Beth Smith

Home Schooling

When Brittney was in 6th grade (middle school) things started to go down hill. it’s a hard age for many kids and Brittney was dealing with things in ways I didn’t like and, in addition to behavior issues, her grades were suffering. Early in the school year I decided to take her out of school and try homeschool. I felt like the experiment was a success. She did all of her work without a ton of prodding, she took adult daytime Tae Kwon Do classes that helped her mature a bit, she got interested in some new things and the behavior problems diminished.

Because of this I decided to do the same thing next year. Chelsea thought it looked like fun and wanted to try. The Chelsea experiment was not as successful. She didn’t so well, she wasn’t as good at self motivating and the progress I wanted to see for her didn’t happen. Then we moved.

When we moved from Pennsylvania  to Michigan at the end of the summer of 1999 both girls chose to go to the public school here. They wanted to make some friends in addition to the kids they would meet at church and decided school was the way to do it. There were lots of things about the public high school here that I didn’t like. Lots. But they stayed in school and graduated. While they were in high school the last two kids joined the family.

Because of my dislike for the local school I decided to try homeschooling again. In the interest of full disclosure here, I also liked being able to take vacations whenever I wanted without feeling like I have to ask “permission”.

Maggie is now 12 and has been doing extremely well. She is self motivated, loves to try things, and loves to read and study. I enrolled her this year in the BYU Independent Study program that begins at 7th grade and goes all the way through graduation. It’s been a great experience for her and has challenged her and helped her to grow as a student and it’s only been a few months.

Ryan, who is turning 10 next week) has always been a puzzle as far as school work and there have been plenty of battles. This year I saw an advertisement for K12 which is an online school which runs in Michigan as a charter school. I decided to try it for him. Hoping that he would respond to having another teacher. It was a nightmare for us. he was doing schoolwork for 7-9 hours each day. I am not exaggerating. The program also required the presence of a parent at all times. It wasn’t working for my family and it was making Ryan frustrated.

I took a step that I wasn’t sure of. Ryan is a talker and he is also a mover so I was worried he would be in trouble at school a lot. But I decided to try it for him. He felt like it was a punishment and there was a lot of reassuring and coaxing. We went to tour the school and he got a little more excited.

This all happened in early October. it’s been about 5 weeks now and he loves it. LOVES IT! He gets lovely notes home about how polite and helpful he is. He is improving in subjects I could not make headway in.

Here’s the lesson for me. Every kid is different and needs different things. Maggie is thriving in the homeschooling envirnment. It wasn’t the best thing for Ryan. I feel like I should have moved forward with this sooner (last year) but I was a bit nervous and also selfish and also very prideful in feeling like sending him to school would mean failure for me. I should have thought about him.

I’m glad it’s working.

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