Tag Archives: Homeschool

Small Victories

David and I decided to homeschool our kids in March 2013 – the end of Max’s first grade year.  You can read the whole sordid tale here but one of the main reasons we made that choice was because of Max. Max was ending his first grade year behind in reading, writing, comprehension and had developed a stutter which was aggravated by stressful situations — like being at school.  Max was also VERY aware that he was behind and that he wasn’t good at school.  Nobody needed to tell him or point it out – he knew.

Our first year homeschooling was challenging – in a good way.  We tried a variety of textbooks, workbooks and learning styles. Some of them worked and some failed. My main focus was to help improve Max’s confidence and to help him gain ground in the areas that he was the weakest, handwriting and reading.  We put aside things like grammar and focused most of our energy in these two areas (along with math and the normal things).

At the beginning of this year I had the kids take the California Standardized Test (yes, homeschoolers test too – it is just not high stakes, not stressful, and kids aren’t sent to after school tutoring or summer school if they do poorly).  Max’s test came back with average to high scores in almost every category.  (He had only one low area and that was grammar.  Easy fix for this English teacher).  I shared the scores with Max, explained to him what they meant, where his weaknesses were and what we needed to work on this year.

We’ve continued our work. Max is learning cursive and where a year ago his handwriting was similar to a Kindergartner or Pre-K student this year his cursive is beautiful and looks like another child wrote it.  His reading has taken off and although he still tells me he can’t read even he is starting to realize that is a lie he can no longer hide behind. The results of all this labor – and love – came about two weeks ago.

IMG_7413Max was sitting on the floor putting his shoes on and he looked up at me and said, “Mama, how do you think I’m doing in school?” I looked down and said, “I think you’re doing great. You’re picking up your grammar quickly, you are a natural at math and your cursive is unbelievable. But that isn’t the important question. How do YOU think you’re doing in school?”  Max paused, looked up at me with those big brown eyes and said, “I think I’m doing GREAT! I’ve got this year nailed!”

And that my friends is the sound of success.

Public School To Home School: 5 Tips To Surviving The First Year

About a year ago David and I made the decision to pull the kids out of public school.  The uncertainty and anxiety we felt over making that decision was palpable and even David took to referring to it as our “grand experiment”.  Now, a year later I can’t imagine educating my children any other way.  The number of homeschool parents who start at public school and then transition is growing but not enough of them are talking about the transition.  As a result, here is a list of the things I wish somebody had told me a year ago.

1.) Public School Detox

As an adult you recognize that your children will need to adjust to the new school format but nobody says that as a parent you will too. It took us from August to December to “detox”.  Early on I had a homeschool Mom tell me, “keep in mind that you aren’t doing school at home but you are homeschooling – those things are different”.   We do not have subjects divided by times or spend hours on worksheets.  Life skills and school skills are taught interchangeably and sometimes math looks like a really long visit to the grocery store where kids are calculating ounces and liters and per pound measurements.  Sometimes social studies is a long discussion in the car regarding the welfare system while donating canned goods to the food bank.  Sometimes English is a book club or reading a series of books together as a family.  It takes a long time to release your grip and sense of security that reside in WORKSHEETS.   When I realized that I wasn’t giving my kids any better education than the public school system because I was requiring WORKSHEETS every day I stopped in my tracks and changed course.  Now our day is so much more engaging and eclectic and rewarding for everybody.

2.) Friendships Take Time

EVERYBODY will make you feel like a freak that you are homeschooling and that your children will be socially retarded because they aren’t surrounded by 16 other 8 year olds telling poop jokes.  This pressure will make you frantically scramble for new friends and in the first couple of months they won’t be found and you will feel like a social leper.  It took us a year but we have all met and made new friends.  Homeschool families that have similar schedules, interests and senses of humor.  And yes, perhaps it took a bit more effort than the hundreds of people who surround us during public school but it did happen.  I wish I had more faith at the beginning of my journey that this would happen without me needing to worry about it (and before I forced myself and my children into a dozen awkward social situations).

3.) Dangers of Overbooking

Related to #2 you will fear that you aren’t providing enough interaction and enrichment and so you will commit to EVERYTHING.  Do NOT do this.  I suddenly realized around February that I had booked at least one activity every day of the week and I began to long for days where we could just stay home and do school work. My advice is to designate two or three days and call those “activity days” and that is when music lessons, speech classes, tutoring, Co-op or whatever takes place.  I’m comforted in knowing that even well seasoned home schoolers still struggle with this very thing.

