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My journey from Public School Teacher to Homeschooling Mom (Very Long!!)

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 As requested by romacox!


At first I wanted them to sit at a desk and learn like I did.  I set up my classroom like a school classroom with a computer station.  I began using K12.  I wanted a teacher who "really taught" that particular grade to oversee everything.  I had never taught elementary school.  I set up a desk for each child that faced a big whiteboard at the front of my classroom.  We sat in circle time at the beginning of each day and we would discuss the weather, day of the week, and all these other things.  It was the most productive time of the day, but I thought it was because the kids were "fresh."  I found later that it's because they were totally, whole body engaged.  They were wiggling and going to the bulletin board to put up the answers.  They were lying on the floor and getting tickled when they answered.  But it was what I saw in a "real classroom, so that was why I tried it.
I felt that I needed a textbook for each class, K12 provided all these textbooks and workbooks (one for each class) and I intended to use them.  I watched the grades slip in spelling and I saw the boy learn the spelling rule and list of words and then forget.  Their writing was full ofmispelled, former spelling words.  I watched my youngest hate phonics "class" to the point where he was beginning to hate reading.  And I watched my oldest get frustrated by the rhythm of follow the textbook's activities then do 2 worksheets of problems in the math program.  

Facing those 3 problems: too much kill and drill/ follow the textbook/ and desk time was MUCH less productive than circle time.  We redesigned our room. We are now down to 2 desks and 2 computers (for all 4 of us).  We spend most of our time on the couch (in the living room), the floor (2 bean bags and 2 huge pillows), and running around than we do at desks. Plus experiments at the kitchen table, ya know where there's a SINK nearby, ust make much more sense.  We can all gather round, everybody can get their hands involved. For the textbook problem I realized I would need to leave K12.  So I did.  (well there were a billion other reasons for us to leave, but this is the reason that applies here)

While teaching in a public school, Video was a dirty word!!  Now I know that for some learning styles it works very well.  In the past few months we've watched many science documentaries.  We've read books and then watched the movie and written or spoke comparisons.  I've watched their oral vocabulary soar!!  Not getting a phonics rule, a chemical reaction, a tragectory equation?  There is most likely a youtube for that!  And it probably has a song about it, especially for the LOs.
I've also learned that my reponse time is much faster when teaching fewer kids.  So I don't need to teach them for 6 hours/day.  I can respond to their uncertainty or find a better way to explain it much faster. Or I can move to something else, take the evening looking for a better way and hit it fresh in the morning.  I can be much more flexible than I could ever be in the classroom.  We can go outside (without asking permission or filling out a form!!), I don't have to tell anybody if I plan to blow something up!!  I just do it. 

Then some really cool things happened: 
I learned to stop giving grades.  When they get above 87%, we move on.  They don't need a grade and I don't need them to take a test in order for me to figure out they have or don't have something.
I learned that it is okay to have my kids teach or help each other.  I tried that my first few years teaching in the PSs, and I would end up having to teach it again because the group didn't understand it well enough to teach it in the first place.  But now, my oldest has had the lesson before, so it is a great review for him to teach it to his brothers.  Then I can build on it and go deeper with him.

So then I needed to find a solution to those textbooks.  I found the solution in my objectives!!  I was looking at them the wrong way!!  When I was using k12 the objectives came packaged to my door.  When I went out on my own, I bought the "2nd grade science book" and the "second grade math book" and "spelling grade 3."  I created some general objectives and went on wth the lessons.  I followed the book.
I learned that my general objectives were great, but if I made my specific objectives even more specific, I was able to use them as discussion questions and move on without a test. 

Then I noticed that my objectives were a great jumping off point for finding books and materials.  In the PS, the materials were usually the jumping off point for making my objectives.  Looking at it from the flipped perspective opens up learning to a world experience.  I could ask the boys to come up with objectives themselves!  What do YOU want to be able to do?  And boy oh boy did they provide!  Using their objectives and some of mine along with a scope and sequencing guide: off we went.  I would find multiple textbooks for each subject.  And it was OK if we didn't follow in order and we didn't finish the book and we used it just as a reference for its great experiments.  We might use another part next year!  I could tag things that we liked, didn't like, whatever.

The world opened up to us.  I began to see that the trip to the farmer's market was a learning opportunity.  We stopped "book learning" altogether for the big holiday breaks and learned through our baking, card making, gift giving.  I took them to the bank and opened an account.  They get a statement and we talk about it every month.  Just Learning.

I'm sure my journey isn't "done" and probably never will be.  BUT now I stopped thinking like I was taught in college about how to teach the material.  I've learned to both lead and follow.  It's brought me closer to the boys.  We have many more good days now, and many fewer bad days (oh they are still there!  And still make me want to rip my hair out).

One of the few things I've kept is the diagnostic tests.  We still take an online diagnostic test.  Their "scores" always put them about 3-4 grade levels ahead, so I "know" that they are doing well.  But mostly it's so that the naysayers in the family just shush and let us go on.

by on Jun. 26, 2013 at 7:59 AM
Replies (21-21):
by on Jun. 29, 2013 at 5:19 PM

In the 70s I was planning on becoming a school teacher.  But working as a para-professional in the P.S., I saw what was happening, and decided against it. I was going home crying about the children who were smart, but not able to learn with the system being forced on teachers.  That is when I developed Ring Around The Phonics  to help some of the children handed over to me (the ones not learning from the Conventional method). It physically involves them in a fun way much like  you described, bluerooffarm. 

It was not until my youngest daughter started homeschooling  that I even thought  about that possibility. At first I was very skeptical know, all those false ideas so many have about home education got in my way. But I did not think it my place to tell her how to raise her own children. So I kept my mouth shut about my concerns.

  DeeDee (my youngest daughter) invited me to participate with her in the home education of my grandchildren.  After attending my first home school conference, I was totally sold.  The home school moms (and my daughter)  actually encouraged, and helped us develop our language arts game that I had used so many years ago, and now college professors and the Florida Literacy Association are asking me to teach my method to aspiring teachers (whole brain/ body teaching) . The whole journey  has been a miracle for me and my grandchildren.

My grandson,  Koty,  has been home-schooled from the start, and is now in Dual Enrollment.  He is doing quite well. He is an analytical learning style, so I do not think P.S. would have been good for him.  He loves learning, but  hated flash cards, and workbooks.    Mikki, my granddaughter was home-schooled until 8Th grade.  She is now attending P.S, and loves it.  She says,  she "likes the structure".  Perhaps that is because she is a Guardian learning style. 

My oldest grandson, Stephen, was home-schooled from third grade.  He is a hands on learner, and P.S. was a total disaster for him.  Dee Dee and I convinced my oldest daughter to home school him.  She was having to catch him up every summer to prevent them from retaining him, so it was not hard to convince her. 

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