my child would struggle in a mainstream school.
I was worried he would be labeled “slow” because he doesn’t “get it” the first time. My husband experienced this in high school The math teacher explained new work, asked if everyone understood, some kids said no, she explained it (In the same way) 3 more times, every time asking if everyone understood, some did, some didn’t. In the end, my husband still had his hand up, saying he just doesn’t understand. Her reply: “Well, then you are stupid” I had since primary school experienced bad teachers. I use to love Maths and use to get a min of 80% for maths, till St.4 when I had a horrible woman as my math teacher, and since then my maths dropped to 50%, I hated maths, and still do. On the flip side, I had teachers who inspired me and pushed me to do my best, who believed in me and made me believe in myself.
I know not all teachers are like this. I do know that in a Private and Public school there will be good teachers that will go above and beyond for their students and there will be lazy/couldn’t be bothered, teachers. I think the fear at that time, was that, with a mainstream school, he would have to fit in their box and if he didn’t fit in, then the problem lay with him, not the system.
Besides the worry that they might perceive him as “slow” or having a learning disability, he is also a very busy bee, very fidgety. I worried that a mainstream environment of having one desk/spot in the class and having to sit at that desk the whole day/year would break his spirit. To sum it up, I had fears, a lot of fears.
We found a lovely Montessori school close to our house. My aunt is a Principal at a Montessori school and I have always loved the Montessori method of teaching. Without realising, our home and the way I had been raising the boys was already a very Montessori way.
So we decided to try it and see how it goes. We were at the school for 3 years, Henri started what would have been Gr00 at a pre-school. Over the course of the 3 years, there were a few things that bothered me at school. The school had lovely ideas and an amazing long term goal. Unfortunately, the Private school fees with 2 kids were getting out of hand for us, we just couldn’t afford it. Besides the financial side, I was not happy with many aspects of the school, I felt that we weren’t getting our money’s worth basically. We made the choice to take the boys out.
This was a difficult decision to make because the boys were both happy at school. They, and I, had made amazing friends while at the school. I could barely keep myself together on the last day of school saying goodbye to teachers. I even ended up having a massive abscess in my eye, which many said was stress related. But, financially this was by far the best choice for us.
All the schools in our area had long waiting lists. This along with all those fears I still had, we decided as a family that we would give Homeschooling a try and relook at our choice after 6 months.
There are many benefits to homeschooling. If you have a child that really struggles to learn or understand things and needs more one on one time, Homeschooling would definitely be an option for you. There are so many free resources that can be used, there are companies you can work through, that sends you all the workbooks and plans you need.
Besides the financial side of it, one of the things that started to bother me what that my eldest seemed to struggle with the freedom he had in the Montessori classroom. I was told that he loves maths and they struggle to get him to work with equipment from all the other “subjects” in the class. In the 3 years he was at the school I felt that his speech and writing didn’t improve as much as his peers did. Now in a Montessori environment, they have 3 years to tick all their boxes. So if they master all 3 years math in the first year awesome. If it takes them 3 years to master writing, great. BUT I really felt like the lack of the growth of his writing came from having too much freedom to choose what he works on a daily basis. So this along with the financial side of things is what made us decide to try Homeschooling.
For our full homeschooling journey please read my next blog.