On the flip side, try EVERYTHING.  There are so many great opportunities for lessons and co-ops and clubs and we tried a lot of different things this year.  Some of them worked great like book club and others did not like Lego club. We have loved our co-op experience but there are some homeschool groups I don’t think we will join again.

4.) Goals

I mentally set goals for each of the kids.  Things I wanted to make sure they accomplished before the end of the year. It was nice to think, “well, I wanted to make sure we accomplished these 4 things, and we did”.   I wanted Max to improve his handwriting, his reading skills, learn to tie his shoes, ride a bike and learn his multiplication tables and he did.  He accomplished all of those things.  There was other stuff we accomplished too but to know that the key things were met made me feel like we stayed on track.

5.) Keep Reading and Reaching

There were lots of times this year that I felt like a failure.  I suspect that feeling won’t ever go away, but it was nice to have other moms, homeschool families, books and educators encouraging me along the way. On good days, or  times when we had breakthroughs, I would mark them down and celebrate them so I didn’t let them go unnoticed. Keep looking for those places of encouragement because you will need to go back to that well again and again.  Sometimes the perfect book or article or even FB post was enough to help me face another day.

I can’t believe we only have six weeks left in our school year.  I don’t know exactly when we will stop because I’m not sure when I will feel like we’re done, and perhaps we will continue to do some school things right on through the summer.  After all we’re trying to create life long learners and learning doesn’t stop happening just because it is warm outside.

And So We Begin

As most mother’s prepare for the first day of school so do we – only this year the first day of school rests squarely on my shoulders. I find myself swinging between giddy excitement and absolute terror. After spending several months reading books on homeschooling and attending workshops I have come to the startling realization that homeschool is a lot like having a baby – people can tell you what it is like but until you’ve done it you have no idea.  The kids and I have been busy preparing the school room and although I wish I could tell you I bought all new furniture — I didn’t.  My biggest investment was a $40 book sling that I bought for Harper off of Craig’s List. Most of my time, energy and money has been poured into organization and buying books. I’ve bought LOTS OF BOOKS.



As public school families discuss teacher and room assignments homeschool families talk about curriculum selection. The one advantage I have as an experienced teacher is the knowledge that all textbooks and curriculum seem fantastic during the planning stage before school starts, but can quickly turn to crap midway through a semester. At the end of the day each teacher picks books and curriculum that plays to their strengths.  There are no “right” choices or some “perfect” curriculum that will magically teach any child.  Sometimes, as a teacher, you are simply making the least worst decision.  I thought I would share some of my curriculum choices.

Saxon Math:  I wanted a very detailed, structured and specific math curriculum because it is my weakest link as a person. Saxon Math has come highly recommended and I like the fact that it has a two steps forward, one step back approach to math.  There is a lot of repetition and building on skills.

The Story of the World:  My mother-in-law purchased this set of history books and I went ahead and bought the workbooks to go along with them.  These books teach history chronologically and with a classical bent.  This most definitely plays to my educational background and I agree that history should be taught chronologically – it gets too confusing when bouncing around.

Language Arts:  This is where I’m free-styling.  With two degrees in English I feel pretty confident that I can teach my own children reading and writing.  I didn’t buy a curriculum. I will use some Spalding with Max to help him progress with his reading and comprehension but overall I’m going to focus on a lot of reading books, a lot of oral and written book reports, and story starters.

Music: Lucy is taking violin lessons through the Music Institute of North Texas.  Max will start playing recorder at home this year and we have some field trips planned to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Art: I have purchased two used art textbooks that we will be using in conjunction with the free lesson plans that the Dallas Museum of Art provides.

Handwriting: I’m also using a daily handwriting practice book for both of them.  I have lefties.  They need more practice.

Unit Studies: We are working our science into our unit studies which will include Outer Space, The Human Body and Dinosaurs – for the first semester.

Lucy is also taking dance classes and Max will join Boy Scouts this year.  It will be a full year.

