Thursday, October 8, 2009


The Eldest is homeschooled and has never attended public school. She's now in 11th grade and starting to branch out into other academic settings, among them the college art class I've written about before. In addition to her years with her piano and Spanish teachers she's recently started with two new tutors for SAT prep and Algebra II. We met the Algebra II tutor for the first time today and he gave us the smack down- OUCH!! She worked through Algebra I two years ago (geometry last year) so she's rusty. He went over some basic Algebra I concepts and found holes, of course. I mean, it's been two years. So he was flipping out, then he branched out into science, and why don't we have her working in a formal text for biology, for instance, and how do we expect her to get into college without those courses? Sigh.

OK, she's NOT working from a formal text for biology or science, but she has her own subscription to National Geographic (which she asked for) and reads it avidly, (which is social studies, but it covers science concepts, too) and we also get Discover and Scientific American magazines, and we read those and discuss the articles, and, I didn't mention her television viewing to him, but she watches things like Mythbusters which is all about the scientific method, testing concepts, and designing experiments, and shows on Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel. She's pretty well versed in science and social studies, probably more so than the average 11th grader because she LIKES those subjects. Wow, did it sting, though. On the one hand I wanted to be all defiant and tell him he could just keep his lessons, but on the other hand he worked well with The Eldest and she appreciated that he made the concepts clear for her. I could see that he meant well, too; he wasn't trying to make me feel bad, he was concerned and trying to help.

It's such a fragile thing for me, though, the confidence in our choice to homeschool. Most days I'm so sure we've done the very best thing for our children, then there are those other days when I question everything. I've decided 100 times over that I'm going to enroll them in a private school first thing Monday morning, only to change my mind again at the last second each time. See, it works for us, this homeschooling thing, even with my occasional doubts. The Eldest is an amazing young woman and I know she wouldn't be the person she is if we had sent her to regular school. Our family has a unique rhythm that we wouldn't be able to sustain in the face of the grind of regular school. For the most part we are relaxed and happy without all of the pressure that's placed on kids and families these days. DH is free to work a schedule that suits his nocturnal bio-rhythms (and allows him to avoid rush hour traffic, as a side bonus). We set our schedule instead of someone else setting it for us, a rare luxury these days. We can travel without worries about missing school, which The Eldest and I took advantage of this past May when we went to Europe for 19 days. There are other advantages, too, but these are the big ones for us.

The downside is there might be some holes in our curriculum. Well, you know what, there are holes in the public school curriculum, too. I can attest to that based on my experiences several... just a few...ahem... years ago. I was an honors student for middle and high school English, which meant I took literature classes. The only problem was no one ever covered grammar at the honors level; I guess they assumed we all knew grammar already. I never saw a sentence diagrammed until well after college when a teacher I was going to sub for showed me how to do it. I learned the parts of speech when I taught them in the hospital school I worked at for a time. (Students would come in for hospitalization but were well enough to complete school work, so my job was to keep them on track with their classes at their regular school.) I knew the basics, nouns, verbs, etc., (thanks to Schoolhouse Rock) but not in any depth, and it never hampered me in any way. If I needed to know it, I learned it, and I know The Eldest can do the same thing. She'll be alright in spite of my doubts, so I know I need to stay the course, and if she needs a biology tutor then we'll get her one. (Even with all of the tutors, it's still less than private school tuition!)

On another note, The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, lost another tooth today, on the bottom so it doesn't show much. His top two front teeth are in so he's not all snaggle toothed when he smiles. I love snaggle toothed grins; I had to rush to get his pictures taken at a photography place when his top front teeth were out just because it was too cute.


Kevin said...

Pshaw, the mix of honors and regular students in her GS troop say that she "raises the IQ of the troop". Yeah, she should be doing better in math, but that's why we are getting her help.

Mark said...

If you ever start to doubt yourself, go rent "Welcome To The Dollhouse"...