Thursday, February 5, 2009

Heaven Help Me

I've been debating whether or not to homeschool my second one next year. This year he's in regular kindergarten because kindergarten is a lot of fun and I needed an extra year's reprieve. My oldest learned lots of useful things from kindergarten like raising her hand and staying quiet. It reinforced the message that a big chunk of childhood is about learning. She doesn't complain too much about her school work; she knows it's a necessity of life. In fact, she's thankful that she can take a break whenever she needs to and do her assignments in bed.

She makes homeschooling as easy as it possibly can be. I give her a daily stack of stuff to do, and one by one she completes it with hardly any help. When she gets stuck on something, usually math, she writes "need help" in the margin and moves on. Then when I'm done feeding and changing the baby, we do group work together. She's a great independent learner.

My son, however, is an altogether different animal. He can be very active, loud, and stubborn, leading his pediatrician to suspect that he might have ADD. After talking to his teacher and more observation, I think he definitely has ADD tendencies but wouldn't be diagnosed officially as ADD. It almost killed us to potty train him. I couldn't imagine teaching him to diagram sentences.

At kindergarten he gets a homework packet each week to complete. Sometimes, he comes home and does it right away. He won't eat or play until it's all done. Then other times, I can't get him to do his homework at all. He'll just scream and run off. Those are the times I wonder why I even consider homeschooling him. I would have to completely change the curriculum for him. I doubt he would wade through a pile of workbooks like his sister does. More likely, he would scream "this is boring" and run off. I would have to make everything fun, which really takes a lot of planning. And that would still be no guarantee that he would actually do the work.

To help me decide, I started volunteering in his class. Teachers think we parent volunteers are all altruistic but really we just want to spy on our kids. I was there for an hour this week. During this time, the kids were divided into 3 groups and rotated between different activities. For 15 minutes they colored their Valentine's Day display, for another 15 minutes they completed a language arts worksheet with me, and then for the last 15 minutes they played with blocks and legos. Most of the kids were done with their worksheets in 5 minutes and spent the remaining time coloring it - my son was one of these kids. After the rotations were done, they got ready to go home by cleaning up, putting papers in their backpack, and putting up chairs. So really, it took 45 minutes for my son to finish 5 minutes worth of official schoolwork.

I can see why it took so long, though. A few kids needed the extra time and help. And then there were the distractions, so many distractions. One kid interrupted complaining that he couldn't breathe. Another kid got called to the front office for early dismissal. Two more kids got into a spat about the blocks. Still another got confused about his rotation and had to be redirected.

I haven't made up my mind yet (please not this), but so far I'm thinking I surely couldn't do worse than regular school. And that's just after one day of observation.

1 comment:

Helene said...

I give kudos to anyone who can homeschool their child. I really wish I had the patience to do it but I know I'm just not cut out for it. I wish you the best of luck in making this decision about your son. He's very lucky to have a mother who is so involved in his education!