As a teacher there is joy in the planning stage of the school year.  Pencils are sharpened. Bulletin boards are tidy. Lesson plans are neatly written out. The vision of the school year is pure and pristine.  However, the reality of the school year crashes in and we do our best to dodge and weave – accommodating and modifying our plans along the way until the school year ends in a place we never could have foreseen. I know this truth and that is what frightens me.

Homeschool Decision Part 4: Time

Editor’s Note: This is the fifth and final installment in a series regarding my decision to home school my three children.  Here are the links to the introduction, part 1 , part 2 and part 3

I confess that my decision to home school is not a simple matter of numbers and research. I understand that there are intangible concerns that can’t be researched and reconciled away.  These concerns start with, “aren’t you worried that your kids will drive you crazy?” and the simple answer to that question is “yes, yes I do.” I worry about implementing discipline in the classroom.  I worry that Lucy and Max won’t create an octagon of sibling rivalry where they act out every sinister impulse they have ever had towards each other.   However, I feel comforted that these obstacles will be overcome with a little bit of effort.

1.) Time.  The nice thing about not having 18 students, but only having 2, is that I can complete my school day in about 4-5 hours versus the 7-8 the school requires. This means the kids and I will be in the same room together for a short period of time.  This gives us more time for activities outside of the house like music lessons, gymnastics classes, bike rides, field trips, etc.

2.) Experience.  I’ve spoken with several home school families and I’ve read several books and they all say the same thing, which is that the first 3-4 months are an adjustment but the kids actually become calmer and more obedient.  This occurs because your kids are getting the constant reinforcement FROM YOU regarding what kind of behavior you expect from them.  Since children are naturally programmed to want to please their parents they pretty quickly fall into line. The other reason is that they don’t have the constant stimuli and distractions of 17 other 9 year old children.  The best book I read regarding these issues was “So You’re Thinking About Home School” by Lisa Whelchel (and yes, it is that Lisa from “Facts of Life”).  The book is a collection of essays written from different families who made the decision.  If you are thinking of home school, I would definitely start by finding and talking to other families who have made this choice already.

3.) I Actually Like My Kids.  One of the benefits of being an older mom is the greater awareness of the fleeting nature of time. I only have seven years left with Lucy.  SEVEN YEARS.  I have fifteen with Harper.  I have already lived 15 years almost three times over.  That is nothing and the idea that I will be spending more of that time with my kids instead of them being some place else is appealing to me.  The truth is I will be an old grandma and I probably won’t even be around for great grandchildren and so I need to suck all the fun and joy out of my own children’s childhoods.  I won’t have a second chance to do this.

In the end this is a very personal decision (like any other parenting choice).  Right now I feel that this is the best place for my kids.  Will I feel the same way in two years or three years or five years? I have no idea.  For those who want to learn more I’m providing you a list of links to some of the resources I have utilized to make this decision.

The Texas Home School Coalition – this is the Christian lobbying organization for home school families in Texas.

“The First Year of Homeschooling Your Child” by Linda Dobson – I loved this book and it was a great guide to what to expect that first year and how to prepare for it.

Penelope Trunk Blog –  Penelope Trunk is a career blogger, but she also home schools her two boys.  She also has Aspergers.  I like Penelope because she is very steeped in current research and like me, does little without first consulting the experts.  Be warned, this is not some warm fuzzy religious high moral home school blog.

SAIL – the Collin County Home School Co-op

PEACH – Plano Christian Home School Co-op

And of course, I must acknowledge the great support I have received both from David’s family and my own.  This is a controversial decision. For many people it is difficult to understand why I would do something that seems so drastic.  Hopefully this series of blog posts makes my thinking a bit easier to understand. If you still don’t agree – well, that is okay. We can totally still be friends.

Homeschool Decision Part 3: Socialization

Editor’s Note: This is the fourth installment in a series regarding my decision to home school my three children.  Here are the links to the introduction, part 1 and part 2

School is more than just reading, writing and arithmetic.  School is where we learn about standing up for ourselves.  It is frequently the first time we are exposed to people of different faith, values and culture.  It is also the place where we learn to challenge ourselves to succeed in an uncomfortable situation.  School is also where we learn about deadlines, timelines, and doing work because we HAVE to do it, not because we WANT to.   In other words, am I worried about my kids growing up to be socially awkward, insecure and incapable of functioning in society?

