Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pros and Cons of Traditional Homeschooling




We have been traditionally homeschooling for over a month now and I have decided to give my opinion of how I think it is going so far (compared to virtual schooling). Of course, I wouldn't advise anyone to make any decisions based on just a month of schooling, but at this point, I have noticed differences both good and bad.

Pros:

1. We learn at our own pace.
Many of the online schools advertise that you can learn at your own pace, but I quickly discovered that although it is flexible, you are really not "learning at your own pace". Between live class sessions, conferences with teachers, due dates for writing assignments, and a daily plan with percentages of completion to meet, it is impossible to go at your own pace. We are enjoying the flexibility and relaxing atmosphere that traditional homeschool is allowing us.

2. We have the time to explore topics that interest us.
The thing that annoyed me most with an online school was that there were always so many things to do in order to keep up with requirements, that it left us with little time to explore some of the topics that the kids liked. If we got into an assignment on King Tut and the kids were curious about mummies, we didn't have time to stop and explore. I had to stick to the daily plan or get behind. I love that now if we run across something that interests us, we can go Google more on the subject or watch a You Tube video on it. Our exploration is limitless! 

3. There is no need for busy work.
Let's be honest, a lot of work that is given in school is busy work. I would define busy work as any assignment given that is not necessary for a child to master a skill. Many "busy work" assignments are given to keep a child occupied so that teachers can work with other students or finish planning tasks. Busy work can also be given as repetitive assignments that are given with the hopes that it will help the child learn the material (coloring history pages, copy work, etc). While some of the coloring pages, word searches, and "write your words 5 times each" may be necessary for learning the material, you don't have to overdo it. If they have mastered a subject and demonstrated full understanding of a topic, why keep drilling it in their heads? It will often make the lessons become boring and produce tears rather than a joy for learning. Eliminating busy work has saved us hours of school time, and it has saved mom's ears from hours of whining.

4. I feel more in control!
Although, having a teacher with an online school can be helpful, I enjoy being totally responsible for what my children are learning. It does put a little more on my shoulders, but I enjoy the freedom to take the lesson wherever I want to take them. For a perfectionist, being more in control means a happier mommy :-)

Cons:

1. More expensive.
With our online school, we were given boxes of materials for free, but when you go traditional, you are on your own with everything, including your materials and supplies. Having to find and purchase books and other learning materials was new to me, but it was necessary. I have missed all of the great things that we would get from K12 via UPS free of charge, and so did our bank account.

2. I spend a lot more time planning!
After having all of our lessons planned out for us with the online school, going on our own meant me having to plan our entire school year. I spend more time researching, planning, making copies, and organizing for our school week. I am also responsible for all of the record keeping and keeping track of attendance. So, I am often still planning long after the kids have gone to bed. I have missed our online school's planned lessons. 

3. I obsess over making sure the kids learn all the things they should.
I am a perfectionist by nature and it shows when I am planning our lessons. I have researched, checked every website, read countless books, and read many blogs to ensure that my kids learn all that they need to meet and exceed state standards for their particular grades. Having an online school meant knowing that the kids are following a plan that has been created by education experts and has been approved by the state. Although, I know that they are learning just as much (and probably more) than their peers, there is always this little voice in your head asking, "Am I teaching them what they need to know?", and an even louder voice asking, "Are they going to know enough to get into any college they choose?".  What I am finding is that the fastest way to shut up those doubting voices, are the results. Results can silence any doubter or skeptic, even if it is yourself!

I could list more, but I think these are enough for a month worth of school. All in all, we are happier and more relaxed. I feel free and am not pressured by time restraints or percentages to meet. So far, I do not regret our decision. However, there are many things that I miss from our former online school. Maybe it is the comfort and hand holding that I miss on the tough days, but I do believe that we are where we belong (at least for now). I will check in throughout to year to let you know how it is going, and if we plan on continuing on this path the next school year. Also, look for my next post...."Is Homework Necessary When Homeschooling?"!

Blessings in your journey!