Monday, March 16, 2009

To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool....That is the Question.

I didn't sleep at all last night. I was up all night worrying about my 3 year old son's education. Yes, I'm a worry wart. I have very valid concerns though (in my opinion). Let me give you a little back story so you can understand why. I'll start off by saying, I'm truly not trying to brag, but my son is only three years old and he is already at least at a first grade level academically. He can read and write all by himself and do simple arithmetic (add and subtract numbers under 10, counts to 100 by 1's, 5's and 10's, etc.). He has known his shapes, colors and patterns since before he could walk. He spoke early as well, by 11 months he was saying two word sentences.

My concern is that some of the things he learns in preschool now are things that he has known since he was 1 or earlier. By the time he gets to kindergarten, in two more years, I have a feeling he is going to be far ahead of his classmates academically and be bored out of his mind. I have him in a private Christian preschool right now and we really do love it. Even though he is academically ahead, he is still only a three year old and acts like a typical three year old, so he would not be ready to be around a first grade classroom. The preschool is only 3 hours a day, two days a week, which is perfect. It's enough time for him to work on social skills and be around other kids his age, but not long enough that he gets bored out of his mind being there. However, next year preschool goes to three days a week and I am afraid he will get bored.

With all this being said, I know it seems the simple answer is to homeschool him so that I can keep up with his pace and he doesn't have to throttle back his learning to stay around kids his own age. My concerns with homeschooling, however, are this:

1. Whenever Nic says that he can't do something without even trying it, I tell him there is nothing he can't do and not to say he can't do something when he hasn't even tried yet. When it comes to homeschooling, if I do that first, am I saying he can't do a private school without even trying it first? I want to make sure Nic gets every opportunity in life. I think a private school is an opportunity he deserves to try (I say private, because I really do think a private school will be the best option for him, I have no plans to send him to public school). If we at least try a private school first, if it doesn't work out, THEN we can re-visit homeschooling. At least we can say we tried and he had that opportunity. I won't feel like I've robbed him of an opportunity due to my own fears. I feel I should practice what I preach and let him try school before I say he can't do it.

2. It comes back to opportunities and social activities. For example, if Nic is home schooled, he won't get to go to Prom, Homecoming or be President of the Drama Club or even be Senior Class President, if he chooses. He won't get to be Captain of his high school football team, if he wants to be. If I start right off with homeschooling, I'm afraid I will be taking those opportunities from him without even trying. These are things I loved about school, I don't want to rob Nic of these fun, time-honored, teenage traditions.

3. I'm not a teacher. I don't feel I'm qualified to teach my son effectively. Now, I've had people telll me this is crazy because I've done such a great job teaching him so far. But I'm 35 years old, I know how to read and write so I can handle teaching reading, writing and simple math. I can even handle simple science lessons. My fear is when he gets older, what if he wants to learn Algebra or Calculus? What if he wants to become a scientist and I don't have access to a chemistry lab? There is no way I could teach those things!

4. College - I've read that children who are homeschooled have a more difficult time adjusting to college life. Also, if he is homeschooled and wants to go to a top University, he will be competing with the kid who went to a great school, was President of his class and Captain of his football team. Guess who the college is going to pick first? Guess who will have a better shot at the scholarship?

With this being said, I hope I didn't offend anyone because that is not my intent. If you can homeschool your child, I think that's really great and I admire you. I think more children should be homeschooled. I'm just not sure it is the first option for Nic. One thing I've really learned from him being at preschool is that he LOVES being around children his age. He likes having his friends around and learning with them. I have also seen an improvement in his social skills. If he is homeschooled, he won't get to be around his friends as much. I guess that was just another point for private school.

Whatever school he attends, I plan on being very involved. I will know his teachers and be comfortable with them. One of the reasons I love his school now is because I know his teacher, I don't feel like I'm leaving him with a stranger for three hours. When he starts school, I plan on doing the same.

After writing this blog, its easier for me to see what the best option is for us. I'll start researching private schools today.

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