Saturday, September 26, 2009

Giving Birth to an Educational Philosophy

My sister has been having some issues with her younger son's preK class. I wish she didn't live on the opposite coast, since I could help her out more if she were nearer. She's considering homeschooling again. She always finds interesting articles about it. A few days ago she sent me one called If You Want Real Reform, Homeschool from Just Enough and Nothing More.

This had me thinking about homeschooling and why I made the choice I did. No one can tell me that it is easy to challenge a system that you grew up with. I'm a product of the NYC public school system. I would never say it's all bad. I've had some wonderful teachers and friends thanks to public school. I've had some great opportunities. My junior high school art teacher let me hang a bulletin board with my artwork. I can thank a substitute teacher in sixth grade for my love of writing (I only had him as a sub once, by the way, which probably says more about the teacher than school.) I was also senior illustrator in my last year of high school. I spent a lot of time designing flyers for various senior class activities like the prom. Memories like these touch my nostalgic heart and make me yearn to reconnect with old friends and teachers.

But not all my memories are gold stars and lollipops. I also remember the ridicule at the hands of students and school personnel. I remember the anxiety over tests and grades. I remember many hours of wanting to do anything other than homework, especially math. I remember doodling all over my notes in some classes and then learning to keep my doodles on a scrap of paper because some teachers collected notes. I remember being embarrassed to ask permission to go to the bathroom. And then there was the panic over the possibility of being late to school or a class, because I would have to figure out how to get a late pass and everyone would focus on me. These are strong fears for the sensitive and shy schoolkid that I was.

My decision to homeschool actually mirrors my methods of giving birth. Even with my first pregnancy, I really didn't want to have a traditional hospital birth, but my obstetrician nixed the idea of a birth center because I have asthma. Marina was born in a hospital. After it was over, I reasoned that it was the best possible hospital birth. It wasn't until I became pregnant with my second that all of my disappointment over that experience swelled to the surface. I was determined not to have a hospital birth again. That was how I found the Birth Cottage, which was a free-standing birth center on hospital grounds. That was my favorite birth, but the Cottage closed when I became pregnant again, five years later. It was my midwife who suggested I try a homebirth, and put me in touch with a homebirth midwife.

When Marina was approaching school age, the same feelings happened. I was OK with my own school experience, but all of the bad memories started coming back. I didn't want this choice for my daughter. Why should she go to school just because I had? I didn't feel comfortable putting my kid through experiences that I hated and was powerless to change. Her school experience would never be the same as mine, but that was OK. I didn't feel the need to relive school through her. I also liked having her around and having the freedom to do things without being reined into a school calendar.

I hope I can help my sister as she figures out a path for her children's education. I'm only familiar with NY regulations, so if anyone knows of homeschooling organizations in CA that can guide her through the process and answer her questions, I would be happy to pass the information to her.


Sandra said...

I think starting with the HSLDA page about CA homeschooling laws would be best for your sister,

Their website helped me understand NV's laws, but I didn't not join their organization because I didn't like their agenda. I hope your sister has good luck!

The Stone Age Techie said...

I feel for your sister... it was so hard to make this decision, I could not believe that homeschooling could be as good as everyone said it would be. It was a bit like jumping off a cliff, and hoping for a net! But I am so glad we started homeschooling, it was the best decision we ever made. Our kids are learning well, confident and happy, and my husband and I are happier as well.
Good luck to her, she is lucky to have someone like you, even if you are geographically separated.

TammyT said...

For CA, HSLDA isn't the best place to go. They aren't really involved here. The best places are:

They are all great organizations with good info, conferences, camp outs, etc. And when the you know what hits the fan, they rally together to take care of things.

Good luck to your sister (and thanks for passing her a link to my blog).

jugglingpaynes said...

Thanks Tammy! She actually passed the link to me, but I'm grateful we both found it!

Jennifer said...

I really enjoyed reading your post, and getting a glimpse into why you homeschool.

Monica @ Paper Bridges said...

it didn't occur to me you are in NY. how is it homeschooling there? I've heard it's tough with the regulations.

jugglingpaynes said...

Monica: Meh. You get used to the regulations. I keep my quarterlies on the computer and simply adjust them each time to reflect what we've done. Not too difficult. In a way, it helps give me perspective that I've been doing more than I thought. I think it's harder knowing I live between two "easy" states-CT and NJ are very homeschool friendly.

Monica @ Paper Bridges said...

the reason I ask is because hubs and I would LOVE more land. upstate NY looks good to me, yet the laws...? to go from nothing to lots. hmmmm. :(

silvermine said...

Tell her it is *so* easy to homeschool out here, and at least where I live there are so many homeschooling groups, activities, classes, and clubs, that I'm totally overbooked right now. :D

I used HSC's site to help me figure out the laws -- it's very easy to understand.

Anonymous said...

A great article about what homeschooled students do when they grow up was just up at WND.
Quite a diverse set of accomplishments.

Jessica said...

Actually instead of talking about homeschool, your birth experience is what really sticks out to me. Especially since we are talking about the possibility of another child some day. I did just like you did, reasoned my hospital birth into being good. Then I had my second naturally with an amazing midwife and great hospital. Now though, I am near only bad hospitals and my last birth was only 2 hours long from start to finish. I am scared to death to have a bad birth experience. Have loved the idea of home birth, but I hemorrhaged with both births. Anyway, I loved your story. I don't know how the next one will turn out, but I need to look into things again.

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