Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Home Based Private Education

Well, here we go! Something I have been wanting to do for a year or so, I am finally doing. A personal Blog.  It always feels good to make a "check mark" huh?
So, what made me finally feel like it was time to do a personal blog? Well, having time too for one, I no longer am as much as a taxi service. We, as the Hill family, came to the decision to provide a home based education for our two boys.  Since then, there has been the expected "why" from so many. Not a judgemental "why" but a curious "why". My cousin, Ryan, put it the best...It's like asking a Geologist, "What made you decide to become a geologist?" That isn't a "normal" profession...
So, now to start the long, involved answer:
First, anyone reading this, please do not feel like I am saying this way is the only way. Most importantly, parents know what is best for their children. I am by no means trying to criticize other ways of educating children.  This was not a hasty decision at all. Nothing "happened".  We have talked about this since our oldest was born. Over the past 5 years, I continued to always to research it and ask questions to anyone I knew in the community partaking in home based education.  Somewhere halfway through four-year-old Preschool, we started just going with the flow of ours and Pierce's peers, that "going to Kindergarten" would be the next progression. Pierce started to get excited about all the hype everyone around him was exuding. So what were we to do...not let him try something he was getting excited about? Maybe.
Here, I will back up to Pierce around the ages of 2 and 3. Before starting  3 year old Preschool he had all Phonics down pat and was reading many, many words. By that summer he was ready for sight words and started 4 year old Preschool reading full sentences and soon full books. He started reading us books at night.  This was all from us just simply enjoying sitting down at home with him. He LOVED those times and I saw no reason to slow down as he obviously progressed further and further ahead of his peers/grade level. And Kade, he is on the same path. He will be four next month and reads non sight words remarkably well. We will finish all the Phonics with Kade before moving on to sight words to complete sentences. The younger brother has definitely learned by simply being present.  Seeing the K year curriculum, we just knew...not that he would be "bored" (because I do believe that the teachers do a great job of keeping them engaged throughout the day) but just definitely in repeat mode the whole year.  So, now that I have sounded like I am bragging, I will move back to the above.
For whatever reason, that only God knows, something "clicked" in Mike and I a few days into Kindergarten.  We had just done the very first thing as parents that was against our "gut". It was a horrible feeling to feel. Do not get me wrong...Pierce is a very adaptable child who did love going to elementary school. But that's just Pierce, he loves and gets excited about people and the world in general. All of the detailed reasons started coming to the front of our minds and we knew we were drawing closer to having the confidence to proceed to what we knew what was right for our children.  Again, right for OUR children.
Fact: TN sate law requires four hours of school. And that includes the specials like P.E., Art, etc)  Many private schools do K and 1 as a four hour day.
I wanted those other 3 hours!!! (they go to school for 7 hours)  I wanted my Pierce to be my Pierce, not the Zombie that I picked up in the 45 minute car line every day.  ( Kade was not a happy camper heading out to the car line by the end of week two. "Mom, we sit in the car waiting for a Million minutes!") Let them be Little...why does a 5 year old go the same hours as a 18 year old? Again, just my opinion.
Pierce now has the light still left in him  when Daddy gets home. He now can continue Spanish and Bible parallel to reading, writing , and arithmetic, science, and social studies, all tailored to his needs. They now can eat, drink, bathroom ,and break whenever need be. Yes, those are the little things. But the little things count a lot to us.
Mike and I have seen and experienced the pride and joy coming from our children as the learn to write there name legibly for the first time, sound out a word for the first time, and add/subtract for the first time. I don't want that to stop! Maybe selfish, but I don't want to miss out on those "getting it for the first time" expressions on their faces that are oh so precious and priceless.
We know exactly how Kade learns and exactly how Pierce learns like the back of our hand. They learned to read the same, they learned to write differently. They learned potty training the same, they learned riding a bike and swimming differently.  We are their parents... we know them the very best! As does any parent.
Seeing the world:
We feel all of our experiences thus far at museums, zoos, gardens, traveling, etc. are extremely important learning experiences that feel like sheer fun to everyone. They never leave any of those places without a new fact or ten! And they retain it! With family time, sports, and fun, those outings fall to the bottom of the totem pole when M-F is strictly taken up with the 7-8 hour school day.
So now, the transition into and then out of Bon Lin in two weeks hard on Pierce? Not at all!! He literally is Mr. Adaptable.  He knows he will still see all of his friends, and get to spend the whole day with his best friend, Kade. Pierce will continue in the same basketball team, etc. Not much of their world is changing. Both wake up every morning eager to know what they will learn next. Kade more than ever! Pierce really enjoys helping Kade.  Now for Kade, he had also started 4 year old Preschool mid-August. The first day Pierce stayed home, he wanted to as well and it just did not feel right sending him if he didn't want to go.  He looked me straight in my eye and said, "Mom, I want to learn to count to 100 today at home". Done deal, Kade.  We will take their eagerness to learn, hold it tight,  and run with it.  The past three days have felt 100% natural. Natural is best I can describe it. We are all in such a great place.
I not only obviously love my kids, but I really like them too! They make me a better person spending the days with them. They are very cool little humans, that won't be little for long!
Sheltered? Maybe a little. They have been on this Earth a whole 5 and 3 years. I think that is OK.  These two have had and will continue to have more rich life experiences everyday.
Socially Awkward? Um have you met them? Or their Parents? ;) 
I certainly know everything will not always be easy. It will be a challenge at times. But for now, we know this is what is best for the Hills. And if you know us, you know we have always taken life one day at a time since we became "The Hills".