Saturday, November 8, 2008

Homeschooling Continued.

Wow!  That post yesterday go very long and a bit rambly.  I can get really worked up when I talk about homeschooling my kids and why it has turned out this way.

I'm actually a reluctant homeschooler.  I have some friends who are very gung ho for it and wouldn't have their children go to school for anything.  I'm not one of those people.  I think homeschooling is great for a lot of people, and I respect those who devote all of their time to it.  I really wanted my children to go to school and thrive there.  I wanted to have my days to myself to write, etc.  Selfish me!  I finally got the youngest in all day school and then homeschool took over.

As you can guess the private school where the kids ended up going didn't provide the magic bullet that I was hoping for.  The youngest in Kindergarten was blissfully happy.  I was thrilled with her class and teachers, but she was not the one I was worried about with school.  

For the other 2 in school, homework became an even bigger issue than before.  One of the things I had never considered was that at a private school there is a lot of prestige in giving homework.  For the 4th grade it wasn't too bad, but for 6th grade, Yikes! and we kept getting reports that the "serious" homework didn't really start until 7th grade.  In the core classes homework counted from 30 to 50% of their overall grade.  I thought this was excessive.  

I taught high school and so I understand giving homework to a certain degree, but I never counted homework as more than 10% of an overall grade.  Plus I always allowed time in class for students to work on their homework so if they needed help I was right there for them.

For Elizabeth the homework always brought her grade down.  Always.  She would make A's on the tests, i.e. she knew the material, but she would definitely not make A's on the report card. In a parent teacher conference one of her teachers said that it was such a shame that she wouldn't turn in the homework he knew that she knew the material and would do so well on the tests.  His bottom line was that the homework completion was more important than the knowledge.  I felt she didn't need the homework to learn the material.  She learned it in class or through reading.  

Here's an example of my biggest frustration that year.  In her French class she had an A on every test (her French was actually pretty good--since I have a master's in French I felt pretty confidant in knowing that her language skills were fine).  She had even done most of her daily homework (which was pretty good for her), but she had not turned in an art project about light and shadow.  It was sort of related to French since they had talked about art and gone to seen a Monet exhibit. I didn't know about it until two weeks after it was due, and at that point the highest possible grade she could get was a 50--due to mark downs for being late.  That one homework assignment was 50% of her grade for the nine weeks.  I was floored.  How could one assignment that really had very little to do with the subject matter count for so much of her grade?  I'm not sure exactly why this project got overlooked.  Maybe Elizabeth can tell us in a comment.  

In the end she did the assignment and got a 50%.  Woohoo!  So the highest she could possibly make that nine weeks was a 75% with an A on every test.  I just couldn't take the madness anymore with things like that happening.

She finished out the year at that school.  The next year we started homeschool.  (That was last year.)  The younger two went to the public school that we are zoned for.  It was mostly positive for them with a few exceptions, but it was doable for us.  


Rebecca Ramsey said...

Very interesting. I think you're loads of homework has become something many teachers feel they must do or they get harassed by crazy parents who confuse busyness with learning!

And as for the Sandburg home place on my blog, you really ought to go! You'll LOVE it. Whenever I need writing motivation and inspiration it's where I go. Very cool!

Lioness said...

The whole thing about the French project is that I kept convincing myself that I had plenty of time to do it. Hehehe...

lotusgirl said...

Becky, That's a great way to put it--"parents who confuse busyness with learning." I think that is especially prevalent in private school. At least that was my experience. I definitely am going to plan a trip over to the Sandburg home.

Lioness, Interesting reason. It's that crazy planning ahead and knowing when things are due that gets you every time.

Cortney said...

Argh!!! You know how I feel about homework in most school settings...

Jane Smith said...

I admire you for homeschooling: it's more than I could manage. And as for homework--I've told my boys' schools that I don't think homework is appropriate for primary-age children, and my boys won't be doing any... I've got a reputation for being difficult as a result, but it takes the heat of them, at least. There's far too much time ahead when they'll have to worry about things like that, and I want them to enjoy their childhoods.

lotusgirl said...

Yes Cortney, we feel the same way!

Wow! Jane, that's a great idea to tell the school that. I wish I had thought of it. It would definitely take the heat off the kids and let them have a childhood. Kudos to you for being difficult!