It is true that many people choose to home school out of a desire to raise their children in a societal bubble.  This is NOT what I want to do.  So then the question becomes how do you recreate this at home?  And are all home school kids really awkward and nuts?

The Numbers

In 2011, Dr. Richard G. Medlin, a professor and researcher of psychology at the University of North Carolina,  published a study in the Peabody Journal of Education regarding the socialization of home school students.  In this study he interviewed and surveyed adults who had been home schooled as children.  The conclusion of his study can be summed up with this quote:

“Home-schooled children are acquiring the rules of behavior and systems of beliefs and attitudes they need. They have good self-esteem and are likely to display fewer behavior problems than do other children. They may be more socially mature and have better leadership skills than other children as well. And they appear to be functioning effectively as members of adult society”

This isn’t the only study that has come to this conclusion but it is the most recent and is the only study that includes the survey of adults.  Statistical research is all well and good but how do you guarantee this is going to happen?  Like all things with home school it comes down to the parent.

Clubs & Organizations

My children will continue to participate in the extra curricular activities that they have already been involved.  Their best friends will remain their friends with play dates and other activities that they already do together outside of school.  In addition to this my kids will be taking music lessons and we will be joining a home school co-op.

The home school co-op we will be joining is a non-religious group of 400+ families.  This co-op organizes field trips,  as well as science clubs, debate clubs, boy scout troops, girl scout troops, 4H clubs, and other activities. In addition the co-op format allows me to teach the children of other families in exchange for them to teach my children a possible subject that I don’t know as well.

The Law

And then Tim Tebow happened.  For those who don’t follow football, Tim Tebow was the winning quarterback from Florida State University.  He was home schooled.  He was heavily recruited and scouted by college football programs due to his participation in a public school football team.  Recently in Texas the “Tim Tebow Law” was passed.  This law says that public school systems are required to allow home school students to participate in all University Interscholastic League activities.  This includes things like speech clubs, athletic teams, band, orchestra, choir, debate, etc.

In addition to this, it has been proven that home school children usually mature faster because they spend more time in mixed age group settings.  In other words, they don’t spend 7 hours a day only around other 8 year old children telling fart jokes.  Then there is the obvious, no longer will I need to explain to my children why we don’t allow them to watch R rated movies in first grade, or deal with bullying.  And don’t you dare tell me that bullying is just “part of childhood” that forces us to be “stronger”.  No, it is a part of childhood that creates detrimental self talk that we all live with for the rest of our life.

Okay, so the academics are solid and there are plenty of resources to support my children socially but I know what you are thinking.  Are you crazy? Do you really want to spend that much time with your children? And how do you even start thinking about educating your own kids?  Well, I will talk about all of that in the next and last blog post on this subject.  If you have questions please feel free to leave them in the comments and I will answer them as honestly as I can.

Homeschool Decision Part 2: The Academics

I’ve taught college freshmen for seven years.  These students have come from a variety of backgrounds ranging from rural high schools to private school graduates.  This is what I can tell you about freshmen English students.

1.) They don’t know the rules for capitalization

2.) They don’t know the rules for apostrophe usage

3.) They don’t understand that they can fail a class.

4.) They expect that they will be able to take quizzes and tests as many times as needed until the right grade is achieved.

5.) They don’t understand that work will NOT be accepted if it is late.

6.) MANY of them have NEVER written a basic research paper

As a result of this experience I have always been rather suspect of our public school system.  However, I understand I’m biased.  That I am only seeing these students through a very narrow lens and perhaps I am not being fair.

When I first started questioning whether or not the academic needs of my kids were being met I decided I had better rely on hard facts instead of my own perception.

It Is All About The Test

The first thing I wanted to take a look at was how testing has actually affected our school environment.  I went to the Texas Department of Education and did some reading.  The STAAR test is focused on the following “core” subjects: math, reading, writing, science, and social studies.  At first this seems like a completely fine list, until you think about what is MISSING from this list.  For example, art, music, history, geography, handwriting, and literature (which is different from reading).  After I looked at this list I compared it to my kids’ daily school schedule and it was an EXACT match.  They had time allotted to math, reading, science and social studies, and that is it.  My kids go to art, music and library once for 30 minutes EVERY TWO WEEKS.  My conclusion was clear, yes, the school teaches to the test.  In fact our school is so good at taking the test our test scores are some of the highest in the state.  Our school excels at the STAAR test so well because they start testing the kids in Kindergarten in anticipation of the test in third grade.  Max spent so much time in assessment and testing this year that at one point his teacher went almost three months without reading with him one-on-one.

