May 1, 2007

Stepping up on my little soapbox

I think that, when we have kids, we're going to home school.

I didn't attend public school until my freshman year in high school. My mom started homeschooling me in kindergarten because my birthday was just a few days past the deadline and the rules were completely rigid: if you were not five on the first day of kindergarten, you did not go. My mom decided she'd try homeschooling me for the first year and if we didn't like it, I'd go to kindergarten the next year, no worse for wear (and no one the wiser). But, it was a raging success and she ended up homeschooling for thirteen consecutive years.

I've never really planned on homeschooling my kids (and I've certainly never felt like my mom thought I should), but I discovered recently that kindergarten here is full-day; It's seven and a half hours with a thirty minute lunch break. A number of the mothers I know around here say that their kindergarteners are completely worn-out, crabby, and difficult by the end of the day, and especially by the weekend. I've pretty much decided that, no matter what we do for the long-term, I don't want to send my kids to kindergarten when it's that unreasonably long. It just seems like a great way to turn kids off to schooling as early as possible.

Another thing that has really swayed me is Bart's elementary experience. He was a bright kid and was bored out of his socks most of the time at school. By the time he got to high school, he'd relegated school to a purely social activity, with little interest in learning, taking advanced classes, or preparing for college. As I've read him various articles and passages from books about kids who get bored in school and then start acting up or are simply told by teachers to "be patient while everyone catches up," he shudders and says that he remembers that feeling all too well. Really, it wasn't until his second year of college that he rediscovered how enjoyable and satisfying education could be. Needless to say, he's not very anxious for our kids to have the same experience.

One of the big questions, of course, about home school is "socialization." I think that question is a terrific joke; I don't personally think school is an amazing socialization tool, particularly for young kids. You have plenty of interaction with other people through church, neighborhood, family, sports, etc. Not only that, but since when is a group of fifteen to thirty kids of the same age the best place to learn social skills?

Which also brings me to the fact that I don't necessarily want my kids forced into an arbitrary group based on age. Age certainly doesn't correlate precisely to ability, and it's unbelievably frustrating to me that kids are either rushed or delayed based on his age, rather than his ability. Also, not all subjects are the same, meaning a kid who is on a "third grade" math level likely won't be at that same level in every other subject. Bah, the schooling system does frustrate the pants off me.

Bart is not just supportive of this, but rather absolutely thrilled. He told me a week or so ago that he had secretly hoped all along that I would choose to homeschool our kids, but didn't want me to feel pressure to do it since I'll be the one home with them.

Of course, who knows what will happen when we really have children or what our circumstances will be in another six or seven years, but for now, this is the plan. And I am surprisingly excited. And I'm seriously hoping my kids don't cry about math every day for three dang years (sorry, Mom).


  1. Whatever the decision you'll make, you both will be great parents.


  2. My wife is a kindergarten teacher. None of this stuff you are hearing is true. You need to go and check out a few kindergatens in your area and see for yourself. The biggest mistake young parents make is thinking kindergarten hasn't changed since they were in it.

    It's DRAMATICALLY different. Honestly, they do more in K than I did in 1st and that's because the state is requiring more.

    There's beginning to be a huge rift between home schoolers and public schoolers. I wrote something on it.


  3. My little sister is in kindergarten now and it's kind of sad to see her come home with no excitement whatsoever about anything she learned. She learned way more in private preschool. Yikes. That being said, my dear husband is a public school teacher--how could we not send our kids to public school? I agree with all your reasoning, Janssen, but I also don't think I have it in me. Maybe I just need to learn more and make a more educated decision. I'd LOVE to hear more about this on your blog. Bravo.

  4. You brave woman! When I heard that kindergarten was a whole day I thought "Woo hoo! I can get things done around the house" but I never thought how it might negatively impact the kids. Thanks for giving me something to think about.

  5. Hi Janssen...I don't know if you know me, but I think I probably met you once or twice: I worked at Freshman Academy, so I know LOTS of people you know (i.e. your husband, Jared and Kristy, Sherry, etc.) and ran into your blog through comments you posted on Kristy's blog. ANYWAY, I have enjoyed what I've seen, and was especially intrigued by your entry about homeschooling. I was homeschooled as well, and contrary to what some childhood friends thought homeschoolers could manage to do, completed a fabulous college education :). And I want to homeschool too! So, with that said, can we be friends? I just posted a note to Kristy that I'd like to talk to her more about homeschooling too. Have a great day!

    Alicia (Packer--what Bart probably would remember me as) Langstraat


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