As some of you may know, Jimmy and I have been seriously considering homeschool for our youngest daughter, Jo. She will be entering kindergarten next year, and our community school is not a place where we want to put her, and as we thought and prayed about it more, we felt the pull to keep her home and train her up, if you will.
Our oldest daughter, Elizabeth, is in 8th grade this year, and is slated to go on to high school either in the community school or, if she gets accepted, a really great, challenging school that focuses on math and science. She has already done the preliminary application for that school, and took a class over the summer to help her prepare for the entrance exam.
In all honesty, though, we have all accepted the fact that the likelihood of her getting into that school is very slim. Even though she has great grades and I believe that she will do well on the test, she had not had a lot of science or math experience outside of school. She has not gone to science or math camps over the summer nor participated in any extracurricular activities that involve math or science. This puts her at a disadvantage because a lot of the kids who want in this school have been involved in those things.
But, for the past while, (years?) Elizabeth has often mentioned that she does not feel that she has a good support group in school. She often feels lonely and misunderstood. She dresses differently than the other girls in the school (she dresses modestly when most girls don't) and she upholds high moral values that are not valued at all in the public school.
Recently, with the added stress of my mother-in-law being in the hospital, things seemed to get a lot worse. On one particularly rough night, I mentioned to Elizabeth that homeschool could also be a choice for her. I mean, I will be home with Jo and the little guys, anyway, and Elizabeth is a mature, self motivated learner, so I thought, why not present the possibility.
Well, much to my surprise, she has actually given it some thought and seems to be leaning toward the homeschooling option.
I never really thought about homeschooling Elizabeth. She has been in the public school system for her whole educational career, and I thought that she would not want to leave and that since she seemed to be doing well enough, why change things.
But then Jimmy and I got into analyzing things a bit more, and after prayer and study, this is what we have come up with:
1. There is nothing that the public school can offer that Elizabeth can't get from homeschooling either online or through tutors. I am sometimes intimidated by Elizabeth's levels in math (she is in 8th grade but taking a 10th grade course) and science, which I love, but I'm not sure I could teach especially without labs but upon research, I have found some wonderful programs that can help with that if I get in over my head.
2. We are specifically told in the Bible to train our children up in the way of the Lord so that they don't stray from it. It doesn't say anywhere to pass your kids off for 6-8 hours a day to a teacher to teach them. I know that this works for some, but it seems that after she is gone from home for so long and then Jimmy and I get home from work, eat, spend some time with all the kids and then put the little ones to bed and Elizabeth does her homework, there doesn't seem to be any time left in the day to study God's Word and to pray together. Maybe if the kids were closer in age it would be easier to sit with them all and work with them together, but as it is, it just doesn't work out.
3. Because Elizabeth is 9 years older than Jo, about 12 years older than Gabriel and will be almost 14 years older than the coming baby, if she is away all day at school just to come home and do her homework, how will she be able to develop a relationship with her siblings? She has 4 years left at home, if she decides to go straight to college away from home, so that does not leave her much time to bond, and I don't want her to just be the unknown 'big sister'.
4. We have been told that to keep Elizabeth home for high school is wrong because this is real life and she shouldn't be sheltered from it since she will have to deal with negative influences in the future. Well, um...sorry, but I don't buy that. I mean, I know that it is true, that life is hard and you have to be strong, but teens are notorious for making bad decisions, not because they are bad people, but because their judgement is not fully developed. That's like telling Gabriel that he's going to have to learn to bathe on his own sometime, so just throwing him in the tub full of water to fend for himself.
5. Like I mentioned before, after this year, we have 4 years left with Elizabeth before she can go off on her own to college and be out from under our wings. That means that we have only 4 years left to teach and train her! Only 4 years left! I know that she will always be our child and our daughter, but 4 years is going to fly by!
6. Lastly, although this list could go on and on, Jimmy and I have realized that Elizabeth's education has so many holes in it! Her spelling is horrible, she knows nothing of geography, hasn't memorized her times tables, can't read or write cursive (which I know is becoming obsolete, but she still needs to be able to read her grandmother's letters!), can't tell me the parts of speech of various words in a sentence, has read very little 'good' literature...the list could go on and on. But Elizabeth is an A student! That means that her spelling passes through, and she has mastered everything that the teachers are teaching her! That means that she just hasn't been taught stuff...a lot of stuff!
Anyway, we are now considering homschooling Elizabeth, too. I think that it will be hard to homeschool a high schooler and a kindergartener at the same time, especially since I have not done either before, and I am nervous about it, but it is something that we are praying about and researching.
Do any of you have any thoughts on this?