I homeschooled my boys for a total of 6 years. About 2 years ago I graduated my older son, and this past school year, I returned my youngest child to school, in 7th grade. It really went much better than we’d expected, and I thought some people might like to hear our story.
Why did I start homeschooling?
I was what is often called an ‘accidental’ homeschooler. I had learned about homeschooling before having kids, but after much debate decided I was not patient or organized enough. Plus, my mother and both my first and second husband were against the idea.
My daughter hated high school, but I managed to work with the school district to create a customized program where she took most of her credits for the last two years at community college, where she was much happier. But meanwhile, my boys were completely miserable – the 7th grader ending up in detentions and suspensions because the school ignored his IEP, and the kindergartner crying every day begging not to go back.
My husband finally admitted that school was failing my boys and I couldn’t possibly do worse. He was sure I’d have a nervous breakdown and put them back in school. But even he was impressed by how well it was going by the end of the first year, so we continued.
What was my homeschool style?
After a while, I ended up calling my style ‘relaxed eclectic’. I was not an unschooler, because we had daily routines and required work. But I had the kids help choose what the work would be, and gave them a lot of flexibility inside the routine. I don’t feel like we did very much work, really.
Here is an old post giving you an idea of just how relaxed 1st grade was.
I also have a post where I followed our homeschool for 1 day, and another one 2 years later detailing our homeschooling for a week. You can see completely out-of-control it seemed at the moment. I even have another post detailing how much I worried about how we were doing.
All this is to say, if you think you haven’t done enough so that your kids will be ready to transition to school, I probably felt the same way!
But then it was time to change.
Hubby and I had negotiated that I would homeschool until Orion finished high school, but then I requested one more year to help Orion’s transition after ‘graduation’. During that year, Raven was showing a lot of maturation. He would take his checklist, get the work done on his own time, call me when he needed me, and hardly fuss at all. He even took a few online classes, and he took full responsibility for meeting requirements and deadlines, and emailing them for help as needed. So I knew he was ready for school.
Still, Raven and I were starting to really dread this change. But we agreed to take a tour of the school first, before we dug in our heels and refused.
Dealing with the school:
Before we could have a tour, we had to register for school. I called Pocahontas and spoke to someone who gave me the list of items I would need to bring in to register, including his grades. I explained that we don’t have grades, we homeschool. She insisted that they have LOTS of homeschoolers come here, mostly from kids whose parents were on missionary trips, and they ALL have grades. Well, I explained, we DON’T have grades. “Then how will you know what classes to put him in?”
Luckily, the day we went in to register, we got to speak with the 7th grade counselor, and she was AMAZING! She gave us the tour, and we were very impressed – the school was fairly small and well laid out.
The counselor was great with Raven. She asked him some questions and found out he was nervous about handwriting. She explained that, since most work is done on the laptops, he wont need to write much by hand at all! She discussed the class options with us, and basically let us decide what levels we thought he should be in. Regular English and History, advanced science (with a promise to cover life science over the summer) and . . . well, I wanted him in Algebra, because we’d already started Algebra. She insisted he had to be tested. Fine.
Unfortunately, the test was the final exam for pre-algebra. Their pre-algebra covered very different materials than ours had. So despite his already enjoying the first several chapters of Life of Fred Algebra, he was put in pre-algebra. I decided to hope for the best, but once school started, math became his most hated class. They were covering stuff he’d known how to do 4 years ago.
I emailed his teacher, but she said she’d given him a pretest, too, and he didn’t know the material, so he had to stay where he was. But . . . then they gave him the algebra readiness test. The purpose of the test is to establish a baseline at the beginning of the year, and then when they compare that to the score at the end of the year, they decide if you go to algebra, or pre-algebra 2. But his score was so high, they put him right in to algebra. 4 weeks in to the term! Still, he caught up on the work and did well in the class, so he WAS finally in the right place.
Raven is not a social creature. He is happiest not spending time with other kids at all. So school was rather exhausting. He quickly noticed the kids in the advanced class were nicer and better behaved, but he also commented that ‘all the nice kids already HAVE friends.’ Coming in in 7th grade is tough! However, he has learned the names of 5 friends – which is really huge for him!
Raven has been on A/B honor roll all year. And he was even recommended for advanced English next year! This was the kid who was running 2 years behind grade level in elementary English material.
Now, mind you, I’m not saying that my eclectic methods created an advanced student. While Raven has never been tested, every other family member has been identified as gifted. But I don’t think my eclectic methods held him back.
Raven, of course, would still love to come back home. But now that I’m working on my own degree, I really am not interested in taking on full time homeschooling again. Its hard enough to get my own stuff done, and I do hope to be back to work when I finish . . . hopefully in less than 2 years! And hopefully he will get in to the Center for Information Technology specialty center for high school. If not, we will re-examine our options.
All in all, a very easy and successful transition.