Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Nice to meet you, I'm Kate

Hi there!
My name is Kate Frishman. For the last eleven years my family has been on a magical journey called homeschooling. It has been a wonderful, crazy, challenging adventure.
Our family consists of Irish, a twenty-year-old college junior; Holly, an eighteen-year-old college junior; Skylar, who's twelve; Scarlet, who's ten; and Grayson, who's eight.
Then there's me-I'm not going to tell you how old I am, but I'm old enough to have a twenty-year-old, so you do the math. My husband Alan stays out of our homeschool goings-on as much as he can; however, he is the resident science, computer and math nerd, so he gets dragged into it regularly!
When we started homeschooling in 2000, I had no idea if I was doing the right thing. I am not homeschooling for religious reasons, and we're not particularly anti-anything. I started considering it because I had some concerns about the kids' education (they were in first and third grade at the time). I might not have ever made the leap if it weren't for a fateful parent-teacher conference.
At first, it went like any other conference. We discussed Holly's progress, blah blah blah. Finally, I screwed up my courage and said the words:
I'm thinking of homeschooling Holly. 
I waited for her head to explode. This was a twenty-five year veteran teacher I was talking to. She was so good, they had talked about having a lottery to get into her class. I had read that teachers weren't impressed by the homeschooling movement, and I expected an icy reception to my big idea. What I got instead has stayed in my head ever since.
I think that would be wonderful, because sometimes I look at Holly and I think about what I'm stifling and I feel guilty and inadequate. 
Needless to say, we started homeschooling.
I've wanted to write about homeschooling for a long time, but I never felt "qualified." I mean really, at what point do you become an expert homeschooler? Looking back, I could have started a long time ago, because homeschooling has a very specific reality that homeschooling parents need to embrace:
We are the only experts in our children's homeschooling. 
I can tell you what worked for each of my very different children.  I can recommend tools that I found valuable with all, or some, or one of them. I can also tell you stories about how we managed to homeschool with both parents working full-time and through physical and financial challenges. I can tell you about unschooling, Charlotte Mason, unit studies, and classical curriculum. Mostly, though, I'll talk about the Flifkin Homeschool Method, which is the strange, eclectic mix that we've developed over the years.
I'm sorry to inform you that you can't use it, though, because you don't have the necessary ingredients. It can only be used by the family that created it, just like you can only use the methods and madness that work for your family.  Your method will evolve as you get used to your children and your children get used to you. It will be a work-in-progress for as long as you're a homeschooling family.
I do have one single, solitary piece of advice that will work for every family out there, and I'm going to get it out of the way in this first post:
If you don't embrace the journey, you won't be happy with the final destination. 
Like I said, though, I'm not an expert, I just have a lot to say. I look forward to learning from new and veteran homeschoolers who stop by here, and I hope I can help you find what you're looking for.

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