The Numbers

I desperately wanted my assumptions to be wrong.  I wanted to find some secret piece of research that showed how superior public schools were to anything else.  I searched.  I went to the university library and dug.  The numbers, studies and results were so overwhelmingly in favor of home school that I couldn’t ignore them.

  • 74% of home school students attend college
  • 46% of public school students attend college
  • The average SAT score of a home schooled student is 1043
  • The average SAT score for a public school student in Texas is 985

The Pedagogy

The numbers are there.  They are solid, but when you combine them with the limited subject profile, and the school process you start to wonder how we’ve limped along as a society for as long as we have.

The public school system was designed at the same time as the industrial revolution – the development of the Model T and Ford’s radical assembly plant mode of operation.  The goal of public school was to educate the masses – the poor.  As a result the public school system is set up like an assembly line.  All 6 year olds in and every year extra features get added and they get spit out at the other end.  However, our children aren’t cars and they aren’t cogs in a machine and they definitely don’t all learn the same way, grow the same way or react to the same learning environment the same way.  I would like for somebody to explain to me the benefit of giving 1 adult 19 students ranging for the autistic and academically challenged all the way to the gifted and talented students and expect HER to meet all of their needs equally.  She can’t.  And the fact that more than 90% of public school teachers are women that is even more detrimental for our boys.

But don’t take my word for it, I suggest you watch this great video. It takes 11 minutes

Changing Education Paradigms

And if that video doesn’t do it for you, then I suggest you read “The Knowledge Deficit” by E.D. Hirsch.

That’s Great But…..

Here I am with the academics obviously better, but what about socialization?  I mean goodness, you don’t want to raise social dorks do you? How will your kids learn to be competitive? How will they learn to stand up for themselves? How will they learn social norms? Well, I save that for part 3.


Home School Decision Part 1: The Big Picture

When deciding to home school the kids this coming fall the first question I asked myself, which may seem obvious, was “what do I want my kids to get from their k-12 education?”  I suppose as a former project manager I can’t help but focus on the end goal.  What am I supposed to achieve at the end of my project?  What is the big picture?  My father used to say, “if you don’t know where you’re headed then how will you know if you’ve arrived?” What seemed like a simple question ended up being rather complex when I really thought about it.

We send our children to public school with what expectation?  That they will learn to read? They master reading by 2nd grade.  Learn to write? Also complete by 2nd grade.  No, it is more than that.  At the end of the day this is the list that I settled on:

  • College Readiness: I of course would like my children to achieve higher education and I would expect their K-12 education to prepare them for this level of course work.  This means their reading comprehension, study skills, and a certain breadth and depth of knowledge. Their ability to complete basic library research and understand the components of a basic sentence.
  • Fundamental Understanding of Core Subjects: math, reading, writing, science.  But I also want them to know geography, government, literature, history, social studies, philosophy, etc.  They need a strong foundation in a variety of subjects.  It is this combination of subjects that provides them with a lens through which they can see and understand the world.
  • Citizenship: I would like my children to learn how to be contributing members of society, which means instructing them in the value of hard work, community service, and government.  This also means learning to be tolerant, respectful and polite.
  • Critical thinking: I want my children to challenge assumptions and think for themselves.  In an age of media overload I want them to be discerning in their reading and research.  My parents encouraged me to question EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY and I would like that same curiosity to be encouraged in my own children.
  • Variety of life experiences: I want my kids to have the ability to participate in non-academic pursuits – athletics, the fine arts, school government, etc.  The humanities have always been a big part of my life (and David’s) and I want my children to be exposed to this variety.
  • Knowledge and Understanding of the World:  I don’t want them to live in a bubble (I know, you are shocked by this because I’ve chose to home school and isn’t that what all home schoolers want? a bubble). I want them to know a Buddhist, Atheist, Muslim, Sikh, Jew, Black, Hispanic, Gay, Asian.  I want them to “eat from the banquet of life” -to love and appreciate the rainbow of the world and why it all works together to create something bountiful and beautiful. I want them to know that their heritage and their values are not the only ones that exist.  I want them to not be afraid of “the different” but to embrace it.

