When I was homeschooling the first time (for 10 years) and none of my children had been in a school, public or private, I was constantly worried that we weren’t doing enough or that it wasn’t good enough. Even though I could see them learning and growing, I still had that worry buried deep inside all the time.
We homeschooled using a couple different options in those days. At first, we just worked under the Colorado law. We sent our letter of intent each year and tested on odd years. Since I had a degree, I could administer the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, so we used that to begin and then switched to the California Achievement Test. It should have been no big deal with me as administrator. However, because of my fears, my children were needlessly stressed about the testing. I knew that their performance was altered due to the stress.
So, some other homeschool moms from the local support group banded together and created an umbrella school which eliminated the need for the letter of intent and testing. This did not alleviate my worries. I was still sure that we didn’t do enough seat time or enough testing or enough everything (no one would have guessed that I worried – my public persona was quite confident).
Then, circumstances in our lives dictated that my little family would go to school. Public school. And I would go as a teacher, acquiring my teaching license through Colorado’s Alternative Licensure program. In order to enroll, guess what? They wanted current test scores, which we did not have. This necessitated a rush to order tests, administer, get results and hope that the school district would place my children appropriately. Yes, the law says that parents have the choice of where to place their children but, in reality, that can be quite a fight and when I was newly employed by the district, that just didn’t seem prudent. My children were extremely anxious and scared about all of this.
Once we were all in public school and I had been teaching for a couple months, I realized something that should have been obvious but had never occurred to me. While I was so busy worrying about the holes in my children’s education, I didn’t think about the swiss cheese that is public education.
Ultimately, I understood that there are always holes, that all children learn differently, and that children demonstrate their learning in different ways. We all buy into the public school definitions of achievement because the law requires us to do so, but we can also understand the myriad of ways that public schools manipulate those definitions to justify a specific agenda.
During the course of my teaching career, I taught K-12 Music, Kindergarten, 2nd grade, HS German, Yearbook, JH/HS Music, and Music Theater. In addition, I was Response to Intervention/Multi-Tiered System of Support (RtI/MTSS)Coordinator and Gifted Coordinator. As the RtI/MTSS Coordinator (and Gifted as well), I spent a great deal of time looking at data, understanding and analyzing data, and finally, understanding how to look beyond the data to the child.
The children always come first. Their needs are individual. They all need to learn how to think. They all need to come to know how they individually learn. They all need to own their learning.
It is the intent of Ignited Learning Home Education Resources, LLC to offer other home schooling families the benefit of our experience and my credentials so that more can feel confident and free as they plow in the fields of home education.