Tuesday 6 October 2009

An answer to a question

Hi Sarah,
sorry about the delay in getting back to you. I don't mind you asking me about home schooling. No. I have never been to University so I just have a regular schooling. I started schooling Sean when he was four and it was all very simple stuff. Jigsawa, colouring, ABC's etc. There are plenty of work books available in the book shope here in Ireland so there was no end of help/resources out there for me.

As he grew I just increased the work load. It came very naturally to both of us. When he wanted to learn how to tell the time when he was five, he learned to, although children here learn in school when they are between 7&8. He learned his tables at a very young age too.

He went to school when he was six for one and a half years and then we decided to home school him again. We wanted to do it and so did he:0)

We have a friend who is a school teacher who used to come visit us every month and advise me about Sean's education. She gave me a copy of the state curriculum that I read over a few times and I also used school books that the schools were using, along with other materials I picked myself.

Since then I have grown in confidence and I also know exactly where Sean is with his work, what his weaknesses are and his strengths. My teacher friend comes only about three times a year now and tests Sean with the regular State school tests. This, by the way has always been voluntary, the State does not demand it. It also helped calm a few nerves of the relations/grandmothers who thought Sean was missing out in a big way by not going to school!

And now we are on our last two years. Sean is doing well. He is in his last year which is sixth class and after that we have decided to give him an extra year where he can do lots of travel, art, music etc before he goes into Secondary School when he is thirteen. I would consider continuing teaching him but I know my limits and wouldn't be able to. It's different in the States. They have far more help over there and if I were to use their curriculum it would be hard for Sean to make the transition from an American education to an Irish/European education later on when he would go to college.

So far, things have worked out very well for us. The only problem Sean has had (recently) is with his maths and we have a friend who is a Scientist, got his Masters, and he has been kind enough to visit Sean every Friday and give him grinds for free, until he catches up.
For a tiny fee a young woman from Latvia has been teaching Sean to speak, read and write Russian for over four years. Her boyfriend knew my husband and as she was a student at the time and wanted to spend more time with English speaking people, she took on with the job. It has been a labour of love for her seeing as now she is an accountant working with a firm and she still comes to us most weeks... I can assure you it's not the money that is drawing her! She told us that, she just enjoys being with our family:0)
Also, a young woman from Lithuania who who swam for her country in the Special Olympics and visits our Church is helping Sean with his swimming for free. All we pay for is her and Sean's swimming fees which is eleven euros. My point is, I bet you have plenty of relatoins/friends who will be willing to help you out and share the load as time goes on.

We, as a family love home schooling. It is a lifestyle choice. Things are very relaxed and informal here but we do get things done. I do have a class room for Sean and a tight schedule for these final two years that is working out well.

I read somewhere that if somebody is thinking about home schooling, a good thing to do is to try it out during the Summer Hols. That way you get an idea if the child likes it and if you are able for it. I really believe that with children who are young, it is not hard to educate them, it's a matter of if you want to, and if you can stick with it. Patience is a big factor.

My goodness, it sounds like you are a very well educated woman. If you can afford to stay at home and educate your children there, than go for it. There is so much you can do. There is so much we did! Over the years we visited a lot of Museums, Castles, grounds, Water parks, Exhibitions etc. We homeschooled in Italy, Spain, America etc. We home schooled in the Library and on good days in Parks, Hotel grounds, friends homes and at the beach. We used Cd's and posters we picked up for free in newspapers and also were given permission to use the School Library connected to the local Library that only teachers can use, taking out a box of about fifty books at a time. We got free use of a local Soccer Dome so Sean can go play football with his dad. That is only the tip of the iceberg!

I understand your concerns. After all, we only get one shot at this. The good thing about home schooling is that when you start with young children, you can take it one year at a time and place them into a school any time you want.

In Ireland, we generally place our children into schools when they are four and sometimes we place boys in school when they are five. Some people wait until the child is six which is ok too. Others place them into play school at a much younger age. I suppose what I am saying is you can keep your children at home and start schooling them at any young age.

One thing that I fall down on with regards to teaching is that I am terrible at spelling (you may have noticed!) but a decent dictionary helps:0)

I hope that I have helped you in some small way. I am not one who goes around bad mouthing schools and a school education, but I really, really would recommend home schooling to anybody who can stay home and has patients. Try it and take it one day at a time and enjoy it! That would be my advice.