I will be the first to admit that this is a tall order, even for the public schools to fulfill.  It is nearly an impossible order when you consider the constraints under which the school system functions.  When I started down this path I was trying to prove that home school was NOT the right decision and so I was trying very hard to give the public schools a fair shake.  I looked at this list and I assigned a grade for each item, reflecting how well I thought the school was doing at accomplishing these goals. The school system ended up with a 2.16 GPA – they received 2 Ds, 2 Cs, 1 B and 1 A.  And the A was in “Knowledge of the World” and the B was in “Variety of Life Experiences” — the recess of the school system.  So yes, the school was getting an A in recess but failing everything else.

I am not pulling my children out of school to isolate them.  The fact that my son learned the F-word in 1st grade is bothersome, but I can parent around that.  The fact that girls in Lucy’s 3rd grade class are watching YouTube videos, unsupervised, on french kissing is troubling but I can parent through that as well.  I can even parent through bullying and “mean girls”.  But it is not worth the effort of dealing with all of these social nightmares when the academics aren’t performing.  At the end of the day the only good thing my kids were getting out of the school system was something they could receive at an afternoon on a soccer field or the Girl Scouts. I definitely don’t need the school to insure that my children are exposed to a variety of cultures or to expose them to a variety of life experiences.  I am fully capable of doing that part myself.

The next thing I looked at was how were the academics — really.  I had my perceptions based on the results I see as a college professor and what I see coming home as a parent, but I realize that I am not objective.   The next blog post will look at the academics.




Growing up my mother used to tell me that the Jewish people valued education above all else because, it was the one thing we could take with us when fleeing persecution. I don’t know if that is true, but it left an indelible mark on my life.  Education, the pursuit of it and the promotion of it, has always been important to me. When it came time to launch my own children on to their educational journey I didn’t hesitate to enroll them in public schools.

As a matter of fact David and I live in one of the best public school systems in Texas.  Our high school is ranked #99 out 1,725 high schools. Our school system is widely recognized for its high test scores and for a gifted and talented student population that is 18% – 5% higher than the average school system in Texas.  At every turn I have been impressed by the professionals that serve in our local elementary school.  Indeed, when the tragedy at Newtown occurred I instantly thought of our own teachers and children and knew -without a shadow of a doubt – that my children’s teachers would have acted as heroically as those brave teachers we lost.

The Tide Does Not Turn Instantly, But Slowly And Gradually Until Suddenly You Are Lost At Sea.

Lucy has been in public school since 1st grade and although there have been small things here and there that make me scratch my head about the public school system I have been mainly satisfied with my child’s education.  Things changed this year.

When Max started school he was behind from day one.  He is left-handed and a boy with a speech impediment.  Although he struggled in Kindergarten his teacher was loving and patient and she reassured us that Max would outgrow most of his struggles.  He entered first grade and according to the school assessments he was “at the bottom of the normal range, but still normal”.  This means, “he doesn’t qualify for extra help”.  They did provide him with reading tutoring in school (or SSI for you educators).  Starting in November a series of events tipped me off that something was wrong.

First, I was having parent volunteers telling me repeatedly how QUIET Max was in class.  This is not Max’s personality so that surprised me.  I then began to realize that most of Max’s school work was coming home blank, empty or incomplete.  He was having huge tantrums at home — tantrums that sometimes resulted in a 3-4 hour cry-fest. I couldn’t figure out what was going on and then a small conversation with his cousin crytalized the picture for me.  Max admitted that he was embarrassed when he stuttered and stammered in front of his friends.

Max doesn’t talk in school because he doesn’t want people to know that he stutters

Max doesn’t ask for help because he doesn’t want people to know that he can’t read the directions

Max doesn’t complete his work because his handwriting is sloppy and undeveloped and it embarrasses him

I still can barely think about it without crying.  School had become a horrible torturous environment for him.  BUT, he’s “normal”.  His word recognition and his ability to memorize sight words (even though he really can’t read) all kept him on the low end of “normal”.  But he wasn’t normal, and he knew it.

I wrote the teachers, I talked to the principal and we had our ARD meeting and they put him in line to be evaluated for speech. However, this is where the system breaks down.  It will take them up to 60 days to evaluate Max and then another 30 days to get him into any intervention program.  That is the remainder of the school year.  In other words, his 1st grade year was a waste.  None to very little progress was made on his education this year.

In the meantime I hired a private speech therapist and hired a private reading tutoring service to work with him.  He’s getting better and gaining confidence but it is slow. His teacher, although kind, is overwhelmed with her other 18 students and cannot possibly dedicate the time to Max that he requires.  Besides, he’s “normal”.

If It Ain’t One Thing It’s Another

Although this was upsetting and I was worried I was willing to put the effort in to make his public school career work.  That was until I received an email from Lucy’s teacher expressing concerns over her behavior.  LUCY? BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS? You could have knocked me over with a feather. The teacher explained to me in exasperated tones that Lucy was not listening to directions in class and had to ask for the same directions to be repeated again and again. She was moving Lucy to the front of the class and could I “please talk with her at home about her behavior”.  When I approached Lucy with this issue she explained that she didn’t realize she wasn’t listening and that school was “the most boring thing EVER”.  I made an appointment with the teacher to explore the issue further, but before that meeting I received her report card – 5 A’s and 1 B.  So my poorly behaved child, who wasn’t listening had still managed to pull off an almost perfect report card.  Disconnect? Yep.  When I met with the teacher she couldn’t describe the problem in any further detail and had no insight.  Indeed within two weeks Lucy had been moved to the front of the class and then returned to the back of the class. What was the purpose? And in the meantime Lucy, who values being the perfect rule follower, had gone through a week of anxiety, lost confidence in her teacher and now thinks her teacher hates her.

The Tipping Point

Things add up.  My unhappiness with the school system wasn’t just about these two incidents.  It was a collection of issues including; Max being teased, Lucy dealing with “cool girls” and their blatant dislike of her, the school system’s obsessive interest in nutrition and weight to the point that Lucy thinks she’s fat and the kids now have gym three days a week.  I’m not inherently opposed to gym three times a week but I am when it comes at the sacrifice of art class and library and music which now only happen every other week.  I might possibly even be able to stomach all this until you add STAAR testing on top of it all.  Where do I start with the standardized test issue and the fact that is has so corrupted our school system that it no longer even resembles the school system I attended 30+ years ago. When Lucy spent two days of school on PRACTICE TESTS and then came home crying because she had to stay in from recess to retake the test because she failed — and by “fail” I mean she got a 79% which wasn’t acceptable by the teacher’s standards.  ON A PRACTICE TEST.  That was the tipping point.  I was done. There had to be a better option for educating my kids.


I was notified in early February that I wasn’t accepted into my PhD program.  I was disappointed, but I was also relieved.  I wasn’t sure that was the path God intended for me and so I took the rejection as a sign from God – “choose a different journey”.  As I examined my children’s education and their struggles I couldn’t help but to think “I could do better”.  Not that the teachers aren’t educated and professionally trained experts – they are and I appreciate that.  However, the school system has these wonderful professionals ham-strung, hog-tied and unable to do their job. I spent weeks researching.  I talked with every educational expert I could find from the kid’s previous teachers, to their reading tutor, speech therapist, other public school teachers, parents and people who research education.  The conclusion? Homeschooling.  If I wanted my children to have a well-rounded education that challenged them and allowed them to grow in their strengths and supported their weaknesses homeschooling was the only path to achievement.

And so I find myself in a position that I never expected.  This coming Fall I will remove my children from the public school system and take on the challenging and exciting task of teaching them at home. I recognize that this is a large responsibility.  I also know that many of you will not agree with my decision and that is ok. We can still be friends.

In the coming weeks I will share more with you regarding the research I conducted and how it lead me to this decision.  I am not a person to make decision based purely on emotion and so as you can imagine my choice is based on facts – not rhetoric. I am not removing my children in an effort to isolate or protect them (from what? from whom?).  I am removing my children in an effort to broaden their world beyond the standardized test.  I want my children to be able to learn at the pace which allows them to fully understand a concept first before being pushed into the next stage.

Parenting is a series of crossroads, and all we can do is hope that we turn down the right road