Sarah said...

Thank-you, Ruth. I have to say that your spelling and grammar would seriously worry me! I am sorry for being so blunt, but education is the most important thing that one can give to their children. I am very passionate about this matter, and that is why I am considering home-schooling.
Do you regard yourself as intelligent?
May I ask, why do you home-school?

Ruth MacC said...

Sarah, I appreciate your bluntness. I like straight-talk. Although I also consider education to be important, it's not the MOST important thing. My husband and I looked at this matter carefully and prayerfully and decided that homeschooling would be the best way to build Sean's character. Your own education isn't the most important thing in deciding about whether or not you should home school your own children, I believe. After all, our job is to train our kids to become independent adults who will be able to take good care of themselves when we 'cut them loose'!

Sarah said...

Thank you for your response. The thing is, I believe that there are reasons for teachers to spend years in intensive training before they are allowed to teach in schools, and even then they have to attend further training on an annual basis. Furthermore, I strongly believe that parents should have to have a minumium level of education before they are permitted to teach their children at home.

In what way do you feel that you will be able to build upon his character through home-schooling?

Also, how will you feel if he decides to follow a career in medicine and won't be able to because he is behind in his grades?


Ruth MacC said...

Hi Sarah, again, I am sorry about the delay in getting to you. Both my husband and I had been under the weather physically for different reasons and it is only now that I am catching up on certain things.

Yes, I agree that parents should have a minumin education to teach their own children.
With regards to teachers, some of those who go through years of training don't turn out to be good teachers but some who have a minimum education, and the right attitude can do a wonderful job!

We did send Sean to school for a year and a half and we saw that it had a dramatic effect on him. He wasn't capable of discerning between other children's good and bad behaviour and sadly picked up a lot of what was bad. We live in a small estate with many other families and now when he is faced with making choices and decisions we are here to take him through them. As you know, we plan to send Sean to secondary school and feel that he will be much better prepared for peer pressure etc., to stand his ground and be his own person.

I don't understand why you would think he is going to be behind in his grades. There is enough data out there showing that, for the best part, children who are home schooled do well academically. After being home schooled for almost eight years and attending regular school for over six years, I should hope that there will be no reason for him to have a problem with his grades.

Sarah, I hope you find these answers helpful. I would like to know, when you and your husband make your decisions with regards to your children's education, what your choice will be:0)

S said...

He wasn't capable of discerning between other children's good and bad behaviour and sadly picked up a lot of what was bad. - You cannot blame the school nor the education system for that!

I don't understand why you would think he is going to be behind in his grades. - I feel this way because after reading many of your posts, I believe that you are incapable of teaching anyone, let alone a growing child!

With regards to teachers, some of those who go through years of training don't turn out to be good teachers but some who have a minimum education. - all teachers have to go through years of training and furthermore are subject to regular assessment and further training!

I don't want this to feel like a personal attack, but I feel very strongly about education! Education changes peoples lives!

Ruth MacC said...

Hello again Sarah,
you are right, it wasn't the school but it was the school environment which changed him for the worst.

With regards to his grades, he is above average with most of them so in spite of my many short comings I must be doing something right:0)

As many of us know from personal experience, more than a few teachers are unsuitable for their chosen profession regardless of their many years of training.

Again we are on the dame page and agree with one another that education changes people's lives. However, education is more than simply being taught in school. We learn a lot within the family, the community and the wider world.
You mentioned in your first comment that you have your own reservations about the education system and also have doubts about your own capabilities in home schooling your children. We have to make choices in this imperfect world and my husband and I decided to take Sean out of school and resume home schooling. Four years later we are convince that we made the right call.

Finally Sarah, I enjoy my blogging and meeting fellow bloggers. Sometimes I throw a post together in a couple of minutes and I pay no more attention to grammar and spelling than I would in a text message. However, I don't use this casual approach when I am teaching sean:0)

s said...

I think you are convincing yourself that you are smart enough or capable enough! It would be funny if it wasn't so sad!

Ruth MacC said...

Well Sarah, we will wait and see.